By @SimonCocking, great interview with Rob Percival EdTech developer and entrepreneur and author of Confident Coding available from KoganPage here.

What is your background briefly?

I’m a Maths teacher – Cambridge Uni maths degree, 10 years teaching maths, built a few online business of which one, ecowebhosting.co.uk, was successful, left teaching in 2012 to pursue the entrepreneurial life, started teaching on Udemy in 2014, now run a business making courses full time.

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

Looking back absolutely! Definitely was planned, but very few people in the online course world have real world teaching experience, coding chops and entrepreneurship experience – having all three was very useful.

1 min pitch for what you are doing now?

Currently running Codestars, working with other instructors to create and publish great course content. We want to be the #1 source for online coding courses, and already have 700k students.

Available from KoganPage here.

We enjoyed the book, we know you’ve written longer books before on single coding languages, what was the thinking behind covering so many in one book?

I wanted this to be the one book most people would read about coding. Unlike my previous book, and courses, this is not a book for those that want to become developers (although it might give some people a nudge in that direction!). It’s really about teaching professionals – teachers, doctors, managers, lawyers etc – everything they might want to know about coding to advance their careers, start their own businesses, create simple apps or websites, work better with developers etc.

We love reading and reviewing books, is coding perhaps one area though with so many of the libraries and SDKs online that this is an area where you perhaps need the ebook, or at least several tabs open while you read. Question, what’s the best way to use your book?

Best single way is just to read through from cover to cover – it starts with inspiration – why learn to code, and then leads the reader though everything they need to know. Having said that, if a chapter seems irrelevant it can be skipped, as each chapter focuses on a specific skill or language, so the reader can pick and choose if they wish.

Will coding remain a relevant skill? We ask in the context of newer languages that potentially offer the ability to convert words or drawings etc into working code?

Absolutely! Coding is just a way to unambiguously communicate to machines what you want them to do. Knowing how to do that will be an increasing important skill, even if at some point we can convert normal language into code (which I think is still a long way off, if it happens). That writing will still have to be precise, not open to interpretation, and able to achieve complex tasks, so the skills you would learn from this book would be useful, even if the particular language you are using hasn’t been invented yet. The more we rely on computers for everyday tasks the more people can benefit from being able to make machines do their bidding.

What are you excited about for the future in terms of coding and what it can do?

As things like AI and machine learning move into the mainstream, coding languages and platforms will emerge that allow people to work with huge databanks of information to draw out new patterns and find new truths about the world we live in. I see this particularly being of use in the medical and legal spheres, but eventually it will touch every aspect of our lives as machines become increasingly adept at teaching, transporting and entertaining us. There are challenges to be faced, but it’s going to happen, at there are already a huge number of opportunities for both companies and individuals.

Who do you read/follow for inspiration and insights?

I enjoy Hacker News, (https://news.ycombinator.com), daringfireball.com and futurism.com. indiehackers.com is also great if I’m needing a little inspiration.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked you?

My philosophy on life is summarised here -> Almost a decade ago I was busy teaching math to teenagers at three schools in London and Cambridge. Since I’m a bit of a coding geek, I also built websites on the side for friends and family.

I soon learned that web development was a very lucrative career choice, so I gave up my successful (and sometimes stressful) job as a teacher to build websites. Today, I couldn’t be happier with that decision.

After building websites for about seven years, I noticed a lot of people struggling to learn how to code. I wanted others to have the same freedoms that I enjoyed, so I started teaching web development with one thing in mind:

Learning to code doesn’t have to be frustrating, overwhelming, or tiresome.


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