Recent LEARN Academy News
Recent LEARN Academy Reviews: Rating 4.5
- Minimum Skill Level
- Placement Test
- Prep Work
$500 LEARN Academy Scholarship
LEARN Academy Reviews
- Post clear, valuable, and honest information that will be useful and informative to future coding bootcampers. Think about what your bootcamp excelled at and what might have been better.
- Be nice to others; don't attack others.
- Use good grammar and check your spelling.
- Don't post reviews on behalf of other students or impersonate any person, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
- Don't spam or post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings.
- Don't post or link to content that is sexually explicit.
- Don't post or link to content that is abusive or hateful or threatens or harasses others.
- Please do not submit duplicate or multiple reviews. These will be deleted. Email moderators to revise a review or click the link in the email you receive when submitting a review.
- Please note that we reserve the right to review and remove commentary that violates our policies.
I attended this bootcamp on a scholarship in which the entire tuition was waived. So first I wanted to express my gratitude for the people at LEARN for providing me that amazing opportunity. I probably would have not attended had it not been for this scholarship. I just wanted to preface my review with that so you understand the context of it since it might not contain the same kind of cost/benefit complaints that many other reviews contain.
I think the great thing about this bootcamp is that it's run by a husband/wife team and that the wife is actually the CEO. I think that is quite inspiring for many women coming into this industry filled with sexism. She advocates for inclusion and has given talks on such topics in the community which I think is something different than other bootcamps. This place feels like a safe environment.
My cohort was small and we all managed to bond very well with each other. This bootcamp was very adamant about not studying any new material once we left after 5pm. Though I definitely think that reviewing some material for a while when you go home by yourself is great to solidify the concepts.
Now this kind of segues into why I titled my title the way I did. During the course we pair program everyday. We would have a standup sessoin in the morning where we talk about what we 'Mad, Sad, Glad, or scared' about and check-in. then we would have a presentation on a topic, and after that we would pair up and practice what we just learned.
In certain respects, pair programming is great because if you get stuck, your partner is there to provide an alternate perspective and you are able to keep moving fairly quickly. The thing in my mind that I felt like could have been improved and this is might be a more a personal issue, is that you inevitably come to a point where your stuck and your partner may find a way to get unstuck for you but you might not understand how they came up with the solution they did. Asking questions and requesting them over and over to explain something to you sometimes isn't effective and isn't in the best interest of time. Some people work very fast, and some things click for them more readily whereas others learn differently. People going into bootcamps come from VASTLY different backgrounds, some may have had exposure to programming, some have math degrees, some have no exposure whatsoever. I found myself taking a backseat a lot and letting the other person drive because I just didn't think I was grasping things as quickly as they were. In this short time period, your going to have vastly different outcomes depending on the student.
This is where the time-based nature of the course comes to the forefront and I think is the biggest obstacle to truly learning concepts for some people. Keep in your mind that this is a BOOTCAMP, with all the implicatoins that that entails. You will be exposed to concepts and then PUSHED through the curriculum whether or not you understand them fully. There were times where I felt like I was just going through the motions and was completely lost but didn't feel like reaching out realy helped me out either. The TA's couldn't really provide the personal attention needed to truly help, they always seemed to be pre-occupied with other things, or perhaps they are just introverted. This is the problem with time-based education, or the factory model which bootcamps emulate from the traditional school system. You need to realy dig into these concepts that your learning and your going to need repetition, and when your only their for a few months, your inevitably going to feel pressure.
What I wish was that they had more instructors who had experience in the industry. We had one head instructor who was very knowledgable but I don't think he knew how to relate to people too well despite having a degree in counseling. I perceived him as being impatient, elitist and authoritarian. He would frequently 'hush' or interrupt what they were saying to people when they would try to explain their disagreements, or get quite short with them when they weren't getting something as quickly as he wanted. This kind of behaviour doesn't encourage students to want to ask questions if they feel they are going to be attacked subtly by doing so. I'm not the only one who felt this. The TA's were helpful at times and not so much at other times, as they were also grads of the same bootcamp.
