Blog Post

Live-Blogging the Women's Coding Collective HTML Course. Pre-class Blog

Possible alternate title: Learning HTML from the Women's Coding Collective. Or, how I hope to learn to code-write a birthday cake.

Saturday is my birthday. My gift to myself by way of the Duke PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge, who is generously sponsoring my course registration, is a coding class from the Women's Coding Collective (WCC). After a brief (public) but productive academic conversation on Facebook, posted here below with permission, I agreed to 1) take a WCC course and 2) live-blog my progress.



So here is the first blog. The pre-class blog. The checking-in before I check-in blog.

Friday is Independence Day. Saturday is my birthday. Sunday is the first day of class. I think it an auspicious time to learn something new, no? I have decided to begin from the beginning (again), so I have registered for the Women's Coding Collective Basic HTML Course. This course will be a bit of a refresher for me as I took an HTML course about 5 years ago when I was pursuing my MA degree in digital publishing and publication design. Since then, I've used my novice HTML knowledge to make basic HTML-level changes to websites, to code basic elements into my personal research blogs and into my students' posts, and to carry on relatively knowledgeable conversations about HTML with far more advanced coders and programmers for the purposes of research, collaboration, and critical exchange. Since my first course, I've taken neither a refresher course nor a more-advanced course so it is certainly time I do so.

Why does a humanities PhD candidate need to learn to code?

The reasons are vast and multiple, as any #DH practioner or media studies theorist might tell you. My personal reasons are most directly these: 1) I am a PhD candidate at Duke in the early stages of writing my dissertation. My project is to map a digital network(ed) metabolism. The more I know about how digital programming works, the better my theoretical project. 2) I teach digital humanities courses (see my Augmenting Realities course, for example) and workshops on digital scholarship at Duke (like this one on assessing digital pedagogy). Teaching/leading/facilitating these are the highlight and the joy of my job. The more I know about how digital programming works, the better my teaching and mentoring. 3) I am in the midst of designing a digital Scalar publication in conjuction with my Network Ecologies project, which I've featured here on HASTAC previously, that will curate and present a variety of data forms in a living digital format.**

I've gotten my introductory email from the WCC and see that the course is based on 'challenges'.  The email instructs me "The first challenge set for this course will be released on Sunday July 6 at 12pm." I like this language and appreciate this structure. I look forward to beginning.

>>Have you taken a course with WCC?

>>Do you have the time/ability to join me? You have a few more days to register!

>>Are you a novice coder/programmer who uses coding/programming for humanities research and/or pedagogy?

>>Do you have an interest in how coding merges with humanities scholarship?

>>Do you have comments, corrections, critiques, conversation to add to this post and/or to the live-blogging-my-HTML-course project I am undertaking here? I'd love and appreciate all comments.

Follow/Join me here as I (s)tumble through my lessons. Wish me luck. And please do engage my errors, my critiques, my experiences, my (mis)assumptions, and my purpose.

--A hat tip goes to Adeline Koh for encourageing me to take a WCC course and to the indefatigable and incomparable Cathy Davidson and the incredible David Bell of the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge for sponsoring my instruction.--

Initial Likes:

  • I like that the course is self-paced and online.
  • I like that I have access to 'real' instructors who can help me with my questions.
  • I like that each course has a corresponding 'study group' for social and professional support.
  • I like that the lessons are structured as "challenges".

Initial disLikes:

  • I am embarrassed to admit that I am uncomfortable with the course being open to women only. Forgive me. I understand the impulse to introduce more women to coding but I cringe a bit at being in an exclusive group based solely on my gender.
  • I am uncomfortable with the cost. There are many courses online for free. Though I am fortunate enough to have the PhD Lab cover my course costs, I am wondering if the class will offer $50 worth of content that a free course would not offer. A true test would be to compare this course with one of the reputable and free HTML courses/tutorials freely available online. If I have time, I'll do that.


Ready to take your own course? Go here for a Coupon Code for $17 off a Women's Coding Collective course!: . The WCC wants to make it easy for you jump in and join me! Go. Start. Code!


*As is probably corraborated by many here on HASTAC, Facebook is oft given short shrift regarding its collaborative potential. This conversation is just one example of many, many conversations that lead to productive collaboration and innovative exchange.

**My design partner and I recently undertook a design-residency at the Duke PhD to undertake a design-sprint for the project and we blogged our daily progress here on our Network Ecologies website.



Hi, Amanda! 

Your blog caught my attention and I'd like to take the HTML class too. Do you have a referral link that will kick back a $17 credit to you if I join via your link? 



Stephanie, this is great. I'm so pleased you'll be joining me. The coupon code is actually in the text above embedded in the Facebook post. You can find it in Adeline Koh's WCC review for the Profhacker Chronicle blog here:

Good luck! Keep me posted on your progress!

Amanda Starling Gould


Thanks, Amanda. I'm looking forward to this class. I'll blog about my thoughts too. Happy coding!


Let's be sure to cross post so that our followers can have a multidimensional reading experience of our multimedia learning experience!


Amanda Starling Gould


Yes, definitely! 


Go here for a coupon code for $17 off your first 2-week coding course course. The WCC wants to make it easy for you to start slow and easy!


Great to see your comments in the blog post, thoughtful, as always. Finding the right context to improve coding skills is not easy. Partially because it's not easy to admit one is a beginner or a less-than-expert when there are already so many experts out there... Looking forward to following your progress!


Thank you, Dr. Bell! I appreciate your support and the sponsorship from the Lab. I agree with your comment about the difficulty of finding proper context for learning. I also find it terrifically tricky to actually choose where to start and where to go when it comes to coding and programming. There are so many languages, so many tools, so many possible proficiencies. Anticipating which I'll need and which I'll never use is difficult. And with the pace of change and development, the courses to take and the tools to master are accumulating at a fast pace. I am glad I was nudged by Adeline to go with the WCC because the course offerings are limited and it was pretty easy to just decide to jump in at the beginning. And it it is just a refresher for me, nothing is lost as I will certainly benefit from that. After this course, I can move more confidently through an upper-level or more-specific course offered either by the WCC or via another venue.


Amanda Starling Gould