The Story of CodeUp

As featured by National Coding Week, July 2016

CodeUp UK was founded by Claire Dodd. The initial idea was formed in November 2014, and came about by people who wanted to learn how to code, but couldn’t find the support they required.

It was decided that online learning was a great way to grasp basic concepts and get started, but coding in an online learning environment was not representative of how to code in the real world, and neither did it help apply skills to real life scenarios.

Also, while local meet-ups were a great way to meet people with shared interests, many groups were designed for people who already knew how to code, not those who were looking for somewhere to start.

To combat the problem, a place was created for people who wanted learn how to code to go and get help and support. CodeUp Manchester was born.

We aimed to create an open, friendly and supportive learning environment where any adult can attain new digital skills for zero financial cost.

After several months of planning and bringing mentors on board, the first session was held in February 2014 and had 27 attendees. From then it grew from strength to strength, seeing numbers steadily rise each month, March 2016 saw a record 81 attendees.

Building on Success

Early feedback from sessions indicated that people were eager for more training but being volunteer run, free-to-attend sessions, Claire was cautious about putting too high an expectation on her mentors. As a compromise, mentors were given the opportunity to develop and deliver taster session workshops within the monthly programme.

Currently the headline workshop is a three part session entitled Programming 101 this was developed and delivered by Manchester mentor Drew Morgan. Other workshops have included: Front­ End development led by assistant organiser Dan Furze, Introduction to GitHub by Dan Furze and Michael Josephson, and a number of sessions using online resources such as Codecademy and CodinGame.

National Coding Week

The development of these workshops led to CodeUp Manchester teaming up with MadLab to host a full day of workshops for National Coding Week 2015. CodeUp was also involved in assisting with the delivery of the first Django Girls Manchester workshop in 2016 which continues to be supported by CodeUp who provide space for ongoing sessions as part of their regular monthly meetup groups.

Claire’s thoughts about the past, present and future

National Coding Week was a great moment for CodeUp Manchester. We organised five workshops across the day and trained 90 people from all over the North, with people travelling from as far as Liverpool and Huddersfield to attend the workshops and over 50% of attendees were women!

Following these workshops and our ongoing programme of events, we now have regular, well-attended and enjoyable sessions run across multiple locations.

Early in 2016, we became CodeUp UK, and now run branches in Manchester, Sheffield and Stockport, with branches in Leeds, Oldham and Leigh set to follow in the coming months.

It’s been a very rewarding time for CodeUp. We see people not only learning digital skills but also using these skills to change their lives. We see engaged and passionate mentors teaching people who’ve never written a line of code before. We also see our students return as mentors investing in the future of CodeUp.

Our passion is learning. As we reach adulthood attending a learning environment so often comes with a financial cost which can act as a barrier. We believe in providing the opportunity for adults to learn how to create great digital experiences; whether that’s writing an app for a smartphone or creating a website for fun.

The CodeUp philosophy is simple — we provide opportunity without the barriers; We don’t sell you anything and we won’t charge you anything. We’ll give you a way to learn digital skills in a fun, friendly and inclusive environment. All we ask is to bring along your enthusiasm and a desire to learn something new.

Manchester was a great place for CodeUp to start out, with an abundance of meet-ups and a thriving grassroots tech community, it’s a great place to grow something new. Tech Events North West is currently home to 117 community group organisers all working together to provide support and improve our events for the good of the whole community. With new branches set to launch throughout the year, we’re excited to see where else 2016 takes us.

Top Tips for National Coding Week 2016

If you’re thinking of organising an event for National Coding Week 2016 we would definitely recommend that you get involved:

  1. Run taster session style workshops, ­ your attendees will mostly be complete beginners, so make sure your content is aimed at the right level
  1. Avoid jargon ­ keep it simple!
  1. Keep it fun! ­ you don’t need to run a bootcamp for NCW, small 1 -­ 2 hour sessions give people a great intro to coding, but try to add some fun elements in there too.

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