The aim of this blog is to document what I do each week on the course, both alone and with my cohort, what I’ve learnt and what I’ve struggled with and how I (hopefully) reach understanding of each topic during the course.  But before I jump into all of that, I want to briefly explain some more about the PreCourse: what it is and why it’s important.

What is the PreCourse?

The PreCourse for Makers Academy is a four week period of self-led part-time study that is completed in your spare time.

If you’re still working your notice period that means your evenings and/or weekends. If you’ve already quit your job that means you can complete it whenever you have time.  As I’d quit my job immediately prior to starting the PreCourse I can be flexible about when and where I work through each week’s workload.

What’s the purpose of the PreCourse?

In a sentence: to get you ready for the main course.  It’s designed to ensure all students attending the main course have the same base level of competence required to allow them to successfully complete the main course.

That base level of competence requires a well-grounded understanding of the following areas:

  1. Command line, git, GitHub and version control
  2. Ruby
  3. Test driven development
  4. Pair programming

These four pillars are the foundations on which students will develop their coding skills throughout the main course.  They also replicate much of the ethos at Makers Academy:

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The Makers Academy course is not a pure Ruby or Ruby on Rails course, rather the Ruby language and Rails framework are used to teach students:

  • key coding and development concepts, together with best practices
  • how to learn how to code (so you can develop expertise in other languages, stacks and technologies)
  • how to share and collaborate (via pair programming and so on)

… which of course allow students to develop as programmers, explore new languages and build cool things on their own and with others.

How much work per week does the PreCourse involve?

The PreCourse requires a minimum of 20 hours work per week, ideally more if you can fit it in.  In practise, I’ve found myself spending a far greater amount of time each week, more like 80-100 hours because:

Week by week what do you actually do?

Each week of the PreCourse is structured similarly.  A week looks roughly like this:

  • Monday morning 10am: we receive an email from Makers Academy setting out a short synopsis of what’s in store for the week, i.e. what we need to learn and why.
  • Monday – Sunday: After the Monday morning email it’s up to each individual to structure their learning and accomplish all the learning objectives for that week, which usually includes:
    • a list of reading materials (including what Makers Academy call “pills“, which are handy cheatsheets summarising the key learning for each week’s topic(s)) and exercises to complete to ensure we understand and can apply that week’s topic(s);
    • a weekly challenge or challenges, usually the completion of the following, which we must be completed and submitted (via GitHub and Codewars) by 10am the following Monday:
      • multiple coding problems (i.e. a design a program that converts any integer into its equivalent in roman numerals – check out how I solved that one by clicking here!); and
      • obtaining a certain number of points on Codewars, ideally from completing problems that involve the coding concepts learned that week.
    • Further reading material, either on the subject matter for that week or the tech scene in general to keep us motivated.
  • Mid-week/weekend: a follow-up email to remind us of what we need to complete, plus other interesting reading material, such as this video about adopting a “growth mindset” (i.e. believing in your ability to grow your skills and ability) or this article and video about not being too hard on yourself and constantly drawing comparisons with peers (as the course accepts people with varying levels of existing experience some cohort members will naturally be more advanced than others!)

How to be successful on the PreCourse

I won’t say too much about this as (a) I’ve not yet completed the PreCourse so I can’t say that I’ve been successful at it and (b) Nikesh from Makers Academy has already written a detailed blog post about this topic!

Check out Nikesh’s article by clicking here!

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