Android & Kotlin For Beginners - With Badges
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 17 July 2020

Google has launched a new free online course for people without programming experience to learn how to build Android apps using the Kotlin programming language. There's an emphasis on having fun and lots of badges to earn along the way.


There is also a career change and upskilling angle to this new course. In her post announcing Android Basics in Kotlin, Kat Kuan, a Developer Advocate for Android and one of the course instructors begins with:

Many people today are considering career paths that enable them to work remotely. App development allows for that style of work. For people who want a new opportunity, it’s possible to start learning Android today, even without prior programming experience.

She later quotes the recent Stack Overflow Developer Survey, which revealed that nearly 40% of the professional developers who studied at university did not receive a formal computer science or software engineering degree.

While this beginner's course isn't going to fully prepare you for a career as an Android Developer it could be the first step towards one, and given the fact that there are 2.5 billion Android devices in the world, there's room for more developers - and anyway, as we all know, programming is a highly transferable skill with App development being a good way to make a small start.

The new course is freely available and consists of five units.  Each unit is made up of a series of pathways. At the end of each pathway, there is a quiz to assess what you’ve learned so far. If you pass the quiz, you earn a badge that can be saved to your Google Developer Profile, prompting you to create up a profile on the new website, currently in beta, to keep track of your progress and manage yoiur badge collection - and to encourage you to do so there's even a badge for creating a profile.

So how quickly can a beginner learn to create a rewarding app? So far it is difficult to tell as only one unit of Android Basics in Kotlin is available. It has minimal pre-requistes - a computer and an Internet connection and you don't need an Android device although some familiarity with using Android apps is recommended. On the other hand its site lists paper and some coloured pens/pencils. It also recommends both computer literacy and math. Is stipulating math going to put potential participants off. I hope not, and anyone who doubts their math ability needs to see the recent report Practical Math for Frontend Developers, which introduces a free resource of the same name.

Looking at the first unit, Kotlin basics for Android, it starts with a motivational video in which you meet the instructors who are "super excited" to welcome you to the course. 


A second, shorter video then outlines four pathways in the unit:

  1. Kotlin Basics
  2. Android Studio
  3. Birthday Card App
  4. Dice Roller App


Each of these comprises 3, 4 or 5 tracks, plus a quiz to test your learning. Completion of each pathway earns one or more badges.

In Kotlin Basics beginners are directed to Kotlin Playground as part of a Codelab. This provides a browser-based interactive code editor for you to use. Having run a program the next steps are to modify and extend it, after which solution code is provided. Another activity and you've earned the first badge.


In the second pathway a video introduces Android Studio as an IDE that does the heavy lifting, simplifying app development and allowing you to see the app you are building as you go along. As the author of books about Android Studio, in Kotlin as well as in Java, I'm pleased to see that this beginner's course introduces Android Studio in such a positive way. I just hope the message gets back to the Android Studio team and that we see the IDE settle down to become a consistent and usable basis for producing the sorts of Apps that those who embark on this course will aspire to be able to build.



More Information

Learn Android and Kotlin with no programming experience

Android Basics in Kotlin

Unit 1: Kotlin basics for Android 

Related Articles

Practical Math for Frontend Developers

Google Refactors Kotlin Courses

Free Course - Advanced Android With Kotlin

Udacity's Developing Android Apps with Kotlin

Udacity Kotlin BootCamp for Programmers

New Android Basics Nanodegree

Android Studio 4 - Not One Giant Leap For Android Programming

Android Studio 3.4 - Trying Hard But No Bouquets

Android Studio 3.3 - Trying Harder?

Kotlin - New Language For Android


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Last Updated ( Friday, 17 July 2020 )