Education for web developers
March 25, 2016
I’ve been a web developer for over 8 years, and got hooked on web development the very first time I wrote HTML. The process of creating something people can use out of nothing is very powerful. Before I began my career in web development, I was doing construction and then later help-desk work. To me, programming is similar to construction. You have a problem, and you need to figure out the solution, using your skills and the tools available. There are times when you may not immediately know how to solve a particular problem, which only means that you’re pushing the limits of your comfort zone and that’s a good thing. Most times, I find myself working on projects with teams of people rather than on my own. Ideally, while working with your team, you will learn something and improve your own skills for the next project.
When I started developing websites, I constantly had to read forums, tutorials and books. To this day, I continue to do that. The web, book stores and social media are my on-going college education. Having instant access to educational resources makes this job fun and exciting. The moment I get stuck on something, I just open a new tab in my browser and 10 minutes later, I know how to solve my problem.
Currently, I’m in the position where I’m interviewing web developers for positions on my team or I’m giving advice to beginners how to get a job in the web development industry. I see a trend where people get overwhelmed with amount of information available out there. People interested in web development need help to focus on what’s important and be guided through the noise of unnecessary ”how-to” blog posts and forums. For people who want to learn new technology, structured content and guided education are more valuable than individual tutorials. However, tutorials can be useful when you are trying to solve a very specific problem or introduce new library to the existing project.
Web developers who want to contribute back and write tutorials should consider creating more guides (structured content) where a reader or learner can navigate from one level to another and learn the material in a specific order. Imagine when you decide to learn machine learning, you can have just one tab open with everything you need, instead of 25 tabs with different tutorials you googled a week ago.
Many web developers, especially front-end developers, are self-taught. I’m one of them. It would have been a huge help for me if I had a teacher or mentor who created a class on “become a front-end” developer, and provided guidance if I had questions like “do I need to learn jQuery or Prototype.js”? (remember, I started 8 years ago !) I wish I had a class like this when I started my career as a front-end developer. When an expert in the field can recommend something based on their experience, it may save months, or even years, for another person who is just getting started.
That’s the reason we created ClassMate.io. It’s an open and free platform for anyone to create a class or take a class. We felt that education should be available to anyone, and there was no good platform to just simply create a class and provide help (chat or board discussions) to students.