Preparing for Enspiral Dev Academy

This year I am on a journey to learn to code – like really learn to code. I have taken leave from school and have enrolled in the Enspiral Dev Academy.

 

EDA-square-hires

Just before Christmas I got an email from them about starting the pre Phase 0 prep, so I have started looking into what will be best for me.

I started with learning some basic HTML/CSS when I started teaching unit standards at Level 2 back in 2010. Using tables to do  page layouts (rather ugly and hard to work with), to in 2014 learning more about CSS, elements, divs (with it also being the second year of teaching achievement standards at Level 2!).

In 2014 I had quite a step up in my coding/programming experience. In March I attend the RailsGirls Wellington weekend, which was an explosion of coolness. Due to the requirement at school to teach programming in our Level 2 course, I also completed, in the first semester, the Introduction to Programming (Python) via the University of Canterbury. Made myself a bit sick doing this but completed it and rather happy with how will I did.

Once I started exploring the idea of doing the Dev Academy seriously I started doing some stuff on Codecademy. I preferred doing the HTML/CSS course rather then the ‘Make a website’ option as it made more sense to me doing stuff in order. I also started on the Javascript course. I found it a bit tendency and basic in what the content was but this was maybe due to having a good base already.

I than started having a play with the HTML/CSS Code Avengers course. Again, I started at the beginning and found the interactive layout more suited to me then Codecademy. I like it because it outlines when you start what everything is and where to find help. It gives hints in the tasks and output examples of what you are creating. I found all of these useful when I got stuck at particular points. As I went through the Level 1 course, even though I knew most of the stuff that it covered, there were a few little things that I picked up that I thought would be useful. It also outlined industry standards or expectations.

In December 2014 I attended the Computer Science 4 High Schools conference in Christchurch, run by the Computer Science department at the University of Canterbury, led by Prof Tim Bell. During this I was able to attend a few workshops, one of which was with Mike Walmsley, the creator of Code Avengers. We did some stuff with Game Development in Javascript (which can be used for NCEA Level 1/2/3 programming) and did a fun challenge with JS. I can imagine that the camps they run would be pretty cool. The game development was cool as well, as you could deploy it and send out the link (see previous post on CS4HS).

The other workshop that I attended was run by Tanya Gray from Gather Workshops – jQuery Taster: Enhancing Websites with jQuery. I found this lots of fun. As the information was online I was able to go a bit ahead as there were different levels of experience in the room. I found this really useful. It was a lot to get done in a couple of hours but doable. It was exciting to add some cool stuff to a site – here is my attempt.

With both of these workshops, even though they were great fun because of the interactivity, it would take me a lot of time to create something similar by myself, as I don’t yet feel I have the knowledge OR understanding of how it all works to be able to create something from scratch. This is the gap in my own experience/knowledge that I want to fill.

I have also had a look at CodeSmashers. This is a new start up that is looking to fill a gap in helping people learn to create their own websites. They use HTML/CSS with a bootstrap framework and by the end of a weekend you can come out with a cool looking site. You may not have a complete understanding of how and why it works the way it does but it is a pretty cool start and there is also an online platform for help from the tutors as well as other participants from your course and all the other courses that CodeSmashers have run. It will be exciting to see where they go next.

Another online course I have access to is Yoobee’s HTML AND CSS BEYOND THE BASICS. I have found this useful in thinking about how I want my site to look as the first task is going a mock up. However, they use a lot of videos and don’t have an online coding area. So the tasks you compete in a text editor then you upload what you have done to a forum and get feedback. By the end of it I should have a good looking site and hopefully learnt new stuff.

Now, back to the email from EDA for the pre Phase 0 prep and where to from here. They have recommended a few sites:

I have done both the Try Ruby (which was okay but a bit strange in how it worked) and Try Git (loved this, the way this was layout and worked was great for me!).

So, the question is where should I go to from here? Have I done enough in HTML/CSS? Should I jump into Ruby or JS first? Which resource should I go for? Should I go back to Codecademy or Code Avengers and start some of their courses further along and skip the basic parts?

What online training have you done? Do you have any recommendations or advice?

(This post is hopefully the first in a few. Planning on updating about online resources I have used once I have completed the prep phase).

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