Start Learning to Code for Free with Grand Circus

Free Intro to Coding Workshop

Group listening to speaker in restaurant settingThis blog post was guest written by Amanda Littleton, a digital marketer in Greater Grand Rapids.   

If you’ve been hesitant to learn code because you thought courses would be like stepping onto the set of Silicon Valley, then set that fear aside. There are no coding sprints where everyone in the room is frantically writing JavaScript against the clock. Grand Circus offers a free workshop that offers an encouraging learning environment for beginners. There’s no judgement, competition or intimidation at all.

At the Grand Circus Intro to Coding Workshop, staff does a great job of providing a relaxed atmosphere that makes beginners feel comfortable and equipped to learn. Regardless of experience, anyone that attends this workshop will walk away with knowing the fundamentals of code.

3 Reasons You Should Attend an Intro to Coding Workshop

  1. The workshop is held in an inspiring environment

The Intro to Coding workshop is taught by Grand Circus at various local, community locations. The one I attended was located at Start Garden, a Grand Rapids working space and incubator for entrepreneurs. The Start Garden environment is modern, minimal and trendy. The nonstop flow of Ferris Coffee and its free-for-all beer fridge is a West Michigan dream.

When I stepped inside Start Garden, the Grand Circus team immediately greeted me at the entrance (thanks for not making me wander around awkwardly!) and treated me to snacks and beverages. With a bit of mingling time before the workshop began, it was easy to feel comfortable right away.

That comfort level was crucial to learning. I didn’t feel embarrassed at all to make mistakes, and people were really open about helping one another. Every 15 minutes, the instructor would take a quick break to walk around, check your work and answer questions. It was the furthest thing from a stiff lecture; the environment was collaborative and easy-going.

Grand Circus also hosts these workshops at their Detroit campus, libraries, learning centers, cafes, breweries, community offices and various other inspirational spots. They’re always looking for ways to create a welcoming environment and make these free workshops accessible to everyone. Coding can be intimidating; the location of the workshops doesn’t have to be! Grand Circus can help with both.

  1. You’ll learn to code like you learned to talk

Do you remember what it was like to learn your first language? Probably not. But I encourage you to think back to what it was like learning your second language. Did you write sentences on day one? Articles? Novels? If you said yes to any of those, I’m calling your bluff.

Chances are that you learned words first. Then, you learned how to string them together. This is exactly how coding is taught in the workshop.

You’ll start with syntax that is fundamental to all JavaScript. Much like starting English sentences with capital letters and ending with periods, syntax in JavaScript means learning unchangeable rules for written code. We later used this syntax to write code with variables, data types, conditional logic and loops.

Did I lose you by diving into conditional logic too soon? Don’t worry, Grand Circus structures the class so that this all makes sense immediately. Which brings us to #3…

  1. You learn by doing

Intro to coding workshop, students with laptopsThe Intro to Coding Workshop is meant to equip, not just teach. Rather than giving us books and pamphlets, Grand Circus made sure that all attendees could actually write the code we were learning about. That’s why anyone who attends this course will walk out the door knowing some code. There’s just no way around it.

Whenever a new topic was introduced, we wrote a line of code to go along with it. Take conditional logic loops as an example. Here’s what learning this code was like:

  1. We learned about logic and conditions. We practiced those.
  2. Then, we learned what loops are and when they’re used.
  3. Next, we combined the two concepts into one: Looping Conditional Logic. But we weren’t taught exactly how to write the code for it. Instead, the instructor encouraged us to use the coding program (provided), follow a series of steps, and figure it out with his guidance.

This structure is the perfect way to learn. It forced me to actively participate in the process rather than passively absorbing information. By the end of the course, I was confident in my ability to understand JavaScript concepts. Better yet, I was confident in my ability to act on that understanding. I attribute this success to the “learn by doing” model.

Regardless of prior knowledge or skill level, you can learn to code. The Grand Circus team creates an inspiring environment that welcomes you to a seat at the table. They teach coding basics in a step-by-step format and make sure that you can execute the code before you leave. That’s why I have no doubt that anyone can learn to code here.

So, what’s next?

If you are even .00001% interested in learning to code, I encourage you to give it a try at the Intro to Coding Workshop. You may discover that you’re a natural! If that’s the case, Grand Circus has other coding workshops to build upon your knowledge. They even host 12- and 26-week coding Bootcamps that can help you switch to a career in coding.

Or you may discover that you hate coding. That’s alright! You’ll leave the class with confidence to embark on a different career path. Whether or not the Intro to Coding Workshop helps you discover your new career, you’ll certainly leave the room feeling a new level of accomplishment.

Amanda LittletonAmanda is a digital marketer and brand developer with experience in the hospitality and CPG industries. She helps new businesses create brand identities that inspire and acquire strategic audiences—starting with the simplicity of a mission statement and culminating with fully branded websites for launch.

Grand Circus Intro to Coding workshops are free workshops that introduce students to the basics of JavaScript. These workshops are hosted at our campuses in Grand Rapids and Detroit, as well as pop-up locations throughout the state of Michigan. Anyone is welcome to attend; all that is required is a laptop and willingness to learn! We hope to see you there.