The first Cincinnati Web Tech Study group met this Saturday. The response to this course has been tremendous. We opened up 25 slots and sold out within the first week or so. The initial plan for this group is to go through the Stanford 142 course in web development using Ruby and Rails for which the lecture videos and project assignments have generously been made available online. This week’s assignment was to watch the videos which cover HTML and CSS. The format our in person meetings is to allow students to work through the exercises together and learn from one another, with several more experienced developers there to help out as needed.
It’s almost a cliche that the best way to learn is by teaching, and even though I didn’t “teach” in the formal lecturey sense of the word, I learned a lot. I consider myself competent with HTML and CSS, but by no means an expert front end designer/developer. Digging into the exercises with the students was a great way for me to relearn stuff I’ve forgotten or didn’t ever learn to begin with. CSS is one of those things that, to be honest, I find it often to be somewhat capricious in it’s rules and difficult for my “wanting things to make sense” brain to retain. So practicing is certainly good for me in an “eat your vegetables” kind of way. Also, I like vegetables.
I’m always amazed at both the challenge and reward of helping people learn this stuff whenever I’m involved in something like this. As developers it’s so easy to take knowledge for granted. It’s only by really working one on one with someone brand new that you can appreciate all the skills and knowledge that go into being a web developer. And it’s really inspiring to see so many people jumping in to the challenge.
The long term vision for this group and beyond (whatever that means!) is to be a place where anyone who’s committed to taking on the challenge will find a group of enthusiastic people slightly farther down the road who want to help in any way possible. I think it could be the beginning of something big.
Lastly, but not lastly, we’ve had a couple people drop out for various reasons, so a few more slots have opened up. If you’re intrigued and want to join us, it’s not too late!