If you’re determined to learn to code, there are a lot of factors you should consider when deciding how to accomplish your goal. What sort of budget do you have for the tools you might need? How much free time do you have, or are you willing to make? Do you want to quit your job and learn full-time? Another factor to consider is your own style of learning. Kassia Shishkoff of Anyone Can Learn to Code in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, outlines these learning styles for us!

Whether you prefer a classroom environment, one-on-one instruction, or teaching yourself at your own pace, there is a course or bootcamp out there for you. All you have to do is determine which learning method meets all your criteria and you’re on your way.

Here are four different teaching styles you’ll see while researching learning to code and the potential pros and cons of each:

1. Self-Teaching

Self-teaching often takes place through online courses that offer a series of lessons and/or videos accompanied by exercises through which the user progresses at his or her own pace.

Pros: This is the most affordable way to learn coding, with many great resources available online for free or close to it.

Cons: It’s difficult to stay motivated when you’re teaching yourself - most MOOCs (MOOC stands for "massive online open course") have a completion rate of less than 15 percent. This may not be as important if you’re learning for fun, but if you want a job in the programming field, you’ll need to finish (and build a portfolio, too).

Wondering if you can self-teach? Here are three takeaways from Course Report’s Complete Guide to Self-Study vs Coding Bootcamp:

  • Coding Experience Matters. If you have prior experience with computer science and programming, teaching yourself may not be so difficult, but if you’ve never heard of a “closing tag” you're better off starting with bootcamp.
  • Set Curriculum is Important. If you don’t have a solid guide and don’t know where to start, figuring out what you need to teach yourself to accomplish your goal can be difficult. Look for a bootcamp that creates their own (up-to-date) curriculum.
  • Know Your Learning Style. Consider your past attempts at self-teaching. Were you able to stay motivated and meet your goal? If so, give self-teaching a try before you sign up for a bootcamp.

2. Mentorship

Mentorship is learning one-on-one from a tutor, or even a web-developer friend, and can take place in-person, online, or via phone/Hangout.

Pros: Mentorship provides the highest level of individual attention, and if you choose a good teacher, you’ll get high-quality instruction where everything is customized for you.

Cons: It can be difficult and time consuming to find a mentor who is both a good fit and who has the time available to help.

You’re most likely to find mentor-driven bootcamps online. A few examples are Thinkful, Bloc, and CareerFoundry.

3. Flipped Classroom Coding Bootcamps

Flipped Classroom Bootcamps take place in-person, are full-time, and can last several months. Daily structures vary, but generally most of the day is taken up by completing exercises. Lessons are delivered via a combination of articles, online tutorials, and short lectures, but students are expected to drive most of the learning themselves through practice and pair programming.

Pros: You’re coding alongside your classmates, so staying motivated is a given. You’re fully immersed in coding for long periods of time, giving you many hours of practice.

Cons: Flipped classroom environments tend to be sink-or-swim, and you’ve got a better chance at success if you’re good at teaching yourself new concepts without a teacher. Additionally, student-centered learning generally takes longer than teacher-centered learning and often necessitates long hours. These programs can often be quite expensive.

Examples of Flipped Classroom Bootcamps include Recurse Center in New York and Ecole 42 in France.

4. Guided Instruction Coding Bootcamps

Guided Instruction Bootcamps consist of several months of in-class instruction, open discussion, and exercises with instructors or TAs on hand to help with questions. In this model, instruction and practice are given equal weight. These programs can take place on a full-time or part-time basis.

Pros: Guided instruction works particularly well for visual and auditory learners while still emphasizing hands-on practice. Structured class times and your cohort help keep you motivated. Teacher-led instruction accelerates the learning process, and more ground can be covered in a shorter time.

Cons: These programs can be often be quite expensive. Because of the emphasis on instruction, you may do less actual coding than in a Flipped Classroom bootcamp.

Anyone Can Learn To Code, our immersive, part-time coding bootcamp and apprenticeship, falls into the Guided Instruction category. We keep our classes small and our schedule part-time so that all our students get the personal instruction they need and have the flexibility to keep their day jobs while they switch to a career in coding. After the classroom portion, students are guaranteed up to four months of apprenticeship and hands-on experience with client work. ACLTC has cohorts in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.

Next Steps

So if you’re a great self-teacher on a small budget, check out a free online coding course. If you like a more traditional classroom atmosphere and the budget for a bootcamp, check out a flipped classroom or guided instruction bootcamp. There’s a perfect learning method out there for everyone.

About The Author

Kassia acltc

Kassia is the Director of Communications at Anyone Can Learn to Code, a full-stack web development bootcamp in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York, where students can learn on weeknights and Sundays and then work for real clients through a guaranteed apprenticeship.

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