Movies that Inspire Programming Students

programming films

Motivating students to do something requires creativity, as not one student thinks like another. One thing that students usually looked forward to in class were movies. This was a chance for the teacher to pick something unique and useful and (usually) on topic. Of course half the students would just doze off, but the other half of students walked away with a better understanding of the material. Media is shaping the world we live in even at the most elementary level like learning, and it is increasingly becoming a normal part of our lives. 

There are videos and tutorials on how to do certain things, like build a birdhouse, or troubleshoot a printer. There are videos that explain complex ideas like politics or biology. 

There are videos for those who lack motivation – they can turn to inspirational videos, and videos of success stories. 

Programmers usually fall into that last category – those who lack motivation. This is a typical barrier for computer science students, as the projects and homework given to you is often boring and repetitive. The drive to become a programmer starts to slow down and it takes a long time to get it started again. There are several reasons why someone can be demotivated, but there are even more reasons why watching movies and videos can reinspire and jump-start that drive again. 

Movies Promote Critical Thinking

It should go without saying that critical thinking is an essential skill for anyone, but especially for those in the IT or tech field. Instead of asking the questions “how” you’ll be asking the question “why” to get a better understanding of concepts and theories. 

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Inception (2010)

Think of the movie “Inception” for example. If there are some things we can control within our dreams, what’s to say we can’t create a whole new world in there as well? Why are we able to dream in the first place? This can upstart some thoughts on what the limits of your imagination can do – it stretches it further and further. This type of critical thinking allows you to think outside the box, to think of creative ideas and solutions to problems that once seemed impossible. 


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The Matrix (1999)

Another great example is a classic: “The Matrix”. It questions the meaning of existence and how living in a virtual reality would be like. As technology grows and grows, so does our connection to it. Maybe one day soon we will all be digital numbers. The question remains: would you take the red pill or the blue pill?


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TPB-AFK (2013)

An interesting documentary about the creators of The Pirate Bay (a torrent site) that talks about the reasons why torrenting is useful and how it can help people realize and think for themselves about what is happening, especially when it comes to the government. It also taps into the idea of ethics, something that requires critical thoughts to understand. 


Other Thought-Provoking Movies:

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We Are Legion: The Story of Hacktivists (2012)


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The KGB, The Computer, and Me (1990)


Movies Make Concepts Easier to Understand 

One reason teachers like to show movies and videos during a lesson is because it can relay information in a different way that might be easier for some to understand. Documentaries and docu series are trending now, and lots of them have very topical information. Even older documentaries can set the foundations of all the material you are learning in your classes now. And it can also apply real-life situations and people to the knowledge you have and help you understand things at a deeper level. 

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The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms (2015)

This is one of those documentaries that simplifies the language so most people can understand it. They break down concepts of patterns and loops and things that are not only syntax. They also apply it to real-world situations, which makes it easier to visualize and conceptualize. Not only do they thoroughly explore “why” something works, it also explains everyday things like Google searches and things that affect your daily life, as we are growing more and more connected to technology. 


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Zero Days (2016)

Cyber warfare is something that is gaining traction in the modern world. Zero Days takes a look at how cyber warfare is conducted and what cyber warfare means. It simplifies the connection between technology and politics and how it affects us today. A bit topical, but nonetheless informational.


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Silicon Valley (2014)

This comedic, fictional show actually takes a brief look at the business and entrepreneurial side of the IT field – and although it is satiric and exaggerated, the process of creating a startup is similar and the problems faced are real as well. Finished with season 6 in 2019, it remained very up-to-date with the latest technology. 


Other Movies that Explain Things:

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Project Code Rush – The Beginnings of Netscape (2002)


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Hackers (2005)


Movies that Inspire You

One very powerful use of movies is to inspire the next generation of computer programmers and IT specialists. It engages their audience to think about what they want to possibly do with their future and even explore other possibilities. Having a real-life success story drive a movie can also attract a watcher’s interest and perhaps strike a new chord with them. 

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The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)

A very touching story about a real programmer who was a pioneer for internet politics, the Story of Aaron Swartz is inspirational because of his motives. Unfortunately, he took his life at 26 years old, but there are a lot of things to unpack and to understand that. Some of these topics are ultra relatable, which makes it just as inspiring as any other movie. 


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Indie Game: The Movie (2012)

Lots of people get into IT and computer programming because of their love for video games. What some may not realize is that it takes more than just programming but also a business as well. It takes a look at the past, the present, and the future of video games and the process these developers go through. An interesting watch for those wanting to get into video game design or development. 


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Jobs (2013)

A dramaticized version of a documentary, Jobs shows the life of the one and only Steve Jobs. The innovation and thought process of Steve Jobs is captured pretty accurately in this movie. As a leader in innovation technology, he inspires millions of people, especially in the computer programming or IT field. 


Other Inspirational Movies:

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CitizenFour (2014)


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Whether you are just starting to learn programming, or you’ve been doing it for a while and lost your way, these movies are a good way to find ways to motivate you and educate yourself more. If you need any extra help after watching these movies, head to Programming Assignment Help


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