On Saturday, I attended my first-ever Ladies Learning Code event. Called WordPress for Beginners, this one-day course was an introduction into, you guessed it, WordPress.org and while most of the attendees were ladies, a few guys were in attendance as well (for more on LLC and its goals, head over here).
The course, which ran from 10 am until 5 pm, was held at the The Centre for Social Innovation Annex. In January, LLC will be moving to a new, permanent home and it’s a good thing because while The Centre worked nicely for the Spark Sessions blogging conference, it wasn’t quite right for our WordPress class. With over 80 attendees and mentors – WordPress-savvy volunteers who were there to help us beginners out – each with a laptop, the space was cramped, with power cords everywhere.
But while the setting wasn’t ideal, the instructor, web designer and developer Wes Bos, was. Using humour and patience, he walked us through some of the fundamentals of WordPress.
I say “some” because while we went over a lot of material, I left the class with a lot of questions. I actually wish that this were a two-day course because I feel like we barely scratched the surface of WordPress.
What we did touch on included installing WordPress as well as setting up MAMP/WAMP, localhost and a database; themes, templates and the basics of editing php, CSS and HTML; the WordPress “loop” and how it worked; adding in widgets and plugins (sort of) and how to create a custom page.
I was really surprised that we didn’t discuss how to actually get our blogs on the internet. I would have liked to have heard Wes’ advice on how to pick a hosting service, as well as if he had any tricks on how to make that side of things smoother. Also, based on some of the questions that were asked, I don’t think everyone in the course realized that the sites we were working weren’t going to be visible on the internet.
While questions were encouraged throughout the course, I was really expecting that the whole thing would end with a question period. I have no idea why I thought this; it just made sense in my mind. However, that didn’t happen. The course ended with us working on our custom page and as people figured that out, they got up and left. Wes then announced that the course was over but that we were welcomed to stick around for a bit to work on our sites or ask questions.
Looking back, I really wish I’d gone up to Wes at that point and asked him just a few of my 50 million questions. But I was so caught up in making my custom page that at the time, none of the questions came to mind. It was only later, on the way home that I started wondering how to do this or that (this is another reason why I wish this was a two-day course).
I hope I’m not giving you the impression that I didn’t learn much because I actually learn tons and fairly painlessly. Wes was fantastic at guiding us through the various topics, using a slideshow that we all have a copy of, for reference.
When someone did get stuck, we could always turn to a mentor. LLC courses have a mentor ratio of four-to-one, meaning that for every four “learners,” there’s a mentor who can help. At least one mentor is assigned to each table of people, I system I quite liked as it meant that it was always clear who we should turn to for help.
My fellow learners really varied in experience, from people who were already somewhat familiar with WordPress and comfortable editing HTML and CSS to people who seemed kind of new to the internet. But by the end of the course, it seemed like everyone at least had a grasp on what we’d gone over that day.
I paid around $50 for the course and I easily got $50 worth of knowledge from the class, as well as sandwich-and-salad lunch. While I wish that the day had touched on a few more topics, including how best to set up multiple blogs, the course did only have about five hours worth of learning time (one hour was lunch while we lost about half-an-hour to getting set up and another half at the end that was dedicated to us working on our own custom page). And there’s no denying that we crammed a lot into those five hours.
All upcoming Toronto LLC events can be viewed here and if there’s one that catches your eye, you should check it out because you’ll definitely come away with some knowledge. I would love to take another LLC course, maybe the HTML and CSS one, though even better for be a WordPress-For-Beginners-Part-II.