Earlier this month, we hosted our very first RailsBridge workshop at Harvest HQ. The event focused on offering a full day of introductory Rails lessons for mostly women who have little to no experience with coding. By the end of the workshop, participants had built their own mini web applications from scratch and published them online.
Railsbridge is an organization aiming to educate people about Rails, a popular open source web application framework (that Harvest was made with!), by promoting workshops around the world. Outreach is geared primarily towards women, an underrepresented population in technology.
An install fest took place the day before the event where instructors were on hand to help install the Rails environment on participants’ machines. The following day, the workshop was structured as follows: Rails extraordinaire Samantha John taught a concept, then paused to let everyone write the code themselves. Teaching Assistants were available during the break to offer guidance and assistance. The process was repeated throughout the day until each participant had their very own version of an online voting application, that users could actually interact with.
An example of one of the mini-apps, written by participant Marianne Tu, called Suggestotron.
The lessons emphasized test-driven development and other tools incorporated by businesses dealing with Rails today, grounding the students in actual Rails experience and a professional understanding of implementation. Hats off to the organizer Mimi Hui for rallying attendees, and our very own Matthew Beale for stepping up to help out at the install fest and the workshop. We’d also like to thank Mozilla and Magnetic for offering help in sponsoring the event.
Equipped for Rails development in the real world, more women will be better prepared to build the internet. In a space where men dominate, we’re happy to help diversify the field for a more balanced future for the web.
If you’re interested in learning Rails (gals and guys) with your community, Railsbridge workshops are coming up this summer on the West Coast. It’s also worth checking Meetup for any local Rails events. In the meantime, there are plenty of resources online, and one of the best resource lists we’ve seen is right on the RoR site. Don’t be shy, go forth, and code!