Yes, Virginia, Regular Folks Can Be Taught to Code |

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Can regular people learn to code?

With so many resources for learning to program, from a children’s book that teaches basic computer science concepts to The Khan Academy’s new interactive programming lessons, you have to ask: Do any of them work? Is anyone out there learning to program and, more importantly, are they applying those skills to real-world problems?

Corinne Salchunas thinks so. She’s a data analyst at customer loyalty software company FreeCause. Earlier this year she learned to program in JavaScript and has already started contributing code to the company website.

Last February FreeCause announced its “Codinization Project” to teach all 60 of its non-engineering staff to code. CEO Mike Jaconi says the idea was inspired by a similar project at FreeCause’s parent company Rakuten, which taught English to all its employees in Japan.

“I wasn’t going to propose teaching Japanese to our English-speaking staff, but since FreeCause is a technology company, I wanted the employees to better understand the foundation that the company was built on,” says Jaconi.

Corinne Salchunas. Photo:FreeCause
FreeCause partnered with Codecademy, a company that provides free web-based JavaScript programming lessons. FreeCause gave employees some work-time to learn their new coding skills, and assigned them a mentor from the company’s engineering department. Jaconi says the project is already yielding some results, namely Salchunas’ work.

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