Remote Learning at Codesmith: All You Need to Know

In light of the Coronavirus outbreak and to protect the wellbeing of our students and team, our Onsite Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive programs and all workshops have been conducted remotely since March 12.

Remote learning requires an additional set of tools to achieve the same values as a supportive community and culture of excellence in teaching and learning. Our existing remote programs (both the remote immersive and CSPrep and our online workshops formed the foundation for this transition.

We have a special opportunity to make an impact during this time as software engineers - both as the original remote-first role and now building the tools to enable other industries to adapt to the remote setting. We can use this time to master the craft and contribute to building things that make an impact in the years ahead - as graduates have been doing for the past 4 years (most recent CIRR Outcomes Reports).

Within Codesmith, the first stage of learning is CSX - a free structured JavaScript journey with a community of mentors followed by JavaScript for Beginners and CSPrep (both online) - with scholarships available for all those from backgrounds underrepresented in tech. The learning paths ultimately culminate in the Immersive programs (both those originally remote and newly remote, full time, and part-time).

In this post we cover:

  • Building a supportive community while remote
  • Creating a culture of excellence in teaching and learning while remote
  • $1000 Remote tools stipend (available for in-person cohorts that start remotely for cohorts that begin between March and October 2020) and additional scholarships funds available
  • Upcoming cohort details

We’ve been teaching programs and workshops for over 3 years fully remote and share in full our strategies but highlight some of the techniques and expectations here.

BUILDING A SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY WHILE REMOTE

Residents build lifelong connections in the program - brought together by countless hours tackling problems. While remote this same sense of community is achieved through:

  • Immersive environment - Residents have structured hours for their classes, interactive lectures, and pair programming - all happening live in a collaborative group setting with an instructor
  • Mentorship and non-coding experiences - Just as in-person, these moments are crucial to building the community that can carry you through the immersive - whether discussions into the evening or mentorship coffees. But where before students shared a $10 coffee card with their mentor, now each receives a gift card to order coffee from Ubereats
  • Empathetic engineering - Creating a space dedicated to thoughtful communication requires careful design. We added Collaboration Coding to our remote programs - where two pair programming groups work together at intervals to emulate the ability to turn to your neighboring group in-person
  • Extra mental health sessions - Morning wellness meetings, spa evenings, and adding additional Circles - these are group chats with cohort mates and team members about all and anything non-coding related
  • Help desk in Slack and Zoom - As in person, whenever a resident hits a block, a team member joins the pair-programming or project zoom room to work through the problem with them focusing on their problem-solving approach and technical communication

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CREATING A CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AND LEARNING

Residents bring their all to be admitted into Codesmith and to achieve the outcomes on graduation. The effectiveness of our remote programs has depended on bringing that same culture of resilience and mastery of the craft to the remote setting through:

  • Synchronous learning - Live lectures, pair-programming, and group projects form the heart of the Codesmith program and are accomplished through Zoom (with each student receiving a Zoom Pro account)
  • Live lecture engagement - Instructors call on students throughout lectures to talk through the code and offer insights - helping them refine their technical communication
  • Personalizing explanations - Every instructor checks in every 10-15 mins with ‘thumbs’ to ensure understanding and adjust content accordingly
  • Pair programming - Remote pairing rewards especially precise technical communication (a critical value of mid-level software engineers) - every line of code must be explained verbally by one partner to the other (who turns it into actual code).
  • Healthy mental and physical wellbeing - Regular breaks, wellness sessions, and workout sessions are built into the calendar

$1,000 REMOTE TOOLS STIPEND AND ADDITIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS FUNDS AVAILABLE

Being part of the newly remote in-person programs requires having the right tools and setup. At Codesmith we weigh technical communication & whiteboarding particularly highly (as do most companies hiring engineers). In-person we look out over the cohort and see numerous whiteboard breakout sessions with residents diagramming their code together.

It’s with this in mind that all students for in-person programs beginning in March - October 2020 receive a $1,000 stipend to set up their home office to ensure they have the right setup to succeed - whether an Apple iPad, Pencil or other devices.

We’ve added additional scholarship funds to help support students in need and introduced more weekly remote workshops for the community in addition to the existing free workshops.

COHORTS THAT WILL BE REMOTE FOR THE ENTIRETY OF THE PROGRAM

LA Immersive - The cohort starting November 16th

NY Immersive - The cohorts starting October 19th and December 7th

This is a unique time but we’re lucky to have a wonderful community and to be able to readily learn and build in this remote environment. And above all else, we’re fortunate to be able to contribute to building the tools and products to support people through these times and beyond.

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