learningfuze-react-101-course

In addition to teaching a full immersive coding bootcamp, Southern California coding school LearningFuze also runs short part-time courses covering HTML, CSS and JavaScript and now have a class called React 101. In the class, LearningFuze teaches people with some JavaScript knowledge how to integrate React into their software development projects. We asked experienced LearningFuze instructor, Dan Paschal, why React is a useful technology to learn, what React 101 students will be able to build, and how knowing React can help you progress in your job or career.

Q&A

Why is LearningFuze launching a 2-week React 101 class?

We want to give developers a chance to learn React in a guided environment that benefits from a hands-on approach, and from the great student-to-teacher ratio that has made LearningFuze graduates so successful. Learning a complicated framework on your own can be frustrating, and in this React class we help alleviate that frustration.

Why do you think React is a good programming concept for beginners to learn?

React helps break up complex software into components that are easy to understand, and can give developers a leg-up in their careers because companies are actively seeking to expand their core competencies.

Why is React popular right now?

React has a component-based structure that helps organize large-scale projects and its DOM-mapping technology allows for efficient render-times. The structured nature of React and similar technologies like Angular 2.0 help relatively new developers organize projects. React's transpiled nature also allows developers to homogenize their code to take advantage of the newest techniques and have it still be functional with most browsers.

Can you give some examples of what React is used for?

Content management systems primarily, though you could conceivably make most applications in React. React is most beneficial for applications with high reuse of components, such applications like Google Docs, Blogging software, and financial applications.

What prerequisite knowledge does this class require? Or is it open to complete beginners?

You need to have a fundamental experience level with JavaScript ES6 in order to excel in the React class. Ideally, you should have six months to one year of production experience, with focus on JavaScript object-oriented programming (OOP) and the basics of the Model-View-Controller paradigm.

What sort of backgrounds do you expect students in the React 101 class to have?

Students should have worked at a company for about a year or more to show they have some knowledge of what is required to build a functional application in a business. I wouldn’t turn someone away who is self-taught and trying to get into the industry, but they may not have a context for things like dealing with a MVP, ideating a project, and figuring out what to do for the process. You need to be able to break these things down to minute, human level tasks so that you can convert them over to programming.

The biggest problem that most programmers have is not the syntax, the problem is putting everything together. You might have a person who knows how to put together 2x4s for windows, and how to put a door into a door frame, but if you ask them to build a whole house, they don’t know how to put the pieces together. The benefit of having some experience under your belt is having worked in a production-level developer environment. It gives you knowledge about how things get put together, and the ability to further research and ask questions.

What is the application and admissions process like for LearningFuze’s React class?

An introductory self-assessment will be provided to let potential students self-filter. It’s a baseline app written in JavaScript ES6. It will be the sort of app that students will experience in the React course, but without the React components. If applicants look at part of this app and it doesn’t make any sense, that will be a red flag to let them know they really need to up their game. LearningFuze also provides links and additional material for applicants to enhance their knowledge before they join the class.

I’ve also found there is sometimes a hard barrier between what people know about JavaScript ES5 and then trying to learn ES6 (the newest variant of JavaScript). When you don’t exactly know ES6, you may look at React and not know which part of the code is React and which parts are ES6. Students need enough exposure to ES6 so that they can see the differences. Certainly, if you have no working knowledge of JavaScript OOP, then that would be a significant barrier to entry.

What concepts will the React 101 class cover and how will the material be delivered?

The course covers JavaScript OOP, ES5 to ES6 understanding, React Components, React State and Props, React Lifecycle Methods, and React Routing.

We use tried and true methods from the LearningFuze full immersion and other part-time classes we run on JavaScript and HTML/CSS. These methods include:

  • Curated slides with live-code examples
  • Overview videos
  • Hands-on prototypes
  • Small projects to put concepts together

We will track and assess student progress through those hands-on projects and their achievements in crafting functional code.

Can you give an example of a project students will work on?

The most readily understandable project is a to-do-list or blog application featuring modular components, routing, and full application state control. It’s a typical content management system, which you could undertake in any language. Students usually will have built a similar project in another language. So the benefit of this is, in most cases they’re not trying to work out how the application is supposed to work programmatically. By the time they build a to-do list with React, they know what needs to work, and just have to work out how to do it the React way.

