With as much development and coding that we do, we are always happy to see any improvements in the way that one can learn programming. We are pleased to see a new platform called Hackvard that allows for local ‘hackers’ to meet at coffee shops to learn from each other. In an effort to end the “just Google in” approach to leaning, Hackard has created a much more social and supportive model to help bring techies together in a fun and educational environment,. Take a look at this article from Wired.com and let us know what you think!
If you want to be a programmer, you pretty much have two choices: Take a class at a school or university, or learn on your own through books and online classes. But Ruben Abergel and Edward Lando wanna give you a third choice. That’s why they founded Hackvard, a web application dedicated to bridging the gap between offline and online education.
The idea is that if you’re planning to work on some programming tutorials at, say, your local coffee shop, you’ll announce when and where on Hackvard, and other aspiring programmers will show up and join you-regardless of what languages they’re learning or what materials they’re using. When you have some time to learn, you can check to site to see if anyone nearby has announced a gathering. These events could lead to the formation of ongoing study groups, or they could just be one-off gatherings. The point is just to get people together, so they can support each other as they learn the craft.
Officially unveiled today, the site is yet another effort to help bring programming skills to a much broader range of people. It’s known as the code literacy movement, and it includes everything from those online tutorials to hacker “bootcamps” that offer in-person crash courses designed to prepare coders for the workforce.
Don’t ‘Just Google It’
Lando and Abergel came up with the idea for Hackvard after meeting at a conference last year and swapping stories about how they learned to program. Lando taught himself to code after graduating business school. He liked being able set his own hours, but learning the craft on his own was a struggle. “You get stuck, you turn on the TV, you go to get something to eat, you lose time, you lose confidence,” he says.
Abergel, who studied economics in college, had a similar experience. So he signed up for Hack Reactor, a 12-week, full-time crash course in software development in San Francisco. Although many Hack Reactor alum say they love the program, these “bootcamp” programs aren’t for everyone. Not everyone can afford the tuition, and others can’t commit to a full-time school. And while Abergel loved having a community to support him, he found that much of the actual learning was still self-directed. “Every time I asked a question, the instructor said: ‘Just Google it,'” he remembers.
The two realized that what they really wanted when they were starting out weren’t in-person teachers, but a group of people who were going through the same thing they were.
What they hope is that Hackvard can become a central place for aspiring programmers to meet each other and organize hackathons. Many online programming schools, such as Coursera and Treehouse, have forums where users can swap ideas, but this isn’t quite the same as getting a group of people together to guzzle caffeinated beverages and solve coding problems. Plus, students who live in the same city but use different online resources may never know about each other. Hackvard could serve as a bridge between all of these different sites.
The biggest challenge may be convincing people that there’s a need to sign-up for yet-another app to manage these gatherings. There’s already Meetup, Craigslist, not to mention numerous social networks and messaging apps that you can use to find nearby people with common interests. But Lando says there are plenty of people who are interested in a dedicated site for people learning to program.
He also thinks the adhoc nature of the meetups will appeal to those with busy schedules, and those who don’t want to commit to a weekly group. “Meetup is inefficient because it’s dependent on the leader of the group,” he says. “We want it to be decentralized so that people can say: ‘Hey, I’m going to be here.'”
He could be right. Lando says that hundreds of users had signed up for the site before it launched today, and a few people have already used the prototype to host gatherings.