At the Digital Workshop, we began offering online training a few years ago in response to customers’ demands.
After years of resistance, I finally caved and felt that offering this service was complementary to what we already did and would be beneficial for those who didn’t have time to attend class in person.
One of our major goals was to make sure that we kept the human element of the classroom alive in the online setting. For this reason, we presented our online classes in more of a webinar format, where students can ask questions from a live instructor, receive a physical textbook, and have some lab time with the instructor at the end of the class.
However, when we try to teach coding classes online, there has been a difficult training curve to get over. This also seems to be true of others who provide online coding classes.
According to Prasid Pathak of Medium.com, “In a recent survey of over one hundred Codecademy users, we found that 72 percent of the people who started Codecademy never finished.”
That’s a startling percent, considering how popular Codecademy is and their reputation for providing quality training classes.
How could this statistic be true?
In my opinion, the online training environment may work well for business applications such as Microsoft Excel, but teaching code requires some amount of human interaction and review.
As Pathak continues, there are three goals for a training business: “setting specific, accessible goals; participating in a community that supports us; and reviewing progress regularly with someone who holds us accountable.” If you think on the classes you have attended that have been the most successful, I feel confident that you will find that all three of these factors were true.
The question then becomes: Can all three of these objectives be met to make online training for programming successful?
Many companies — including mine — are experimenting with hybrid classes that include some live instructor time for every student. Bloc, from San Francisco, is a great example of offering self-paced online training and including mentor sessions so you can get live tutoring from a real professional.
This study tells me that there is no substitute for learning from a live instructor. And, while many classes translate well to the online learning style, coding classes may not quite be there yet.
As the trend of online training for coding classes continues to grow in popularity, I don’t think we will ever see hands-on, live training disappear. Apparently, keeping that human element alive in the classroom is as important to me as it is to students.