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Learning to Code

Posted on 6.30.2013

CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR ASPIRING DEVELOPERS & DESIGNERS

Technology moves fast and if you don’t keep up you’ll be left behind.

Fortunately, opportunities abound to keep your virtual skills sharp and your digital design and development career on track and moving forward.

Learning to code professionally isn’t for everyone, but knowing how and why applications work or how to fix even something as seemingly inane as a broken image link will provide a more balanced and effective view of your own work, whatever part of the business you’re responsible for. Let’s explore some of the different ways Internet professionals can continue their technical education today.

GO VIRTUAL AND DO IT ALONE

Many developer/designer education resources are a little esoteric, but if you’re looking to get some virtual dirt under your digital fingernails and really learn the basics of how all those pixels move around the page, check out Codecademy. The free site offers aspiring digital developers an exercise-oriented opportunity to learn Web fundamentals, such as HTML, CSS, jQuery, Javascript, Python, Ruby and PHP, as well as how to connect applications to the digital world through APIs. What makes Codecademy so popular is that it introduces programming concepts and techniques in an interactive way, as users must complete individual lessons (writing code along the way) to proceed through the course.

There are many other viable options to consider should you choose to go it alone for your developer education, including Code School, which offers free and paid courses. You should also consider PeepCode and Bloc, the latter promising to turn anyone into a Web developer in an intense, 12-week bootcamp (costing $5,000). Other options to explore include Udemy, whose individual courses are more reasonable in price (check out “Learn PHP Programming From Scratch” for $147) and Treehouse, whose 1,000-plus video library on websites, programming and app development, coupled with its real-time Code Challenge Engine, make it a popular and affordable choice at just $25 a month.

LET’S JUST KEEP THIS TRADITIONAL

While design, development and programming courses are popping up everywhere, those more traditional in their educational approach have as many, if not more, opportunities. Online learning is growing rapidly as students (regardless of their age) demand flexibility and accessibility that a traditional learning environment can’t always provide.

Unlike most online universities, which simply use the Internet to deliver classroom education, Western Governor’s University (WGU) for example, uses an innovative approach to learning called competency-based education. This tactic allows students to take advantage of prior education and experience to move quickly through course material they already know, so they can focus on the things they still need to learn.

According to Patrick Partridge, the CMO of Western Governors University, “Students advance by demonstrating their mastery of course material, and there are no set class times. This takes the flexibility of online learning to a new level. In addition, it makes it possible for students to accelerate their degree programs, saving both time and money. As a result, the average time to complete a bachelor’s degree at WGU is less than three years.”

So, what should students look for in these online programs to ensure they receive a quality experience? Partridge advises that before enrolling at any university, it is important to do your homework, making sure that the degree you earn will help meet your career objectives.

“If you are already working in your chosen field, this should be easy,” said Partridge. “If you are considering a bachelor’s degree with the goal of moving into a better, higher-paying job or a different field, it is important to choose a degree that employers will recognize as relevant. Ask the right questions. Is the university accredited? What is the university’s background and ownership? How will you learn? What kind of help and support will you have? How much will it cost? How will you pay for your program? Will your degree be respected by employers?”

WGU students can pursue bachelor’s degree programs in information technology (from network administration to security or software) or choose one of the several master's degree programs offered. WGU’s is far from the only online school for those interested in the world of design, development and technology. FullSail.edu, for example, is a wellrenowned option with associate programs in graphic design, bachelor's degrees in mobile development and even master's-level courses in game design, among others.

LEVERAGE INTERNAL EXPERTISE

The two prior suggestions for learning about design and development are ideal when workers are motivated to excel on their own, but companies can also take the lead when it comes to training employees, and online learning technologies are quickly taking center stage — none more so than Adobe Connect. The dividends from this investment are proving substantial.

Mobile management vendor, MobileIron, for example, adopted Adobe Connect to deliver ondemand training to its sales and support engineers. After building and delivering a platform for its employees, the company expanded the offering as a complimentary service for its customers and partners.

In the last 12 months, 5,500 participants enrolled in the MobileIron University, taking advantage of the 700 training courses created using Adobe Presenter and Adobe Captivate software. Using Adobe Connect, it was possible for MobileIron University to easily target training to specific audiences and disciplines. Training sessions range from basic product overviews to in-depth technical training courses, which leverage the full multimedia capabilities of Adobe Connect.

“MobileIron University is embracing the endto- end Adobe Connect solution and deep integration with the Adobe eLearning Suite to deliver persistent, top-quality, on-demand training. We see the results in more closed deals and more revenue opportunities,” said Richard Lewis, director of education and training at MobileIron. “We can monitor and measure attendance and participation and track certification for our partners. No other solutions offer the visibility of Adobe Connect.”

Online learning is experiencing rapid adoption. As the business and technical worlds become increasingly competitive, Internet professionals will need to keep learning, refining their skills and base of knowledge, not only for the benefit of their current or future employers, but also for their personal career growth.

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