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What Makes Learn Stand Apart From Standard Online Education

Flatiron School / 11 January 2016
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Hi, I’m Mat, and I’m the VP of Product at Flatiron School. I help build our online campus, Learn.co. I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about what online learning programs will stand apart from the rest in a few years. In order to answer this question fully, I think it’s important to step back and look at the larger state of education in the U.S. Why, in many cases, has online education not worked? Why has it failed to deliver results?

When it comes down to it, the outcomes are what really matter here. We’ve already seen this as a large-scale problem with education all over the United States: students are burying themselves in debt, and depending on their field, it’s not always doing enough to boost their starting incomes once they finally get out of college. The return on investment is questionable at best.

Flatiron School decided to start an online program because we saw the difference our Learn.co platform was already making for the people who were using it. But it also went beyond that — we saw the life-changing results of our curriculum, and we wanted to find a way to bring those results to more people. Not everyone is able to put their lives on hold for three months for an in-person, immersive course, but they still deserve the same opportunities. That’s why Flatiron School decided to bring our courses online. A degree isn’t what it used to be, and this is a way to give people a true return on their investment and help them find a rewarding career they truly love.

Based on everything we’ve learned from teaching people to code in person at Flatiron School, we’ve been rethinking the product experience of learning. Learn.co, our new online learning platform, is the result of that time and thought. We want people to get the same outcomes-driven education they’ve gotten in-person, from us online. Here’s what makes our online courses different from the rest:

An open-source curriculum

Flatiron School’s curriculum is open sourced on GitHub, so it’s updated in real-time by students, faculty, and the larger Flatiron School community. This has a powerful effect: it means that every student will experience the most up-to-date lessons, which is especially poignant in computer education. Having content that changes with the times is reflective of the technologies we use, and that makes it indispensable.

Real-world tools

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In order to learn real skills, you need to develop real skills. All of our students start coding on day one. They also use Learn.co with a GitHub account — the industry standard for version control software — which provides a robust portfolio of programming experience to show potential employers. What better way to find a job than displaying a portfolio of real-world work history?

A community for feedback and support

Learning online shouldn’t be an isolated experience — it should be an opportunity to connect with others and learn from each other. Learn.co has an interactive platform with real-time chat and screen share, so that you’ll never be alone when you’re seeking out help. In fact, many of our Learn Experts have been through the same curriculum you’re going through, so they’ll know exactly what you’re asking.

Total transparency

Flatiron School is still the only institution of its kind that has a verified jobs report, and that’s because we know the outcomes our school produces are unmatched within the coding bootcamp industry. This is why we feel so confident giving a money-back guarantee if users don’t find work as a developer after they complete our program.

Flexible dates

Learning online is different in some ways than learning in a classroom, and it should be treated as such — rushing through curriculum just to get to an arbitrary deadline doesn’t make for a quality online learning process. It only makes sense for courses to be more flexible, so that you can solicit as much community help and feedback as you need. Every online learner is different. Go at the pace that works best for you.

Real, life-changing outcomes

Startup Stock Photos

We don’t just talk about getting you a job — we’ll do everything in our power to make that happen for you. We can do that because we’ve been doing it right for three years at Flatiron School, placing hundreds of grads into software development jobs at leading tech companies. You’ll speak with members of Flatiron School’s Career Services team at least once every two weeks. They help with a comprehensive resume review, give insider tips on how to create a narrative about your work history, and offer access to our extensive employment network.

When it comes down to effective online education, it’s all about outcomes. The online immersives that will rise to the top are the ones that focus on delivering real results to students.

Interested in exploring our online campus, Learn.co?

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This post originally appeared on Quora.

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