Some of you might have noticed that a few months ago, I decided to affiliate myself with The New York Code and Design Academy or NYCDA. I took on the role of "Academic Director, Youth Programs." It's a part time gig, at least for now and I'm helping them develop their programs for middle and high school students.
Why did I choose them?
There are a number of coding schools with varying levels of hype around them. At their core, all are workforce programs. They take people with little or no programming background and after a few months of intensive training, they ship them off as web devs or the like.
I have friends at many of these coding schools and related programs so what was different about NYCDA that made me decide to work with them?
They know who they are, they know what they do, they know where they want to go, and we all feel I can help them get there.
Let me explain.
Most coding schools follow the same mold.
For one reason or another, a founder decides to start teaching a class. This works pretty well so it starts to grow into a business. For many of these coding schools, the teaching staff comes from the program's own graduates.
The key point here is that most coding schools have little to no interaction with real, experienced educators.
So, why do they work? Well, to start, there's plenty of low hanging fruit. Right now, as these programs are in high demand, programs can cream top applicants.
Many programs also have applicants complete pre-work - that is a program of self study before starting the coding school. This pretty much ensures that your classes are going to be composed of hard working, intelligent self starters - that's a recipe for a successful student body.
Given the student population and the fact that the skill set for an entry level programmer can be taught fairly formulaicaly, it's a recipe for success.
Now, I don't mean to imply that these schools are bad or doing bad things - all of them are taking people and giving them a chance at a new career. It's good and it's important. Even more so for organizations that provide a step up for the have nots.
Teaching kids is another matter.
For adults you're teaching a specific skill set for a specific job market. For kids, you're setting a foundation and opening doors. You can't just take your adult model and apply it to kids. Well, you can, and it will even look good, but it won't have real substance.
That's what impressed me about NYCDA - when Jeremy came to me it was clear - they knew what they did and what they did well. He also knew that as they ramp up their youth offerings, it was important to involve real, experienced educators - that it was about having true expert teachers even more than it was curriculum. He understood that while NYCDA is doing a great job, how much better could it be to include CS educators who have been sending kids into industry successfully for years.
I was even more delighted when my partner in crime JonAlf Dyrland-Weaver - one of the best teachers I know, CS or otherwise, agreed to teach one of our NYCDA youth courses this semester.
NYCDA is the only coding school working to bring the best teachers out there to their youth programs.
That's why I joined on and that's why I'm really excited for the programs we're going to roll out.