“I completed Code Year today”

I just got this message from Katie Lohrenz of The Wichita Eagle:

I started Code Year as part of this project (a Tuesday morning group), but after members kept missing weeks over and over, our group fell apart. I already knew how to code, but was really interested in Codecademy’s model — and when presented with challenges where I couldn’t just copy and paste the same old code I always reuse, I do think I learned a few things or at least considered some things differently. And I had fun helping my group along each week, for the month that we lasted.

But I wanted to come back and report that, on my own, I completed Code Year today. The quality of instructions diminished notably towards the end (less users through those units, so less refinement, I guess), so it got rocky toward the end.

For those still working through it: it CAN be done. Slogging through in marathons on slow days helped. Getting interruption-free time was key. If I jumped in for 15 minutes then had to switch back to something more urgent, those 15 minutes were a waste because I hadn’t made enough progress for anything to really stick yet. Then I’d come back later and have to restart the unit from the beginning just to remember WTF the exercise was about. Having more relevant exercises would be a big help, though, because sometimes you get to the end thinking, “Well, it says my code passes. I couldn’t tell you what it does or if there’s a point.”

I’m curious to see what comes of round two. Robert, I know you said on the View Source podcast that you’d like to have programmers paired with the groups. I’d be interested in volunteering for that, or for helping develop more newsroom-friendly curricula.

A huge congratulations to Katie! Thank you for letting me know about your accomplishment.

17. July 2012 by Robert Hernandez
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