Learning to Code at the Snap! of a Finger

Learning to code shouldn’t be something exclusive to tech experts or math geniuses. And with the evolution of programming languages, the skills associated with computer science are now more attainable (and fun!) than ever.

Programming languages have come a long way from complicated combinations of symbols, letters, and numbers — and Snap! is a prime example. With its drag-and-drop interface, this visual programming language breaks down the barriers of different cultures, backgrounds, and dialects, and brings coding back to basics.

Snap! takes a on block-based structure versus a text-based approach to programming, meaning that processes stays the same for learners whether they’re an eight-year-old living in Bangkok, or an 80-year-old living in Texas. Not only does this help make programming and coding fun for learners of every ability level – it builds a global community of creators.

Using Coding to Collaborate

Blocks and shapes are the same no matter what language you’re speaking or country you’re living in, and this equitable factor is helping to spread an awareness of the beauty of computer science across geographic and social boundaries.

With its open-source model and easy-to-digest format, Snap! has been used to teach coding to everyone from elementary-level students at summer camps, to college students, to the teachers that these students learn from. However, if I had to pick my favorite user stories, the experience that immediately comes to mind is one that shows the truly collaborative nature of our language.

Ninth grade is hard – especially for someone on the autism spectrum. One of our learners was in this exact position, and mostly kept to himself – until he was introduced to Snap! This young learner began learning Snap! as part of his curriculum, and after quickly picking it up, he began collaborating with four classmates to code their own game based on the language.

The simplicity of Snap!’s approach to programming leveled the playing field between this boy and his peers, and gave them a space where their creativity would do the talking. The teamwork facilitated through Snap! resulted in a fully functioning game that the classmates had coded on their own, but more importantly, it helped this user overcome the social barriers holding him back.

More Than a Language, a Movement

Building on its ability to resonate with a breadth of users, Snap!’s inclusive nature encourages it to be taught in a group-oriented way. Through activities like SAP Young Thinkers’ Go Digital Nights and college courses, Snap! has completely transformed coding and programming from an individual experience, to a collaborative one – and it’s helping to make the subject of computer science more inclusive as a whole. The Snap! community has grown to over a quarter of a million users, with more than two million apps coded and projects built through the language to date.

Although the skills associated with programming and coding are often thought of as difficult to attain, visual programming languages like Snap! are helping to change that. As the SAP research team continues to build on Snap!, and SAP presents more opportunities for learners to innovate through the language, I’m excited to watch this way of programming continue to bring people together. Snap! is also part of SAP’s Learning for Life initiative.

Ready to learn how to code yourself? Check out the free Snap! dedicated course now available through openSAP here.

Jens Mönig is a research expert at SAP.