WCC Course Orientation

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about how our courses work.

We’ll also walk through some software setup required for taking a course with us. If you have not yet enrolled in a course, you can skim those details for now— you'll be prompted to revisit this orientation after enrolling.

If you have any questions while reading through this guide, don’t hesitate to drop us a message at help@thewcc.com.

Challenge Sets

Our courses are structured around challenge sets, which are modules covering a series of related topics from the course—kind of like a chapter from a book.

Challenge sets are released at Noon EST on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. When a new challenge set is released, we’ll send you an email reminder that the content is waiting for you.

Challenge Schedule

Pace

You can work through the challenges whenever you want, just aim to complete each set before the next one is posted. If you miss a deadline, the challenge won’t go away (you never lose access to the course material, even after the course is complete), but we strongly encourage you keep on track so you don’t fall behind.

We’ve broken the challenges into manageable chunks to fit conveniently into your schedule; bite off as little or as much at a time as you want.

Budgeting Time

The time it takes to complete a given challenge set varies from student to student based on differing experience levels. Some students may take several hours to accomplish what another student can knock out in 30 minutes.

Given this, it’s hard to say for sure how long the challenge sets will take you, but a rough estimate would be 1 to 3 hours.

Note that some challenge sets will be more hands-on than others, culminating in practice exercises, and they will take considerably more time than other challenge sets.

Checkpoints

At the end of each challenge, you’ll find a checkpoint designed to solidify the material just covered.

The checkpoints may include the following:

  • Prompts to accomplish some task or do some research
  • Prompts to submit work in the Study Group
  • Multiple-choice questions

The checkpoint questions will always be based on material you’ve just learned, but the answers won’t always be directly found in the lesson; we don’t want the experience to just be straight memory recall. Instead, we want you experimenting, testing code, digging into documentation, and searching for supplemental information that will help you solve the problem. We do this very purposefully because these skills are essential to the ones we use every day as developers.

Part of web development relies on information, but the rest relies on skills. Trying out code, reading documentation, and searching for posts about a problem you’re encountering are some of the most important skills to learn. A web developer with strong search skills and a problem-solving mindset will come out on top of one who has all the syntax memorized every time, for the simple reason that the web is a field where information changes quickly. The reflex to test and search when you are stuck is the most valuable thing we can help you develop and it’s what we hope to foster with the checkpoints.

Of course, we won’t leave you hanging either—trickier questions will include hints and guidance.

And if you get stuck or think the question is too tough, don’t let that discourage you. Instead, post a question to the Study Group so we can help you. You’re investing in yourself by taking this course, so use that investment to its maximum potential by getting assistance from our instructors.

Study Group

We’ve found that most learning experiences are better with friends, which is basically why we built this circus to begin with. You’re in this class with a small group of like-minded women and the Study Group is your forum for interacting with them. Everyone learns more (and enjoys the process) when you:

  • Offer feedback and constructive criticism
  • Post questions when you get stuck
  • Share insights you have when working on a particular challenge

Your course Study Group will also be monitored by one or two instructors who are on hand to provide expert feedback and answers to your questions.

Note that our courses are not live, so while you will get answers and feedback within 24 hours (often much, much sooner), we do not provide 24/7 support. There may be times where you need to put a problem on hold and work on something else while you wait for feedback.

Requirements

Operating Systems

There are a couple (free) software programs you'll need to work in our courses, and these programs require Windows 7 or later or Mac OSX 10.8 or later.

While you can view the course material on iPads, Linux Operating Systems, Chromebooks and other devices, you will need a PC or Mac that meets the above operating system requirements to do the hands-on exercises.

Prior Experience

Our courses start at the ground level in regards to writing code, but we do have some fundamental expectations in terms of your computer fluency. Before taking one of our courses you should feel comfortable doing the following:

  • Creating, moving, and deleting files and folders.
  • Downloading and installing software from the Internet.
  • Navigating menus and settings within a given program.

Software Setup

In some online learing platforms, you learn by working through exercises in code simulators in your browser. Simulators can be great for learning the ins and outs of a language, but they omit an important part of learning to code, and that’s learning the software tools developers use.

Our curriculum is comprehensive in that we cover these tools, and also set you up with working environments that you’ll see used in the industry. Thus, when you’re done with a course, not only will you know about a new code language, you’ll also know how to effectively use it in the real world.

So let’s get started... In this section we’re going to set you up with two essential tools you’ll use in our courses:

  1. Github
  2. Code editor

Github

As you progress through this course, you’re going to be prompted to share your code files with your classmates and instructor to get feedback and support.

To share your code, you’ll use Github, which is a web platform used for storing, sharing, and managing Git Version Control repositories. That’s quite a mouthful, we know. Let’s break it down:

  • Version Control (VC) is a software system used for tracking changes to files over time.
  • The type of VC software we’ll be using is called Git, and it’s used throughout the industry.
  • Not only does VC provide a history of changes, it also makes it super easy to share code projects (which in the world of Git, are called repositories).
  • Github.com is a web service used to store and share Git repositories.

If this seems complex, rest assured that our use of these technologies will be pretty straightforward. To get set up, here are the steps we’re going to tackle:

  1. Create a free account at Github.com.
  2. Download and install Github’s free application, Github Desktop.
  3. Using Github Desktop, create a new Version Control repository for all your WCC course work, and sync it up with Github.com.

To complete these steps, follow along with this video:

Upon completing the above setup, you should have your Github URL for your WCC repository, such as http://github.com/yourUsername/wcc.

Visit your WCC Github settings to save that url...

Code Editor

Our next software tool is a code editor, which is a program designed to help you write and work with code efficiently.

Our recommendation is for an editor called Atom, which is free and available for both Mac and Windows. (If you already have a favorite code editor that you’re comfortable with, you’re welcome to use that in place of Atom.)

To get you set up with Atom, follow along with these videos:

Pulling the pieces together

Note: Only complete this section if you're taking HTML or CSS; it's not needed for Python.

Now that your Git workflow is setup, and you’re familiar with using Atom, it’s time to show how these two pieces of software will work together.

You’ve reached the end of our orientation! If you have any questions not answered in this guide, we hope you’ll reach out: (help@thewcc.com).