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Can Learning to Code be a Fun Social Activity?

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Probably so. Well, at least that's what I experienced in the first London Code Year meetup.

In my last post, I talked about how you should try out Code Year if you're an interactive learner. It seems that I myself respond well to this type of instruction because I really try to come back to the exercises whenever I have both time and brain energy at hand. However, it does get very lonely and frustrating if you're looking at your code for around 20mins just to find out that you've missed a curly bracket "{". Maybe that's why Code Year encourages that we meetup with other people to do Codecademy exercises together, so we can help each other out.

The first London Code Year meet-up organised by Dan Wong took place last Tuesday (7 Feb, 2012) in the Conversocial office after work accompanied by pizza, beer and other random chit chat. I've met interesting people from different backgrounds including a developer who wants to learn Javascript, an in house lawyer, a learning technologist and a customer happiness manager. The cool thing is that we're brought together by a common goal - learning Javascript. When I went to this meet-up, I really didn't know what to expect. So when I got there, I started chatting to people about what they do in their day jobs and how they're getting on with the Code Year exercises. Seeing as not all of them have finished the week's lesson, I felt a bit more comfortable. I've honestly only completed 3 full lessons to date, but I really should work on that.

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London Code Year Meetup Group Picture

Later on in the evening, I met a guy called Kevin who has a pretty good handle on Javascript and he started to help me with the Fizz Buzz project which I finally managed to complete that evening. If you've done the exercise, you can see that it suggests you use the If...Else statements. However, since I've already covered Ternary Operators in the following exercises, Kevin taught me how to apply Ternary Operators to make the Fizz Buzz project work since it's more efficient. For the people who have no idea what If...Else statements are, it's basically a command used execute some code if the condition is true and another code if the condition is false.

So for example, in the exercise we were told to make all numbers divisible by 3 Fizz for numbers ranging from 1-20. So in words, the If...Else statement that we would input would be, if the number is a multiple of three, make it "Fizz". Otherwise, just leave the number as it is. A ternary operator just does the If...Else statement in one line which is more efficient, but less intuitive. I would just describe Ternary Operators as a more efficient and formulaic way of using If...Else statements.

Kevin also pointed out that a common mistake I make is to not including a semi-colon after a line of code. I previously didn't notice this myself and would spending ages staring at my code only to figure that mistake out. Next time, when my code doesn't run, I'll be sure to check for semi-colons first. This would probably make me more efficient.

I did think that the event was quite fun in general. It reinforced my desire to learn how to code, and the social interaction with like minded people definitely helped. I would also love to do this again sometime and think that this could make for a fun social activity. What do you guys think? Can learning coding become social? It's more productive and efficient that way isn't it?

P.S. If you want to organize the next Code Year meetup please tweet me at @jamietolentino, I'd love to help out.