Earlier this year, I was teaching at what I believe could be the best place to learn HTML + CSS. The Institute of Code is a retreat styled learning environment, based in Bali that will teach you how to code. I was invited there as a guest mentor/blogger/YouTuber, to volunteer my time helping others learn HTML and get started with web development.
This post is pretty huge, but hopefully it will showcase the amazing experience I had and encourage you to learn HTML as well!
Before going into detail about the Institute of Code, let me tell you a little bit about myself and my history with learning web development, to a level that I can now teach it…
Building my first website
Way back in 2006, my Science teacher (of all people!) spotted that I had a knack for technology, maths and other logic based applications. He’d previously made a website for a local arts festival and approached me wondering if I’d be interested in doing the 2006 site.
I was 14 at the time and had begun to dabble in graphic design, working on my brother’s eMac. I had zero knowledge with how to put a website together, but I accepted the project anyway!
The site was built in Dreamweaver using a lot of images and tables, so I didn’t actually have to learn HTML and dive into the code side of things. It was definitely an out-of-date process for 2006, but it got me hooked nonetheless!
That project was probably one of the best extra curricular things I did at school and I am forever grateful for Mr. Darvill giving me the opportunity! The payment from building the site was actually what paid for my very first DSLR; the Canon EOS 350D. That camera of course lead me to where I am today!
Fast forward about 5 years (2011) to when I’m halfway through University and I’ve gone full throttle into starting my design and photography careers, yet I’d never felt comfortable with my web experience.
I’d built quite a few variations of my portfolio, along with a few “fake” company websites. But they’d always been done with Dreamweaver or Flash, as they favoured my visual design understanding, alongside my lack of coding knowledge.
I’d always wanted to learn HTML properly, but I just never had that kickstarting moment that introduced it to me. I started blogging when I worked at Apple during 2008 and luckily had a friend there to help set up a WordPress installation for me. But even then, I didn’t have a clue how to start to code. I could read between the lines and find the text I wanted to adjust, but I could never create anything.
My blog was literally a mismatch of amended themes and multiple accidental deletions. Whoops.
The initial spark: learning how to code in HTML/CSS
My university course (Graphic Design), had a savvy bunch of senior students who’d built a bespoke user blogging setup for the students.
One day, a post appeared on the course blog for a 1 hour taster session to learn HTML and CSS. It was hosted by the same students who’d been building our course blog. Of course I jumped at the chance to finally understand how HTML (the web page structure) and CSS (the web page styling) actually communicated with each other. Up until that day, it had been a complete mystery about how it was all connected.
That 1 hour session sparked such a huge lightbulb moment for me, as I finally “got it!”
I literally went back home and started playing around with code. I set about rebuilding my site from Flash to HTML, so that it would *finally* work on an iPhone… 4 years after it was invented.
As a side note, it seems crazy that I didn’t have a mobile site for 4 years. Yet it was actually really commonplace for 2011. Even now I’m seeing recent posts being written about how it’s the “year of mobile”. Surely we’ve been there since about 2012… no?
The Institute of Code
Jump back to 2017 and I’ve now experienced the Institute of Code and witnessed 11 students go from zero to hero in 10 days of intense code training!
The course is set out in a beautiful villa, with all your daily amenities covered, leaving you to focus your time and energy on learning to code.
In between peak brain activity, there are plenty of options to keep you chilled and relaxed. From dunking in the 3m deep pool, to boosting your table tennis skills or even sun-bathing with a cocktail from the in-house barmen (yes, Aris)!
With “classes” from 8am-3pm, you’ll learn everything there is to get started with building a website from scratch. By the end of the week, you will have designed and built your own portfolio site.
Spoiler alert: everyone built their first site by day two!
Throughout the 10 days, I saw incredible progress from everyone and extreme friendship bonding. Overall, there were such high vibes from each of the students, all the mentors and the supporting villa staff. I genuinely made some great friends on this trip and truly connected with everyone! Speaking of which, you should go and check out Michael Turtle, another travel blogger who also attended!
Even if you’re already a little adept with some HTML and CSS, I’m sure there’s definitely heaps of value to be had with attending the course. As you’ll be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of multiple mentors hands-on, in one of the best learning environments I’ve ever experienced.
Alongside the coding, there are even a few day excursions to introduce you to Bali culture and satisfy your travel needs. We took days out to Ubud and Sanur, but I also made an effort to visit Canggu multiple times to y’know… make sure the beer still tasted good.
Work hard, party hard and all that
For each of the individual days out, I made vlogs to document our experience which you can check out below! I also did tonnes of filming throughout the course and plan to put together an extra video showing that. So make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to catch it when it goes live!
Free Tattoo with a Taco at Deus Ex Machina
One highlight away from the classroom, was witnessing 4 of the students getting free tattoos at Deus Ex Machina. I’d never seen anyone getting a tattoo before, let alone in such a cinematic environment. I just had to film it!
Travel street photography around Canggu
For the evening prior to the girls getting their tattoos, I went exploring Canggu with my camera. I wanted to get to know some of the locals a bit and improve on my portrait photography!
Beautiful scenes in Ubud
Whilst in Ubud, whilst the other students were in search of market bargains, I was searching for cinematic shots! I’m really pleased with how this vlog came out and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Bali culture a little bit more!
My experience teaching
Teaching at the Institute of Code was the first time I’d ever officially taught web development and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Being amongst the other mentors who had more professional experience than myself, initially had me feeling way out of my depth. But by day 2, I came to realise that I was fully capable with teaching HTML and CSS. I really needn’t have worried about the fact that I was self-taught from the previous 6 years.
I guess my biggest fear was that I would be plagued with bad practices that I’d picked up over the years. If anything, it was actually great to be around other developers in a teaching environment, because it meant that all of us learnt quite a lot in our respective “weaker” fields!
At some point, I’m hoping to return to the Institute of Code in the near future to teach another session; it just all depends on where my travels are taking me at the moment! So if you do happen to book yourself onto a session, there’s a good chance I might be teaching it!
If you’d like to learn to how to code and experience the best learning environment available, then you can apply for the next available session via the Institute of Code’s website.
Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there!
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Stay up to date with my travel plans and journey around the world via social media. If there are any announcements about teaching again, I’ll be sure to post there first!
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