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Learning how to write programs, or scripting logic (step-wise instructions) for a computer, is a powerful way to introduce computational thinking for students.


Computational thinking is a form of problem solving that centers on being able to solve an issue through iterative debugging. It is connected with implementation and innovative thinking skills since it leverages being able to recognize patterns, creating step-by-step strategies for solving problems, and possessing enhanced analytical capabilities. Increasingly, students are called upon to demonstrate computational thinking skills in addition to conceptual and critical thinking skills.


There are many free and simple ways to learn how to program.  Check out the online links in the Tools section below.

If you need a programming or special software-enable environment, please contact us for information on access to a shared hosting environment or to an Amazon Web Services environment.


The tools below highlight easy ways to introduce programming into any class, including those in the humanities and social sciences. The emphasis is not on students becoming programmers, but on understanding the logic and processes behind computation so that they can collaborate with cross-disciplinary teams in the future and expand their own toolkit. A final project could take the form of:

  • enhancing a website with custom HTML/CSS code
  • leveraging javscript to introduce interactivity into a site
  • creating a database that stores and retrieves archival information
  • modifying a script in Mallet or some text analysis tool
  • creating a simple game or simulation of a concept or topic
  • a working prototype of a mobile application


Basic – Step-wise tutorials Intermediate – more complex topics Advanced – IDEs & more
Code Academy: Intro to Python & more

Coursera, Rice U: Fundamentals of computing

Databases from scratch: Easy article explaining database fundamentals

HTML/CSS tutorial: Intro to web programming

Javascript tutorial: Intro to javascript (free through NYU Home): video tutorials

Try R course: Intro to programming in R.

Coursera, Johns Hopkins: Intro to R

Database tutorial

How to think like a computer scientist: Python

Processing: easy to learn programming language based on Java.

Try Git course: Intro to GitHub


Code Mirror: in-browser code editing

Code Skulptor: in-browser Python editing

Command Line crash course: overview of using the command line

Eclipse (free): An IDE for Java development.

LAMP / MAMP / XAMPP: set up a local server environment

Skulpt: in-browser Python editing