Friday, 21 February 2014

Coding schools and education regulation.

First of all what is a coding school and second why are they regulated?

Well coding schools have popped up all over the place especially near silicon valley in California. What they are is a bootcamp like class where they take you from knowing nothing about coding to being a hirable developer. After all, knowing how to code is important and can land you a job. I am always surprised that even if you know CSS you can land a decent wage and by decent wage I mean like 60k a year. For those of you who don't know CSS is not that hard to code in.

What can be wrong with this? Coding schools offer a class for a skill set that is in demand. Not only does it help create jobs to teach the people how to code but it students can go get decent paying jobs. More jobs equals a better economy and who doesn't want a better economy?

According to local governments there is a lot wrong with coding schools. Perhaps because they are somewhat expensive perhaps because they offer no accreditation. I first heard about a coding school in Ontario Canada that investigated a coding school.  They have since then sorted everything out but I still thought it was unnecessary. We will get to why coding schools shouldn't be under investigation in a minute.

Then I heard that a lot of the schools in California threatened some schools to shut down, pay a fine and refund the money! Now this is getting serious.  Im sure that not every coding school is fantastic but the good ones get penalized. There is one simple reason why coding schools should not be under investigation.
They do no offer accreditation!

People know that going in and that's why they go. I should point out at this point that going to a coding school is in some ways better than getting a degree in computer science. Coding schools give you hands on training for relevant problems on the first day. CS degrees teach you more theoretical knowledge.

If I was 18 today, I would go to University and study something that I thought would expand my personal horizons. During the summer I would go to a coding school. Each system has something that the other lacks. As a young person you need the personal development just as much as you need the specific training. Your career will be better as a result.

If I was 30 and just need a job, I would go to a coding school because time spent in school is money lost.

Why are the governments shutting these things down. If I put on my tin foil hat, I might think that "Big Education" or the "Education Industrial Complex" has something to do with it. Maybe in the USA this could somewhat be the case as the colleges and universities there have a ton of money to lose. At the same time these coding schools show the American dream. They offer a better product for less, simple as that.

Taking off my tin foil hat, I can see that what is happening. There is a generation gap and a disconnect between what policy makers put in place and what job seekers need. If you want to learn to code you can go to these coding schools. Or you can hop on line and code today.

My classes help you with this. I offer a lot of courses that teach you the basics of programming in 1 hour and also offer classes that help you get apps to the app store. You can subscribe to my courses for a dollar!

Or you can start learning to code for free here.

This will get sorted out. If you know how to code you have a job, simple as that.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Starting an online school

Like business ideas or babies, everybody has an idea on how to re-invent the education system. I constantly get emails from several online schools saying they want my material. Most of the other instructors that I know get the same emails. I will go over the process of what setting up a course on their website entails and then I will go up and then go over how to make any business process easier. 

Like I said above. Everybody has an idea on how to make education better so naturally there are a ton of online schools popping up with everybody's specific plan. Some of these schools have venture capital and others do not.  In another post I will talk about why a simple UI change isn't going to change education. What most of them need is teachers and content producers. Since they are in short supply they will take what they can get. Here comes the expensive part. You have to 

1. Put all of the courses up on your website
2. Pay somebody to do that
3. Make sure nothing goes wrong
4. Make sure it is a good user experience.

Now imagine this from the teacher point of view. As a teacher you have to put your course up on 10 different sites and make sure that nothing goes wrong. This is really costly, even if you are using somebody else's money, it still costs a lot of money to put up the courses. So much money is being wasted by having all of these different schools in different places. What makes much more sense is to put the courses up once and have other people sell it. 

Most people of course do not want to do this simply because they have an idea on how school is supposed to be. 

The major business lesson here is to make any process simpler and to not let start up costs go through the window. Even if you do not have to pay for the startup costs on the other end, that money can be better spent on advertising or anything else. Even if there is unpaid interns doing the job, the money can be spent somewhere else. 

Instead of setting up a school, the schools are already set up all you have to do is point your customers there. This way we can all enjoy the profits and stop running around in circles trying to set up courses on every different site. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Why you shouldn't think that your business is going to go big

Every time I see a startup they want to go big. They want to go Google big, Amazon big, Facebook Big. Their pitch has all of the pie in the sky features which would be impossible to implement on a small budget.

Going forward after investment, every founder has very profound visions of what they want to do. I get all of that. I have visions and big plans and ideas that could probably go Google big, Amazon big or Facebook big.

