Tearing down the Veil: Teaching Non-Programmers to Program

TITO QGCon 2015 headshotSPEAKER: Anna Tito

I love code and I love programming and one of my greatest pleasures in life is the ability to share that passion with others especially those who are considered outside of the accepted thought paradigm. When I talk about getting a wider range of people into programming people often respond with “Some people just can’t code” or “There are just differences in the way our brains are wired that makes some people drawn to programming.” Programming is a field in which lends itself easily to obfuscation and many use this, consciously or unconsciously, to keep out those whom they consider to be the “other”. Reinforcing the idea that those in it are the chosen ones with some innate ability. This is complete bollocks! Anyone who has solid problem solving skills can learn to code, but to enable them to learn we need to change the way we teach programming. As teachers we need to shift in how we think about programming and programming instruction. So that we can lessen the uncertainty and self-doubt that many people feel when first approaching programming from a non standard background.

Anna is a Software Engineer at EA Capital Games in Austin. She has worked on a number of released titles including VEGA Conflict (KIXEYE), Ice Age Village (Gameloft) and is currently working on the yet to be released STAR WARS: Galaxy of Heroes (EA Capital Games). She was named as one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 for Games in 2015, one of Develop Magazine’s 2014 30 Under 30 Developers for the brightest emerging talent in games, nominated for the GDC Women in Games Rising Star for two consecutive years (2013, 2014) and Pollenizer named her one of Australia’s Top 50 female programmers. Anna studied and taught game design and programming at RMIT University in Australia for a number of years. During that time she worked tirelessly to make cross disciplinary study a norm, developing a culture of empowerment that enabled artists and designers to engage in game programming with confidence.