Eleven Fifty Academy has years of experience teaching in-person at their Indianapolis campus; but in 2020, the bootcamp transitioned to include an online classroom model that now supports students in over 20 states! Dr. Jonathan Huer, Chief Learning Officer at Eleven Fifty Academy, walks us through the virtual classroom, the instructional support online students can expect, and the team’s commitment to helping bootcamp graduates land tech jobs. With five part-time and full-time courses, free virtual introductory sessions, and a robust career services team, find out how Eleven Fifty Academy is creating pathways into tech for beginners and upskillers.
Meet Our Expert: Dr. Jonathan Huer
What sets Eleven Fifty Academy’s online bootcamp apart?
At Eleven Fifty Academy, we focus on effective learning — our goal is to teach as much information as possible in the shortest period of time. The online bootcamps are all synchronous. There's always an instructor available; and the bootcamp is all happening in real-time. We tried to maintain that community and supportive culture we offer in our in-person cohorts, helping students from beginning to end.
Additionally, our staff cares about students. We know it can be daunting for students moving into a tech career, so we hire excellent teachers who lead with empathy, care, and support. Students can learn on their own fairly quickly, but it's hard to stay motivated and engaged, and it's hard to get unstuck. Everything we do focuses on keeping students engaged, showing that we care, and encouraging them to persist.
How long has Eleven Fifty been teaching remotely?
Before the pandemic, Eleven Fifty Academy was 100% in-person. Everything that we did was very hands-on and engaged. Sometimes, we'd even have students hang around all day for the full-time class and hang around all night for part-time courses!
With the pandemic lockdown, we quickly moved everything online. My background and area of research was focused on high-quality online programs, so we trained our staff to become online instructors. One of the great things about working at a coding bootcamp is that we have 100 coders on-site. We were able to write the tools that we didn't have and recreate our in-person model online.
What does the online bootcamp curriculum cover?
We offer five classes, four of which are available in full- and part-time varieties.
Is there an ideal student for Eleven Fifty’s online bootcamp?
Whether the course is online or in person, we focus on entry-level talent. We want to help students prepare for that entry-level tech job. We have people enroll who are making a career change as well as people who are total beginners looking to start their first career. One of our best students enrolled before he graduated from high school because he was looking for a challenge. We get the entire spectrum! If you want to make an impact and you like solving problems, Eleven Fifty Academy is for you. It's about that culture of collaboration — working together to solve problems.
Eleven Fifty Academy is based in Indianapolis — Do you have to live in Indiana to enroll in the online bootcamp?
Although we're based in Indianapolis, you don't have to live here to enroll in our online courses. We try to reflect on what's happening in the tech workplace, and the reality is that you can work from anywhere. Our online bootcamp has students from over 20 states, along with students based in Europe. We have many different options for students in other parts of the country, which is why we try to focus on creating that high-quality experience and building community. Over the next couple of years, we will have more students coming to Eleven Fifty remotely, never coming to Indiana, and landing a job in another state. As long as you have a good internet connection, you can enjoy the classes, learn, and land a great job.
What does a typical day look like in Eleven Fifty’s remote campus?
Our full-time classes are all day, every day. They're intense, like a nine-to-five with a 30-minute lunch break. Some of that is guided instruction or lecture, some of it is lab time, student presentation, or whiteboarding, and some of it includes assessment and job preparation. You're not just sitting and watching somebody speak. We have three badges: a Gold Badge, a Blue Badge, and a Red Badge. Each represents a different accomplishment. As students progress, they complete a big project per four-week block to earn their badge. Then, they move onto the next four-week block. Part-time classes are three days a week with some Saturdays.
What kinds of support can online students expect from instructors?
We have a rigorous training program for our instructors, many of which come through Eleven Fifty. In our instructors, we look for a great teacher, the right amount of experience, and somebody who can relate to students, transfer knowledge, and teach them things that students need to be a good employee. Many of our teachers can relate to the experience of starting in the tech industry, learning everything from scratch, and then landing a job. Our students appreciated that they can connect with instructors who have experienced the same process. Many of our part-time instructors work full-time tech jobs as well.
