A New Way of Learning
San Francisco is in the midst of a massive tech boom — everyone knows that. Programmers are king out here, and there is a new app being thought up every single day that leads to web developers plugging away day and night to make it a reality, and make it the next big thing. Not long ago, though, all of these techies were studying different subjects in school, or working in a different field. I knew two Computer Science majors in college, yet I know dozens of web developers just two years after graduation. Where did they all come from? It turns out that this tech boom has created a fascinating sub-industry of alternative credential education.
Because the tech industry is so new and ever-changing, people have taken education and credentials into their own hands. Of course it’s always difficult to know exactly what someone can do in any field, without a portfolio or some sort of evidence. But there was a need to create a system of trustworthy certifications to prove to employers, before a coding test or a day of pair programming, that a developer was up to the task.
This article from Fast Company dives into corporate education systems such as Microsoft’s courses offered to employees, LinkedIn’s acquisition of lynda.com, as well as Acclaim, a platform built on top of Mozilla’s open badge system, which were sort of the original teach-yourself accreditation system for online skills. All of these outlets give potential and junior programmers an opportunity to not only improve their skills, but prove their worth to outsiders.
Another system in this realm is Developer Bootcamp (DBC), which takes beginners and aspiring programmers and turns them into proficient junior developers, ready to dive into work at any of the myriad startups that will have them out in Silicon Valley. There has been so much debate recently over the rising cost of higher education, the misguided national testing systems in our public schools, and the relevance of skills learned through liberal arts degrees in this day and age that this development is hardly surprising.
These homegrown, hacker-esque credential and education systems, which are now becoming much more formalized and widespread, are essentially the support system that the tech industry uses and needs to expand and improve. Is this the best way to handle a new industry that changes completely from one year to the next? Does it make sense for large corporations to be formalizing a system when skills are not hard and fast? Are there too many junior developers flooding the market, and is this lack of experience tamping down potential in the field, or is it exactly what we need?
Image Credit: diigo