Online Python 101: The new course at Hackbright

You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened! We’re thrilled to announce a NEW digital course! Introducing Online Python 101, a self-paced, online course for women interested in learning to code and looking to get a taste of Hackbright. Online Python 101 will start on November 5, 2018.
In anticipation of our new program launch, Senior Director of Education, Meggie Mahnken, sat down with our partners at Course Report to explain who the flexible online course is meant for, how our team is working to maintain Hackbright’s community feel in the online class, and what the online learning platform looks like – plus, how you can easily transition from Online Python 101 to the full-time or part-time Software Engineering programs.

Q&A: Online Python 101

How have you spearheaded Hackbright’s Online Python 101?

As the Senior Director of Education at Hackbright, I love spreading the love of programming to other folks who are looking for their calling. Programming is incredibly rewarding and fun, in addition to being a marketable skill, and it brings me great joy to see people moving into this career. I work with many different teams at Hackbright, but primarily on curriculum, education, and training. Currently, our Hackbright Prep course is fascinating for me because teaching programming to beginners who all have different experience levels is difficult. It’s also very accelerated and rigorous. With Python 101, I wanted to bring elements of the Prep course along with basic beginner skills for anyone interested in learning to code, online. I asked questions like: How do we maintain the sense of a positive learning environment? What is unique to the learners who are experiencing this class online? I’ve also worked with our staff to think about the components of an online course in order to ensure that even in a remote learning environment, students are getting enough hands-on practice, and lecture-based instruction, to be able to learn the material.

You’ve been offering courses in-person for a while – what made you decide to launch the Python 101 course online?

We’ve had a lot of requests for an online intro to Python program. People want to figure out whether a coding bootcamp is a good fit for them but they may not be able to get to a campus every week. To learn enough coding to get into a coding bootcamp, you don’t need to attend a full-time class. You can spend a couple hours a night (about six hours a week) studying the concepts. We’re excited to see how we can maintain the community and the in-person feel in an online course because a lot of people are attracted to Hackbright’s community aspect and feeling a part of something special. Even if you’re just learning beginner concepts, it takes a lot of courage, commitment, motivation, and perseverance to continue. I’m so excited that we’re giving women alternative formats to learn to code – I can’t wait to reach more people and narrow our focus on the exact curriculum we need to teach this material quickly.

Who is Hackbright Online Python 101 for?

There are many different reasons why someone might be interested in learning the fundamentals of coding online. Online Python 101 is perfect for a few types of people:
  • If you’re intending to do the Hackbright Software Engineering program, this is a great way to get a taste of what Hackbright is like and learn exactly what you’ll need to know for the application. Online Python 101 also qualifies students for the 40-hour coding experience requirement for applying to bootcamp.
  • If you have a busy schedule or are taking care of kids or family at night, you can’t just drop everything and go to an in-person course.
  • Because the course is online, you’re welcome to enroll even if you don’t live in San Francisco.
  • It’s also for people who just learn better in an online environment.
  • Online Python 101 is not necessarily about preparing students for the Software Engineering program; you can also enroll if you just want to dip your toes in a bit of Python.
  • If you’re not sure that you want to do a coding bootcamp, Online Python 101 is a great way to test the waters.

What is the schedule and structure of the Online Python 101? Is it asynchronous or is it synchronous with live lectures?

The four-week program is semi-synchronous with pre-recorded video lessons – I’m bringing together all of the best Hackbright instructors to help with these videos. They’ll all have different teaching styles, a lot of experience with the Hackbright community, and can empathize with our online students from afar. We recommend a weekly schedule with weekly deadlines. For example, students should plan to finish watching the videos for Module One by end of week one and finish the videos for Module Two by the end of week two. We’ll have weekly office hours with an online forum where students can chat with a mentor, ask questions, or get on a video call to pair with a mentor or with a classmate.

What does the curriculum cover?

We have evolved elements on the Prep course and basic Python fundamentals and adapted them for an online environment. In designing the Online Python 101 experience, we’ve been intentional about choosing examples, metaphors, and projects that motivate beginners instead of intimidating them. The course covers the basic fundamentals of programming in Python including:
  • Basic data types and getting user input
  • Conditional logic and how to program choices and decisions
  • Basic algorithms just using user input
  • Control flow and looping
  • How to create basic functions and organize your code
  • Lists, which is a slightly more abstract data type
  • Programming tools – the primary code interpreter that students use is Repl.it, but we also teach Sublime Text and the command line a little later in the course
  • How to go about debugging your code and best practices for creating code that’s easy to be debugged
  • An intro to Tuples and Dictionaries in Python
At the end of the course, students record a short video of themselves presenting an interactive Python script.

How is the Online Python 101 course delivered? Should a student expect to sign into a specific platform every day?

Yes, you’ll sign into an online course platform called Canvas. From the homepage, students can navigate through the different modules. In each module, there are videos, static content to review, and lab exercises. The platform allows students to learn a module in the exact order that we want them to learn it.

How often will students interact with instructors and other students?

Students will have the opportunity to interface with staff on a bi-weekly basis during office hours. There will be discussion components throughout each of the modules that will enable students to see the reflections and commentary of their classmates. Additionally, a public question forum will be available so that students can raise any confusions or clarifications, as well as see what other students’ questions and answers. Aside from that, students will get feedback on their work on a weekly basis – even if it’s not a live conversation, they’ll be getting an update on how they are progressing via grades on their skills practice assignments. At the end of the course, we’ll assess students, give them written feedback and our recommendations going forward. Each student receives a personalized consultation where we evaluate the student’s performance in the class, their goals, and their next steps.

What can a student expect to achieve by the end of Online Python 101?

Students will have built six or seven scripts in the guided lab exercises, which are like mini projects with lots of room for creativity and expansion. They’ll also solidify the core programming concepts. The goal of this course is to give students not just Python knowledge but to get them past the initial hump that comes with learning any programming language – get a feel for variables, control flow, and looping functions. You can’t do that by just reading. You have to reflect, struggle, debug, and quiz yourself on those concepts to be able to say, “I can see myself as a programmer and I want to pursue this,” or, “I learned a lot, but this isn’t for me.” So it’s not just learning the concepts, but figuring out where does this fit in for my life? Do I want to pursue this skill set? Online Python 101 aims to demystify programming as a whole and give students the skills to continue learning afterward.

For students who want to apply to the Software Engineering program, is there a streamlined path from Online Python 101?

Students will go through a technical admissions interview at the end of Online Python 101, which is essentially a practice admissions interview. We give them feedback on each concept and how much work they need to do before they’re ready to apply. From then on, we’ll stay in close contact with all of our students. We want to see them get in!

How much does Online Python 101 cost? When does the program launch?

Online Python 101 is $695. Our first session of Online Python 101 starts November 5. Students will have until December 14 to complete all the online modules and assignments. The deadline to apply to the first Online Python 101 course is October 31, 2018.

How should someone choose between an in-person or online class?

Be selfish and give your future selves the best possible chances at succeeding. Think about what you’re like when you’re stressed out and not feeling great. How can you plan ahead for that moment? Will you feel better learning in-person because you need the physical feeling of being in a classroom, or is it going to help you feel more at ease if you don’t have to travel to a classroom? Imagine yourself on those tougher days where you’re really tired, and figure out what’s going to be best for you. Find out more and read Hackbright Academy reviews on Course Report. Apply for Online Python 101 course.
Interested in learning to code? Enroll in Online Python 101.   This post was originally published on Course Report, it has been abridged for Hackbright Academy. Find the full article, more bootcamp news, and read Hackbright Academy reviews on Course Report’s website.
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