In the online classroom, we aim for a ratio of eight students to one instructional staff. In our Cybersecurity program, some of the larger classes break into smaller squads that compete against each other. We always have office hours, typically from 7PM to 11PM. Students can hop into office hours and find an expert in the language or the particular technical challenge they’re having and get help right there, even if their instructor is unavailable.
What kinds of tools and systems are in place in the online classroom for those students who need extra support?
We provide a lot of reinforcement. The hardest thing with learning online is that students don't get to look around and see that everybody else is struggling. The work is hard, but not impossible. We provide a lot of opportunities for students to get feedback and understand that they're doing fine. We focus on total student support, wraparound services, and emotional solace.
Do you have advice for online bootcampers who are setting up their "classroom" space at home?
We provide our new online students with a care package that contains a USB monitor, flashcards, study food, and t-shirts. Having that second monitor for the bootcamp is vital! For those students who want a third monitor, many students figure out how to use AirPlay or Chromecast to use their TV as a monitor. We also give students a small whiteboard, which is perfect for working out your ideas. Students should understand Zoom basics, and find a quiet place in their home where it's easy for them to focus and learn.
How is Eleven Fifty Academy encouraging community online?
At Eleven Fifty, we've done a great job of surveying how connected students feel, and we’re encouraging them to build beyond what they thought was possible. We have over 1,000 graduates and plenty of alumni working in the field. There's a great alumni network that's engaged, allowing us to connect students with a greater community.
People in the tech community have been building and thriving in remote communities for a long time, and so much of what happens in the tech community occurs remotely. I like to remind students that this moment is the perfect opportunity to network. If you've ever been curious about a city, if you've ever wanted to live in Boston or Austin or Denver, now is a great time to drop into meetups and networking opportunities in new places. It's the perfect moment to explore different communities across the country or even the world.
How does Eleven Fifty Academy prepare online students for the job hunt?
Our primary focus at Eleven Fifty Academy is connecting students with jobs. Students come to us with goals in mind: they want to change their lives, get a better job, earn better pay. We want to help them achieve those goals. We have a phenomenal Career Services team, and we have several workshops throughout our programs focused on helping students connect with jobs. We host interview workshops where we help students practice their questions and navigate mock interviews. Students can also interview with a real professional who provides feedback. After students graduate, the careers team helps students keep track of their applications, draft their resume, gives them advice on where to apply, and assists them in finding the right fit. Our team helps students to negotiate and finalize employment agreements to ensure that students are getting into a situation that they want. Our team is dedicated and focused; they work with students every single day.
Since a lot of students are doing interviews over Zoom, we help students prepare for virtual technical assessments. We help students practice. We put them in scenarios so that it doesn't feel like their first time when they go into the interview for their dream job. Anything an interview might throw at them, they've seen it before. They've had a chance to learn, they've gained feedback, and they've reflected on their answers. Students are prepared to get out there and win the job that they want.
For total coding beginners, does Eleven Fifty Academy offer intro courses?
We have introductory courses about every other week. Real-time instructors are there to answer questions. Our intro courses are an excellent opportunity for prospective students to explore what they're interested in, attend multiple courses, and see what it is that they genuinely enjoy. These courses are free and offered over Zoom, so they're accessible.
Why is 2021 a good time for someone to go to a remote coding bootcamp and make the career change into tech?
Tech is growing into every part of our lives. Even if you're in a traditional company or a farmer, there's so much data and analytics required to support your work. There's a tremendous opportunity to utilize tech to improve so many fields. Additionally, the world is changing. The skills that you need to succeed in today's economy have changed rapidly. At Eleven Fifty, you learn critical, relevant skills. We are seeing students who have computer science degrees who have been working in tech for 10-20 years enrolling to learn the latest technologies. These short and focused upskill experiences are going to become more common. It's the perfect time to come to Eleven Fifty, learn some new skills, and apply them to whatever field you're passionate about.
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