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Why pay to learn to code?

With the explosion in the availability of free material online that can help you learn to code – Udacity, Coursera, Codecademy and the like – why pay for a computer science class?

Sometimes paying is necessary in order to earn college credits. There’s also a belief – right or wrong – that courses that charge tuition are better than ones offered for free. In part it’s the old “you get what you pay for adage”; but it’s also the presumption that formal education (and the credentials that come with it, of course) trumps the informal – not just because the education is supposedly better but because of the status afforded to and by institutions.

Many of the new learn-to-code-online resources insist that they provide a high quality, university-level education for free. In other words, their free classes are just as good as those you pay for.

But as I’ve noted based on my own experiences with several of them, the quality of the materials and the instructor is just part of what makes a class “good” (for me at least). And as such, I ask: how do these free learn-to-code sites work to support learners, individually or as a community? How do they help learners succeed? “Success” can mean lots of things, no doubt, but let’s say here it means that those who enroll will achieve their personal learning goals. Of course, it’s fair to ask how much learners are really supported when they pay for courses. But with free online classes there seems to be an expectation that the attrition rate will be high. Most won’t succeed.

What obligations do learning institutions and companies have to their students to support them? And is “support” something (or another thing) that would make paying for a course worth it?

(Pay to) Learn to Program with Bloc

I have been stewing about a lot of these questions in light of a recent pivot by the learn-to-code startup Bloc. Bloc has gone from a free browser-based guide that taught people web-development and app deployment to an eight-week online developer boot camp – one that costs $3000 and has a fairly rigorous application process.

Read the rest of the story over on Inside Higher Ed...

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Audrey Watters


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