Two Years in and Still Improving

May 27th, 2020

Katherine Trammell

Campus Director @ Suncoast Developers Guild

Since Suncoast Developers Guild (SDG) opened the doors to our campus in July 2018, we have strived to push ourselves and our students to put in every effort required to be remarkable. SDG is proud to have graduated 100 students over these past two years, but that doesn't give us a reason to sit back and relax. If anything, knowing we have helped 100 graduates enter the tech community provides us with a purpose to keep pushing ourselves.

So after two years, how do we push ourselves to be better?

As part of our curriculum, we created a Handbook as the primary resource for our students and alums. The Handbook helps them learn, reflect, and push themselves during and after the cohort. Over the past few months, our CEO, Jason L Perry, and Instructor, Gavin Stark, worked to restructure our Handbook. From the visual appearance to the overall Handbook's structure, everything is being reviewed and improved.

A large part of the Handbook restructuring surrounds the information we provide. Our goal is to create beginner-friendly documentation for all the languages, tools, libraries, and concepts that students at SDG need to understand. Often library and language documentation is targeted at experienced developers and is not friendly to newcomers, and that is something we want to change. We've added additional details and instructions to cover lecture materials, including creating extensive reading assignments. We are also working to provide easy to understand yet real code examples for all lessons. Eventually, the Handbook will also provide multimodal learning by having videos for each reading lesson. Each lesson should allow the student to read a brief description of a concept, see and hear a visual and audible walkthrough of code, or explanation of the concept.

We are building our Handbook structure to be reusable with a repeatable pattern. We are starting with C#, HTML, CSS, JS, React, but we'd love to add Java, Python, Typescript, Go, Angular. It will be easier for the community to learn new languages and contribute by having a structure to follow. By making lessons independent and modular, we can use the same lessons for the full-stack full-time course, part-time classes, or topics for meetup groups.

So what if you are not a beginner? As we add more languages, the Handbook will become a learning tool for anyone in the community that needs to add a new skill to their toolbelt. Our Handbook is also open-source; we look forward to having the community contribute. Community contribution is so significant to us that we added a button that sends contributors to a live Github based editor where they can make pull requests to suggest updates and edits. We'll take pull requests both large (re-explain something) to small (fix our typoes, please!)

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