Immersive Learning: Lost in Coding

students in an Immersive learning bootcamp

The immersive learning process in a bootcamp format can be scary at first. Here is what you can expect and how to succeed in the first few weeks of learning.

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This article on immersive learning is part of the Content Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School staff members on topics ranging from program success to the job search. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during your program at Flatiron School.

Starting the Flatiron Software Engineering program can feel a lot like traveling abroad. 

At your first Flatiron School class, you’ve finished the program’s prework and maybe even done some online lessons. You might be feeling prepared and eager, as well as a little nervous, with the feeling of entering a fantastic new adventure. 

This is not dissimilar to how it would feel to travel to Spain, for example. Maybe you learned a few basic words or sentences before heading to the airport. You’d likely be getting off the plane excited to experience a new culture, surroundings, and language. 

What’s more, the learning path for picking up Spanish abroad and coding at an accelerated bootcamp are also very similar. How can this be? One word: immersion.

WEEK 1: Fumbling With Fundamentals

The excitement that led you to take that international flight or sign up for a coding bootcamp will likely carry you through the initial week of learning. Those first few days, all you’ll be able to do is take in all the information cascading over you. You’ll find yourself lost in the culture of code and the language of Javascript. With everything new, including much of the language, you will most likely find yourself completely overloaded with information.  

“You can access the information in the object through bracket notation or dot notation. Bracket notation will allow you to use the value of a variable rather than the literal characters typed to access the key. Dot notation is limited to the literal characters typed as the key”

“Uh, I heard variable and object!”

It’s similar to being surrounded by people fluent in Spanish while only knowing a few nouns. You can pick out some familiar words and concepts from the work you did before the program, but little else. Combining all the pieces of Javascript in a coherent sentence or workable code ends up being like trying to string together a limited Spanish vocabulary into something as simplistic as “me gusta la manzana”.  Though to native ears of Javascript, it may seem childish, it is a big accomplishment to be able to say something like “The variable has been reassigned”, and that is a great start!

The Challenge

You will be inundated with so much information you might be consumed with taking it all in rather than just parsing the important parts. It can be intimidating and make you feel you won’t be able to accomplish the end goal. Don’t let this imposter syndrome shape you into a bystander in your learning.  Taking a passive approach will prevent you from achieving fluency in Javascript, much like only listening to Spanish speakers won’t teach you to respond proficiently.

Tips For Success

Be active in the learning process! To get yourself used to applying code to a blank file you should set up your replit and follow along with the lessons in the curriculum.  When you are done with a lesson try changing the code in your REPL environment and try to predict what will show up in the console. This will help you get more comfortable with producing and thinking in code.

WEEK 2: Practicing In Pairs

In the second week, pairing with other cohort mates to work on different labs and being forced to take the role of initiator will make you think through and cohesively use Javascript. The two roles – driver and navigator –  of this paired programming approach are instrumental in being able to produce code rather, than just understand it.  

Much like starting to use basic Spanish phrases in conversation, this week will challenge you to create things on the spot and respond appropriately to your partner.

The Challenge

Week two labs are an active Javascript thought production that makes you think through the language. The navigator role compels you to verbalize what code should be typed out. You will have to think through how to make a fetch request, what to do with the information from the fetch request, and how it all works with the user through event listeners. In each step, you will break the code down into smaller steps and debug.

Tips For Success

Moving into the “use phase” of week two can be intimidating. Take it slow and try not to stress during pair exercises. If you stumble over the logic, the driver is there to help you.

WEEK 3: Conversing In Code

As the end of Phase 1 of the Flatiron program nears, your fluency with the language will have grown to the point you can code independently. At this point, you can take on the challenge of tackling the end-of-phase labs that put all the concepts you have learned together.  

This translation will be taking someone else’s words and turning them into code. From now on it will feel like each new piece of information fits into an existing framework. Even new languages and frameworks in the next phases will feel easier to pick up. 

Relating back to our Spanish analogy, this is the point where you no longer feel lost on an alien planet. You know the fundamentals, can hold a dialogue, and partake in normal conversation! Though there will be new words to learn, you now understand how to fit them into the language. 

The Challenge

The end-of-phase labs will likely take a lot of time. At first, completing one of the comprehensive labs might take you a full day of work. But, with each successive lab you engage in, the time it takes to complete will diminish.

Tips For Success

Focus on taking the end-of-phase labs one step at a time. Fully engross yourself in one lab at a time. Move on to the next only when you’ve completely finished the first. By the time you’ve completed a few of the labs, it will begin feeling like coding has “clicked”. You’ll be able to see how everything fits together and would be translated from the “deliverables”, or the description of what the code should do for the user.

After Flatiron School’s Immersive Learning Bootcamp

Flatiron School will immerse you in coding, and your job is to let yourself be lost. Lean into the learning curve, engage, and try to converse. While immersion is scary at first, it gets results. If you embrace the process, you will learn new skills faster than you ever imagined!

About Joe Milius

Joe Miius is a Software Engineering Technical Coach at Flatiron School. He has previous teaching experience and has been helping Flatiron School students understand coding concepts for 2 years. He loves problem-solving and takes on each new problem or question a student presents with vigor and curiousity.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of June 15, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Joe Milius

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