Learning Web Dev!

Casey Alvarado '17

Hi everyone,

I am back at Olin this semester! For those of you that didn’t know, I studied Theatre and Performance abroad last semester in London, England! It was phenomenal! I developed and defined my creativity. I gained confidence from traveling all around Europe. I would definitely recommend study abroad to anyone even considering it. I am still going to graduate on time, Olin essentially pays for it, and it is an opportunity to develop new experiences, so why not?

This semester I enrolled in a web development class, olin.js. This class is taught by 6 students. Students?? What?? There are zero lectures and the majority of the work is the students following a Github (an online repository account) with in-class exercises and homework exercises. Olin.js was developed by 6 students two years ago when they were hanging out in the kitchen, baking cookies, and talking about their web development experience.  This is one of the things I really love about Olin: learning is sharing the knowledge you have. If students collectively feel that they have enough knowledge to teach a class and there is enough interest, then it is easy to develop a class for other students to enroll in. Olin is so flexible in that way. Here at Olin, we have independent studies, where you can study whatever you want or do some sort of research independently and acquire credit for doing it. In fact, you must have one independent study before you graduate.

Student-led courses like olin.js count as independent studies. I love this. Personally, this is my second independent study because I love learning new things and learning from other people around me as well as independently. This is, I think, one of the most important things that Olin has taught me: learning how to learn. Unknowns or challenging problems are super exciting and they motivate me to learn and turn those unknowns into well knowns.

Olin.js actually had a really large learning curve for me because well, I had never touched anything web related. Some of my friends had some previous experience with HTML or CSS styling. Previously, I thought of the internet as this large, fluffy cloud where you asked for a webpage and someone or something up there in the large fluffy cloud knew which webpage to send to your screen.

It took me a while to understand these products and services, what exactly my database did, how my database communicated to my front end, and the relationship between my front end and my back end. It was also really difficult because the class was moving at a really fast pace. The class meets every Tuesday and Friday from 3:20-5. For homework after each class, we were essentially teaching ourselves web development by doing exercises and readings that would incorporate, into our apps, one new feature each time. In 3 nights, I taught myself javascript. In the following 3 nights, I taught myself Express. In another 3 nights, I taught myself Mongoose. It was crazy fast, but the course is structured in a way that they build all on top of each other to continually enhance the quality of your apps.

By the time we were assigned last week’s homework, I had a M-E-N stack. Comical, I know! We knew Mongoose, Express, and Node. This week we are developing our M-E-A-N stack, incorporating Angular for front end development. I cannot wait to say that I have a M-E-A-N stack, doesn’t that sound really cool???

I think my favorite thing that I have worked on recently, as a part of this class, is Twotter, a spoof of Twitter. It was really comical to think about making Twotter, thinking about contributing or making a spoof of social media. It is awesome to think that now I have the skills to contribute to the large fluffy cloud that is the internet. Also just understanding what the http errors 404 or 500 or 302 or 200 actually mean! It’s like a whole new wide world of webs! I would love to take a screenshot of my website! However, please do not grimace at how bad my website looks. Looking at it again, I am not content with my color schema, but hopefully it doesn’t make your eyes hurt too much! I am currently working on my styling techniques! Here is my snapshot of Twotter:


Currently I am working on a ToDo app that allows a user to input their to-do items, edit these items, cross them off their list when they are done with the item, and remove the item. Simple, right? Well this is my first experience with Angular, so it’s a lot of work! However, I think it went alright. There are 3 “tabs”: you can see your active to do items, your completed to do items, and all of your to do items. Here is the final result of my 3 tabs:

Basically, I think the internet is pretty awesome. Even though olin.js is a fast-paced class with a lot of work, it is so much fun to make these apps and learn from students that are willing to share their knowledge with us. Being at Olin is about learning, collaboration, welcoming challenges, and teaching yourself things you are interested in learning!

Posted in: Casey '17