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Students in web dev: what has been your best learning experience, and why was it effective?

bholmesdev profile image Ben Holmes ・1 min read

I ask this question as someone completely new to teaching, but with a ton of excitement 😃

For context, I'm a member of the Bits of Good student organization that builds websites from nonprofits. We are creating a semester-long (4 month) bootcamp for web development with separate frontend and backend tracks, using in person and online components.

I won't get into many specifics on the curriculum or what our ideas are. Just want some insight from the dev community on what teaching methods, mediums, delivery, etc. best helped you learn! Doesn't matter if you're a new learner, a teacher, participated through some YouTube tutorials or in-person workshops... all perspectives are welcome 😊

Also open to direct recommendations for courses and teachers that you found awesome. Reference material is great to have.

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Ben Holmes

@bholmesdev

GA Tech grad and full stack web dev all about good design, good music, and good code

Discussion

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For me the best way is to find out what are the well-established books for the language, framework etc. I want to learn and read it while I build something I wish existed using that knowledge.

The latest of those for me was reading 'TDD with Python - Obey the testing goat' to learn django and TDD while writing the overwatcher.

 

I had a CS undergrad and got my start professionally working on a Rails/Javascript web application. While the CS curriculum gave me a solid foundation, most of my practical learning early on came from online tutorials and "follow along" style books. Notably:

For the Javascript/CSS parts I learned best by trying to use existing frameworks like Bootstrap and D3.js and adapting them to suit my needs.

Edit: Just thought of some resources I wish I had back then. I don't have much experience with them, but both freeCodeCamp and The Odin Project seem like they would have been really useful.

By the way, not sure if you've taken this yet (or plan on taking it at all), but this seems like something you could research as your semester project for CS4660 Education Technology. I'm familiar with it because of the online graduate version (CS6460) and this definitely seems like an interesting topic to research and present on.

 

Thanks for the links and insight! Confirmed some of what I was thinking, namely code-alongs working well.

Also crazy you'd mention CS 4660; I just took that class last semester! The professor is honestly one of the most engaging I've had at Georgia Tech. He really tries to take a step back and let us go about researching, designing, and implementing an educational product on our own.

This project definitely would have hit home with that class, though I found our project pretty useful too. We mocked up a career readiness simulator meant to teach financial literacy through convincing scenarios of entering the working world (responding to job offers, apartment hunting, etc). Didn't directly translate to this topic though, so I still reached on here to see how to best approach a new medium 😊

 

I love demo/workshop environments that provide a good conversation about what topic is being taught alongside watching it being live coded (think Frontend Masters/EggHead format). In addition to that conversation and live coding, I love that many instructors will also provide links to pertinent references/resources and/or well-written blog posts.

Basically, watch and talk about practical implements and read about concepts while relating it to those practical implements. For the more difficult to grasp concepts, I do think it is important to have that buffer lesson just to make sure that groundwork is there to build on.