Week 11: More Projects, and Looking Ahead

Time really does fly. It feels like only a few short weeks ago that Simon, Eamonn and myself (Diarmuid) sat down to discuss the idea of forming a company that would run computer coding courses. That would have been back in March, or thereabouts. Since then we ran an experimental Easter courses (to prove that our ideas more or less worked in reality) and then two weeks of summer camps. Finally, buoyed by the positive feedback from those first two forays, we decided to press ahead and advertise our first term-time courses this past August/September.

We've certainly run into our fair share of difficulties along the way. Our decision to hand deliver 10,000 leaflets ourselves back in September was, in hindsight, something of a false economy. My decision to cut up stickers by hand for our branded USB sticks was (again in hindsight) rather more labour intensive than I perhaps expected. And as for the "wait, I thought you had the keys..." incident - probably the less said the better!

What really matters, however, is the teaching, and on that side of things we could scarcely be happier. As detailed in the past few weeks' blog posts, our students are far surpassing anything we could have imagined at the start of term.

I'm reminded of a lecture by an academic named Randy Pausch* (available on YouTube, and more than worth the ~75 minutes of your time). He was teaching a new course in Carnegie Mellon called "Building Virtual Worlds", and his students had just achieved more in their first two week assignment than he thought they would in an entire semester. He called his mentor, and after hearing the story his mentor said "[...] you obviously don't know where the bar should be, and you're only going to do them a disservice by putting it anywhere".

We're not teaching undergraduates at a top university (although I have no doubt that, in just a few short years, many of our students will be undergraduates at top universities!). All the same, I can't think of a better philosophy the guide us over the coming terms. 

We won't be abandoning our curation of course content, but we will be pulling out all the stops to provide more and better options to students, and even more opportunities to put their own stamp on what they're doing. We don't ever want them to feel that they're doing "enough" without having to push themselves. Within a few more terms some of our students will hardly need that kind of curation at all, as they'll reach a point where there's little they can't do. In the meantime we will keep racing to keep our assignments and projects ahead of them.

We're extremely excited about next term, and about the number of students who have already signed up to come back to us. If you're even almost as excited as we are, we hope you'll come along for the ride!