A flipped classroom model improves accessibility and affordability of coding bootcamps, meaning students can keep their jobs while also developing new skills in a new field

A flipped classroom can be a boon for coding education


A flipped classroom model improves accessibility and affordability of coding bootcamps, meaning students can keep their jobs while also developing new skills in a new field

The traditional models of education have some serious problems that need to be addressed. Seeking a four-year degree is time consuming and expensive, especially for people who are already in the workforce. Attending college presents challenges for those who can’t afford to take time off or leave their current job. The process takes years and can quickly accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt for students.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has reported that college enrollment continues to decrease. And gap year enrollment rates for the class of 2020 declined, even compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

Another recent survey from The Princeton Review found that high school students are 20 percent less likely to attend a four-year school.

People are shifting away from four-year college degrees. They’re moving towards accelerated, intensive, affordable education options that work with their budget and schedule, not against them – such as coding and technology bootcamps, certificate programs, and apprenticeships.

Because many of these programs are online, students don’t have to commute to or live near campus. They can participate no matter where they live. Most of these programs have flexible schedules as well, giving students more control over when they study, and thus alleviating some of the stress of trying to balance work with getting to class.

Judging by the online reviews, students are very satisfied with these alternative education programs. This includes graduating high school students, people looking to change careers, and those looking to upskill to advance in their current job.

The educational path to a lucrative career is evolving, and it’s flipping the script on traditional classroom learning as it forges ahead.

What is a flipped classroom?

In a flipped classroom, students gain access to new subject matter days before the teacher’s in-class. Outside of class, students review the learning content at their own pace using the provided material to guide them. This way, the teacher can use the in-class time to reinforce the topic and focus on the specific areas where the students may still be struggling.

The concept of the flipped classroom has been around for over a decade, and its popularity continues to grow. Various universities have implemented it in different ways.

Boston University’s Center for Teaching and Learning supports and assists professors who want to flip their class. Harvard’s Higher Education Teaching Certificate uses the flipped classroom. And, prior to the pandemic, the University of Vermont College of Medicine planned to be lecture-free by 2019.

How coding bootcamps are implementing the flipped classroom

One approach to the flipped classroom that works for coding bootcamps is to structure each week into two sections: One week of guided self-study, followed by a four-hour Saturday workshop with a dedicated instructor. This one-week/four-hour pattern continues for several weeks until the end of the bootcamp.

In this approach, pre-class topics are divided into manageable sections, allowing enough time for students to learn on their own schedule. Students are recommended to spend two to three hours a day studying to adequately absorb the material. Having the flexibility to learn at their own pace makes this less stressful and more productive.

To ensure a smooth learning experience, coding bootcamps can offer proprietary guides that function as a learning hub to help guide students through the weekly course material and track their progress. For bootcamps that do, this is the main tool their students use during self-study. These learning hubs can contain the video lectures, recommend online resources, provide auto-graded quizzes, and prompt students to complete code challenges to practice what they’ve learned.

Various forms of media are used to supply the learning material. Instructional videos introduce new concepts, then progress deeper into each topic. Students follow along with the hands-on exercises and have the ability to rewind and rewatch videos if they need. During self-study, they have access to their instructor through business communication platforms like Slack, allowing for direct communication with their instructor and even other students.

The four-hour Saturday workshop is dedicated to the instructor reviewing that week’s topics. Because students have already studied the material, they come prepared with focused questions where they need more clarity. Unlike a traditional lecture in a physical classroom setting, the instructor takes queues from the students about which topics need a deeper dive.

After the content is reviewed, and students’ questions are answered, the class is broken up into smaller groups to work on an in-class assignment. The instructor is always checking in to make sure no one falls behind.

Once students complete the workshop assignment, they submit it to be graded.

Four hours is enough time for instructors to reinforce the material and address all the questions. Students who feel comfortable with the subject matter can sign-off and start on the next week’s work. Students who still have questions have the option to stay and continue working with the instructor.

The positive impact flipped classrooms have on coding bootcamp students and instructors

The flipped classroom method improves accessibility and affordability of coding bootcamps. With the flexible weekly schedule, students can keep their jobs while also developing new skills and progressing in a new field.

Students take a more active role in their learning, which leads to a deeper understanding of the subject matter and a higher satisfaction rate with the curriculum overall.

The flipped classroom model also facilitates hiring quality instructors. The flexibility of teaching part-time on Saturdays allows them to earn extra income while keeping their day jobs as well. Since they’re actively working with the technology they’re teaching, instructors have real-life industry expertise and stay current on the latest trends.

Class time is focused on the immediate needs of the students, not lecturing. The instructor-to-student ratio is kept low. Ideally, each bootcamp cohort has no more than fifteen students.

A successful flipped classroom is otherwise marked by excellent reviews, and high graduation rates, with graduates applying their new skills in their jobs within six months of completing the course.

Fewer people are attending college due to the large time commitment, lack of flexibility and high cost. The ability to gain in-demand skills faster and for a fraction of the price is becoming increasingly attractive for those looking to reinvent their careers. These new educational options are redefining the concept of the classroom and the role of the teacher. And as a result, they’re transforming the way students learn—for the better.

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