HackerYou Summer Academy Wrap up

The last three weeks of the program were intense and stressful but fun. In fact I have been feeling “under the weather” for the past few days most likely because as stress levels went up my immune system went down. Unfortunate but a little rest will do the trick.

Mission Accomplished

My goal was to be immersed in software development and meet interesting people in this industry. After nine weeks of Summer Academy I am a much better (and more confident) developer and I have met some amazing people. I have a lot to learn and I am eager to learn. There are many little things that expert programmers know; things that will be learned and applied in time.

HackerYou’s extensive network of instructors, mentors and students will be an asset as we move forward. My goal is to keep in touch with the friends that I have made during Summer Academy and make some new friends as my journey continues.

Building Real Products

Week 7 was spent putting the finishing touches on the art submission project that Paula and I brought with us to the program. It was exciting to see the project take form and become a reality. The Voix Visuelle Submission App is now on Heroku. The images and documents that artists submit are uploaded to the “cloud” (Amazon S3) and we have a Mandrill account for the email notifications that are sent. This app will be used by the artist centre in a few weeks for the first time.

Weeks 8 and 9 were spent building our final project. The final project was an education app; I pitched the original idea for the app to several students and a group formed from the ensuing discussion. It was a pleasure to work with Alexander Miloff, Nachiket Kumar and my wife Paula Franzini.

We spent nearly a week discussing, planning, interviewing people, validating the idea, drawing sketches and so on. The experience was surreal to be honest. The second week was spent developing the app and testing it live during one of the HackerYou lessons. It’s hard to put into words the amount of learning, excitement, and stress that we went through. I tried to keep the expectations low and not get too ahead of myself; I’m not sure if I succeeded.

The result was Curri, an app to help promote student-teacher communication. The app allows instructors to build a clear and detailed curriculum map with “checkpoints” – each of which contain a learning expectation and a success criteria – that can be consulted before, during, and after the learning experience. At the same time, it allows students to quickly and easily give feedback on how they feel about every checkpoint. The end result is that the students know what they are learning and the teachers know who is struggling and with what specific part of the curriculum.

Curri is not just a project for HackerYou, we have decided collectively that we would like to keep working on it. Nachiket, Paula, Alexander and myself are collaborating to bring this app to market. In the upcoming months we will improve the app and would like to partner with educators to bring the app into real classrooms.

Part of The HackerYou Team

HackerYou’s next full-time course is a front-end web development bootcamp. Student will learn the technical stuff (HTML, CSS, Design, Javascript, jQuery, Wordpress Themes) but they will also learn how to become great freelancers.

HackerYou courses have all of the qualities that make for exceptional learning; they are hands-on, collaborative, authentic and led by experienced and passionate people. Registration is open now for the front-end bootcamp; the course begins January 27th, 2014 and ends March 28th, 2014.

What is really exciting (for me at least) is that I will be part of the HackerYou team that makes the course possible. My goal is to contribute as much as I can to help build a great student experience. This is a unique opportunity; I get to combine two passions (web development and education) and work with some great people.

While in Toronto for the next few months I am looking forward to mentoring HackerYou’s part-time programs and will try to be present at tech meetups and events. See you there?