A Conversation with World Education’s Ebony Vandross

Inspiration and Ideas

This month, World Education’s E-Learning & Program Coordinator, Ebony Vandross, recently completed a coding bootcamp with CodeSquad. We sat down to hear more about her career at World Education and coding journey. 

Tell us about your role at World Education

I’m the E-Learning and Program Coordinator for the US division and I also support the EdTech Center. My role consists of coordinating content for our newsletters and social media posts to highlight our work and many projects. I also manage our online learning platform where we host courses for professional development in partnership with other organizations seeking training for educators. But through the years I’ve dipped my toes into a little bit of everything due to my own curiosity, so it’s safe to say I do whatever the division will let me!

How has your career in E-Learning and web development grown over the years? 

I started out supporting registrar duties for course enrollments and took on more responsibilities with our learning management system (Moodle). I eventually wanted to learn more about how Moodle worked from the administrative end so I completed their free training to solidify my understanding. 

I developed an interest in web development through working on simple updates for the EdTech Center and Change Agent websites. Since I’m always interested in finding ways to make the site easier to use for visitors, I started researching simple plugins I thought would improve their functionality. I would also end up tinkering with the HTML since I found the front-end builders could be a little finicky, so I would usually find myself researching basic code to find out what worked through trial and error. Even though I had no background in tech, I always wanted to find solutions by doing my own independent research learning more about what was happening behind the scenes.

You recently completed a Coding Bootcamp. Tell us a little bit more about that program and your experience? 

I was interested in learning more about coding due to the work I was doing so I started to research opportunities for further education, and a friend let me know about a free program called Codesquad which is based in Boston and trains aspiring programmers from marginalized communities, which are severely underrepresented in tech. I was really moved by their mission to fill these gaps because I’m particularly inspired by mission driven work, which is how I ended up at World Education to begin with. I decided to apply and after a mini course and interview process I was selected to participate in their 2022 cohort with about 20 others from varying backgrounds. 

We started in January with frontend development (HTML, CSS, and responsive web design), then moved on to Javascript, then finished with backend programming (NodeJS) and deployment. These are all the basics that someone would need in order to build and launch a complete web application. We worked on two projects, one for the course and one of our choice, and applied everything we learned as we went along. My personal project is called Let’s Start Learning, an app that aims to serve as an activity repository for independent adult learners who are not able to participate in a program due to lack of time, confidence, or lack of access. It was built using all of the methods we learned during the cohort in addition to H5P, which is a javascript based framework that makes it really easy to create interactive HTML5 activities and add them to a site or LMS like Moodle. Thanks to my work at World Education I already knew about this framework, so I was able to incorporate it into my app and create a very sleek looking site!

What are some projects you are working on and excited about applying your new skills? 

The website for The Change Agent, a publication consisting of essays and articles written by adult learners, is very outdated. Before 2020, our primary means of distribution was shipping print copies, but due to changes during the lockdown period we had to pivot to digital. The site is really lacking since it always served as a supplement to the print version, so using my new skills, my dream is to guide and be part of building a new website that provides a smoother user experience and eventually some interactive components because it’s an amazing publication and deserves all of the bells and whistles! My division colleagues are also huge supporters of my efforts and I hope to get involved with their collaborative edtech focused projects to serve educators who want to learn more.

What do you like most about working for World Education?

What I like most about working at World Education is the room to pursue anything you’re interested in. That was one of the key reasons I felt like I would be able to put the skills I gained in coding camp to good use, because there is a lot of flexibility in whatever role you have. I’m also really glad I was able to find a role that allowed me to figure out what my strengths were, as I arrived to the field of adult education with fairly little experience. I just knew I wanted to help people access education in a collaborative and safe space.

I encourage anyone who has an interest in something that doesn’t necessarily fit into the parameters of their job description to pursue it. You never know how a new skill set could be applicable to your role, or help you grow into a new one!

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