In a time where social distancing is an absolute necessity, remote learning is the perfect model for those looking to upskill or reskill amidst the pandemic. Many education providers, including DigitalCrafts, have moved their entire operations online.
DigitalCrafts is a six-year-old bootcamp that prides itself on providing a personal touch to its program. In March of 2020, the school transitioned all on-site classes to online instruction in its efforts to further curb the spread of Covid-19.
Even before the pandemic, remote learning has been growing in popularity across the globe due to its flexibility, accessibility, cost, and effectiveness.
According to a Forbes article, “85% of students who had previously enrolled in both face-to-face and online courses felt their online experience was either the same or better than the classroom course. That included 37% who felt it was a superior experience.”
In this article, we’ll be looking at what the online experience looks like at DigitalCrafts with its hybrid and fully online classes. We’ll also get to take a peek behind the curtains with the stories of three students who have experienced it first hand.
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What makes DigitalCrafts unique is that it goes above and beyond to ensure that all students feel welcomed, regardless of their backgrounds. The school has designed its classes to be accessible to both those experienced in the field and new learners. DigitalCrafts has also created a pre-work program so that students with no prior programming experience will have everything they need to start the course.
The bootcamp offers a high-level curriculum, carefully curated to match the latest trends in the tech industry. Students can enroll in both full-time and part-time web development programs—available in both online and hybrid format—with UI/UX and cybersecurity programs launching later this year. Actual industry professionals with years of experience in the field teach the lessons, with some having spent time at big companies like NASA and LinkedIn.
Let’s take a deeper look into DigitalCrafts’ two learning formats.
Hybrid vs Fully Online
DigitalCrafts currently offers two ways to experience its courses, fully online and hybrid. Even outside of protecting students from the pandemic, these two new options provide students the opportunity to learn wherever they are—even if they’re nowhere near one of DigitalCrafts’ campuses.
DigitalCrafts utilizes Zoom as the main platform to host its lessons. Instructors present lecture slides, share their code, and break students into smaller breakout groups via video conferencing.
For full-time students, classes are from 10 am to 5 pm on Monday to Friday for 16 weeks. Meanwhile, part-time students have classes from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays for 26 weeks.
During the lessons, students are free to collaborate with one another, ask questions, share ideas, and more. By using Zoom for project presentations, instructors are able to simultaneously look at their code during the session.
“We recently used Zoom to celebrate Demo Day, our talent showcase for graduating students. Graduates across the country joined together to present their projects and celebrate all that they’ve achieved,” the school said, adding that support is also available via Slack.
The Hybrid Model
DigitalCrafts understand that a fully online model may not work for some students. Students may not have an ideal setup at home with a designated space for learning, for example, or their home internet may not be up to the challenge of streaming class all day.
To solve this problem, DigitalCrafts has introduced a hybrid model as an option for students living near any of its campuses in Atlanta, Houston, and Tampa. This option combines the flexibility of online instruction with the on-site community and teaching assistants in the classrooms.
“You may take the entire class online if you wish, but our physical locations will also be open for those who want to work there. To ensure that instructors are able to focus on all students equally, they will be teaching remotely. Students who come to campus will attend class online via Zoom,” the school said.
“For students streaming class on-site, we have daily temperature checks, face masks, cleaning supplies, and physically-distanced workstations. Each of our campuses has its own additional safety measures like advanced air filtering, touchless entryways, and one-way hallways to increase social distancing,” they added.
The Benefits of Online Learning
DigitalCrafts Co-Founder and CEO Max McChesney said the new online and hybrid learning models have allowed the school to welcome more students from all over into its community. This in itself creates an opportunity for students to expand their networks and make new friends from new places.
“The greatest things about our program haven’t changed. As a DigitalCrafts student, you’ll still be part of a challenging learning experience led by the best instructors in the business. You’ll still be more than just a number, learning in small classes so that you can be an active part of the learning process,” the school said.
Remote learning is not only a cost-effective and flexible way to acquire new skills, but it also prepares students for the ‘new way’ of working. In an interview with the BBC, LinkedIn’s Chief Economist Karin Kimbrough said the employment-oriented platform has witnessed a huge increase in demand for remote work.
“Globally, we’re seeing four times the number of jobs that offer remote work since March (2020). We also see that trend reflected from jobseekers: the volume of job searches using the “Remote” filter on LinkedIn has increased ~60% since the beginning of March, and the share of remote job applications has increased nearly 2.5 times globally from March.”
By going through a distance learning program, students will get to learn to communicate and collaborate remotely—soft skills that are highly sought-after by employers today.
