What to teach after beginners classes

(Vikki Read) #1

Hi everyone,

I asked on slack about how to go about teaching after doing the beginner’s classes and somebody suggested discussing it on here, so here I am!

Basically I was interested in finding out how people go about teaching after the beginner’s tutorials are completed? I know for instance with python there are quite a few tutorials, but there are fewer for say javascript, and I was wondering what you do? Do you just run completely self-directed classes and just have coaches help people out with personal projects, or some other approach? I’m happy to try and write some more classes too, but obviously they’ll run out eventually and we were wondering what works best; I’d really like to help people keep learning after they’ve tried out coding and got into it :slight_smile:

Any assistance/advice would be ace!

Thanks,
Vikki

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(Anouk) #2

Hola!

Excellent question, many answers :wink: I was a beginner not that long ago, here’s my experience & suggestions:

Like your question suggests, once you grow out of the first, beginner phase, the information/tutorials/guidance kind of disappears. Sure, there’s lots of blog posts and books, but knowing what to read and what to do next, that’s the hard part.

I personally think the best thing to do at this point, as a learner, is to start your own project. But since getting stuck is pretty much a given, having someone there to guide you through is essential. So YES having space for self-directed learning would be a great thing.

In addition, maybe offer talks on general concepts/ topics. I know it’s not as hands-on as a workshop, but it’s tremendously helpful. I remember feeling like I missed the proper words (jargon) to describe things. Also, many things you read are about something very specific, whereas I was looking for resources that gave me a bit more of an overview.

We noticed this at Hackership as well, which is why we started giving more general talks. Like this one on databases. Other interesting topics would be: web security, algorithms (the ones you actually need), how do compilers work, or design patterns for a specific language.

On top of all that, I think it would be very interesting to have a monthly code review session, where learners can just walk in and have their code reviewed. Or maybe this could happen online. Again, when I was in this quicksand phase, I was very much looking for feedback. Just knowing you are on the right track (or not) can take away a lot of self doubt.

Basically we try to do all this within Hackership, which often ends up being a bridge for not beginners to get to junior developer level. It would be interesting to see if this could also work as a collection of workshops/co-working afternoons/talks (instead of a full-time programme). Please keep us posted!

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(Vikki Read) #3

Thanks @anouk, much appreciated! Really awesome ideas (also hackership looks so ace!). We haven’t done talks so far but I hadn’t even considered it to be honest. I think it might be good to ask people what they would find useful next, to figure out whether its projects, talks, or the code review (I really like all of them but we don’t have many organisers so we might have to figure out priorities and do the most popular ones first).

Did you have any trouble figuring out what to do as a follow-up project? I think just from chatting to people that they just weren’t sure where to go next, as the possibilities are so broad. I have always so far tried to advise people to do what they found interesting, and to try to find a project, but I learnt the basics a really long time ago so I’m not sure how helpful that is… I guess I think the problem is that it goes from being very heavily tutorial-directed, to fully self-directed - did you find that a problem? I wonder if writing up a broader tutorial/guide on how to approach a project might be helpful with the transition, though I’m not sure what that might look like.

(Anouk) #4

Not really, but my first ‘real’ project was for a client. Generally, I would advice to take a project build with help of a tutorial and just make it bigger. For instance, many web tutorials will have you build a micro blogging site, use that as a starting point and then just continue building.

I personally never went for ‘passion projects’, because I was afraid the passion for the idea itself would get in the way of the actual learning. So I usually stuck with setting myself learning goals, rather than project goals. Obviously, this works different for different people and I know plenty of learners who prefer to work on a project they’re passionate about.

Btw, building your first project for a client is not a bad idea either, cause it gives you external pressure to actually keep going. But, the client should know you’re still learning (mine did, but many don’t).

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(Vikki Read) #5

Thanks Anouk that’s really useful - I thought everybody liked the passion projects approach, because that’s how I like to learn, so its great to get somebody’s else’s perspective. Sounds like your learning has gone very well, we’ll definitely try to factor this in when we set up the next classes.

It kinda sounds like people need support with the informal learning after the classes run out. What I might try to do is come up with ideas for how to extend the projects people have already completed and see if that works for our learners. I think its really helpful to have this continuous learning group but keen to avoid people getting bored and giving up!

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