As I mentioned in a previous post, before starting at Bitmaker, I tried my hand at learning to code through free online resources. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and depth of the material available, but after several months of on-again, off-again self-paced learning I decided I would be better off in a bootcamp environment. Here are five reasons I chose to attend Bitmaker rather than continue learning on my own.
5. A dedicated workspace.
As every student knows, home can be full of distractions, and learning requires focus. Some people choose to study in coffee shops, but I personally find it can be difficult to locate sufficient table space, plus there's the obligation to continue buying beverages to keep your seat. The Bitmaker space is available to students 24/7, and it is a dedicated learning environment; sure, we have events there as well, but it exists primarily as a place for learning to code. When I'm there, I find it much easier to focus.
This may sound counterintuitive (nobody like deadlines!), but the structure of the program keeps us on track and forces us to use our time wisely (see #5, above). An online tutorial might only take a few hours to complete, but with no hard deadlines, those few hours could take weeks to get around to. At Bitmaker, putting off an assignment for later isn't an option, simply because later we'll be too busy working on the next assignment.
3. Industry connections.
The staff at Bitmaker have connections with companies in the Toronto tech scene and beyond. This means students have the opportunity to meet influential developers, entrepreneurs, and others, and to learn what specific skills the industry is looking for right now.
Personally, I find it helps keep me motivated when I'm surrounded by others who are going through the same thing as me, and this is certainly the situation at Bitmaker. Working with classmates is also good practice for the real world, where we'll likely be involved in pair programming and other forms of teamwork.
It's true that many MOOCs are taught by talented instructors, but you can't exactly wave them over to where you're sitting and show them the error message on your screen. At Bitmaker, the experienced, helpful, and patient instructors are available to help us through any issues we may encounter. It's a relief to know that no matter how badly we manage to mangle our code, the instructors are there to guide us back on track.
By Graham Lavender