It has been about a month since I was accepted into the Viking Code School and a few weeks since I began my coursework for their Flex program (for folks who can’t commit to the school full time).
I think the experience so far can be summed up as “Whoa!”.
While I don’t doubt that there are hordes of self-made master programmers, I was getting discouraged by the lack of depth of a lot of the online programming courses I tried. Their efforts were summed up very well by Erik Trautman’s blog post Why Learning To Code Is So Damn Hard. Each of these courses holds your hand with bite size projects, slick videos, and really polished marketing and branding. But coming out on the other side of their curriculum you are not a developer. At best you might be able to have a conversation with a developer.
Even more in-depth work, such as Michael Hartl’s Rails’ Tutorial wasn’t enough for me (and Rails’ Tutorial is seriously awesome). Viking’s freely available “Prep” courses are what made me realize that I was basically never going to learn anything about development by only watching videos and typing out lines of code from a book. In order to learn I need to do.
With Viking, while there is plenty of reading, demonstration videos, and tests there are also truly open ended projects. The screenshot above is from “Danebook”. After learning HTML5, CSS3, SASS, and Bootstrap you’re given a few mockups of the site and that’s it. Everything else you code up from nothing. Finishing one of those projects gives so much more of a feeling of accomplishment than getting to the end of any simple tutorial where you might have typed a few dozen lines of code at the most.
Today I’ve just put the finishing touches on my Towers of Hanoi game from the first Ruby unit. And I can’t wait for more.