Then I get hit with reality. I have no funding and limited resources so how can I make money today. I get the sense that most startups or business do not want to do this. They want to deploy the next Google, Amazon or Facebook.

What is even worse is that a lot of companies start with lots of man power. Hiring people is extremely expensive so why do it? Aside from the money the biggest and worst part about this approach is that the founder usually has ideas that cannot be implemented at all and there is a disconnect between vision, reality and production.

What can you do about it? Simple. Start lean continue to function lean and don't macro right away. Start small and thing about how you can make money today. Once you start to learn how to make money today you can learn to scale that process. Once you can scale the process you can start to think bigger and the problems mentioned above won't happen. On a side note, if you are the founder of a company. Make sure you do some grunt work at times. It shows that you care about the company.

Tomorrow: why starting an online school might be harder than you think.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Your degree doesn't matter (mostly)

Whenever you talk about education with people (especially educators) there is a mentality that a person will only be able to learn something in a classroom. It has to be officially taught by a mastered and 100% fully accredited. Well, if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, then yes, school should be this way.

However, this not only sucks the fun out of learning, it tells people that the only place you can learn is in a classroom. Surprisingly having a degree in one field and pursuing another is not exactly uncommon. After all philosophy and english majors have to do something after they graduate.

University is really supposed to teach you about how to think and not what to think. Most people make this mistake when they enter. It is really about improving your cognitive problem solving abilities. If you went to school to learn the bigger picture on how the universe operates then chances are you will be successful in life. If you went to school to get an A on that multiple choice test then chance are you might find a well paying job.

When you get out into the real world you start to find that people have very different degrees than what their job title is. You find a disproportionally large amount of philosophy majors, english majors and music majors who program. This is not only because programming is in demand. It is because you learn quite a bit of knowledge in those mentioned above degrees. In some ways a standard CS degree doesn't teach you some of the more important parts you would learn in a philosophy degree.

Most tech degrees just teach you the A-B route. This is all well and good but you first of all need to know why you are going to A-B and you also need to know how you can improve A-B. As cliche as it sounds most tech degrees are very short sighted. The biggest issue is when technology changes and what you have learned is no longer useful.

Lastly, if you are smart enough to pass your degree without cheating you have all of the tools to make in the real world. The only problem is you have to shed what assumptions you have by going through the system. Once you can rid yourself of "education goggles" you can make it if you want to but only IF you want to.

Don't use your degree as an excuse for lack of success. Even civil engineers have a hard time finding work. That same person can go start a company, learn to code, or just simply get a job doing something else.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Why developing by yourself is less fun but more profitable.

I mostly do all of the work myself when it comes to making apps. The main reason for this is that I personally love to save money. Even contracting out the simplest features can get real costly. Whenever I do outsource I still do most of the work and only outsource a very small amount of work.

This is the way I like to release apps and make money but most people don't do it this way. They make sure they work in a team and get venture capital. Im sure there are tons of studies that say teams are more successful than individuals. At the same time there probably are not studies that show the efficiency of teams versus individuals. If there were, Im sure you would see that individuals can be more efficient.

If you haven't checked out Derek's Sivers' blog at, I highly suggest you do. Derek Sivers was a musician/entrepreneur who started CD Baby. His views are incredibly insightful. When Derek was a musician he made his money by diversifying his performances. Here is his pricing chart for his music services.
  • 1000 for the 5-piece funk band
  • 600 for a duet performance
  • 450 for a solo performance 
Notice that he gets paid more for his solo performances. For 3 solo performances he would have to do almost 7 band performances. Here is the chart if he did one performance of each per week in 1 month or 4 weeks.
  • 800 for the band
  • 1200 for the duet
  • 1800 for the solo performance
Clearly the solo performance was the most profitable. There is another element that needs to be taken into consideration. The solo performance would be easier to put together and way less expensive. All he would have to do is write some songs with his acoustic guitar and sing. The band experience is much more complex. Even the duet adds in another level of complexity that makes the performance much harder. 

Which one is the most fun? Working with people you like to produce something is always way more fun. At the same time it is worse individually. The band makes the most money in total but as you can see for far less work you can be more profitable

When you decided to make apps you have to decide what you want to do. Do you want to go it by yourself and make more money for less work or do you want to have fun in a bigger team? For me I choose more profitability.