What is the time commitment and schedule for the students in the React 101 class?

The class runs for two weeks, three days a week. Students are required to put in a minimum of two to three hours of study per night during off nights, and four to five hours of study on in-class days.

Will this React class prepare students for the immersive program?

The React course is not directly related to the Full Immersion class, though the material and methodologies are based upon the same material used in the Full Immersion class.

So is this React class something that graduates of the full immersion program might benefit from doing after they graduate?

It depends on when they came through the full immersion program. We only started teaching React in that program about six to nine months ago. We used to teach Angular, so those students could come through and learn more.

Will you be the main instructor for the React 101 class? How did you start teaching?

I will teach the React class with the support of other instructors. I also teach the back end of the full immersion class. Scott, who is the primary React instructor for the immersion class, will be my assistant in the React class to make sure I don’t say anything grossly wrong, so we back each other up.

I’ve been working as a programmer for over two decades, from advertising companies to gaming companies. I got hooked on teaching while I was Tech Director at an education software company, and that has helped guide my path to LearningFuze. So I teach this React 101 course and the full immersion program, and I’ve been at LearningFuze for 3 years.

What is your personal teaching style?

In my previous role at the educational software company, I was exposed to a lot of educational approaches. This included the typical approach focused on test-based instruction, regurgitation, memorizing concepts, and following the paradigm of “just in case education,” where an educator says, “You might need this someday.” But I prefer the approach of analyzing content and saying, “Is what we’re teaching really critical?” As the teacher, it could be critical to your personal knowledge, but if you’re honest with yourself, how much is needed now, or needed later on when there is more context? So what I prescribe to is a “just in time education – here’s what you want to do, here’s the end-point for this set of lessons, here are some concepts you need to learn, and here is how to do those concepts.

The other part is scaffolding. You can’t just throw a whole bunch of new material at someone and expect them to assimilate to new concepts, especially on a quick timeline. What you do is find some common thread that they have already understood, and build on that.

How did the first React 101 class go?

We did a beta program with some of our past students who were already used to our method of teaching to get feedback. We also had an owner of a company who wanted to sit in on the React course. We realized early on that we definitely needed to up our education game on topics like OOP. I think I had unrealistic expectations as to how quickly students would get through some of the projects and prototypes. That’s why we decided to implement a self-assessment test to figure out if students are really ready for this, because with a short timeline there is a lot more lead in necessary to hit the ground running. With the full immersion class, if you’re having trouble with something we have time to take you aside and help you, but for a part-time class, we simply don’t have that buffer.

Other than that, I got a lot of positive feedback especially from the company owner who said it was right on par with other React classes he’s taken, and it gave him a lot more insight into the background of React. All students came away with a functional knowledge of React that they can now build on, as long as they keep pushing.

How will taking this React class help people in their careers?

It’s different for different people. If you’ve never really worked in advanced frameworks, then the advanced structure that a framework can give will prepare you for other frameworks, no matter what they are. So you can learn React, then move on to Angular, Ember, or Laravel.

There’s a lot of keen interest in people who know React. If you have React on your resume, it’s either going to allow you to bring that React knowledge into your current shop, or if it’s already in your shop, you can become a more integral part of the team, and have more leadership and control over what you are doing. If your company does not value React skills, then there are plenty of other companies that do – it’s pretty simple to get another job, especially when you have a heavily in demand knowledge set of React.

When is the next React 101 class? Does LearningFuze plan to launch more short classes in the future?

We are shaping up to do another course starting on February 3rd. In addition, we are expanding to secondary 201 classes that will go into more advanced topics like Redux, Axios, reconfiguring webpack, and really getting a handle on the nuts and bolts of React. At the end of the day, it’s not only important to have knowledge about a technology, you also have to be able to discuss what it is, why you’re doing it, and what each part is doing – that’s what the advanced classes will accomplish. In the first class students get an introduction and learn the syntax, then the advanced classes teach more advanced concepts of course.

We are also planning to launch classes covering Amazon Web Services and Machine Learning.

Find out more and read LearningFuze reviews on Course Report. Check out the LearningFuze website.

About The Author

Imogen crispe headshot

Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves writing about technology and education. Her background is in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites. She grew up in England, Dubai and New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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