This bootcamp is also unique in that they provide a one month internship with a local company. These companies rotate every cohort. Some were looking to hire someone, some weren't. Some are paid, some are not. Some companies came and gave presentations and we would rank them. After the rankings the LEARN team then setup interviews based on wht we ranked, though not everyone gets what they want. Then after the interviews we would rank them again, and the companies would rank the the interviewees, and again LEARN would try to find the best fit.
The companies are vastly different in size, ranging from startups without office space with 5 employees, to established companies. But I think on the whole the internship is valuable to providing real world experience that you can use on a resume'. There is also a group project during the last two weeks where we built out a complete web app from scratch utilizing the Agile process with daily scrum sessions. At the end of the two weeks we had a demo night to the local community. This experience was very valuable as well, as now we have an app that we can use in our portfolio.
The bootcamp industry needs a lot of work and I don't know how much longer it's going to be around, but despite my criticisms, I am grateful for the exposure I received to a new field. I feel the large part of the value of being in a bootcamp is being dropped into the middle of a pre-existing network of people who are in the industry and who can help you navigate the waters of moving into a new industry. You can go to meetups with people from your cohort, find out about jobs through your network of peers, and for that the experience is valuable.
Thanks to a presentation that the CEO Chelsea gave about finding your motivations. I was able to really clarify what motivated me to be in the tech industry. This clarification was something that definitely boosted my confidence and helped me figure out a way to present myself to people that I felt was true to what I am passionate about. I think that was one of the most helpful things during the course because there were times where I was questioning myself asking 'What am I doing here? '. I discovered and connected my passion for open source, with sustainable agriculture, social justice and worker co-ops. Now I have a clearer picture of where I want to go in the future.
Overall I am very grateful for my experience and I feel confident in the direction I need to go now in my learning.
The thing about Learn is that they realize there's a burnout point and once that is reached you can't learn anymore at that moment. That's why their course in M-F 9-5. It gives you a weekend, and free time to recoup, and work on your own things. The other part to LEARN is that they teach you how to learn, and how to get unstuck. I loved LEARN. The people are great, and once school was over it's not like they go away. We still talk, have great friendships, and are actually working on an alumni project together.
Bootcamps are not intended or the faint of heart. I went to Learn because I know some of the Ruby developpers in San Diego and I really like the inclusive and friendly ethos (MINASWAN!). Learn offers soiid full-stack immersion and it will surely kick your ass to cover material this fast but the team is flexible and fully involved in getting you through. The instructors and administrators really care about the individual students in the class and how where they are going after the end of the course.
Attending Learn Bootcamp was one of the best things I could have done for myself. The adminstrators, teachers and fellow students were great to work with. I was able to learn a tremendous amount in a short period of time from people who are knowledgeable and passionate about coding. Learn not only provided the education, but also the motivation and support to get us all through this type of intense learning. They are very open to feedback and work very hard on our behalf to get us placed in the most ideal internships. I will always look back on my time at Learn fondly. I plan to stay in touch and continue to be a part of the Learn community.
I was apart of LEARN's third cohort. As many of my classmates and instructors would say, we looked forward to (almost) every day :)
Our latest on LEARN Academy
What makes for the ideal coding bootcamp student? Experience? Perserverence? Natural Skill? We've compiled advice from instructors and founders at top programming bootcamps like gSchool, Dev Bootcamp, Wyncode, and Fullstack Academy- aka the folks making admissions decisions every day. Read on for the 8 qualities that bootcamps tell us they look for in potential applicants.Continue Reading →
After founding Notch8, a Ruby on Rails consultancy, in 2007 and working with several Epicodus graduates, Chelsea and Rob Kaufman decided to expand into education, launching Notch8 LEARN. We talk to Chelsea and Rob about the LEARN Ruby on Rails bootcamp, why they're excited to teach new programmers in San Diego, and their partnership with Epicodus.
Tell me about both of your backgrounds!
