General Assembly Raises $35 Million in Series C Round

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Since our launch in 2011, General Assembly has made tremendous progress towards our long-term vision: Creating a global community of individuals empowered to pursue the work they love. General Assembly has already touched hundreds of thousands of lives, with a community of more than 100,000 students, including an alumni network of more than 6,000 graduates of our courses across eight campuses.

While our progress has been tremendous, our work has barely begun. Our mandate, our deepest organizational responsibility, is to support these alumni not just now, but for many, many years to come. It is this obligation that led to our new round of funding for General Assembly, designed to ensure that we will be able to educate students and help decades of alumni yet to come. Led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), this round represents over $35 million of investment, with participation from other investors including GSV Capital, Rethink Education, Maveron, and Western Technology Investment. IVP is an incredible firm, with an awe-inspiring portfolio including Twitter, Omniture, Netflix, Akamai, Soundcloud, and Snapchat. Todd Chaffee, general partner at IVP, is joining our board, and we’re proud to partner with the firm as we continue to expand our audience and scope of offerings.

While we look toward the future, I also want to recognize General Assembly’s team today. We have 250 amazing, talented people, working tirelessly from outposts across the globe. Working at a startup is a constant challenge and I’m proud of what our team has accomplished. Our ability to continue to invest and grow is due to their commitment to General Assembly and to our students; they are the most crucial element of our collective success to date.

While a financing round is a milestone, it is hardly an endpoint. We want to build General Assembly to still be thriving 75 years from now, and have mountains of work to do to continue to serve our students, alumni, and the countless individuals we have yet to reach. There will be new courses, new campuses, and new audiences to come. We look forward to sharing them with our growing global community.

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DIY Recruiting for User Research: The B&B Model

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Colleen is a User Experience Researcher at GA in New York. 

Recruiting for user research takes time and close attention to detail. It could easily be compared to running a bed and breakfast with users similar to houseguests. Here at GA, we use a few different do-it-yourself methods, but my recipe for recruiting always includes the user, preparation, organization and a little dash of hospitality.

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A Website is like a House. Here’s Why

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Website House Metaphor

Metaphors are great ways to bridge the knowledge gap between technical and non-technical team members. But instead of bombarding non-technical folks with acronyms and jargon, it helps to first establish a baseline understanding of how different technologies work together. One way I like to do this is by comparing a website to a house.

1. The Frame: HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

A house has rooms, and each room contains furniture and electric appliances. Similarly, a webpage has sections (e.g. header, body, footer), and each section contains images and text. HTML organizes and presents elements of a webpage in a structured hierarchy. Here’s an example of pseudo-HTML describing the elements in our house:

[code language=”html”]
<house>
<second_floor>
<bedroom>
<bed />
</bedroom>
</second_floor>
<first_floor>
<living_room>
<television />
</living_room>
<kitchen>
<fridge />
</kitchen>
<entrance>
<front_door>
<door_bell>
</front_door>
</entrance>
</first_floor>
</house>
[/code]

2. The Look: CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

Not all rooms, tables, and chairs look the same, nor do words or images on a page. That’s where CSS comes in – CSS defines how elements look, describing their color, size, position, shape, and more. Here’s an example of how we’d use pseudo-CSS to style a bedroom in our house:

[code language=”css”]
bedroom {
width: 12ft;
height: 8ft;
walls: 1mm wallpaper matte;
floor: carpet
}
[/code]

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Introducing Dash, GA’s Online Learn-to-Code Program

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Introducing Dash

Earlier this year, we built Dash, an interactive, online learn-to-code program as an onboarding tool for our Web Development Immersive students. At the time, there were a lot of existing products, but we wanted something interactive and engaging, in a real world, project-based format that would prepare students who hadn’t programmed before to dive in. So we decided to build it ourselves.


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Coworking and Community at GA

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When we founded General Assembly, our idea was simple: we wanted to build a new place to support the growing NYC startup community.

Nearly three years later, when I look back at our early goal, I am astonished – we have overshot that goal by a considerable margin.  In a very short time, General Assembly has grown from a collaborative space that a small group within the NYC startup community could call home into a global educational institution that has helped empower nearly 70,000 individuals to pursue work they love.

Throughout this period of intense growth, the original idea has remained constant, even while the scope and scale have changed.

Over the past two and a half years, our community has grown much larger than our amazing co-working members.  It now encompasses the tens of thousands of students who’ve come through our doors and the more than 3,000 alumni of our long-form courses, not to mention the hundreds of instructors and the 2,000 hiring partners who come to GA in search of top talent.  Similarly, support once meant desks and space, but has come to also mean instruction, opportunity and talent for our students and hiring partners.

It is in this context that we have made the decision to stop offering our coworking services in 2014.  It is not a decision we took lightly – but it is a necessary one as we work to expand our global network of students and alumni.

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How to Teach UX: Methods and Philosophies

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When General Assembly decided to add a new full-time, immersive program to its suite of educational offerings, user experience (UX) design was the clear topic of choice. UX is a rapidly growing field looking for talented designers passionate about shaping the future, and we were excited to design a program that prepared these folks to do just that. With that, the User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) program was born.

UXDI is truly the first of its kind. We’ve been able to take skills and methods that have developed over the last 20 years and turned them into one of the first formal programs to teach UX design. Through the process of creating the course, we learned a lot about how UX should be taught, and developed the following three guiding philosophies:

1. Embrace Ambiguity

“It depends” is a key part of any UX designer’s vocabulary, but its use in a classroom environment can lead to pretty significant frustration. There are plenty of reasons why teaching UX is quite ambiguous; this is, after all, a rapidly evolving field that prides itself on prioritizing the user and not trying to find the best answer, but rather going after better answers.

UX Design: Embrace Ambiguity

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What Is: Digital Brand Strategy

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FARIS-Yakob-Pic1

Faris Yakob is an award winning strategist, creative director, writer, public speaker and self-proclaimed geek.

Name: Faris Yakob (@faris)
Occupation: Strategist, Creative Director, Public Speaker, Writer. (Formerly Chief Innovation Officer of MDC Partners and founder of Spies and Assassins, a creative technology agency)

1. In 140 characters or less, what is Digital Brand Strategy?

How to deploy finite assets, budget, behavior & brand, to achieve predetermined business objectives, w/ digital platforms & customers.

2. What problem is a digital brand strategist solving? Why are they sitting at the table?

Strategy shouldn’t be fragmented into endless fractal versions of itself. All strategy is holistic, the direction of the whole towards the objectives of the whole.

Brand strategy, then, is a subset of strategy already, which takes business strategy and looks at how to best leverage the key intangible asset of the company – its brand.

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5 Steps for Getting Started Coding a Web App

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Keep your goals in sight. You’ve made your resolutions — we want to help you keep them (at least the ones that aren’t food related). That’s why we’ve put together five simple things you can do to get started in Back-End Web Development using Ruby on Rails.

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5 Steps for Getting Started Designing and Building a Website

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Keep your goals in sight. You’ve made your resolutions — we want to help you keep them (at least the ones that aren’t food related). That’s why we’ve put together five simple things you can do to get started with Front-End Web Development.

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