Why Mobile Makers took its iOS Bootcamp online
In March, Mobile Makers launched its pilot online iOS Bootcamp. Co-founder and CEO Brandon Passley gives us an overview, then we check in with a few of the early adopters to see how they're doing.
Why haven't you offered an online program earlier?
Brandon: We started with just an on-site program in 2012 to allow us to see how coders learn. Since then, we’ve spent thousands of hours talking with and listening to our students, sitting around a computer observing how they solve problems. That helped us determine the best way to teach complex topics like Objective C and Xcode. Now that we have an amazing, refined curriculum, we felt we were ready to translate it to the online space. It’s the closest you’re going to get to our renowned on-site bootcamp, with a clear track to go from little or no experience to being able to build iOS apps.
A lot of people were asking for this. The on-site program has been so successful that people wanted to participate and to be enmeshed in learning, but outside commitments prevented them from moving to Chicago for 8 weeks. To make sure we nailed it, we focused on three key things: a support system, a clear track to success, and mutual accountability.
What's unique about the online iOS Bootcamp?
People in the online program have the option of following along with the on-site group, via live video streaming, or they can view the recorded class sessions later in the day. By live-streaming our curriculum to a limited class size, as well as offering extreme support from our expert instructors, we can focus on offering individual growth even to people who aren’t here in the studio. Ideally, we want them to participate live so they can ask questions as the topics are being discussed each morning, and to get the maximum amount of one-on-one time with instructors during the afternoons, but we have group chats running well into the evenings where students can help each other out, too.
Who should apply?
The best candidates are people who already have some development experience. True beginners will learn to build iOS apps through the program, but they'll have to work really hard on the pre-course materials and throughout the Bootcamp or they may struggle to keep up. Really, there’s nothing that beats being able to sit next to other students around a computer—there’s magic that happens when we get 20 people together in a room who are passionate about what they’re learning, but it’s not always possible for people to get here.
Let's hear from some Makers!
Quintin Smith lives in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah, where for the last two years he’s worked as a web developer. Before that, he did online marketing for an SEO firm. He chose to do the online program so he could keep up his freelance work and to remain with his family; cost was a factor, too.
Raised in Perth, Australia, Aaron Dufall came to Chicago to attend Dev Bootcamp in 2013, then moved to Vancouver, Canada where he could live while working as a Rails developer. Aaron’s a carpenter by trade and previously was a project manager in construction. He enrolled in Mobile Makers online because his visa won’t yet allow him to return to the U.S. to attend in person.
Jovany Chaidez works full-time as a project manager on the web and mobile team at Redbox, the video rental company. He wanted to increase his understanding of mobile app development so he can strengthen his project management function at Redbox, but living and working in the western suburbs of Chicago meant that attending the program on location was not a realistic option.
Quintin said the support he’s received makes it feel like he’s in the classroom. “The best thing about Mobile Makers is the interaction. I’ve taken some online courses, but the actual live sessions are what I really needed. To be able to watch it then interact—you talk about responsiveness: Don, Max and Ryan are answering my questions in the middle of the class."
Having already attended Dev Bootcamp, Aaron knew what the immersive experience was like, and he had already done a bit of iOS, so joining in virtually felt like a good option for him. “I treat bootcamps as a way to solidify my skills through the challenges and support,” he said. “Following along with video tutorials is just not the same thing. I do use them, but they’re all pretty poor in teaching you to start looking in areas for yourself. Bootcamps leave enough gaps that you have to fill in, to get your own cognitive processes in order."
Since Jovany is at work during the live-stream time, he follows the recorded discussions in the evening or early the next morning, and catches up on the weekends. “It feels like a full-time job. It’s a challenge and a real time crunch to manage things. So far I haven’t had many questions, but I’m sure once I start working on mapping and locations, questions will come up. I’m sure being there in person would be better, if I had the choice, but that's the situation.” Recently, Jovany was able to come in to the studio on a Friday, something he’d like to do again. “When I came in, I was able to get a lot of work done, and being able to walk up to students and talk to them—at first there was a bit of awkwardness because they didn’t know who I was, but then they were really helpful."
“If I were a beginner,” Quintin says, ”I might not understand everything going on if I wasn’t there. But being a web developer, I’ve gotten the concepts pretty quickly. I already had an understanding of object-oriented programming, and now all the puzzle pieces have come together for me.
"A key factor is learning to research questions on my own and to get confirmation that those resources are giving me the right information. It can be frustrating when you follow some instructions you found online and then you get errors, and you don’t know why. When [instructors] Max and Don go through code, sometimes there will be an error, but then they’ll look at it and show you how to fix it. They’re demonstrating the problem-solving process. It’s amazing to see the steps you need to take, in real time."
Due to the positive response to the pilot online program, Mobile Makers is offering a second online iOS Bootcamp starting May 12, with early bird pricing until April 11. Learn more here.