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React and Firebase: How We Know Adding Two New Languages to Our Bootcamp Curriculum Will Help Everyone Level Up

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React and Firebase: How We Know Adding Two New Languages to Our Bootcamp Curriculum Will Help Everyone Level Up

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It’s an exciting time at HackerYou with our recent registration as a Private Career College in Ontario. Along with our new status, we’ve made some changes to our bootcamp curriculum, and I’m excited to share these with you. One of the advantages in coming to HackerYou has always been that our content is constantly updated to stay relevant with the industry. We are always incorporating new best practices as they emerge. As part of launching our new Certificate program, we’ve locked down a new curriculum for our students. Our Certificate program will focus more heavily on JavaScript as our core component of the program than ever before. This shift to more of an emphasis on JavaScript is something we’ve been planning for a while. Previous iterations of the bootcamp content has been split into three areas:

  • We start with HTML & CSS. Our students hit the ground running with the skills they need to craft clean, semantic sites that can adapt responsively to any device they are viewed on.
  • Next, we move into JavaScript, the true programming language of the web. Because this is the first introduction to programming for many, we focus on teaching the fundamentals of programming as a whole. It’s important to talk about core ideas that appear in other languages so that students have skills to effectively adapt when they enter the workforce. Projects focus on interacting with the page and external data APIs, to help students create more dynamic applications.
  • The third and final area we focused on - which we’ve decided to reconfigure - was WordPress, a content management system that allows developers to create easy-to-update sites for clients.

Over time, we’ve noticed a shift in focus and importance in the industry and among our graduates towards JavaScript - especially JavaScript applications. In 2017, to better prepare our students for the industry and for entry-level jobs, we will be removing the WordPress portion of the bootcamp and replacing it with more robust JavaScript programming. We’re excited to add the JavaScript library React and the back-end as a service system Firebase to the new HackerYou bootcamp curriculum.

Why React

Developers all have their own opinions on their favourite JavaScript framework or library; but choosing React as the focus for the third part of our bootcamp was easy. React is a popular library, and more importantly, it is very lightweight. This allows us to teach deeper JavaScript knowledge and ideas rather than opting for a specific, more standalone framework pattern. We want to encourage our students to think critically about the problems revolving around UI development, not how a specific technology solves it. React gives our students the ability to create rich component-based user interfaces that are fast and interactive.

Why Firebase

In order to allow our students to take their applications to the next level, we are introducing Firebase into our curriculum. Because it is a back-end-as-a-service provider, Firebase allows us to add persistence to our applications. This gives students the ability to make applications that allow users to log-in or sign up, store data, and even upload media. All of these features give our students the means to create amazing applications while still focusing on mastering front-end technologies.

Removing WordPress

The decision to remove WordPress from our bootcamp curriculum was one we carefully thought about. HackerYou’s bootcamp is first and foremost a front-end development bootcamp. While WordPress is an amazing system and tool for creating websites, I believe that diving into it for a such a limited time at the very end of the program wasn’t giving the platform justice. Now, instead of having students shift their focus away from the front-end and into a new environment, we will be continuing the focus on front-end skills. This focus allows us to turn our students into specialists, not generalists. Instead of knowing a little about everything, our focus allows students to build a more in-depth skills set and toolbox. Graduates of our bootcamp who are interested in learning WordPress can still do so through our part-time Intro & Advanced WordPress courses, where they’ll have the time to really dive into the power of the platform and become an expert.

Student Success

My goal, and the goal of our entire HackerYou team, is to educate students and help them to become as successful as possible. Shifting our focus to a more front-end JavaScript-heavy curriculum sets our students up for that success. Our dedicated full-time staff of instructors and developers enables us to keep shaping and tweaking our content to fit the needs of the Toronto tech industry, and the industry as a whole. One of my favourite parts of my job is seeing what our students build, and I can’t wait see what 2017 will bring for our new cohorts of students.