Want to accelerate your programming learning curve?

Alex Lumley

Chicago as a place to learn to be a developer


Chicago has a thriving development community that could make it a premier place to learn how to build web applications and software development in general. It’s exciting to see focus begin to turn toward bringing new people into the programming community. For beginners, though, there is an inevitable question: “what’s next?”

Events such as Code & Coffee and Ruby Hack Night provide places where veteran developers and novices can meet and learn from one another, but they lack a true structure and focus to answer questions for beginners.

Online and in-person courses, such as Code School and Code Academy, provide an introduction to web application development with Ruby and Rails. Web development is a vast field, though, so any introduction must leave out in-depth, focused understanding of specific topics.

After talking to people who have both gone through courses and people who have tried on their own to learn, it is clear that there is a hunger for continued, focused learning. We are looking to help satisfy this hunger through courses on specific topics in professional software development: our first is on test-first and test-driven development in Ruby on Rails.

We’re excited about helping, and we’d like your continued help to understand how best to do this.  So please read on and fill out the quick surveys about a testing course and a formal tutoring group.

Please help us further augment Chicago’s rich and growing developer training ecosystem. For beginners, we can provide a guide: “here’s what’s next.”

Testing Seminar

Test-first and test-driven development are fundamental techniques for a professional software developer. It isn’t just about tools, but about a mindset around testing. Through incremental, focused learning, this course will provide an introduction to the ideas around test-first and test-driven development.


24 total hours total

spread over 2 weekends, 4 days total, 6 hours per day


spread over 4 weeks, 3 days per week, 2 hours per day

Cost: $1,200 total

Class would be taught by Corey Haines and Sarah Gray, from Technical Advocates. They are well-known famous for their Technical Advocates Office Hours, which fill up in about 2 minutes every month.


People with some basic experience, an understanding of Rails syntax


Course will focus on the mindset of test-first development, making way for the tools to be introduced in support of the ideas.

Regular milestones to allow students to gauge their progress

provide you with skills that are crucial if you want to get a job as a developer

Included with cost is a license to the online Ruby course by The Pragmatic Studio! For lomore information, you can see http://pragmaticstudio.com/ruby
To learn more about the class please fill out this quick survey: here

Tutoring Sessions

Many people start to learn Rails or Ruby by themselves, putting an immense amount of time and effort into it. While there is a plethora of online resources to study, people often fail. Frequently this is due to getting stuck on a certain piece and not knowing where to go for help. This is more and more common, as we see the “learn to code” ecosystem grow. Even people going through structured courses find themselves with gaps in their understanding. can use access to experienced software developers to answer questions. To help with this problem, we are planning to set up a set of regular group tutoring sessions with experienced software developers.

If you are learning Rails or Ruby, whether on your own or through a course, you probably right now have a list of questions either written down or in your head that are holding you back from true understanding. This tutoring group will give you an outlet to get those questions answered.  You will see your progress increase as you begin to finally get answers to the questions that have been holding you back.

Time: 2 hours once per week, beginning in April (potentially)
Cost: $25 per session

For people who are learning Rails and want to have a place to go to get their questions answered or clear up confusions by experienced software developers.

Beginner focused

Throughout the week would learn on their own, create questions and once a week would have an outlet to their questions


Ratio of 6 or 7 students for every tutor

Tutors would answer questions, give advice, and help learners

Tutors will be experienced Ruby on Rails developers with an interest in helping

For more information please fill out this quick survey: here

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Corey Haines


After re-reading the post, I understand how it could be taken as an attack on Code Academy; thanks for pointing that out. We have updated it to better reflect the goals and reasons for these classes. There are many ways for people to get an introduction to software development, both online and in-person; Code Academy is just one. Once they are comfortable there, deep-dive classes can provide a more concrete understanding.

Our goal is to provide focused, continued education for beginner developers on specific topics in software development. Based on our interactions and conversations with past and current code academy students and mentors, we are sure your alumni would benefit greatly based on their skill level. For example, a solid, hands-on class around test-first development (our first plan) would be a huge boon to those looking for their first apprenticeship or junior developer position.

Your class is definitely increasing the size of the beginner software development community in Chicago. Just like I worked with Neal to get Code Academy off the ground and helped with the initial format and ideas, I am excited to help further enrich and support the beginners through their next phase of learning.

Thanks again for commenting. Re-working the blog post helped clarify my thoughts.

Jeff Cohen

My name is Jeff, and I'm the instructor of the web development course at Code Academy.

I'm not sure where you got your information on Code Academy, but it's incorrect and a bit misleading.  I would like to ask that you update your post.

First, it is wrong to say that Code Academy doesn't cover "fundamental understanding of the real-world software development techniques required to build quality software."  We actually do so in a way that true beginners can actually  grasp, and they leave Code Academy eager to take their knowledge to the next level. 

Second, we are not simply an "introduction to Ruby on Rails".  We provide a beginner-focused introduction to building applications, and at the moment we're choosing the Rails framework as our vehicle for building apps. Our curriculum is supported by key concepts in computer science, software engineering, and agile methodologies.  We are also thankful to be supported by a wide array of industry professionals who volunteer their time to mentor our students throughout the course.

I do think your course offering can be an excellent one, particularly because of the excellent instructors.  Corey and Sarah are wonderful people, and I think this course can certainly provide value to folks looking for specific skills.

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