January 5, 2016

Hour of Code = Hour of Awesome!

Coming to the NTC? Good stuff. Do you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone? Great. Then you should attend the “Hour of Code” workshop to learn how stuff works, like our smartphones and the software that runs them.

Through the Hour of Code, a global movement reaching 190,000,00 people so far, students from the age of 4 to 104 have learned about code using hands-on tutorials offered in over 40 languages. The event is so popular that 200,000 events have been held! Even President Obama has participated in this one-hour introduction to computer science, with the intent of demystifying code and teaching the basics.

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So what will you learn? The focus will be on problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity–skills we all use in our nonprofit work already every day! While you won’t walk away with the ability to code a website or app from scratch, you’ll know more about the code behind almost everything we use or touch in our modern world, and some of the coding concepts that will make you successful in your career, whether you choose to become a developer or not. Most importantly, you’ll learn that anyone can code! If you have any doubts in your abilities (as I did), or even questions about what code is and what it looks like and what it means, this is a great place to begin exploring those questions.

What does this workshop represent at the NTC? A few things: an opportunity to try something new, or something you haven’t done in a while. It also means, particularly in 2016, there’s no longer a need for a divide between a ‘program’ staff person and a ‘technical’ staff person–you can be both! At the very least, program, fundraising, and technical/operations staff should all be able to speak with each other using the same language, and the Hour of Code can help with that. For example, let’s say you’re working on migrating your constituent data into a new database. Once your donor, volunteer, and funder data is in the database, you’d like to be able to send emails to each of those groups, but you don’t want any one person to receive both emails. The developer comes to you and says this will take many hours to accomplish. If you’re the Communications Director working on this project with a limited budget and tight timeline, being able to ask questions such as, “Will the code be documented?” and, “What coding language will you be using?” and, “Will I be able to update the code myself?” can help your organization decide if you should change your requirements or proceed with using custom code. And we all want to know exactly what we’re getting into with expensive custom projects, right?

Photo Credit: #WOCinTech Chat, cc v 2.0

What do you need to know? No experience needed. If you don’t have a laptop or browser-enabled device, come anyway! We will pair you with someone who has a device–it’s the best way to learn!

Take me to your leader: This workshop will be led by a coder and a non-coder. Kieren Jameson teaches women to code in the Salesforce language of Apex through the course she co-founded and runs (along with many other amazing volunteers), ‘RAD Women.’ RAD stands for Radical Apex Developers. Missy Longshore is a graduate of RAD Women and also learned the basics of her first coding language, JavaScript, through Girl Develop It. Kieren’s blog, Women Code Heroes, has also helped hundreds of people of all backgrounds understand core coding concepts in bite size, easy to understand articles with helpful illustrations and graphics. To top it off, Kieren works at ETR, a respected nonprofit, where she’s been for over 15 years and is currently their Digital Solutions Manager. Missy has been working as a nonprofit staff member since 1999 and founded Longshore Consulting in 2012 to demystify the Salesforce process for as many nonprofits as possible through collaborating with non-technical staff. She does not have a computer science background but has loved the informal training and skills she has learned through available nonprofit and volunteer-led coding courses and peer support.

Want more info? Want to start your own Hour of Code? The Hour of Code website has everything you need to create your own event at your local nonprofit, community center, conference, synagogue, meet-up, etc! You do not need to be a developer, and there are even ways you can host an activity with poor wireless access or even no Internet access at all!

A word on Diversity in Tech: Code.org, the great nonprofit behind Hour of Code, is dedicated to expanding access to computer science, especially among women and underrepresented people of color. Come learn how you can further this effort to increase diversity in computer science, but most importantly, come learn!

Missy Longshore
Missy Longshore, Principal, Longshore Consulting, http://www.longshoreconsulting.com/, Twitter: @missylongshore, Missy has been working in the nonprofit sector since 1999, and has been working with nonprofits and foundations on their Salesforce implementations since 2009. Missy attended Smith College and obtained her MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management from Boston University. She is a certified Salesforce Developer, Sales Cloud Consultant, and Administrator. She lives in the East Bay and enjoys hiking.
Interest Categories: Leadership, Training
Tags: Collaboration