My friend Georgine (who I don't consider an older person) asked for some advice on where to start. Here's what I told her.
Here's Code Savvy's list of good sites for beginners; also look over the list of online resources.
Here's another good list (scroll down) from Code.org.
My personal favorite online learning sources currently are:
- The gold standard for beginners learning to code (designed for kids, but many adults enjoy it too): Scratch -- a fun way to make games and animations.
- Code.org assembled a bunch of tutorials for kids for their "Hour of Code" initiative. Each take about an hour. For instance, these two (Birds and LightBot) teach basic, useful concepts like do loops, variables, conditionals, etc. in a light-hearted way. Definitely aimed at kids, but worth doing if you can stand the star-studded videos.
- I've been playing around with AppInventor for one of Code Savvy's initiatives. It's a powerful but easy to use language for writing mobile apps for Android phones or tablets. It's a "visual" language, which means that instead of typing in code, you are moving around colorful, oddly shaped blocks with the code already on them. Good step-by-step tutorials. I'm having trouble getting it hooked up to a phone, but there's a phone emulator (fake phone) on the computer.
- Codagogy, now called Women's Coding Collective
-- has excellent online courses on web-making (HTML, CSS and
the hand and gives you a very accessible, useful and practical intro to
web making programs-- within a supportive online class of women, and
women mentors who will answer every question you have with detailed,
patient answers. Your new knowledge applies directly to the real world,
in contrast to many online courses that just have you learning syntax
inside their bubble.
- Mozilla Thimble is also looks fun, and I hear great things about Ruby and Lua but haven't tried either yet.
There's lots more wonderful stuff out there, but that's plenty for starters. Let me know if any of this works for you, or let me know what you are most interested in doing (games, web, mobile apps, other apps, etc.) and I'll try some other suggestions.Have a happy new year, and all the best in 2014.