Rob: I founded Notch8 in 2007, but I’ve been working in Ruby full-time since 2003 and started doing Rails in 2005, during that very first wave of Rails. My goal at Notch8 was to work with startups as well as larger companies to build really cool web applications and get them out into the world. I care a lot about the craft of software development.
Chelsea: My background is actually in the theater arts; my degree is in theater education and arts administration. Most of my background has to do with community-building and bringing groups together and creating a community around a craft.
I am most excited about infusing the community with some new talent and then connecting some of the different communities with the tech scene. There is a thriving art scene and there's a thriving tech scene but they don’t connect often so that’s exciting to me. I’ll bring my education background into the school and support the community so that our students know that we are investing in this community and a making a long-term impact on it.
Rob, how did you get involved with programming and with Ruby in particular? Were you self-taught?
Rob: I’m a second generation software developer. My dad works in NASA and has been if software development since college days, so it was always available to me. I went to school for it and got a CS degree. Then I had to overcome that degree in order to actually program! That’s how I got started in it.
I interned for Johnson & Johnson and I was tasked with building tools for the developers to help speed up their efforts. I just knew too much about programming to write bash scripts for a living. I wanted a language that was good at integrating systems, and that was one of Ruby’s original purposes. At the time I started, there weren’t a lot of American Rubyists; it was a cool language but I was young and just finishing up college so it was the perfect market for something brand new; I got really into it from there.
What motivated you to create Notch8 LEARN, the coding bootcamp?
I run the San Diego Ruby user group right now, so people kept asking me about classes and longer courses. San Diego is booming as far as startup companies go and we just don’t have enough developers to fill the demand so we had to get busy training more.
We were looking to grow Notch8 and we had partnered with Epicodus in Portland. At the end of their program is a one-month internship, and we brought on six interns for a month. I work with these folks every day and they’re outstanding. That convinced us.
Tell us about the partnership with Epicodus.
Rob: Epicodus has been really fantastic about keeping their curriculum open. We went to Michael Kyser-Naiman at Epicodus and asked how we could arrange a partnership. Their curriculum is open, and he offered to give us advice. The key motivator is more about community building and location and less about hoarding that knowledge.
Is there anything that you decided to exclude from or add to the Epicodus curriculum?
Rob: Yes, we absolutely are expanding on it. One of the things that we feel really strongly about is working more with legacy code. One of the things about a class like this is that you build something and then you throw it away.
That’s really good for learning but a real world situation is working on an application that’s already started or has three years of history. I want to give our students more experience with that – because especially junior developers are often tasked with maintenance.
The class is four months long but does that include three months of learning and one month of internship?
Rob: Yes. We had some preliminary talks about who’s interested in hosting interns, their thoughts on the program and how can it serve the community; the response has been overwhelming.
There’s definitely some serious demand for interns in San Diego and everyone I talked to so far is really hoping to bring on several people, really get a good feel for them during that month and make some hiring decisions.
How many students will you have in the first class?
Rob: Our current target is around 15, though if we were to get overwhelming demand we would start adding assistant teachers. We want to keep the first class on the smaller side so we make sure the students are getting the personal attention that they need.
Tell us about the job market in San Diego and the Ruby community and what makes you particularly excited to do this bootcamp in San Diego.
Chelsea: I think that the community is really growing right now. Forbes named San Diego the best place to launch a startup last year so there are lots of small companies growing here and we want to make sure that they’re hiring local. By giving these companies quality talent I think that we will just continue to grow. And it would just be good for San Diego as a whole.
Rob: There are also some fairly large players in town that are doing national recruiting campaigns, trying to fill their open seats. Places like Sony and HP and Intuit all have Ruby teams now. They’re hiring headhunters and searching the world to get developers. The more of our folks that work there, the more engaged they are in the community. They tend to live in ivory towers a little bit so we want to break those walls down and get the larger companies more involved as well.
Rob, are you the main instructor for this class?
