February 1st: RSVP for Hack & Learn - Open coding session

How to learn with Kickstart Coding

Congratulations on starting your coding journey with us!

This document (and videos) will explain how to use the Live Syllabus learning platform that you are using right now, and our rapid learning methodology. You'll probably have some questions lingering after all this, so don't hesitate to ask in chat and/or in a call if you run into any issues with our software, or have any questions about our learning methodology.

Types of content

  1. Readings - The Readings help supplement and/or prepare you for the Lessons. They are optional, but are often useful. Consider getting ahead with readings to get more familiar with terminology.
  2. Lessons - These are sets of videos and coding projects and activities that can be accomplished in 3 hour intervals. They are intended to simulate being in a real workshop-style classroom. The activities you do in them help prepare you for the Homework
  3. Homework - Homework assignments with Kickstart Coding involve building bigger and more sophisticated projects. They often have a "minimum" but no "maximum". In other words, bring your energy and creativity to build something really cool, but set aside a lot of time to get it done! Homework assignments help prepare you for Capstone Projects
  4. Capstone Projects - When you are ready, such as after completing the first couple weeks of the Backend course, or finishing the Frontend course, it might be time to do a Capstone Project, either by yourself, or with other students who are at a similar place in the program. The topic is entirely up to you, but there is a several-stage "milestone" structure to keep you on track. Beyond this guidance, you are on your own, to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) on your own idea from scratch.

Using LiveSyllabus (e.g. KickstartCoding.online)

Summary

  1. "LiveSyllabus" is the name we gave to our custom LMS (Learning Management System) that we built for this course. You are on LiveSyllabus right now!
  2. Log-in using your email (or username) and password
  3. The first screen (Start) will show the courses you are currently signed up for, the next work to do with them, and any upcoming appointments or review sessions
  4. The calendar view allows you to browse a calendar interface of upcoming or previous course content, which you can export to your favorite calendar application
  5. The remaining links on the left allow you to view Lessons, Homework, Reading assignments, and all other components that go into our courses
  6. On the top nav bar, you have access to (from left-to-right):
    • A search box
    • The Learning Center, which has supplemental articles and guides written by the instructional staff
    • The Kickstart Coding Chat, to converse with other students or ask instructors questions,
    • And finally notifications, which will highlight when you get work graded, or a chat message mentioning your username

How to do a lesson

Summary

  1. Every course in Kickstart Coding is divided into Lessons
    • You should set a timer to complete each lesson in 3 hours
    • You will not be able to complete all content in each lesson in 3 hours (there is FAR too much to do!), and so your "first pass" should be about breadth not depth
    • This is to prevent this issue common with beginners, where you "miss the forest for the trees", and avoid getting hung up on smaller details that will become clearer as you progress
  2. Every lesson has a zip file
    • The zip files contain an activities directory, a demos directory, and a solutions directory
    • Resist the urge to go into the solutions directory when you get stuck -- you have to power through this, no peeking!
    • The activities directory consists of a series of project-based challenges that get increasingly difficult
    • Most activities have an instructions.md file, which is a Markdown file with instructions on how to complete it
    • New to Linux? Here's how to download and extract a zip file under Ubuntu Linux.
  3. Each activity is divided into a series of challenges
    • The challenges get increasingly difficult
    • Focus only on completing the first few challenges on your "first try" -- you will not have time for all of them
    • Set a 10-20 minute timer for each activity -- resist the urge to keep on trying on older activities, instead try moving on to the next one
    • Only after your first "3 hour" session for the lesson, then you can go back and try the harder challenges
    • The first challenges are designed to warm up, and then give some practice on the "gist" of what you are learning, without getting bogged down with details or advanced features
  4. Every lesson has many videos to explain the content
    • You don't need the videos -- everything is contained in the activity zip files
    • However, you probably want the videos, since that's where we dive in deeper into the concepts that we are teaching with full explanations of how we arrived at the solutions

Types of videos

  1. Lecture videos - These introduce a topic, or talk about the theory or big picture of a concept
  2. Lecture "demo" videos - These videos demonstrate the topic with concrete, live-coded examples
  3. Activity intro videos - These videos show how to get started with the activities, and even give clues or partially solve the first challenges. Use these to "get started" when you are doing that activity!
  4. Activity solution videos - These (fairly long) videos go in-depth into how to solve each challenge. It's recommended you skip around these videos to only watch the challenges that you got stumped by.
  5. Live class recordings - These live recording videos are live recordings of classes and/or review sessions. They are typically just supplemental, and cover a lot of the same ground as the other videos. They also might be slightly out-dated, depending on the course (less so with earlier courses since those change less). Watch these if you want a different style approach to taking the class, or perhaps appreciate the background "hum" of a classroom and a live lecture

How to do Homework

  1. Most courses in Kickstart Coding have some number of homework assignments. These are SUPER important!
  2. Often, the homework assignments will build on each other, so they essentially are a series of tasks to build larger projects
  3. Read the homework assignment early, so you know what to expect
  4. Homework assignments can take anywhere between 10-100+ hours, depending on how in-depth you want to go. They have a minimum, but no maximum, so plan accordingly!
  5. Most homework assignments allow a lot of creativity. The topic and what you are building is up to you!

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Kickstart Fundamentals - 1.1 - HTML