Galvanize: Intro to JavaScript

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Tonight I went to a free Introduction to JavaScript course courtesy of Galvanize Seattle. ¬†Free for everyone, not me in particular, just in case you thought I had that kind of pull in this town ūüôā

This is my third visit to the Seattle Galvanize campus. ¬†The first time I popped in during an art walk hoping they’d let me take a look around (they didn’t) ¬†and the second time I went to an info session for their Web Development Immersive. ¬†I realize they do these free sessions for business reasons and not just out of the kindness of their hearts, but I still think it is a really cool thing for the community and I am happy to take advantage of it.

As expected we learned the very, very basics of JavaScript, but what wasn’t expected was the level of support in the room – the community evangelist (I think that is the right title) was there to give us an intro and there was also an instructor and three student helpers.

We walked away with a scrappy but fun rock, paper, scissors application and knowledge of some basic syntax and variables.  Also there was free coffee and snacks.  If you are in Seattle go check out one of their many free events!  Galvanize has campuses in other U.S. cities so if you are in Austin, Phoenix, New York, etc. you could also check them out.

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Staying Engaged: User Experience Book Club

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I try to keep how I learn to code varied so that I can stay engaged.  It can be a bit tough sometimes trying to stay motivated when you are learning online alone on nights and weekends.

Luckily I live in Seattle and there are plenty of opportunities for me to go out into the world and keep learning in 3D. ¬†I am going to be trying one of those opportunities for the first time this month – attending a User Experience (UX) book club meeting at a local technical bookstore. ¬†I have been to Ada’s¬†several times to browse or work (there is a cafe inside the bookstore). ¬†I really love the space and I was thinking that it might be fun to try out one of the book clubs they advertised.

Recently I noticed that the upcoming book for the UX book club is about responsive design:

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This is perfect timing because I’ve just started my second course with Skillcrush (Responsive Web Development). ¬†Funnily this book is not available in the bookstore so book club instructions were to buy directly from A Book Apart. ¬†They gave you a discount if you bought a second book so I took the deal:

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Because I am a sucker like that.

The book is short (160 pages) so I’ll be reading through that while I work along with Skillcrush. ¬†If you’ve read this book or another book in the A Book Apart series (it has a tagline of “Brief books for people who make websites”) I would love to hear from you!

Starting Skillcrush 206 – Responsive Web Development

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Second Skillcrush course.  Same awesome design and fun intro music!  But there is something new Рnew host!

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This may not seem noteworthy to you, but when you are watching videos every day for three weeks a small change is a big change. ¬†She is equally as pleasant as our first host though so that’s nice (read more about Skillcrush 101 here).

Day 1 started off with industry standards and coding best practices Рhow to name code files and how to structure the code in those files.  Not the sexiest topic but the kind of detail I really appreciate.

And we still managed to end up with a cute example at the end of the day:

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P.S. Please don’t call that number. ¬†It is a placeholder number and I have no idea what it is ūüôā

Skillcrush 101 – Check! On to 206…

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So I have officially wrapped up my first course of the Skillcrush WordPress Bootcamp: Skillcrush 101 РHTML & CSS.  It was four weeks long (this being the fourth week) with this last week dedicated to an assignment/resting/personalizing custom site.

I really, really enjoyed the course a lot.  And I also learned a lot!  The way the curriculum is broken out into very manageable chunks, the super cute graphics, and the fun videos I think are a pretty unique learning experience.  It is great for reducing intimidation and easing newbies.  Here are some examples of what I am talking about:

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In the course we learned the basics of HTML and CSS, and walked away with our own static website.  Next up is Skillcrush 206 РResponsive Web Development.  I am super excited to make my new site mobile friendly!!

Is anyone else out there going through Skillcrush courses? ¬†I’d love to hear from you!

Learn to Code With Me Podcast

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I am a Laurence Bradford super fan! ¬†I have listened to every single episode of the Learntocodewith.me podcast and I think she is such an amazing host. ¬†I first found Learn to Code With Me when I was looking for a way to keep learning about tech when I couldn’t be at my computer. ¬†I was digging around for podcasts designed for beginners and Learn to Code With Me was the first that I came across.