Rob: I’m not the main instructor. We’re bringing on an instructor. His name is Guyren Howe. He’s a local San Diego developer and has been doing Rails for six years with other web experience before that. He wrote a book on object oriented programming for Real Basic once upon a time. He’s got a really great background for the day-to-day instruction. I’m going to be in the space every day as well, helping students. They’ll essentially have the equivalent of two fulltime teachers in that first class to make sure that we have more than enough person power to make it happen.
Chelsea: I think it’s really important that we aren’t the main instructors, so we have that outside eye. We can see the bigger picture and make sure that the course is excelling in the way what we want it to and the students are getting what they need out of it – and it’s really hard to do that when you’re the teacher. It’s hard to evaluate yourself and it’s hard to evaluate the progress of a class because you’re so close to it. It was important to have this outside eye to make sure that the class is really excelling in the way we want it to.
How will the class be taught? Will it be lecture-based or lab-based? What does a typical day look like?
Rob: We’re using an inverted curriculum so students will have a lesson plan that they can do either in the evening or first thing in the morning, depending on if they’re an evening or morning person. There will be a video and an explanation of what you’re going to learn and work on each day.
The majority of their time will be spent in the classroom working in pairs. Programming is very much about getting really stuck and then figuring out how to get unstuck. We joke about how programming is really 60% good Googling these days – and we want the students to experience that from day one because we want the curriculum to be as close to actually doing the work as possible.
Is the LEARN course intended to get graduates jobs? Can somebody do it if they’re not looking for a job?
Rob: The goal is to get students to a place where they can build Rails applications. That’s going to translate into jobs for a lot of people but we are seeing some students who are interested in programming as a hobby and want to just learn and get over that hump.
We’re also seeing some folks that are managing technical teams; serial entrepreneurs that struggle with finding technical co-founders, which is a common story. They just want to have a little more expertise because when you’re working with a dev team, just knowing a little bit about what you’re doing can go so far.
Are you looking for applicants who have experience or a technical background?
Rob: We’ve put together a really simple application process. It’s two essay questions and then a really straightforward programming exercise that we kind of guide you through.
It’s as much about desire as it is about technical knowledge. We’re not expecting students to start with a ton of knowledge but what we’re finding is that many students have some experience. I think before you sign up for something that’s this intensive, you try other things first. There are so many free or fairly inexpensive online resources out there.
But the truth is that not everyone is a solitary learner. Most people are social learners. Up until fairly recently, the most accessible way to learn programming has been to be a solitary learner. You can’t really expect the community to be super diverse if there’s that barrier in front of it. Your solitary learners turn out to be solitary workers a lot of the time. So we think that bringing a more social learning environment where you’re collaborating from the get-go will really help us bring a wider audience to development.
Will you assign pre-work that student need to complete before they start the class?
Rob: We’re going to keep that fairly minor. If we do have applicants that seem like they’re further behind, then we absolutely would assign prework. So far we haven’t had any applicants that don’t have any HTML experience. Almost everyone that’s applied so far has built a web page or two at least. But if we did have applicants that were starting from zero we will work with them.
Chelsea: I think it has a lot to do with aptitude. There are so many people out there that don’t even realize that web development is something that they would be good at. If you have that kind of aptitude then you can be successful in this class. The exercise we put together helps us see what their aptitude is and whether they’re able to work through the problem then we know they have the right skills in order to succeed.
Are you making an effort to get more women and underrepresented minorities involved with LEARN?
Chelsea: I’ve been very excited that we’ve had more women apply than we’ve had men. Honestly, I don’t know at this point why that is- it may have something to do with our marketing.
Rob: It’s subtle things, really. Our involvement in the community is strong, so the audience we’re pushing for hears about it. It’s also little things like making sure that our site has some female examples on it. We try to be really clear and open that this really is for anyone. It’s a hard enough thing to commit to and there’s enough social stuff out there that gets in your way and we want to make sure that none of our things are adding to the social barrier.
Chelsea: And I think that having the both of us working on LEARN makes it easier for either gender to come in, talk to us and see that it is a world for anyone.