I’ve been using OneMonthRails for about three weeks. I was first drawn to the course after one line stood out to me – the line in Mattan’s course description said there was a focus on helping students get a project up-and-running quickly. At that moment, this idea totally resonated because after two months on Codecademy, I felt I was going an inch deep and a mile wide with the basic-basics of three languages, but nothing to show for it. Mattan promised a project-based approach teaching users to build a Pinterest-like app with real functionality. I found that he’d posted a coupon code to twitter (I don’t buy anything without a coupon), and I snagged it and jumped in.
The first week was slow going – work was suddenly busy – but I would come home and watch a few lessons at night. The first six lessons were not that useful – just Mattan’s background and no code. By the seventh lesson, it got interesting, and I dove in. Mattan started going through how to install/use the basic tools – 1) Command Line, 2) Sublime Text 2, 3) GitHub, and, eventually 4) Heroku.
Coding has a tremendously steep learning curve if you don’t have someone holding your hand at the beginning. For years I’ve looked at a command line and never understood why it was needed. For months now I had installed GitHub, found a project someone else had posted that I wanted to tinker with, but didn’t know how to even view their code let alone see the application running. 3 weeks ago my friend Shaheen suggested I needed to try out Heroku – but I didn’t know how to begin using it once it was installed. Mattan slowly walked me through how to get a rails server up and running locally, and then how to push to my GitHub account, and then how to push to Heroku, and view it on the internet. That was a huge accomplishment – the course was already worth it at that point – only 30% of the way through.
I can’t stress enough how encouraging it is for the learner to actually have something running live on the internet. Perhaps its vanity but I think its important that all tech educators strive to get the learner to that point as quickly as possible.
Then came a roller-coaster of highs and lows as I slogged through the course. There were moments of deep frustration – I got stuck for hours trying to import the Bootstrap framework. (Bootstrap is a design framework from a couple Twitter guys that can make an app start to look beautiful very quickly.) I banged my head against that bug for half a day until I broke through – it was some stupid typo. (Note: I posted to the Q&A forums on OneMonthRails, and got a response about 48 hours later, which was a pretty good response time given it was Labor Day Weekend, but not fast enough when you are emotional and lost).
Then came another high – a monumental moment when we added the Devise framework which quickly got user accounts up and running on the site. I couldn’t believe that a day before I was struggling to get “hello world” and now users could create passwords, log in, and see content. It’s an amazing time to be a developer – so many tools are out there to be leveraged. So much is possible so quickly.
Conclusion: I’m loving this experience. Here’s my project so far.
I think actually that OMR complements Codecademy nicely: OMR goes deep into one app that leverages all 4 languages and shows you how to build & deploy something. Again, it gets you to the point of having your own site live on the internet – which I believe is crucial to the learner’s experience.
Stay tuned for more as I plow ahead.