by freeCodeCamp

Free Code Camp now has Local Groups

Our open source community was born online. And our campers are adept at using the internet to communicate. Most of this communication is just short text messages back and forth. But there’s a lot of it.

We switched to Slack 3 weeks ago, and already a lot of our campers are active on here. To put these numbers in perspective, Harvard’s CS50x course, which has hundreds of thousands of enrolled students, launched a Slack in March. Our total message volume is already double theirs.

A lot of our campers use Twitter to communicate, too.
Still, there’s something about hanging out with people in-person. You get higher-bandwidth communication. You can sketch things out on a whiteboard. You can play ping pong. You can give each other hugs or high fives.

Our community is scattered across the globe. The closest most of our campers have come to “hanging out” is pair programming together on Screen Hero.

More than half of our campers live outside the United States. But that’s about to change. We’ve always encouraged our campers to go to hackathons and after-work coding events. Many of them live in cities with Hackerspaces or Makerspaces where they can rub shoulders with other coders.

In big cities like San Francisco, there are JavaScript-related meetups several nights a month. (photo from SFHTML5) But telling our campers “go check Meetup.com” is only so helpful. From the beginning, we’ve wanted a tool to connect you with other campers in your city, so that you can coordinate going to big events together, and even plan events of your own.

We considered Eventbrite.com and Meetup.com. We experimented with coordinating local groups on our (now retired) forum. We even investigated a “Campers Near You” feature to our main site. Ultimately, we decided that the best solution was a tool that you’re probably already familiar with — Facebook!

Camper Stephanie Jackson Brown created the Free Code Camp Atlanta Group,

Yes. Facebook. That baby photo sharing app that your parents use. That app that swallows up nearly a quarter of Americans’ time spent on the web.
Well it turns out that Facebook has a really well-designed Groups functionality. It’s ideal for managing local groups.

  • It’s free
  • It has easy-to-use event creation, member management, messaging and photo sharing
  • Almost everyone already has a Facebook account, so joining the group is as easy as clicking a button

See for yourself. Join the Free Code Camp group in your city (or create one if it doesn’t exist yet) here.
We look forward to lots of hugs and high fives in the coming weeks!

Originally published at blog.freecodecamp.com on May 8, 2015.