Code Fellows is a education start-up from some of the folks behind Tech Stars Seattle. Like other education startups (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), the idea is to give curious students an environment to learn modern web app development skills and prepare them for careers in tech. Unlike other programs, however, Code Fellows is shorter (4 weeks), cheaper ($4,000), and has a selection process that’s slightly slanted towards people who already have programming skills or have careers related to building websites.
For its inaugural class, twenty students were chosen (out of a pool of a few hundred applicants) to participate in the Ruby on Rails bootcamp. The students came from a variety of backgrounds, with careers in electrical engineering, user experience, IT management, research sciences, 3D modeling, front-end development, as well as creating startups. Most of the students were from the Seattle area, but a few traveled here from the east. I’m from Vancouver, Canada, which is only about three hours and a border away.
The actual bootcamp consisted of mostly hands-on learning, with classes that are set up in the “flipped classroom” format. Students would essentially spend afternoons/evenings reading and coding a chapter of the Rails 3 in Action book, while the instructors hovered around (uh, art director-style?) to answer questions. (I’ll have more to say about the book in the next blog post) The morning sessions are then dedicated to answering questions, exploring the material in depth in an IRB, or lecturing on abstract topics such as the HTTP request lifecycle. I found this class format to be pretty conductive to learning. I’ve attended a few corporate training and college courses in the past where programming concepts are delivered via lectures, and I find that the concepts in this class to stick’ more. Perhaps it’s the fact that we had more hands-on time, and we pushed code to GitHub every day.
Code Fellows had great instructors:
Brook Riggio, who has taught at Ready Set Rails, and Ivan Storck who also teaches Rails at the University of Washington. I found them to be generous, attentive, and knowledgable. I especially appreciate that they were experienced as instructors, rather than only as developers, so their instruction felt tuned to students’ needs.
Damon Cortesi from Simply Measured
Fridays at Code Fellows were dedicated to career talks. Since the course took place in the TechStars office, Code Fellows was able to invite speakers from local tech companies to share their thoughts about building businesses, being developers, and interviewing. I found most of the talks to be quite memorable and illuminating. It was especially fun to ask Matt Shobe (FeedBurner co-founder) for his thoughts on RSS the day after Google announced Reader’s pending shutdown.