44 votes
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How to explain what code is to my parents?

Coding is like writing a recipe for the computer to follow so that it solves your problem. The computer "reads" each step, and follows it, eventually reaching a solution. Some programs are better than ...
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16 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

The best way to explain coding to someone is very dependent on their background. You really need to tailor the story to fit what they understand. That being said, they're parents so... Coding is a ...
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11 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

I tend to describe code as a contract. Most people know that if you read a contract, it's not in English - it's in "legalese". Legalese is a language that looks mostly like English, but it's full of ...
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10 votes

What are some non-CS concepts that can be defined using BNF notation?

Going with real-world things which they should be familiar with are best, even if it is completely outside of education. As you have applied the tag for adult education, I'm going to presume it is ...
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10 votes

How can I explain the difference between CS and coding to a layperson?

I regularly have to explain what computer science is to parents, and I have lately settled into this explanation: Technology keeps changing all the time. You get used to the menus in Microsoft Word, ...
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7 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

My explanation would be: The computer isn't some machine that can do a lot of intelligent things. Rather it is very dumb, but can execute instructions carefully, very fast and without getting bored. ...
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6 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

Simple: you let one of the best science teachers of all time explain it to them for you. Here's a video of Richard Feynman introducing computers to a non-technical audience at some new-age retreat ...
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6 votes

How can I explain the difference between CS and coding to a layperson?

I'll attempt a self-answer here, based on hindsight and a few previous experiences where I went in knowing I wanted to do this. I've found that starting off with an analogy helps a lot of the time. ...
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5 votes

How can I explain the difference between CS and coding to a layperson?

I would explain it like this: In reality, you have to solve problems on your daily basis. It may be a time problem, like "how do I get these five tasks done it just 1 hour?" or "how can I stack these ...
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4 votes
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How do I explain blockchain using an analogy?

Use a classroom activity, then present that as the analogy. An old campfire activity, for those that remember it. A growing story that nobody knows the end of, or even if it will end. The objective ...
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4 votes

Overcoming a friend's self-discouragement

I am not sure if I agree with the "monkey" part! Maybe everyone is capable of writing some code. Building serious apps is another thing... Anyway, show her the code.org website, and let her play ...
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4 votes

How can I explain the difference between CS and coding to a layperson?

Dealing with (my) parents who are not particularly aware of computers or the difference between a server and a database, I believe I have a fairly simple answer for this question. Computer science is ...
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4 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

I've been a professional Software Developer for about 30 years, and a hobby programmer before that going back to the 70's. So I've been asked this a lot, and have had time to try lots of approraches. ...
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4 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

"What is coding ?" A set of instructions written in human readable language (at least to developers) that is executed to perform a task or goal. "what a programming language is" High level: Just ...
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4 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

Well, I would personally suggest you to show them the first lecture of Harvard CS50 class and believe me they will not leave it without completing all of them. It is one of the best structured course ...
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4 votes

What are some non-CS concepts that can be defined using BNF notation?

The literary arts are full of structured strings. The main problem there is finding ones which have sufficiently interesting structure. E.g. ...
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4 votes

What are some non-CS concepts that can be defined using BNF notation?

Mathematical expressions or natural language are good candidates for these. e.g. from http://matt.might.net/articles/grammars-bnf-ebnf/ ...
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3 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

In addition to the excellent definitions already provided, consider taking a slightly different approach or at least augmenting it a bit. This comes back to good pedagogy: I wouldn't give students ...
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3 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

I think I would explain it like this: What is a programming language? I'd say, it is a set of instructions1 (a "language", the words are the operators, sentences are expressions and so on) to tell ...
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3 votes

How can I explain the difference between CS and coding to a layperson?

Computer science is a discipline of problem solving. I use this phrase from CS50 often (mainly because I teach an adaption of it): ...
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  • 9,042
2 votes

How to explain what code is to my parents?

A programmer writes the instructions for a computer to do its job. A program is a set of instructions for it to follow to accomplish or aid in performing a task. Sometimes the instructions can be ...
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2 votes
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Overcoming a friend's self-discouragement

First, try setting up some sort of "coding hangout time" - you and her can practice coding together. You can help her when she gets stuck, and encourage her. It's always good to have a buddy in what ...
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2 votes

Overcoming a friend's self-discouragement

What do you like about programming? Think of something you saw/did when you were starting out that inspired you. I remember during my undergrad when one of my professors all of a sudden one day wrote ...
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2 votes

How can I explain the difference between CS and coding to a layperson?

I don't know if this will help you, but I often find myself in the position of explaining the difference between CS and IT to students / prospective students / parents, and I use the experience of ...
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2 votes

Overcoming a friend's self-discouragement

Well, I know that starting out it is encouraging to do something simple that still has use. I would recommend trying to set your friend up with an easy to read language like vb.net and helping them ...
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  • 171
2 votes

Overcoming a friend's self-discouragement

I want to focus on this part of your question: What tools are there to show her it is much easier than it looks at a glance? It reminded me of this blog post from Scott Hanselman: "Stop saying ...
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  • 9,042
2 votes

What are some non-CS concepts that can be defined using BNF notation?

Let me try to give a more interesting example, that can't be expressed as a set of simple regular expressions. BNF, properly speaking, is about the structure of a thing, such as a language. As such, ...
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1 vote

Overcoming a friend's self-discouragement

What are your friend's major worries about coding? If it's just the difficulty, I would maybe show her something drag-and-drop such as App Inventor. While an actual career in the field would most ...
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1 vote

How do I explain blockchain using an analogy?

It is like a set of legal precedents, where each one refers to previous ones, and adds a bit. To understand the latest one, you must walk the chain, and try to work out what is now true. Old ...
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1 vote

Overcoming a friend's self-discouragement

I agree with your first part. A trained monkey can code Show this to her and say If a monkey can write code, then why can't you. Some encouraging things you should tell World's first programmer was ...
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