Meetup Profile: Ladies Learning Code

The Ladies Learning Code - Edmonton Chapter is one of the most active meetups in our startup community. Their dedicated team of volunteer instructors and mentors create welcoming workshops dedicated to technical skill development, from HTML to Python and beyond. 

We had a chance to chat with Bree Emmerson, Co-Chapter Lead, Ladies Learning Code Edmonton, about the meetup. Their next worksop on June 20th is sold out, but they’re on the search for more awesome volunteer mentors with expertise in WordPress. If you’re interested in volunteering, 

Q: What is Ladies Learning Code? 

A: Ladies Learning Code is a national not-for-profit organization that works to promote digital literacy by teaching technical skills in a hands-on, collaborative way. Don’t let the name fool you because men are certainly welcome to join us (we even had couples join us on Valentine’s Day which was amazing!) We really want to create a social and welcoming atmosphere for everyone to learn. Our workshops are all project-based so learners receive some introduction information before completing various exercises throughout the day, which lead up to a final project to go home with. In addition to our instructors who lead the classes, we try to have 1 mentor for every 4 learners so that someone is always available for some extra support if anyone gets stuck or has a question. All of our instructors and mentors are volunteers, who come in on a Saturday to support our community and are quite excited to promote the programming languages they use on a regular basis either at their job or in their spare time   

Q: What topics do you cover? 

A: Our most popular workshop is HTML & CSS, which is the best starting point before learning other programming languages. Building from that we have advanced HTML5 & CSS3 content to work on responsive and mobile-friendly websites. We also have topics including JavaScript, jQuery, Python, Ruby, WordPress/PHP, Drupal, Data Visualization and building a webstore using Shopify and Liquid. In addition to our coding workshops, we also offer design and photo editing lessons using Photoshop. 

Q: What has been the response from your participants? 

A: Since our Edmonton chapter launched in June 2013 we have had over 511 learners and 157 mentors participate in our workshops and with that there have been returning attendees because they really have fun and enjoy learning or teaching. We send out feedback surveys after every workshop to find out what was enjoyed and what we can improve upon, the most commented aspects have definitely been the atmosphere and the volunteers, who without, none of this would be possible! 

Q: Who would you encourage to participate in future events? 

A: We encourage most people with an interest in technology or learning new skills to join us. We have several attendees who have come to four or five workshops because they enjoy learning in general. We see designers come in who want to learn more about how their designs get coded, we see HTML developers come in to learn how to get started coding with WordPress and other developers coming in to learn new programming languages or to brush up on some skills they haven’t tended to in a while. We also see bloggers or WordPress users come in to learn CSS so they can style and customize their sites more efficiently.

Q: What has been one of your favourite experiences at Ladies Learning  Code? 

A: At a workshop there is an “a-ha” moment that learners have when everything just falls into place for them. The high-fives, cheers, smiles and sometimes (happy) tears really are my favourite thing to experience with Ladies Learning Code. Some people come up to myself, the lead instructor, or their mentor at the end of the day feeling proud of themselves for the project they created and they hope it leads to future learning and creating - and that’s really the point of it all. Technology and computer programming in particular can be a scary thing when you aren’t sure about where to start or what it all means, so to be able to make beginners excited about it is a wonderful thing!

Q: What’s up next?

A: Our next workshop, WordPress for Beginners: Create Your Own WordPress Theme on June 20th, is currently sold-out for learner tickets but we are looking for some additional mentors. In this workshop we teach how to install a Mamp/Wamp server, set-up a WordPress installation, and start building a custom theme. Mentor sign-up tickets are available here

We take summer break but are back in September with two workshops; HTML & CSS on September 19th and Python on September 26. More information about Ladies Learning Code and our local workshops can be found here, on Facebook and Twitter

Bree Emmerson, Co-Chapter Lead, Ladies Learning Code Edmonton