Some of you may know, that I am part of the OpenTechSchool here in Berlin. It is a community initiative of tech savy people building and providing workshops to women and their friends around coding and tech topics. It started in April after a few participants of the great Rails Girls Weekend approached us and said “that was a nice weekend but what now? What about other languages?”. So got into talking and pretty soon a concept we call the OpenTechSchool emerged. A blueprint of how to create and organise your own, free tech workshops.
While we see and believe that online education is a great thing, we also see more and more people fail or drop out. Learning on your own isn’t something for everyone. And especially learning to code the classic styles of University Lectures and In-Front-Workshops have proven to ineffective. To learn developing you have to get down and start doing. And coding with its system of immediate results allows you to do exactly that.
So the model we are currently working on as the main workshop approach is by providing guidance and coaching. Guidance through hands-on workshop material that every participant can work through by themselves at their own pace and coaching by having an “expert” on the field per 3 participants. So there is always someone around to ask if you are stuck.
From being a self-taught software developer, who owns most of his programming skills to a great developer and mentor, I think that is the only real way to learn to code. You can’t learn it in university or just on your own. You need to have someone to bounce your thoughts off to, who gives you feedback and guidance. I do think this, what we are doing here might actually be something that can solve the lack of developer problem in the mid-term. But not in the sense that I think we can actually train full-time hackers, but we can spark the fire and make them want to learn more.
I think with all these machines around us, that are shaping up our daily life, controlling them, being able to communicate with them and make them do what you want them to do - all this I consider programming - needs to become a common knowledge like being able to reading and writing. Not everyone needs to be a poet but being able to handle this skill gives you access not only to express yourself and create awesome things but also unlocks a huge amount of knowledge to you from all over the world.
And for almost half century our craft did nothing else than trying to make programming easier and more accessible. What do you think why we came up with all the languages, and in that sense also Word and LibreOffice are ways to make this machine more accessible to everyone. If we are not able to make it a make a common knowledge, we really failed in that regard. But it is about time.