Overview of Course and Classes: Introductory Course

Develpreneur is focused on providing training to our members through regular blog posts and also through courses.  Our courses cover a major topic and goal (such as launching a web based business).  We do this through a series of building blocks for that topic.  This moves the students towards the greater goal of becoming great developers. With that in mind, let’s look at an overview of our introductory class and our general approach.

We map topics into classes and build a series of classes into a course.  The course always has an overall goal of a product or service the students create for themselves while taking the course.  Thus, almost every class also has a specific goal.  The goal may be a milestone or partial build of the end service or product.  Therefore, only in a few exceptions will a class stick to foundational knowledge alone.  In these cases, the content sets the stage for future classes.

What a Course Looks Like

Courses run in a series.  A group of students moves through the series at the same time.  This allows for some group projects/assignments as well as providing for wider ranging discussions.  We do limit the number of students for each class.  This provides the right amount of instructor-student interaction and instructor feedback on all assignments.  We don’t provide grades, but we do provide suggestions for improvement, growth, and ways to advance skills beyond time spent in class.  As a result, our students can apply skills rather than answer a quiz about them.

What a Class Looks Like

For each class, we assume a student will spend around three to four hours reading the post, in class discussions, and working on the assignments.  Generally speaking, expect roughly ten to fifteen hours a week.  Our pace is typically around three classes a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and we have a virtual discussion for each class.  There are assignments for each class that will be reviewed by the instructors.  This is to help each student keep up to date on the material.  We expect students to spend some time at least every other day on classes and assignments.

We have virtual classes to review the lecture and promote discussions.  The class will include a sort of “lecture” section where we go over the post for the class and add commentary.  After the lecture, we open it up to class questions, comments, and discussions.  Alternatively.  This can serve as a guided lab time where students can go through examples and even assignments.  During this time the instructors are immediately available.  There is also a class Slack channel available for on-going discussions among class participants and instructors.  Email is used for direct communication between student to instructor.

Introductory Course Overview

Now that we have looked at the generalities, here are the details for the Introductory course:

Pre-Requisite: Read the “Generating a Business Idea” article and come up with some potential business ideas.  This allows us to start with each student possessing a starting point for their business.  Students that have trouble coming up with an idea (or have too many) can feel free to contact us at [email protected] for some consultation on how to create business ideas out of your interests.

  1. Course Intro

    1. Overview
    2. Class Links
    3. Goals
    4. Further reading
    5. End Result: Student has a list of resources for continued learning
  2. AWS intro (EC2, S3)

    1. AWS Overview
    2. Register for an account
    3. Creating an EC2 instance
    4. Creating an S3 bucket
    5. Tying it together (ec2 web server, S3 for images)
    6. End Result: Each student will have a virtual Linux server in the cloud that they can use for development (and production) purposes.
  3. Linux Overview/basics

    1. Linux overview
    2. Your home and navigating(ls, cd, mkdir, cp, rm)
    3. Wildcards and searches (find, grep, recursive)
    4. Important folders
    5. Permissions, owners, and groups
    6. Tar and Gzip
    7. End Result: Student will have a quick reference card of Linux commands and some examples
  4. The vi editor

    1.  Overview
    2. Edit and command modes
    3. File controls (saving and quitting)
    4. Basic navigation
    5. Modifying Text (insert, delete)
    6. Searching for text
    7. Basic of scripting
    8.  End Result: Student will have a backup script for their server
  5. Apache overview/basics

    1. The Apache project overview  (Blog Article)
    2. installing apache (Windows and Linux)
    3. Starting and stopping apache
    4. Your first web page
    5. folders and sites
    7. End Result: Student will have their very own Apache web server instance running on AWS
  6. MySQL Database Overview

    1. What is MySQL?/Databases Overview
    2. Starting and stopping your server
    3. Creating and using databases
    4. Securing your server
    5. User creation and assigning rights
    6. Backing up and restoring your database
  7.  Wordpress basics/configuration

    1. Installing WordPress (on ec2)
    2. Account management (roles, managing accounts)
    3. A complete walk thru of using WordPress and its components
      •  Posts
      • Appearance
      • Plugins
      • Static Pages
      • Settings
    4. Blogging in a nutshell
    5. End Result: Student will have their own WordPress Application running and be ready to start a blog.
  8. Domain registration and configuration

    1. General DNS naming decisions
    2. Working with Go Daddy, and other providers
    3. SSL certificate types
    4. SSL cert provider options
    5. Using your certificate
    6. End Result: Each student will have a secure certificate for their server and a domain name to ease access to their service/content/products
  9. Writing for Fun and Profit – Monetizing your content

    1. Writing Overview
    2. Thank You Notes and Emails
    3. Cover Letters and Resumes
    4. Status and Professional Documents
    5. Blogs
    6. End Result:  Each student will have templates to get them started on professional looking documents and a first Blog article
  10. Affiliate sites – Monetizing your site

