Stepping Outside a Coding Comfort Zone with HTML5

EdX Learner Georgiana Blantin, age 25 from Baja California, Mexico, was a student from the last iteration of HTML5 Coding Essentials and Best Practices in June 2015, and wrote in to the course staff to share her experience. 

I grew up homeschooled in a very small town – a very isolated life – and it means so much to me to have found such a welcoming community online. All these fantastic developers I had unwittingly put in the same category as celebrities as cold, unreachable, too busy to interact with beginners, in reality are incredibly warm and friendly.

When I signed up for W3C’s HTML5 course, I wasn’t entirely sure how useful this would be. After all, I already knew HTML/CSS, right?

Georgiana downtown disney

Apparently not! I learned a ton, dipped into JavaScript for the first time, and completed some fun projects. I had been unaware of how much I didn’t know. The course pushed me to step outside what I had been comfortable with to learn new technologies.

Just as valuable, if not moreso, was the warm community Professor Buffa and staff fostered. I noticed that they checked the forums every day, answered every question, encouraged every student. Prof. Buffa featured my first canvas project in a lesson—something I’ll never forget! It was that encouragement that led me to continue learning and building after the course had ended, and to start making my work public.

What I found was a supportive community of web developers: helpful, kind, and open to beginners. My work has been featured (“picked”) several times on CodePen, rounded up in the Design/Dev feed of CSS Design Awards, my second canvas experiment accepted on which recently won a Site of the neon orbsDay Awwward (that screenshot of the neon orbs? That’s mine!), a snippet showed up on (Chris Coyier follows me!), and now I just won a scholarship to attend a conference in the US!

Apart from bringing me up to date on HTML, it had quite a bit of JavaScript—an essential language for a web developer—which was the final push I needed to start learning it; nobody’s going to want to hire a web developer that doesn’t know JavaScript. The optional coursework features great projects to build up a portfolio, while getting feedback on the forums. I likely would have never made my work public if it wasn’t for the encouragement the staff gave us. Publishing my work was a huge step that opened me to the greater web dev community, where I’ve continue learning, sharing, and meeting some great people.

These might be fairly minor accomplishments in the grand scheme of things, but to me, they mean the world. They’re encouragement, indicating that I’m heading in the right direction, and with hard work and a caring, supportive community, I’ll get where I want to be. It’s not just a hobby or a job—it’s a promise of a better life for me and my family, of doing the thing I love most every day, and being around some lovely, inspiring people. I have a long way to go, but I think I might just get there.

My town has nothing similar—no coding courses, no web courses, and only the most basic computer usage courses. Other programming schools online are simply too expensive for me to attend (I make about $3/hr when I’m working). Having access to free education is the best thing the internet has done for me. I can’t express how grateful I am to the course team and the edX staff for the opportunities they lend us. I’m not currently employed or in school, but because of edX am now applying to design agencies. I hope to get a job in web development.

And it all started with amazing teachers like Professor Buffa. Thanks so much to the course staff. You’re all amazing.

And to other students who might be starting out: put yourselves out there. Don’t doubt, don’t be shy, don’t second-guess, don’t give up. Ask questions, ask for help, reach out, and you’ll find people reaching back. Let’s work hard and learn together.

Did you have a fantastic experience in your edX course? Let us know! Email