The first week covers HTML, CSS and Bootstrap. If you have a modicum of experience with any or all of those topics, the first week can feel painfully slow at first. You may not feel like you are learning a lot and to top it off, you’re paired with someone who may know far less about the subject matter. If this is you – take the first week as an exercise in teamwork and getting the workflow down. If you do follow the course materials, you will find things you don’t know and many things you may have needed a refresher on.
One thing of note that I was caught a bit off-guard by was how hands-off the teachers are. In the entire week, I spoke to our teachers for less than 10 minutes – and on topics related to either hardware/software or getting an access card to the building. You, your pair, and your peers are who you will be learning the most from. It is hands-on, from the start of the day to the finish.
It is best to think of your teachers as a guide – a last resort to get to a destination if you have already exhausted all other options. Otherwise, the path is laid out before you – you just need to keep moving.
First – find a pair. Doesn’t matter who it is. If you’re early to the first class, grab the first student in the door for the Intro class and ask them to be your pair. Do this every day of the week. No judgments – just ask, “Hey, would you like to pair up.”
Initially, no one knows each other and everyone is in the exact same position. They don’t know you or your prior experience, the quality of your work, etc.
The course content has several questions pairs can ask each other. I leaned towards asking experience questions so that I knew what my pair knows and what their comfort level was. For me, CSS makes me want to vomit when it comes to layout and I think I was pretty clear with my partner that the box model scared me a bit (skittish from pre-framework experience circa 2007ish).
Find your fit with different pairs and take the time during your code reviews to really check out other pairs’ work for ideas you might use later down the road. Also – other students will pick up things you miss or don’t quite understand (like some of the Bootstrap features) and you have a chance to see how they arrived at a solution.
Hell – you may find yourself having to question your own actions. Mine came on the second day where I was a bit embarrassed to present our daily project to others as it didn’t come out how I had idealized it – or it wasn’t the quality that I wanted to deliver. I wanted to drop something that looked like we’d been professionally designing websites for years. But the lesson wasn’t on design – it was on learning the fundamentals of CSS. Thanks Terri for pointing that out. I wanted to run before I could walk. I overestimated my own abilities.
Your intro to HTML is straightforward and to the point. To some degree, I found this basic and you don’t really cover all of the tags that can be used. However, you learn exactly what you need to know to accomplish your subsequent goals with CSS and Bootstrap.
You learn the fundamentals of CSS including the box model, using classes and identities, etc. Pretty straight-forward, bare-bones stuff.
Hopefully after you come out of CSS, you will see how Bootstrap makes your life a little bit easier by providing many creature comforts as well as making layouts a breeze. Plus, with the built-in styling, your sites start to resemble something cira 2012+ instead of a turn of the century site.
The only person you are competing against is yourself. Sure, you will be comparing your stuff with other students, but really take the time to soak up everything you see other pairs doing as a learning experience. Even if your site isn’t the idealized representation of what you wanted, you will find that you probably did something that other students didn’t or couldn’t figure out how to do. At the same time, look for aspects of other people’s projects for areas where you want to improve your own project. Look at their code and soak it up.
Your personal project is a summation of all of the content you’ve learned over the past week. The project requirements were posted at 5:00PM on Thursday. We were given permission to start any time after that and it had to be turned in by 5:00PM the following day. The other requirement is that we had to sign-in on time and we could not leave early.
If you are given a jump start – use it! I was able to knock out a primitive layout of how I envisioned my project Thursday evening. The following day I finished putting in the content and then had a lot of time to tweak the layout to get the overall product structured just as I wanted it to appear. I could have been done by noon. I was able to keep myself busy just by experimenting with the layout, the content and bootstrap features .
While you are not allowed to work with other people or get help on your project – at the tail end of the day, some of us did check out each others work just to see how others approached the project. It was an eye-opener. The guy next to me had a beautiful layout that looked 100% better than mine – and it was far more practical. After a bit of reflection, I found some significant shortcomings in my layout decision that I didn’t think about.