I think at first I was confused because I was expecting some kind of podcast tutorial series, but it’s actually Laurence talking to different guests about coding and tech. ¬†It really helps with staying motivated, getting familiar with the tech lingo, and just feeling a little less alone on the learning journey. ¬†I’m not going to lie – I feel pretty accomplished that I have managed to listen to all the episodes and now that I’ve caught up I look forward to listening to the new ones as they come in.

Laurence has more than just a podcast though. ¬†On Learntocodewith.me¬†she also links to a blog and a free portfolio course. ¬†I haven’t read through the blog yet but I did start on the free portfolio course. ¬†I ended up taking a pause because I knew I would be creating my own portfolio in my Skillcrush bootcamp¬†and I thought it would make more sense to go through it when I had my portfolio page up and running. ¬†It is up now and ready to customize so I will be revisiting that course soon!

Since catching up on all the Learn to Code With Me episodes I’ve started making my way through the Code Newbie podcast¬†(I’m up to episode 40) and I am really enjoying it! ¬†After that my plan is to start on Developer Tea. ¬†What podcasts are you listening to?

Agile Product Ownership in a Nutshell

From agilealliance.org:

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In addition to learning to code, I also think it is important to educate myself about the context in which coding occurs.  I love my coding tutorials A LOT but I also value learning more about the tech industry in general.

If you feel the same way I highly recommend checking out this 15 minute video (don’t worry it is cartoon style) that is described as “basically a 1 day product ownership course compressed into a 15 minute animated presentation.” ¬†Definitely worth it! ¬†I found this video to be super informative and helpful.

You can watch it too here: http://blog.crisp.se/2012/10/25/henrikkniberg/agile-product-ownership-in-a-nutshell

Code School

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To make sure I take full advantage of the Skillcrush bootcamp I paid for, I don’t let myself get more than a week ahead in the courses. ¬†This way I can be asking relevant questions (and not questions from weeks ahead) in the google group discussions and office hours which is really a big part of why you pay the money (or at least why I did).

After I finish my Skillcrush lessons though I typically have some time left over that I want to dedicate to learning so I have a few other learning resources I am working through as well on the side. ¬†The main one is Code School (https://www.codeschool.com/). ¬†I actually started there before Skillcrush. ¬†Code School is one of the three main online resources people tend to point to when asked about best ways to get started with code (the others being Code Academy and Treehouse). ¬†I haven’t tried those other two yet although I plan to some day. ¬†I just didn’t want to get paralyzed when I first started trying to hunt around for the very best one so I just picked one of the three randomly and got started.

I started by reading the free¬†Beginner’s Guide to Web Development linked on the Code School home page.

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This free resource was so unbelievably helpful (you should definitely check it out!) that I decided to take the plunge and start paying the $30 a month subscription fee right away.  Just want to note though that some of the Code School courses you can take without buying a subscription so if are strapped for cash right now then definitely just check those out.

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I started on the HTML/CSS track and took the first course РFront-end Formations.  I absolutely loved that course and especially liked that at the end there were screencasts to watch where the instructors walk you through building an example site from scratch.

Part way through the Front-end Foundations course (VERY similar name to the first course but different) I found the free Skillcrush 10 Day Bootcamp and loved the style so much that I make a bigger commitment to learning and joined their online bootcamp.  Now I work on Code School in my free time instead of working too far ahead in Skillcrush.  I find this helpful because it gives me a bit of variety and the Code School content reinforces the HTML & CSS learning I am doing with Skillcrush.

Personally I think Skillcrush courses are more entertaining and easier to digest, so I like to learn there first.  I have since completed Front-end Formations and am working my way through the third course, CSS Cross-Country.  I am finding these second and third courses less engaging than the first so if I am comparing, I would say Code School is not quite as fun as Skillcrush but definitely still worth doing, very enjoyable, and way friendlier on budget.  So if you are interested in learning to code but not convinced that you should be shelling out cash for a bootcamp, I highly recommend Code School.  Also I think Code Academy might be completely free so you might want to check that out also.

Are you working through online resources too? ¬†Which ones are you favorites? ¬†I’d love to hear about them!