Student Success Team
Although the lessons take place online, this doesn’t mean that DigitalCrafts forgoes the support that would typically come with in-person programs. Their Student Success Team, a department dedicated to placing graduates in relevant roles and delivering job search training, is easily reachable via Slack and Zoom.
Aside from interview preparation, resume reviews, and portfolio guidance, the Student Success Team is also responsible for hosting networking events, talks from industry leaders, virtual career fairs, and other career-related meetups that can help increase students’ chances of landing a job.
The support is extended to all DigitalCrafts students and graduates, whether they’re seeking their first tech role or a more senior position years later.
What Students Love About DigitalCrafts’ Online Classroom
DigitalCrafts students share their favorite things about remote learning, along with some tips on how to get the most out of this experience:
Josue Majano: “I can be at any place with WiFi and still be able to attend class.”
Customer service specialist Josue Majano has done everything from working at car dealerships to jobs at hospitals and a morgue. In 2018, he was looking for new opportunities and was seriously considering tech.
However, Josue was unsure if he had time to squeeze in coding classes while working full-time. After two years of mulling over his next step, he stumbled upon DigitalCrafts in 2020 and realized that there is a way for him to do both.
Josue is one of the students who opted for the hybrid option at DigitalCrafts, attending classes at the Houston campus. While he has the flexibility to study anywhere with a WiFi connection, he said he personally enjoys having a designated space for his classes.
“Online learning has been great. Honestly, I can be at any place with WiFi and still be able to attend class. Due to the pandemic, I had to work remotely from my own home, but I like having a different environment for class so I personally like going to The Cannon [the co-working space that houses DigitalCrafts’ campus] in Houston,” he said.
His advice for those new to online learning is to use the opportunity to create a setting that keeps you engaged.
“Move around, have a different atmosphere in front of you to feel motivated. Our journey isn’t an easy one since we are learning something completely new. But the end result will be so rewarding, so don’t ever give up. You have a whole community at DigitalCrafts that has your back,” he said.
Caitlin Crawford: “I didn’t feel as if I was missing out by not being in person.”
Urban planner Caitlin Crawford once thought of computer science as an intimidating field and never considered it a valid career path. As she continued to build equitable and sustainable cities and communities over the past couple of years, she realized that she would be able to achieve much more if she had tech skills in her toolbox.
After doing some research, she decided to enroll in DigitalCrafts due to its high ratings, and outstanding curriculum. After completing the Flex program in January, she no longer finds the tech field ‘scary’ and is eager to explore new opportunities.
“The tech stack DigitalCrafts teaches is what a majority of startups and companies use for their products and platforms. The number of projects throughout the course was also a big draw.”
Caitlin said her experience with remote learning was positive, adding that the school leveraged a number of tools to effectively deliver lessons.
“DigitalCrafts’ efficient use of Slack and Zoom did not make me feel as if I was missing out by not being in person. More and more companies are becoming remote-first anyways, so I believe the experience also further prepared me for things like remote standups and remote pair programming.”
She also recommends DigitalCrafts for those looking to venture into tech as it offers a great curriculum. “Don’t hesitate to sign up and then use the DigitalCrafts resources to your advantage,” she said.
Cassie Champagne: “It’s a great opportunity to practice working with people remotely”
Cassie Champagne was attending DigitalCrafts’ Flex program in March 2020 before the pandemic forced the school to make the adjustment to fully online. The shift happened when she was undergoing her first project week, which meant she had to quickly adjust to collaborate remotely with her team members.
“Our project’s called Clear Dark Sky, basically a website that you can go on and we use the location data to determine whether or not you would have a good viewing condition for stargazing. We did that by cross-referencing with what the weather would be.
“I thought it was going to be more complicated and that it may be hard to get everyone to work together but it went on smoothly,” she said.
For Cassie, the silver lining was that she got to experience what it’d be like to work on a real-life project with a distributed team.
“It’s a really great opportunity to practice working with people remotely…I think remote work will continue and grow more in the future. It’s a good opportunity to learn how to work with people in different locations,” she said.
Get Started With DigitalCrafts Today
Online learning has proved to be a unique experience for Josue, Caitlin, and Cassie as they embark on a new adventure into the tech sphere with DigitalCrafts.
It’s clear how the team at DigitalCrafts has worked to keep their quality standards through the transition to online learning while adding the additional benefits that come with this format to the student’s experience. Students at DigitalCrafts are still provided with a challenging course, experienced instructors, and small class sizes that let them take an active role in their education.
If you’re interested to find out more about DigitalCrafts and its Hybrid or fully online offerings, you can visit the website or submit your details to begin your admission process.
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