It’s hard to fail at something if you work towards it every day and never quit@wellpaidgeek
50 days ago I set out to start learning more about being a true web developer. I feel that some of my experience may be beneficial to others specifically when referring to boot camps considering I'm working through yet another one.
If you aren't already familiar with #100DaysOfCode, please check it out. They have an official website to learn more about the challenge. Basically it's the best thing I've endeavored to do in the last few years with my free time. I wake up genuinely inspired, excited, and ready to take on the challenges of the day because I have this new nerdy thing I get to look forward to.
The first 30 days of this challenge, for me, involved a lot of Nucamp.co's basic bootcamp. I wanted to share with you some of the good, the bad, and my overall recommendation.
TL;DR: If you are considering it, do it.
- Preface (Main Take Aways)
- Video lessons and material
- Technology Stack
- Collaboration: Slack
- Video Chat
- Team Collaboration
- Learning Dashboard
Preface (Main take aways)
- I want to encourage people to sign up for bootcamps such as this one.
- Learn more about the course and set realistic expectations of outcomes.
- I believe people really got a lot out of the course.
- My hope is that my review will provide constructive feedback for their team to make improvements for future students.
- The course was enjoyable, I learned, got a certificate, and made some friends - the main reasons I signed up for it. So, mission accomplished.
- For the price, it's an experience worth investigating if you are considering more expensive college bootcamp options.
Video lessons and material
The instruction was all from a video series you can actually find for free here. I wish I had better things to say about the instruction but I feel more custom instruction from the course would have been fantastic. The videos seemed to show examples that were super hypothetical and often times the examples used materials or constructs that weren't covered (at all), such as methods and properties, leading to some confusion. The Presenter Dave Rassitor is obviously a subject matter expert.
The bootcamp may very likely prepare you for ES6 taught in the Full Stack course but doesn't within the basic Bootcamp. The videos did not directly connect to the en d of week projects.
Key take away from this section - The videos could be improved upon with more tailored instruction to Nucamp but were definitely informative.
The very first thing we were to do on week 0's assignment was to answer questions on meta data, which thinking back on I don't think we ever actually covered in class.
I originally wanted to sign up for a course that would allow me to learn and network so a hybrid class that not only allowed networking but a "learn at your own pace in your own space" deal interested me a ton.
The problem was one week before the class began I got an email notifying me that not enough people signed up for my location and I could either get a refund or do 100% online version of the course. Since my job already approved it, I decided to bite the bullet and do 100% online anyways.
I feel there was some confusion around getting started and getting students and teachers into the flow of the course as if most everyone involved was new to nucamp.co. I have seen a lot of ads recently about hiring nucamp instructors including this Reddit thread where the comments seemed to confirm my opinion.
On the first week, I made the mistake of assuming week 0 was just a pre-requisite course work and needed to be finished before going into week 1, turns out there was only weeks 0-3 so I finished week 1 in about 2 hours on the first night only to realize that I had to wait another full week before I'd move on to the next section with my class.
I finished the group assignment on my own before I knew I was supposed to wait until Saturday to join the class on it.
No big deal, they explained the reason was because the materials really ramped up as the course continued. The slack channel for the class allowed me to really help others and chat with other like minded people, which was great.
Since I had already finished the assignment, I was able to help my class mates who were struggling even more, and I learn best from teaching.
Getting my certificate for completion of the course required I reach out to the class instructor via slack requesting the final assignment be manually graded and I received it after the follow up class started which you can see here: Certificate link.
I have nothing but positive things to say. The instructors were all collaborating on Slack around the clock to answer any questions, provide tips, and review code from students. They hire passionate teachers who always lent a hand when someone was struggling with a challenge or question.
Slack was the right tool to allow for questions and discussion - to be honest I think I am still a member of the slack feed but cancelled it because the class immediately after mine had already joined and the spamming began. There could have been more "slack etiquette" training built into the program to prevent spamming my phone at random hours but by the 4th week it seems it ironed itself out mostly within my class.
On Saturdays, we were to meet in the morning to discuss the week's challenge. After introductions we discussed the weeks challenge and typically got straight to work.
They used a video conference system called daily.co which resulted in subpar user experiences. The instructor every week had to refresh and drop out of the chat for a moment every fifteen-ish minutes where conversations dropped. My critique here was that I believe the course could greatly benefit from improved software such as Zoom.us or even slack's built in video chat system (for paid accounts) which also would have allowed for students to break away into groups and collaborate more easily (more on that in a sec).
The classes were usually just a meet up for 15 minutes of the allotted 8 hours with a few slides in an instructor lead presentation. Followed by a break into individual groups of 2-3 people. We had to figure out on our own the best software to use for collaborative work and screen sharing (we settled on discord app) which ate a considerable amount of time that could have been spent actually collaborating or learning.
I did meet a ton of like-minded people and made friends with classmates from all over that I'd never have met if it weren't for the course and I'm exceptionally grateful for it.
Nucamp's learn.nucamp.co site went down for about 20-30 minutes on a Friday evening while I was working which I brought to the school's attention, turns out they were making some server changes that lead to unexpected downtime. They were pretty quick about getting the site back online.
The learn.nucamp.co dashboard was difficult to navigate at times, marking assignments as complete were often challenges on their own. Getting the certificate required I complete four third-party review sites which I provided anonymously but was unable to have the section marked off. UI/UX could definitely improve there.
I think my favorite part of the whole course was the projects. We progressively advanced from making a basic forms to building a smiley face game which were all pretty challenging. I feel everyone who tried to do these challenges came out with a ton of knowledge at the end.
My hope is that this review will make you more confident that someone would take the time to give a detailed review, lay out all the bad and still come out at the end saying it was a solid investment with a recommendation that if you are on the fence - take the leap and do it!
Will this course prepare you for a developer job? Probably not, but if you are at all like me, it's a great start on the journey and you may take the basic bootcamp and decide to take the full-stack course like most of my peers did.
If you decide to do it or have taken the leap to take the full-stack, drop some comments in the section below! I'd love to hear your thoughts or learn about the coding bootcamp you took!