To start, I want to ask you a question. Think back to the last class you took. How much do you still remember?
If your answer is, ‘not all that much’, that’s ok! You’re just experiencing the very natural phenomenon known as ‘the forgetting curve’, coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist back in the 1880s.
Ebbinghaus proved that in a traditional classroom environment, people will have forgotten 50% of what they’d been taught within 1 hour. Within 24 hours, this number rises up to 70%. Within a month, people will have forgotten an astonishing 90% of the information presented to them.
This was back in the 1880s. Since then, the world has vastly changed - people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, from the estimated 7-10 minute back then, to possibly just 8 seconds now. The internet, social media, smartphones and notifications bombard us with so much information retention becomes harder than ever.
This certainly makes learning something as intricate as coding hard. It’s notoriously hard enough to learn coding without all the annoying distractions in the way - it’s even harder to learn it the traditional way, copying lines of text off a whiteboard classroom style. Studies have shown even online courses, one of the most popular ways to learn coding, have continued to show poor learning outcomes; despite increasing sign-ups, they struggle to retain students, with many students not even starting the course they’ve signed up for.
So if attention is so scarce to come by, what is the best way to learn something like coding?
Immersive learning has been long known as one of the most effective ways to learn new skills. It’s is where you’re placed in an interactive environment to learn particular skills or replicate life-like scenarios. It can be done in a physical space, such as a bootcamp, or in a virtual environment, such as via a virtual reality headset.
As technology has improved, and travel becomes increasingly more affordable, immersive learning has become more accessible than ever. Here are 3 big reasons why you need to learn coding immersively.
You’ll Stay Committed
People who sign up to online courses often cite flexibility, convenience and it’s ability to fit into your current lifestyle. And it’s true - many courses will allow you to work at your own pace, completing modules whenever and where you can.
But this is a two-edged sword. What most people don’t remember is learning still takes time, energy and the same amount of commitment as any other learning program. When people realise you still have to study at night after 8 hours of work, they get demotivated. Combined with the low cost of these programs and the lack of structure, it then becomes incredibly easy to just drop out.
Bootcamps and immersive environments effectively lock you in for the pre-designated amount of time. You’ll understand you have no-where to go, and nothing else to do, except to learn. Founder of Y Combinator, Paul Graham, often tells his students, “Use YCombinator as the bad guy with your friends and family, we’re the reason you’re too busy to hang out, go out for dinner or help someone move.” By only having the one thing to do, you’ll be able to commit to the program better and focus on your learning easier, increasing the likelihood of seeing the course to the end.
You Learn By Working on Real Projects
Immersive learning is all about learning by doing and working on what really matters.
Learning code is literally like learning another language. Without actually constantly speaking it, reading it and hearing it, it’s impossible to properly learn another language - after all, it seems pretty useless if you learn Chinese from textbooks, then never go and speak to other Chinese speakers regularly.
To learn code, you need to work on real projects, and consistently use the language in practical, real-life scenarios. Real projects provide structure and an end goal to work towards that will guide your learning process. It’ll also give you a taste of what it’s like to work in the industry, and at the end of it all, you’ll have something tangible that you can show others - more telling than a piece of paper, or a digital achievement medal!
Real Face-to-Face Support
Traditional education models and online courses all suffer a common problem - there’s often a disconnect between the teacher and the student. Teachers often never properly get to know students (or even meet them!), making it hard to develop effective curriculums or provide the support students need.
Online courses also completely rely on self-learning, where help is not always readily available. All this can become quickly intimidating and demotivating, and sometimes, can completely draw progress to a grinding halt.
By being physically present with mentors in an interactive, small group setting, support becomes much easier to come by. By having constant support and monitoring from mentors, your learning experience becomes much more tailored for you. If you’re truly learning at your pace with the support you need, and physically close to others who are in the same boat, you’ll not only learn faster, but have a better time at it.
These are 3 reasons why you have to learn coding in an immersive environment. Coding is definitely a skill worth learning well. Therefore, it seems wasteful to either learn such a technologically driven skill in classrooms that haven’t changed much since Ebbinghaus’s days back in the 1880’s, or to learn it by yourself, in a mostly unguided online experience where dropping out is simply a matter of not logging in. Immersive environments are one of the only few ways to learn coding the way it should be learnt.
Have you tried an online course? How did you go? Let us know!
Written by: Josh Li
Digital Marketer at Institute of Code