Computer Code: The Basics

Our laptops, smartphones and video game consoles are all-powerful computers. Modern smartphones have now become millions of times faster than the whole of the NASA computing network that was used to send astronauts to the moon. And behind all of this is something called ‘code’, a mysterious language that’s used to create apps, and control robots and is a fundamental building block for almost all new technologies that are being created.

In this article, we’ll debunk what code is, why we need it, and ways to get involved with teaching code in the classroom.

The big problem: computers don’t speak English

The one basic reason that code was created was for us to be able to send instructions to our machines and computers. When computers were created, their primary purpose was to solve complex mathematical problems—essentially, they were giant calculators. However, instead of just typing in your calculation using a nice little keypad, people had to either wire or tap instructions inside the computer using a system called binary.

This process was extremely time-consuming and meant that it would have just been quicker to get a human to solve the problem they were trying to program.

The idea of code was that we could have a sort of in-between language, crossing English and computer talk, that would make it easier for humans to communicate with our machines. This new language also meant that we could now send the computers hundreds, even thousands, of calculations to do at the same time, rather than having them physically wired for only one.

Nowadays, code is being used for so much more than doing NASA’s maths homework. It’s used to create new apps and games for your iPhone. It’s running behind the scenes on your favourite social media networks. And when your order a pizza, everything’s taken care of by code.

Originally, there were only a few coding languages used across only a few machines. However, we now have thousands of programming languages with new ones being developed all the time. Each programming language has its own style, and can often be quite different from other programming languages.

Get started with coding in the classroom

Coding and technology have forced us to re-think the way that we interact with others and the world around us. Knowledge of coding is therefore going to be crucial to get the jobs of the future. Giving kids a head-start in the classroom is the best way to ensure a strong workforce going into the future.

The award-winning coding kit from EduKits is one of the best ways to get started with coding in the classroom. It makes learning about technology fun and includes over 20 different inventions that students can build and program.