This post was originally published at Ironhack's official blog.
Software is spreading across most industries way faster than our ability, as a society, to teach people how to code. Despite the most influential organizations and personalities already acknowledge the importance of software as the building blocks of the digital age, we still perceive it as some kind of magic, performed by creepy guys inside the dark rooms of big corporations.
This vision of software, though, can’t be farther from reality. Software has already become the underlying glue for almost every discipline and industry. Product managers, human resources, customer support, journalists, even CEOs… rather sooner than later every single profession will be touched by code in one way or another, so we better get prepared for this new challenge ahead of us.
We wanted to bring together 200 enthusiastic people, eager to learn more about code, and show them that it was possible, that anybody could do it. The aim was to build stuff, to turn thinkers and managers into digital makers.
From a societal standpoint these are really great news. Software has the ability to reshape entire industries, as we’ve already seen with hospitality or transportation, and bring with it a whole range of new job opportunities for everybody. We couldn’t be more excited about it and that’s why, at Ironhack, we are preparing the next generation to learn how to code.
Because of this, last week, we hosted the We/Code: the largest coding festival in Europe, where we aimed to teach how to code a simple web app to more than 200 people, in just one day. We did it because we truly believe that it is our duty to bring code closer to people and to create the necessary awareness of the importance code already has in our society.
With this simple proposition in mind we partnered with MOB to host the first edition of the We/Code. Despite we did not plan for a massive communication campaign, more than 600 people signed up, surfacing the real interest a certain layer of society already has for the matter.
We were perfectly aware that we weren’t going to train 200 developers in just one day, we weren’t aiming for that. We wanted to bring together 200 enthusiastic people, eager to learn more about code, and show them that it was possible, that anybody could do it.
We hosted the most diverse backgrounds, that shared one single treat: they were extremely curious about code and wanted to learn more.
Although we expected certain demographics to attend, we got deeply surprised about the mixture of people that finally joined us at the We/Code. From 16 to almost 50 years old, friends, fathers and sons, couples, work colleagues… we hosted the most diverse backgrounds, that shared one single treat: they were extremely curious about code and wanted to learn more.
With this set up, the We/Code punctually started at 09:00am in the morning. All the attendees started to fill the MOB and we carefully distributed them within groups of ten people and then assigned a teacher to each group that led the group through the day. The teachers (that kindly volunteered the entire day) all came from Ironhack’s alumni network, and patiently explained the basic stuff required to kick start their way into web development.
It was amazing, most of them got to the point where they started looking up to blogs and online resources to impress their peers and show off the new feature they just implemented.
With this simple approach, that we’ve seen succeed again and again in our bootcamps, we wanted to just give the minimum amount of basic knowledge and build up from there. Within two hours most people already knew how to put together a bare bones product and understood the basics of HTML and CSS, enough to just start playing around and learning by doing. From there, with some help of the volunteers, all groups started to build new stuff following the proposed exercises, but without being told over and over the theory behind it.
It was amazing, most of them got to the point where they started looking up to blogs and online resources to impress their peers and show off the new feature they just implemented. We deeply believe that coding is meant to be a social activity and only by doing you’ll advance through the process. That’s how we designed our bootcamp since the beginning, and we were seeing the exact same thing happening here in a smaller scale.
After almost four hours of coding, we gave them a break and went out for lunch, because the best part had yet to come in the afternoon. Now it was about time to start their projects. We proposed that every group chose a popular website and tried to replicate its design with their own code. This approach turned out to be a great idea because it was both challenging and they also saw value into their work because it resembled something they use almost everyday.
All of them were absolutely devoted to product they just created and this sense of ownership and engagement was definitely the mark of success for the We/Code.
The whole project was a team effort from the beginning. The groups worked in pairs in the same code base, in real time. Each pair built a feature or a block contributing to the whole project, so this way all the efforts were directed towards the same goal. The environment the We/Code created was just amazing. All the teams were enthusiastically working on their project, trying to push the envelope to include some new feature or that transition they just learned on the Internet.
After more than 3 hours immersed on the projects, we couldn’t make them stop to present to their peers. They wanted more and they were all begging for 10 additional minutes so they could fix the mobile view or add a cooler shade in there. All of them were absolutely devoted to product they just created and this sense of ownership and engagement was definitely the mark of success for the We/Code.
At the end of the day, all groups presented their projects and you could not believe what these people build in just 3 hours with no prior coding experience. Somehow it reminded us of the Hackshow, the event we host at the end of each Bootcamp, and it felt great.
We wanted to translate all the experience we’ve gathered through the bootcamps and apply the same formula to engage people and help them close the gap from zero to one.
When we envisioned the We/Code we wanted to bring code closer to people. We wanted to translate all the experience we’ve gathered through the bootcamps and apply the same formula to engage people and help them close the gap from zero to one. The We/Code became the perfect space for people who understood that code is important, and wanted to know more, but they were not ready to start for one reason or another.
Coding is not just for programmers anymore. It belongs to all of us since the moment it’s touching every single industry. And that’s a good thing, because it means opportunity. The We/Code has turned out to be the best way to approach this new world in a fun way, surrounded by motivated and enthusiastic people that share the same goal. So, for people who wants to know more, who wants to get their hands on the code, we are already waiting for you to join the next edition.