Coding Dojo Takes Its Software Bootcamp Courses to Campus

Coding Dojo, which runs software development bootcamps in San Jose, Seattle, and other cities, will be offering some of its programming courses at Bellevue College near Seattle this fall in what it hopes will be the first of several college partnerships.

Coding Dojo instructors will go on-campus evenings and weekends at the large public college in Bellevue, WA, to teach two course sequences on Ruby on Rails and JavaScript/MEAN. These software combinations, which are used to create websites and Web apps, make up part of the curriculum at Coding Dojo’s 14-week bootcamps.

For Bellevue-based Coding Dojo, its new Coding for Higher Education Program is a way to attract new students who are already familiar with a local higher education institution, Coding Dojo marketing executive Kevin Saito says.

“We’re coming to where the customers are, where they’re already comfortable,” Saito says.

Bellevue College is not only a short drive from Coding Dojo’s Seattle campus. It’s also close to Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, and other potential employers for graduates of the college’s information technology degree programs and its continuing education division, which will host the Coding Dojo classes, Bellevue product manager Mark Veljkov says.

While Bellevue has “a full slate of technology programs,” the college wanted to offer students coursework that would give them practical experience in the programming skills most in demand by local employers, Veljkov says. But developing such courses, and keeping them up to date, is costly, he says.

“For us, it became a much better solution to find a local partner that had the quality we were looking for,” Veljkov says.

And because of a recent government initiative, Bellevue College may be able to qualify students in its Coding Dojo classes for federal tuition aid, he says. Last year, the U.S. Education Department announced the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) experiment, a pilot program that encouraged higher education institutions to explore innovations in their course offerings by forming partnerships with non-traditional education providers such as for-profit edtech companies.

“It’s a game-changer,” Veljkov says of the government initiative. The pilot program is part of a government drive to make schools more accountable for student success, to close the gap between what’s learned in college and what’s needed on the job, and to reduce the student loan default rate, he says.

Bellevue College will also work with accrediting agencies to try to qualify the Coding Dojo classes for college credit, rather than the certificates usually awarded to students who complete coursework in the continuing education division, Veljkov says.

The availability of college credit would also be a boon for Coding Dojo, Saito says. “It opens us up to another set of folks,” he says.

Coding Dojo isn’t the first for-profit educational technology company to team up with a higher ed institution to teach computer science. Back in 2013, Mountain View, CA-based Udacity offered online programming classes at San Jose State University, though pass rates were low. Udacity then formed a partnership with AT&T and Georgia Tech to launch an accredited online master’s degree in computer science at a cost of $6,600. While Udacity began with MOOCs, or massive open online courses, most of Coding Dojo’s students attend bootcamp sessions in person at a bricks-and-mortar site.

The edtech company, formerly based in the Bay Area, has its largest bootcamp in San Jose, where more than a hundred students are enrolled, Saito says. It’s in the neighborhoods of these mature West Coast bootcamps—-there’s another in Los Angeles—-where Coding Dojo is looking for more colleges to host its classes, Saito says.

Students in the two programs at Bellevue College will work under the “flipped classroom” method used at Coding Dojo’s bootcamps. To prepare for their on-campus sessions, they’ll watch a lecture through the company’s online resources, then spend their time in the classroom working on projects and gleaning advice from instructors, Saito says. Both course sequences will involve 99 hours in the physical classroom and up to 150 hours working online on individual or group projects, he says.

Each course, running about three months or an academic quarter, costs $3,500. The Ruby on Rails course starts in September 2016, and the JavaScript/MEAN sequence begins in November. In January, Bellevue College plans to offer a third Coding Dojo course in another combination of programming languages, LAMP/PHP. The three course topics were chosen to enhance students’ chances of landing a job, Veljkov says.

“They hit the top five tech needs of employers,” Veljkov says.

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