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Why boot camps are more important than classroom lessons


Krishna Kumar

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

5 things which will revolutionize technology learning

Online learning + Learning Communities + Bootcamps + Real-life projects + Prototyping Internships

When we are proud of the fact that India is the largest producer of engineers working across global technology companies in the world, it is the sheer number that is helping us achieve that. If you look at the data, only 10% of engineering graduates are employable making the rest of the ‘useless for several years after graduation’. They can do other jobs, but that is not the purpose of studying engineering in college. HackerRank recently published a study that is shocking. It says India is on 31st position in the world for coding skills. China is No. 1, followed by Russia, Poland, and Switzerland. This clearly shows how we overrate college graduation than real skills and learnability to be produced at the #FutureWorkplace.

On a phone discussion with one of the top ten hackers in India who just turned 22, he told me that he learned the art by doing. He, meanwhile, took the much-acclaimed certificate on Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH). Learning happens through immersing yourself in a real-life hard problem and wrecking your nerves to solve it somehow. You cross the learning threshold by doing that uncomfortable thing again and again.

Fear of Missing Out

First of all, many students who do not like engineering also join the stream because of the bandwagon effect. Many people feel ‘left out’ if they do not do an engineering course after K-12. The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is not helping the learner as he realizes after a couple of semesters, that this is ‘not my cup of tea’. Then the constant denial mode of what he got into. This creates confusion and deviating from other activities for distraction. Many students waste their precious youthful energies in doing things that do not matter. And fee-oriented college owners employ ‘not-so-motivated’ faculty and suppressive managers to run it. This is killing young people. Many may not have the courage to realize things. Even before they realize, things turn in a different direction. This is what is happening in 80% of colleges in India. Though many rationalize the four years as a social bonding time, it is also important to understand that learning core skills can also happen through learning boot camps where we are part of a community. The sense of belongingness it can give you and friendships it can offer is making the ‘social theory’ of colleges invalid.

Slicing your time into digestible chunks for learning

First of all, four years (48 months) is too long a time. It must be sliced into 4-month courses - 12 learning boot camps - with clear learning outcomes. Solving real problems using peer support and online learning. You also get experts to help you with learning. Experts cannot come every day to college. They are expensive. But they can help in clarifying deeper questions on online forums or occasionally visiting your boot camp locations. After visiting close to hundred engineering colleges across India, I feel it is a massive misallocation of resources. It is a juvenile hangout place with no focus on acquiring real skills. Colleges focus on external validation by flashing the brand logos of companies who came for hiring last season. Even if one candidate is placed in a Fortune 500 company, after 300 people writing a test for it, they make him the poster boy and tell the world that their education rocks! I feel s/he would have got selected, irrespective of the college. While I accept the fact that there are sincere people in the system who really wants to make a difference, they are demoralized by complex bureaucratic machinery which was designed some decades ago, when the context was totally different. The long and stressful semester systems are so test oriented that it kills the fun of learning. This is where the new model of Learning Bootcamps can help students in acquiring real skills through real-life simulations and problem-solving. A group of students can form a community and start learning the way they want. More autonomy means more discovery. Learning is an organic process, not a forced one. You only need a system. Rest falls in place if there is curiosity, connectivity, and collaboration - The 3C model I strongly recommend in any learning system for the new world.

The problem is not just students not learning enough. It's a combination of a skills gap and also a general lack of direction. Students aren't sure what they enjoy doing. They are curious and smart but not sure what to pursue based on their strengths.

How to start a Learning Boot Camp

Now it is time to think boldly on what specific skills to be acquired in a short span of time. A laptop plus a high-speed internet connection can help to start. Have a headphone too to access quick video lessons even in the middle of chaos. Quora is an ultimate resource to ask any questions to get answers by real people who experienced similar pains and succeeded. It gives an original picture of the problem we are facing and adds to our perspectives of looking at it. The amount of easily searchable material on the web about whatever we decide to learn is simply overwhelming. Now what matters is focus and discipline in a high distraction world of constant notifications. Though I agree that frequent and high-quality expert feedback is important in learning, we do not have access to such teachers every day. That is where online learning, peer discussions, and online learning boot-camps can help. It is disrupting our habit of classroom learning. We are not used to learning virtually. Habits are not easily broken. So a blend can help. Physical Learning Bootcamps at Colleges organised by students, facilitated by faculty and driven by a sense of competition amongst students as we use the group dynamics - almost like sporting clubs competing with each other.

In-demand skills

Learning Bootcamps are short term 4-12 weeks intensive learning camps to acquire a skill with the help of expert mentors, ambitious peers and dynamic learning environment with real life challenges / projects and practical sessions. The outcome is you build the skill, practise it and create a portfolio to showcase your work for better opportunities. Led by a team of expert mentors and career counsellors, members of the boot camp achieve 10 times more with less time. In this way, you can learn new economy skills like - data science, IoT, cloud computing, web programming, mobile development, Python, Machine Learning, digital marketing, video content production and many more.

Universities take 3-5 years to develop a syllabus based on new market demands.
Learning Boot Camps are quick, relevant and intensive and affordable - and most importantly help you achieve in-demand skills which employers are hungry for.
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