Of all the apps you've downloaded to your mobile, which one do you use the most? Now, a different question: of all the apps you could have on your mobile, which one do you wish for, that doesn't exist yet?
Would you like to learn how to build it?
Long before COVID made working and learning from home a reality, Information Technology (IT) and computer programming were the two top career fields slated for exponential growth. Once the lockdowns started, with its adventures in remote learning and Zoom suddenly going mainstream, what career analysts had long known became plain for all to see.
Of those tech fields, none grew hotter than the app market. Everybody's fav word game, Wordle, is a testament to that.
Developed by software engineer Josh Wardle, it was originally intended to be a diversion; a fun pastime for his family during lockdown. His partner helped by gathering and reviewing a list of 25,000 five-letter words (in American English), eventually pruning it down to just 10% of that selection.
In October 2021, Mr Wardle made his app public. Since then, numerous variations have hit the play stores: Yeardle - a history game, Heardle is for music lovers and Numberle: a game for maths lovers.
Incidentally, Mr Wardle also built Heardle, the music game. There's also a Heardle for phonetic spelling of words. In fact, there are not so many -rdle games that there's an Rdles.com website to track them all.
See what can happen if you have programming skills and a bunch of time on your hands? That's a fine rhetorical question that might lead you to ask: where can you get the needed programming skills?
|Where you could take app development courses:|
|- At your local university.|
|- At your local continuing education centre.|
|- Online: through a MOOC or a dedicated course.|
|- As a part of job training or an apprenticeship.|
|- Through your local computer club or programming group.|
|- With a private instructor.|
Superprof wants to help you get started on your app design aspirations by pointing out the advantages and the few downsides of app development courses.
University Computer Programming Courses
Generally, university programming courses are a part of computer science degree programmes. If you're a university student or only a few months away from beginning your undergraduate studies, you may choose such a degree plan. Always provided you have the requisite marks for entry, of course.
That doesn't leave much open for the general public, though.
Fortunately, many universities have realised that there is an overwhelming demand for such classes from the general public; many have begun offering workshops, seminars and short courses in beginner programming. They've also launched classes where you can learn the most versatile and popular programming languages: C++, Python, Java and so on.
If your local uni doesn't yet offer those classes, you might talk with them to see if they plan to develop any. Or they might inform you that they've already created such programmes, only they're not taught in class.
Online Programming Courses
As programming entails the use of a computer, obviously, an internet-connected computer is the best place to learn how to program. That's why the best universities have launched Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are taught strictly online.
MOOCs are generally open to the public, sometimes for a fee but often for free. Depending on the course and institution, you may need to register and pay a small administrative fee, after which you may take any course currently on offer.
You don't even have to look for MOOCs from your local university. Several educational sites have gathered MOOC courses from several universities onto their platforms:
- Coursera is an American subscription MOOC platform
- FutureLearn, its UK equivalent, offers courses from some of the UK's top-rated universities (courses are free but certificates cost)
- edX is an American MOOC powered by MIT and Harvard University
- Alison, the Irish MOOC provider's courses are free
- The Khan Academy only requires you to create an account
- Udemy offers free courses if they are under two hours long; otherwise, the fees vary according to the instructors.
Whether you choose to pay for a certificate - or, for that matter, a programming course, is entirely your choice. Many such courses do not charge a fee. However, if you need a certificate to attach to your CV, you may have no choice but to pay those fees.
Another option for taking programming courses is through a commercial venture. You might turn to Reed for a list of such outlets; beware, though, that they all have fees attached.
Or, even better: check out ITPro's webpage for some of the best coding and app development courses.
Programming as Job Training
The workforce trend over the past several years has been for companies to offer their employees continuing education courses. Some of those offerings aren't even related to the company's work profile; yoga classes and mindfulness are two prominent examples of such.
More often than not, though, seminars and job training courses do pertain to the job at hand; a company might cover the costs of their employees' Microsoft training, for instance. Thus, it's not so far out of the realm of possibility that they might also cover costs for programming courses and app design.
Especially if such a company plans to expand their IT department to include a software development section. Perhaps they plan to create an app development team?
For people already in the workforce, taking courses outside of work can prove challenging, especially as the post-COVID economy forces us all to mind our spending. But if you could take courses on the boss' dime...
If your company doesn't offer such continuing education or employee development initiatives, you might petition for them. When you do, point out the advantages of such a benefit; namely that other major corporations have been offering them for years and a well-rounded workforce is better prepared to tackle the future's work challenges.
Learn From a Programming Group
In my town, there is a group of programmers who get together for a pint every so often. They're a boisterous crowd that likes to talk about all things technical, from hacking (only the ethical variety, of course) to blockchain's inherent possibilities. Occasionally, they gush about a new app on the market.
Do you know of such a group in your neighbourhood? If not, you might find one on Meetup or, if you're on Facebook, perhaps you might find a local group there. Should you already be enrolled in computer programming, coding or app development courses, your instructor might be able to steer you to such a social group.
Although most times, groups such as these extend their invitation to anyone with an interest in computers, coding, programming or development, it's generally implied that you should know at least the basics of such. Otherwise, you might find yourself left out of the most fruitful discussions or, worse: become discouraged when confronted with the vast stores of knowledge you've yet to learn.
Maybe the Python online community would be a great initiation into programming groups. This global programming community is generous in their support for new developers; they offer reams of advice and encouragement and help to anyone who asks.
By the way, did you know that the Reddit application is Python-based? It's a great language to build any category of app with, from personal finance to games.
Programming Lessons with a Private Tutor
Earlier, we touched on how difficult it could be for a full-time worker to take courses; let's expand that difficulty by adding family and other obligations. Sometimes, people just have so much on their plates that they can't commit to a regularly scheduled activity that goes on for months or years.
For such individuals, those with a desire to learn but too hectic a schedule to do so, a private tutor who specialises in programming languages and app development is the ideal solution.
What if you work in a shop or a factory all day long, and then rush home to see to the kids or take care of your elderly relative and your evenings are taken up by some other commitment? No worries, your tutor can meet you on the weekends or whenever - and as often as it's convenient for you.
You may even take programming lessons with your tutor over Zoom or Skype. These platforms are tailor-made for remote learning, as we so rudely discovered last year. They have all of the features needed for quality instruction and today's online programming tutors know how to use every one of them.
Superprof has over 6,000 programming tutors in the UK alone so, whether you wanted in-person lessons or via webcam, you're sure to find the right tutor for your needs. But best of all is that Superprof is a global tutoring platform; you're not limited to only tutors in the UK.
If you're a night owl, you may prefer to learn from a programming tutor in the US and, if you're an early riser, maybe an Aussie bloke would suit you better.
Rest assured that private lessons with a tutor are not as costly as you might think and, besides, you can count those fees as a part of your costs for developing an app.
The platform that connects tutors and students