We have launched a project on free training of schoolchildren in the basics of modern web development in the Node.js / React stack.While the project works in a pilot mode at several schools of the Kirov region, but we accept applications for connection from other regions. https://coderfactory.ru
It all started three years ago as a little experiment at a local school. We agreed with the management to run a free web development course for interested high school students. The course lasted for six months – the students performed the tasks at home, and once a week, at a face-to-face class at school, they showed the results and asked questions.
By the end of the school year, only 4 of the 20 or so students who joined – the rest gradually dropped out due to the increasing difficulty of the assignments. Moreover, only two managed to reach the last assignment. The conversion rate is not very high, but these guys are already working as web developers. One of them is Denis Malykh ( fines_unes ) – got his first real job less than a year after he graduated. He later joined our training project team.
After this experiment, several adult acquaintances expressed a desire to take the course and move into the web development profession. Adults are better at absorbing complex information, and can spend more time on training – so the results were slightly better – the time between the start of training and the first paycheck was reduced to 10 months.
Then we decided to run the story for adults in the form of a summer camp at our Village. We made a small terrace for classes, organized catering, equipped bathrooms and places for tents and wrapped the course in a handy web interface. They decided to call the camp "Hutorium, " and during the summer of 2018 it was visited by about 50 people from different regions of the Russian Federation.
The duration of the camp was 1 to 3 weeks. That’s certainly not very long, and we were counting on the subsequent completion of the course online. But some of the guys were able to finish the course to the end even in this short period – of course, in a very intense intensive mode. Now they’re already working.
Many people who wanted to come to camp were not able to come, and by their requests in September we launched an online training mode with consultation through Zoom.us – coderfactory.ru/course
We’ve been haunted all along by the story of training high school students. After all, we managed to make it so that in a single school in the backwoods two people could quickly learn a profession and earn normal money without moving anywhere.
What would happen if we put this on stream and scaled it up all over the country? If every single school every year, even if it’s just 1-2 people who, after a few months of practice, grow up to get normal salaries on a "remote" basis? Could this have any significant impact on the economy and change the situation in rural communities in the countryside?
It seems to us that such a service should be free for schoolchildren – so that the possibility of early mastering a profession does not depend on the financial state of the family. But our course involves manual checking of assignments and face-to-face consultations with a tutor – we cannot afford to scale up in any meaningful way. We simply won’t be able to hire mentors for our own money and send them to every school.
Solution – Computer Science Teachers
So we came up with the idea of acting through computer science teachers. Computer science teachers are usually technically literate people with a lot of potential. By virtue of circumstances, they are forced to teach students Turbo Pascal and other newfangled technologies – but most of them understand the absurdity of the situation and would like to change something.
Naturally, computer science teachers need to be taught the actual development stack beforehand, so that they can help schoolchildren. We spoke at a meeting of computer science teachers in the Slobodsky district of Kirov region, where the village is located, and offered to give grants for free training on our course to all willing teachers.
With the proviso that after graduation they will conduct weekly elective classes for their students in a similar format – that is, to check the assignments and help in case of difficulties. Naturally, for both students and teachers, instruction from our side remains completely free of charge.
Several teachers have agreed to the suggestion, and we’ve had three classes this way so far. So far, the teachers are more than meeting our expectations – they are moving through the course much faster than the average student. In the near future we expect to launch the first classes with high school students in which the role of mentor will be performed by a school teacher.
Since face-to-face classes with teachers are held in the same Lyceum, where this experiment began three years ago, it turned out to be an interesting situation. Classes are taught by Denis Malykh, who finished the original version of the course and later joined our team. His former computer science teacher is among his charges. That is, after three years, student and teacher switched places.
Format and design of classes
All classes are done in our system coderfactory.ru After completing the course, the teacher has access to the mentor panel, in which he checks the code of the students assigned to him and, if necessary, returns it for revision.
Situations when a student has difficulties and cannot cope with a task on his/her own are resolved during face-to-face consultations. We believe that the optimal format for such consultations is a weekly meeting in a computer lab for not more than an hour and a half.
The meetings are supposed to be an elective class, so the teacher can get the standard hourly rate from the school for them.
Because of the idea of schools, we had to change the name "Hutorium" to "Programming Factory" in order not to embarrass school administrators with too provocative connotations
Connecting new schools
We’re a little strapped for resources right now, but we’re willing to connect a few interested schools from other regions, provide online teacher training, and help set up classes.
To apply for a connection, please visit www.coderfactory.ru/schools Once the application is verified, your school will appear in the directory – ask interested students to connect to it. If there are more applications than we can pull – preference will be given to the school with the most connected students.
Follow us on Twitter @coderfactory_ru and telegram channel @coderfactory We are ready to discuss any suggestions and comments in the comments to the article.