Code boot camps finally go MOOC

Hack Reactor is preparing to offer a remote-attendance version of its software engineering course

Code boot camps are drawing attention as a cheaper, faster way to bolster programming skills. But most of them are in-person events centered in large cities, even as online education and MOOCs mushroomed in recent years.

Hack Reactor, a San Francisco-based boot camp, is hatching a new program for those who can't make it to campus. Hack Reactor Remote is billed as "the world's first work-from-home immersive coding school." Instead of perusing course materials on their own, students work remotely in real time with an instructor and follow the same three-month immersive course of study as the in-presence students.

Right now the program is in beta and accepting signups for the leg of the Hack Reactor Remote course starting July 21.There's no discount for attending remotely, but a "limited number" of half-tuition scholarships, based on need, are being offered. (VentureBeat claims four seats are available.) Hack Reactor allows students to defray part of the tuition for up to six months after graduation, again based on individual cases.

Other code camps have found different ways to aid students who have a hard time coming in person. Y Combinator, the startup incubator, has paired with CodeNow to provide training for underrepresented youth in multiple cities around the United States. Though CodeNow is free for those who are accepted, most of its students have trouble affording the cost of transportation, so they receive free public transit cards. The key difference with Hack Reactor's program is that the online version is a direct extension of the existing in-person course -- same material, same concept of pairing students with mentors and with each other.

Code boot camps have come under scrutiny for some of their claims, such as the post-graduation employment rate. In California, Hack Reactor's home state, code boot camps were in line for greater regulation, although the crackdown (as it's been called) mostly involved ensuring the schools offered what they advertised and did not simply take the money and run.

Hack Reactor has stood out from the code-camp pack for several reasons. For one, it keeps its threshold for admissions higher than other camps -- according to its FAQ, it's a "20-120" course rather than a "0-60" course. It also does not make any guarantees of employment after graduation, but nonetheless boasts of having many alumni go directly into positions that pay upward of $100,000 a year.

One major example of Hack Reactor's prestige: The folks at partnered with Hack Reactor to bring in students to work on projects using its HTML5/JavaScript platform, with CEO Steve Newcomb speaking of Hack Reactor, in comparison to other code camps, as "the Harvard of them all."

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