Tech Learning Collective

Technology education for radical organizers and revolutionary communities.

FAQ

Which course should I take first?

Generally, you should apply for the course on our course catalog that most immediately interests you. This is because each course is designed as a self-contained unit and our pre-enrollment application process will help guide you towards the most fitting class for your level of experience. That being said, if you don’t have any (or much) existing experience in this area and are not drawn to a particular subject on your own, we suggest that you consider the following learning path through our courses:

  1. SYS101: Learn the fundamentals of what a computing device is and how to interact with one.
  2. NET101: Learn how devices are networked together.
  3. WEB101: Learn fundamental concepts of Web publishing, which is among the most common uses for computer networks today.
  4. SEC101: Learn why the complex interactions between devices, networks, and applications create security and privacy vulnerabilities and how to deal with them.
  5. WEB201: Learn how to safely utilitize the Web as a platform for advocacy and coordination beyond traditional Web sites.

To be clear, you could start at any 101-level course. Nevertheless, completing the courses in the order they are listed above offers the fastest, most thorough, and logical route through the material. This is because networks (NET101) will make more sense if you have some understanding of the networked devices in isolation (SYS101), and so on.

Can I enroll in more than one class at a time?

Yes. Our enrollment process tracks each of your applications individually. You can simultaneously apply for pre-enrollment in as many of our courses as you like at any time.

In addition to enrolling in full courses, you can also participate in any of our paid or donation-based events independent of your enrollment status. In fact, coming to a workshop that is related to your course subject can be a great way to supplement your course experience because it will give you a chance to solidify your skills in a different context and meet people who are not your immediate peers. Subscribe to our events calendar so you can stay abreast of when and where our one-off workshops and events will take place.

How should I prepare for my enrollment interview?

First of all, remember that the interview is not a technical exam. If you have made it through to the interview phase, it means we already believe you have the requisite skill to get something valuable out of the course material. There are no trick questions and we are not going to grill you about how much (or how little) you already know about the course subject.

During your interview, we are simply trying to get a sense of who you are as a person and in what ways you wish to grow in the near future. Our goal is to fill each class with self-motivated people who are eager to use technology to improve the lives of their immediate community; lofty ambitions are great, but what matters more is that you demonstrate empathy, thoughtfulness, and care for those with less power than you have. Your interviewer will be a teacher, teaching assistant, or alumni who has these same traits and who has gone through a similar process as you have, so share your frustrations or lament obstacles you have faced same as you might share optimistic hopes and successes you’ve had.

If you have not yet done so, we also suggest that you take a minute to familiarize yourself with our partner and sister organizations, as well as with our lightweight social rules. We are serious about creating an environment where work that materially improves our lives and the lives of our loved ones gets done, not merely discussed, and we make choices based on how likely we think that is to happen. This doesn’t mean we are purists, but it does mean we prioritize the applications of people who are both willing and able to contribute to these efforts.

What do I need to bring to class?

As every Tech Learning Collective course focuses on hands-on, experience-based training, you will need a portable personal computer running any modern version of Apple’s macOS, Microsoft Windows, or any flavor of the GNU/Linux operating systems to take full advantage of class time. For certain courses, Google Chromebooks and certain handheld or tablet computers may suffice, but are generally not recommended as they can be severely constrained by their manufacturer or vendor. If in doubt, please either contact us or bring up your concerns during your enrollment process.

Learning a lot in a short period of time can also make one very hungry, so we also advise that you arrive to class well-fed or that you bring a meal with you.

What if I don’t have a laptop?

If you cannot afford or acquire a computer sufficient for the course you are enrolling in, we may be able to provide a temporary device for you to use during your course. In this case, we will ask for an additional deposit from you and will return your deposit to you after you return the computer to us at the end of your final class. Alternatively, for some courses, you can also purchase a single-board computer (SBC) such as a Raspberry Pi from us at cost and we will provide the necessary peripherals (keyboard, pointing device, video display, and power supply) for use during your class. A Raspberry Pi generally retails for ~$35 USD, is sufficient for almost all TLC courses, and will be yours to keep.

Where are classes held?

The Tech Learning Collective partners with several organizations that provide classroom spaces around New York City. We typically determine the classroom location for a specific course one to two months before the course begins. Course locations are determined based on a combination of classroom and teacher availability.

After you enroll, you will receive access to our course scheduler and will be able to choose the course timeline that best suits your schedule. The scheduler provides details regarding course logistics, including classroom locations. All classes in a given course are held in the same classroom for the duration of the course unless otherwise noted in the scheduler.

We strive to ensure that students have access to gender-neutral restrooms and that each classroom is wheelchair accessible, but cannot always guarantee this. Our course scheduler indicates which classrooms provide which amenities so that you can make a more informed choice regarding the specific course timeline and location you ultimately choose to attend.

At this time, all Tech Learning Collective courses are only offered in person. You must physically arrive at class to participate.

When is the next class going to start?

The Tech Learning Collective hosts several different types of classes, including public workshops, intensive courses, and private group trainings, which are each scheduled in a different way:

If you’re excited about a particular workshop but don’t see an upcoming event for it on our calendar, contact us to start a conversation about how you can help make the event happen. We are always thrilled to find new venues and audiences who are eager to improve their lives and their communities with the aid of digital tools!

Can I pay my course tuition in installments?

Generally, no. Our flexible pricing model and sliding-scale tuition helps ensure that all Tech Learning Collective courses are affordable. If you need financial assistance, please voice your concerns during your enrollment process. More often than not, your tuition can be reduced based on your needs, but we still ask that you pay tuition in full before the start of your course’s first class.

If you still cannot afford to enroll in one of our courses, you may be able to attend our occasional donation-based, or satellite workshops. Subscribe to our events calendar to make sure you don’t miss the opportunity!

How can I stay in touch with my classmates and meet more alumns after my course?

As will become evident during your course experience, the Tech Learning Collective is designed to facilitate longer-lasting relationships among peers, teachers, and between students and teachers in order to nurture new projects and support existing communities.

This means that the best way to stay in touch is to make positive relationships with your peers and teacher during your course. Your teacher especially will be engaged in numerous “extra-curriculuar” community projects, and if you don’t already have a project of your own that consumes you, you should offer to help out with one of theirs. Alternatively, if you do already have a project that you’re working on—many TLC students enroll specifically to gain skills in an area relevant to their existing projects—feel free to ask for help from your peers or teacher(s).

Put another way, the Tech Learning Collective alumni community is held together through work. By collaborating on projects with your peers and teachers, you will find that the alumni community can mentor you, or you will find someone who you can mentor. This method provides a much fuller continuing education experience even after your course is officially ended that is more akin to the apprenticeships of yesteryear than it is to the internships of today. For this reason, the Tech Learning Collective itself does not maintain a formal group membership or alumni listserve; instead, you are expected to choose (or create!) a material project to get involved in.

Once again, we encourage you to peruse our list of benefitting organizations to help guide you towards such a project, as well as to voice interest in your teacher’s projects during your course.