Learn Code As Part Of A Community

The following is a message from Brock Ellis,  Director of Midland University Code Academy. 

Brock Ellis, Code Capstone Mentor

I am a self taught programmer.

I say that almost like a confession. It’s hard to sometimes feel like you belong in a group of talented individuals when your learning journey has been Google, YouTube, and an outdated book. Not feeling like you’ve had the right upbringing or education and set you up with a healthy dose on Imposter Syndrome (never feeling like you have the right to belong with your peers).

I’m a lifelong learning and I’ve been down many paths. I’ve done the book route where you search a topic on Amazon, order the highest rated book, and hope it works out. Often times it didn’t though. My bookshelf at hope is now rife with books riddled with technical jargon and unhelpful definition that made my younger self question my career choice.

I’ve tried the MOOCs (massive open online classes) as well. I joined an open session of Computer Science 100 about a year into my programming journey. Then, I got a week into the class and stopped participating. I tried to watch the lectures at night and just ended up falling asleep.

Finally, I tried a hybrid approach. A year or so ago, while attempting to add to my dev toolkit, I paid for a ‘premium’ course on an online service that promised access to a large learning community and real human code reviews. Well, the actual ‘learning’ part of the class didn’t have any human interaction. I was added to a Slack channel and given access to a Q&A forum. I did get a real human reviewing my final code, but 5 issues opened up on a Github repo wasn’t what I had in mind for human interaction. The course content was well laid out and structured, but I never felt like I wasn’t alone in my learning journey. Even being a seasoned programmer, I spent a fair amount of time outside of the ‘class’ Googling and YouTubing to understand the hard concepts.

Learning is better in a community.

I never had the opportunity to learn programming in a large class setting. I, regretfully, didn’t understand my calling to code until way after college and I remember playing around with course schedules for the local community college once I understand that coding is what I wanted to do with my life, but could never work it work out.

The classroom, surrounded by other folks learning the same thing you are, is where learning best happens. That’s what we offer at the Midland Code Academy. You aren’t just a face on Slack, or a name in a forum. You get to know your instructor and classmates. The instructors have been in the industry and can offer insights that will greatly streamline hard concepts, because they’ve done work that deals with them. You can learn from your classmates and help make sense of all of the goofy rules that coding enforces. You can teach each other different wants of viewing a concept that make it easier to reason about. Our students come from all different walks of life but, in the classroom, everyone has the same goal. They want to learn. And learning is always better with people.


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