    1. How affiliate marketing works (blog article)
    2. Linkshare, Commission Junction, and finding other sites
    3. Google ads
    4. Using a link, building an ad area
    5. Walk through account creation/setup
    6. Selecting target partners
    7. Working the market to improve hits/revenue
    8. End Result: Student will have at least one affiliate site account and a Google account setup as well as at least two ads for their site
  11. HTML Basics – Creating your Marketing Site

    1. HTML, head, body ( (Blog Article – overview/don’t be scared of HTML)
    2. Groupings (h?,p,div,span,etc)
    3. Breaks (br, hr)
    4. Tables
    5. Lists
    6. Forms
    7. End Result: Student will have a stand alone “marketing” website for their product/service and a contact us form
  12. CSS Intro – Maintaining your Web Site

    1. CSS vs. page tags, including CSS files  (Blog Article)
    2. Div/Span
    3. Class vs. id based formatting
    4. Flows and positioning
    5. Fonts and colors (foreground/background)
    6. Images
    7. End Result: Student Marketing website will have styles and formatting to grow it beyond a basic website, they will start to develop a corporate look and feel
  13. Responsive Design/Bootstrap – Making your site Google friendly

    1. Responsive design overview  (Blog Article)
    2. Installing Bootstrap
    3. The key Bootstrap templates/approaches
    4. Extending Bootstrap
    5. End Result: Student will have a bootstrap based marketing website (grown from an earlier version) and a responsive site.
  14. Google Analytics/Evaluating your site

    1. Analytics Overview  (Blog Article)
    2. Google webmaster tools
    3. Sitemaps
    4. Evaluation tools/sites (Screaming Frog, Crazy Egg)
    5. Adjusting course
    6. Improving Analytics
    7. End Result: Student will have a sitemap built for their site and submitted to major engines as well as analytics setup for their site
  15. Work sites – Using your skills to create revenue

    1. Project sites overview
    2. Building a profile
    3. Finding jobs
    4. Bidding on a job
    5. Refining your profile
    6. Marketing materials
    7. Getting feedback
    8. End Result: Student will have an account and profile on at least one work site and a template for proposals
  16. Building Your Brand

    1. Setting Your Goals
    2. Researching Your Approach
    3. Social Networks and Web Sites
    4. Taking the First Step
    5. Staying Current
    6. The Crush It Cycle
    7. End Result: Student will have a plan for brand building and template for a personal page on a social site
  17. The Business Launch – Getting started and getting customers

    1. Picking a product/service, pros, and cons of product vs. service  (Blog Article)
    2. Revenue options, Shopify or PayPal for payment processing
    3. Pre-launch test
    4. Beta users
    5. Hitting your target market
    6. Following up
    7. Adjusting as you go
    8. End Result: Student will have a launch plan and tools in place to launch their site
  18.  Time Management

    1. The Most Valuable Currency
    2. Planning, Scheduling, and Moving Forward
    3. Productivity techniques (Pomodoro)
    4. Batching
    5. Simplifying
    6. End Result: Student will have a Schedule template for their personal goals and tasks

What you will Build

Our goal is to have something concrete for each student as they complete classes and courses.  Too much of education today is spoon feeding rather than building experience and skills.  With that in mind, let’s look at what students will be building in this course:

Your Business

  • Business concept: Students will create their own business.  They will have a strong foundation and a focus that can lead to success.
  • A spot on the Internet: Students will set up and configure their own server for hosting the applications and services they build.  This is theirs to keep and not just a site available to them during the class.
  • Business presence:  A web server is just the beginning.  We work with students to build a professional website.  This includes encryption, design, an Internet domain, and other building blocks.
  • Affiliate Accounts: We work with students to establish some affiliate relationships.  This allows them to get paid for the content they provide.
  • Consulting Accounts: Students build a skill set during this class that is in demand.  We show them how to use those skills as a part, or full, time way to earn money.
  • Templates for communication: We will provide students with several templates .  These can be customized for their business.  These help students present their message in a professional and well-communicated way.

Your Initial Technology

  • Web Server: Students build their own web server and learn how to create pages to market their products and services.  They also take steps to build their brand and online community.
  • Blog site: This is where students build their online presence.  They build a blog and incorporate it into their website.  This provides a launching point for building both a customer base and community.
  • Scripts for maintaining and customizing your IT infrastructure.

Throughout this process, we will be helping students build the skills they need.  This is not only for themselves but also to help others do the same.  This is just an entry point into a career in web and application development, but it is an entry point that can jump start an IT career as an entrepreneur or consultant.

Overall Result/Goal

This course will help each student build an online presence for their business.  The business may be content, service or product based.  We will help them find a niche that fits them.  They will have their own website for marketing purposes and a blog.  The servers will have typical “professional” features like backups, a domain, SSL certificate (for https/secure transactions), and more.  They will also have accounts and templates for monetizing and advertising their work.  This includes analytics to help them measure their progress.  In the end, we will be walking each student through getting an online business created and launched.  Hence, they will do this without having to spend thousands on designers, developers, and other third party services.  Each student will build their business from scratch and will know every detail of it.


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Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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