Should Coding Bootcamps Face Greater Oversight?

Traditional academic institutions face a lot of formal scrutiny. In the United States, colleges and universities must submit to national accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, a host of publications and websites keep constant tabs on schools’ status; for instance, the influential U.S. News & World Report annually evaluates the “top” national universities and liberal arts colleges.

As coding bootcamps and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) evolve into established channels for tech pros seeking to improve their skills, the question inevitably arises: should these institutions collectively face the same rigorous examination as traditional schools?

That’s a very thorny question, and opinions vary. Although some bootcamps have attempted to seize the brass ring of accreditation by pairing up with universities, others have declined to submit their curriculums for external approval. The nonprofit Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) has paired with bootcamps to develop a transparent framework for reporting graduation and hiring rates, and so has EducationQA—but with 95 full-time bootcamps currently operating in the United States (and an estimated 22,949 students enrolled), there are clearly gaps in reporting coverage.

In a bid to give the bootcamp industry a little more oversight, at least locally, New York City’s municipal government has issued a list of “voluntary” guidelines for bootcamps. “As demand for qualified talent continues to grow, New York City needs educators that are prepared to reliably deliver a broader pool of students into tech jobs,” reads the introduction to the city’s downloadable report, which includes those guidelines. “To help achieve this goal, TTP is sharing 12 key practices that promise to improve connections to tech careers for a broader student body, delivering successful results for bootcamps, students, and employers alike.” (Hat tip to Bloomberg for the link to the report.)

The key practices include “provide clear up-front information on all requirements” (practice 6), and “conduct assessments frequently and provide targeted support (practice 9). It’s pretty straightforward stuff, in other words, but potentially helpful as more bootcamps spring up across the city.

For New York City, bootcamps are an important element in maintaining the local tech hub. Although the city boasts a nice portfolio of startups and established enterprises, it faces fierce competition for businesses not only from Silicon Valley, but also up-and-coming towns across the country that want to grow a tech ecosystem (and the tax base that comes with it). And in theory, the more locals who join bootcamps and learn marketable tech skills, the more attractive the city becomes to tech firms.

If you’re considering joining a bootcamp, check out the downloadable report, as well as the EducationQA and CIRR websites (for example, CIRR offers a page of data from schools “committed to transparency”). That information can help you make an informed decision about the right institution to attend.

Comments

3 Responses to “Should Coding Bootcamps Face Greater Oversight?”

November 27, 2017 at 7:16 pm, Kool Harry said:

Is this a joke? If you take a look at the fees charged by the so called online accredited institutions, it is a rip off for presenting recorded materials. Also it has been the failure of these universities etc to provide relevant education, relevant as in needed in the market that has led to the so called boot camps. Even the boot camps they charge something like thousands of dollars for a few weeks of mumbo jumbo. It is a good thing that online tutorials are cropping up on the internet and one can say with confidence that freshers from US universities hired after taking training from such boot camps/tutorials here will go a long way in helping US IT .

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November 28, 2017 at 8:50 am, Maureen Axtell said:

Been doing this for 40+ years. Didn’t learn much useful in college. We didn’t have online back then. I learned by doing, with some very able colleagues.

I think bootcamps are the only cost-effective extension and/or replacement for “accredited” coursework for the current period. Either way, what you learn now will be completely useless in 5-10 years. I think of it as the next generation’s version of continuing education.

That given, governance and quality of program results is very important, of course. Otherwise you end up wasting even more money becoming a certified incompetent expert.

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November 30, 2017 at 12:37 pm, Bob Richards said:

The code camps are very worthwhile. I have been in Information Technology for my whole professional career. Technology has and always will move far more quickly than a University can keep up with. I can say that what I learned getting my degree has very little to do with todays technology. In my opinion the code camp concept needs to be further refined with an alliance with corporate. That is the educational requirements are established by corporate entities and the cost is either in part or in whole payed by the corporate entity with a payback in the terms of employee’s signing an employment agreement. The current method of students entering the work force with over a $100,000 dollars in student loans is not working! Many coming out of Universities are lacking the required skills of a very general education.

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