Central Florida is seeing an explosion of job growth in the tech sector! We caught up with Matt Marsaglia, Senior Director of Learning at Trilogy Education Services, a 2U Inc. brand, to learn how UCF Boot Camps is getting bootcampers job-ready in 24 weeks. Matt shares his screen to walk us through the virtual classroom of this part-time, online coding boot camp program, and demonstrates how students are provided multiple opportunities to dig deep into the project-forward curriculum. We also learn what the Central Florida/Orlando job market looks like for UCF Boot Camps grads in 2021.
Meet Our Expert: Matt Marsaglia, Senior Director of Learning at 2U/Trilogy
What can students expect from the UCF Coding Boot Camp remote classroom?
The primary learning experience at most coding bootcamps is Zoom sessions using mixed methods, like screen share, breakout rooms, and chats. For UCF Coding Boot Camp's part-time program, we have enhanced the learning experience to provide more flexibility and optimize instructor-time so they can do what they do best, which is reinforcing, extending, and integrating new knowledge with everything students have previously learned. This teaching style allows instructors to provide feedback, challenge bootcampers, and offer flexibility with accountability. It also enables bootcampers to connect with peers in a more dynamic way, since everyone comes to the course with a base set of knowledge that can then be built upon.
What does the blended learning experience at UCF Coding Boot Camp look like?
Each week, bootcampers are introduced to concepts and skills through self-paced online learning. Students are embedded into a real-world scenario of building a project for a client or a community. When they get to class, bootcampers can practice with more challenging activities in groups or pairs, correct common misconceptions before they get rooted, and have time to network with peers and get help before or after class.
Is there an ideal student for UCF Coding Boot Camp?
We've seen individuals from all backgrounds be successful in this program. If you have the right mindset and are willing to learn, you will do well in this boot camp. At UCF Coding Boot Camp, we know it's good for students to have moments of struggle — that means they’re actually learning something new and growing.
Do prospective students need to have any coding experience before applying?
You don't need coding experience to apply! Many of our bootcampers enroll in the program having no coding or tech experience prior to the boot camp.
Do applicants need a college degree? Do they have to be UCF alumni?
You do not need a college degree to attend the bootcamp. You also don't need to be affiliated with UCF as a current student or alumni.
Tell us what goes into the UCF Coding Boot Camp curriculum!
The web development boot camp is 24 weeks part-time and class is held twice a week. The curriculum is divided into three phases:
What kinds of projects do students build in the boot camp?
At the end of each phase, there's a group project:
In the virtual classroom portal, each module has a menu with 5-7 lessons.
The modules start with an intro where we cover the topics of that week at a high level:
We’ve also created an accompanying video for each week that covers what to expect in terms of the topics and material covered.
Following this intro, we give students a background on the project that they will build that week. These are real-world projects where students have to build an app for a client or community. This section also tells students what their role is on this project.
We then include a preview for each lesson that shows the output students should arrive at at the end of that lesson. This preview starts at the end of the lesson to show students where they should be by giving a screenshot or share of what the end milestone looks like.
In the preview, we ask students: How would you approach tackling this problem? We do this because often in job interviews an employer will give you a set of constraints and the output they want to have and then ask you: How would you go about building this? What steps would you take? With the preview, we’re getting students in the practice of thinking ahead and planning before you get to work.
As you get further in the course, your options for answering this preview question become more open-ended and you're not given the next steps. We are asking students to write out what the next steps would be. This is a good way to practice while you're in the bootcamp as opposed to cramming that practice at the very end.
After the preview, we jump into the material. Something unique about UCF Boot Camps is that our students don't copy/paste along the way to learn and build their projects. Instead, we give students a lot of context and information about the material being covered, so they understand the underlying concepts and the different steps they can take to build any given project.
Throughout the bootcamp we use methods like user stories and acceptance criteria as a way for students to get comfortable with the types of conventions that are commonly used in agile practice on the job. One thing students will see in the virtual classroom are "call-outs.” These call-outs help students focus on the most important aspects of the material.
Call-outs can be:
The boot camp has over six hours of video content, including:
How does UCF Boot Camps create a supportive, online community?
We have break-out rooms for small group projects. TAs and instructors join bootcampers in the break-out rooms to see how folks are doing and how they can help.
We use Slack for group discussion. Each cohort has its own Slack group and we divide it into different channels, like topics, homework questions, teacher material, and a fun community channel for connecting with peers.
Who are the instructors for the UCF Coding Boot Camp?
2U/Trilogy recruits, trains, and vets candidates to be instructors for the boot camp. UCF then finalizes folks before an offer is extended. UCF is always involved in who teaches the boot camp.
What kinds of support can remote students expect from instructors?
In each cohort, there are 30-40 students to one instructor. Each cohort also has 2-3 teaching assistants. Bootcampers can expect personal interactions with instructors in class, in breakout rooms, and during office hours. Office hours are held before and after class, and bootcampers can bring their questions and receive extra exercises on topics that can traditionally be more challenging.
In addition to access to instructors and teaching assistants during class, we have learning assistants in a custom Slack application. Bootcampers can tag the learning assistant to a question and receive a response from someone. On average, it’s a quick turnaround and student questions are resolved within 30 minutes.
These private support settings offer bootcampers the space to have their questions answered 1:1 instead of in front of the whole class. This also ensures class-time runs more efficiently.
What is your advice to new bootcamp students about setting up a classroom space within their home?
It’s important to consider both the hardware requirements and the emotional environment when creating a home workspace. Make sure you have the right computer to support your studies; a second monitor can be helpful. Set up your space so you’re prepared before the boot camp starts. Then, block out time each week to dedicate to your studies.
Tell the people in your life that you’re going through a boot camp, so they can offer encouragement to support you while you work. Having the support from your housemates can make a big difference on your ability to succeed in this boot camp.
What does the central Florida tech scene look like for a bootcamp grad in 2021?
The reports for Web Developer roles in the Orlando area show a 20% growth in web development over the next 10 years, which is substantial. Now is a great time to transition into a tech career because it's a resilient occupation with no signs of decline. Even though 2020 was a tough year, web development continued to be a strong occupation throughout the pandemic and even grew in a lot of industries. Web development will continue to be an in-demand occupation for the next decade in central Florida.
What kinds of resources do you recommend for a beginner who wants to break into tech?
UCF Boot Camps offers pre-work, which is a great way to learn the basic skills you'll need to start the course on the right foot. It typically takes 1-2 weeks to complete, and covers how to use terminal, HTML, and CSS. It also offers tips on time management and how to be successful in an online environment.
If you’re tech-curious, talk to a web developer before joining the boot camp. There is a robust community of folks in-person and online that are constantly sharing their expertise. By connecting with a developer in the field, you’ll learn how financially rewarding and intellectually stimulating this growing field is.
Find out more and read UCF Boot Camps reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with UCF Boot Camps and Trilogy Education Services, a 2U, Inc. brand.
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