Why People Can’t Learn Programming on Their Own

While developing Codeup, we interviewed dozens of people who attempted to learn programming on their own. We wanted to delve into their experience to uncover lessons learned.  We discovered the self-taught method was done with good intentions but the result was unfortunately failure. Here are some of the reasons it didn’t work out.

1.  Beginning point

Our interviewees really didn’t know where to start. The topic of technology is huge, so determining a beginning point was difficult. Most people don’t know what to learn first. One person told us she started with Java, a popular programming language. Although it’s widely used, it’s difficult to learn. I know because I wrote four books on it.

2.  Online resources suck

Computers and online lessons stink at teaching anything complex. If you can’t understand a topic, your only option for clarification is to have the online resource explain it to you again the exact same way. That doesn’t work at advancing your knowledge. What is beneficial to your learning is having a live instructor understand your thought process so that he/she can customize the instruction for you. In programming, concepts build on one another. For each concept you learn, the preceding topic must be understood. If you’re missing a core concept, you won’t understand the next one.

3.  Lack of focus

Computer programming is intense. We discovered that people lose their focus because the topic is not easily absorbed. It takes time to learn and practice programming, a big investment that some are not willing to make long-term. Some think they can learn it within a weekend or at night, but that approach only sets them up for failure. Another reason people lose their focus is because life gets in the way.

4.  Single minded

One is a lonely number when you’re learning on your own. Lessons learned in solitude are not beneficial because there is only one perspective — yours.  People get more out of instruction when they learn in groups – the one thing the current education system gets right.  Peers within groups motivate others to perform better.  Having individuals as part of a group instantly creates a community where everyone is traveling the same journey.

5.  Reasons to learn

For most people, learning programming had no clear endpoint. They had difficulty envisioning life after the lesson. Do I really get a job? Am I building something meaningful? Having invested a lot of time and energy on programming, people started to question “Why am I doing this?”

The Codeup model addresses these issues in a learning system we’ve developed into a single, intense 9-week boot camp with live instructors. Students finish with a Hiring Day where they demonstrate a live, production ready application to show prospective employers.

We want to teach you about programming, so you can put this skill to work to improve your life and those of others. Are you ready to step into the future?

What is Our Noble Cause?

In his TEDx San Antonio presentation this fall, Nick Longo, co-founder of Geekdom, talked about finding one’s noble cause as a means of fulfilling an entrepreneurial spirit. I related to this topic because I love to come up with ideas and find ways to solve problems. “Ideation” is my top strength, according to Strengthsfinder. As I reflected on my noble cause, I looked back over the past several months, and it became clear to me that I was only addressing small problems, and I wasn’t considering the larger problems at my doorstep. I accepted certain norms that were problematic as unsolvable, defaulting to solving niche problems. I could have made money solving these niche problems, but that would be a small change on a big scale. I’d be putting out the embers rather than the raging flames in my community. My noble cause then became solving bigger problems to make a big impact, not just make money.

The big issue

In my circles, I often engage in the discussion of hiring developers. “I just can’t find any good ones,” I would hear from business leaders. “I am right out of college, but I cannot build a website for the life of me,” university graduates would say. I would hear things like this from companies I have mentored at Geekdom, where we office, from friends running companies large and small, and from students looking for work.  The blaring issue that reared its ugly head was “Why does everyone have trouble hiring developers?” Most business owners and managers accept this as a fact of life; I decided to make this my noble cause and make a big impact.

Getting busy with it

When one finds that noble cause, it becomes one’s mission in life to see it come to fruition. As Nick Longo said, “Business is the mindset; entrepreneurship is the heartset.” The Codeup team stepped out of its comfort zone and went on a quest to provide some value to society. We took on the challenge of training new developers, giving people a meaningful second career, and we’re helping companies find great people to do awesome work. Our team, Jason, Chris, Samantha, and myself, are ready to make our corner of the world better by solving this big problem in our town, San Antonio, Texas, and in our country, one person at a time.

Our mission continues beyond the classroom too. We’ve partnered with reputable companies who desire knowledgeable programmers to hire. We welcome other businesses in the San Antonio community who want to find great programmers who are anxious to get to work.

Do you want to join us in this mission? Do you want to make a difference?  We’ll teach you how.

Scholarships for Women: Why We’re Doing It

Female Student Scholarship | Code Tech Bootcamp

A hot topic that is trending is the special treatment ladies in the tech industry receive just because their women. No one can deny there’s too few women in this field. According to a National Public Radio report, about 20 percent of all U.S. computer programmers are female. So, in order to draw the ladies in, companies within the technology industry give them incentives to engage.

One way we do that is by offering a ladies only tuition scholarship. We want to them to populate the computer programming field for many reasons:

  • If tech is the future in San Antonio and the U.S., it’s wrong to omit a majority of its residents, women, from this landscape. There are 4 percent more women than men on this planet. The women make up for more than half of the population.
  • Men are bad at making products for women.  We’ve participated as mentors for 3 Day Startup San Antonio, and there were countless times when the participating teams, consisting of all men, proposed some product they were certain women would want.  When they asked women about their need or want for said product, the ladies responded “heck no.”
  • All-male environments are more likely to devolve into groupthink and locker room behavior.  For a period of time, Geekdom had this problem.  They’ve worked to enhance a welcoming vibe for women, and their community is better because of it.
  • Finally, groups of men smell bad. It’s a small thing, but a definite reality.  Put a half dozen men in a closed office and things go very badly, very quickly.  Women fortunately, smell good, so having them work in a tech office with an open floor plan is a good thing.

Student Profile: Leslie Tolbert

Leslie Tolbert, Texas State graduate and communication design major, has been trying to learn to program on her own for some time now.  She said:

“It can be difficult to keep a steady flow of motivation when you are learning how to program on your own, no matter how driven you are to reach your goals.”

Leslie learned of our program through word of mouth around the Geekdom community. She explained that she had dabbled in computer programming some but like most other students failed to find the proper instruction needed to be proficient in the technologies.

“Applying for and being accepted as a Codeup student meant making a full commitment to my goals in becoming an excellent programmer and making an investment in myself to do so in a challenging, rewarding 9-week time span.”

Our program requires a full-time commitment during these 9-weeks but all for the reason that we want to make sure you get your money’s worth. Leslie admitted that she was most excited about being in a collaborative environment with hands-on learning and instruction from the experienced teachers and motivated peers.

“Bringing people together from different backgrounds to learn and explore the possibilities of programming is much more stimulating than most traditional education approaches.”

After completing the class, Leslie hopes to enter the male-dominated programming field with confidence. Short term, Leslie plans to apply her knowledge to create the high quality products that positively impact us on a daily basis. Looking even further down the road she confesses, “I want to inspire others to join the tech community and build awesome things with me!”

We’re lucky to have her on board!