What is Computer Programming?

This is the first question we ask at every Day of Code – the start of our Foundations classes: “What is computer programming?”

Teen typing in code during Unity Class at TechWise AcademyThe answers from students vary from “the language computers can understand” to “I don’t know.” We’re really not looking for a right or wrong answer, but we want to know where our students are beginning their journey with us.

Computer programming is…

Computer programming is the practice of providing instructions for a computer to follow. That is essentially it. Programmers use different languages to make it easy for computers to follow. And we’re not talking “English” or “French.” You’ve probably heard of fancy names like PHP, C# (C Sharp), C++, HTML, etc.

Who’s smarter – a computer or person?

Computers don’t know what to do without our help. People give computers commands on what we need them to do. Programmers tell computers what they’re capable of doing and users tell computers what they need them to do. It’s a pretty neat relationship. In a way, users are at the mercy of a programmer anticipating the actions of a user. A computer is the tool to carry that out.

Computers are really good at carrying out tasks much quicker than people. Math is an obvious one, but if you need to do hundreds of calculations in a matter of seconds – a computer is really good at that. Better than any of us will ever be.

Why we ask the question?

We ask this question not just to see where our students’ level of knowledge lies. We ask because we want the students to start thinking about what they will tell the computer to do. This is a great ice breaker because in our classes, or at home, we want the students to explore their imagination and try to create something new.

Even in elementary school – our students become programmers. And that’s pretty neat.