And Ruby on the Beach is something unforgettable. How unforgettable? One of our past participants named her gorgeous baby Ruby (born something around 8-9 months after the cohort she and her husband attended). That's a program that means something to its participants.
And Ruby on the Beach is different from every other bootcamp. Not just in nice-to-have ways, but by addressing the key factors that produce effective learning: class size, instructor ratios, focused learning environments.
Back in the late 90's, programming was much, much harder to learn. The basics of coding were largely the same. But the tools and environment were so much cruder. That meant that teaching non-tech people to code required that you really really understand how that learning process works.
That's knowledge that applies as the tools improve. In fact, teaching things like Node or Ruby on Rails can actually hide a lack of understanding of the basics. And without those basics, you as a bootcamp graduate can't move forward when new tools come along.
There's an origin story that says that tech bootcamps go back to somewhere this side of 2010. But I was involved building bootcamps – in writing curriculum, in marketing and in delivery, and in directing teams of instructors – starting in the late 90's when things really were challenging. Those bootcamps mark the depth of experience that Ruby on the Beach builds into our current programs.
Those early bootcamps were where I learned what really mattered in creating a great learning experience, and about how important getting the key factors in place is.
And that's what really sets us apart. Being in Bali, with small classes isn't what makes us different; what does is the experience that taught me how important those key factors are. Being in Bali is just a way to make sure we do things the best way possible.
After combining coding and teaching throughout the late nineties, raising kids meant I cut back my teaching and spent most of the period 2002-2013 working as a lead developer, and as CTO and Founder of a couple of startups. But I never completely stopped teaching and mentoring. And over time, I came to understand that the rewards and importance of helping others to code were becoming as or more important to me as coding was.
Some years ago the right opportunity presented itself. A bootcamp forming in the US Northeast asked me to come in and get their new bootcamp off the ground. That role quickly morphed into lead curriculum developer and lead instructor.
So I was lucky enough to get an insider view of the current state of bootcamps. What I found was exciting, and disconcerting. There was more demand than ever, and great people wanted to learn to code. But faced with huge demand, bootcamps everywhere had little reason to innovate, to improve their products. Most simply copied what others were doing. In fact, bootcamps were springing up founded by people who themselves had just attended a bootcamp, and had no other coding experience to speak of. And that meant just about all of them had high attrition, graduates with shaky skills, and overcrowded classes without the instructor resources they needed.
How do you fix that?
So what was the primary lesson I learned from that experience? It became clear that the economics of bootcamps explained a lot. Like why ineffective teaching strategies like oversized classes, underqualified instructors and cramped, dull learning spaces were the norm. For instance, when you sign a lease on space in Boston of NYC or San Francisco, you've added a lot of overhead, and you've got a big incentive to do with as little space as you can. And you've taken money from your instructor and curriculum budget.
I wanted to clear the slate. I remembered what I'd learned in previous bootcamp experiences. And I had the thought: since locations determine the economics of bootcamps, maybe the locations that bootcamps run in should be reconsidered.
We looked at spa resorts in cottage country in Canada, a complex of beach cabanas in Ecuador, a 200 year old stone farm complex in the Canary Islands, a classic 30's office in Barcelona, a beach town in Brazil and an ecolodge in Costa Rica. Each of the places I looked at had something that contributed flexibility to re-engineering the bootcamp that I wanted to build. What I focused on were cost, safety, infrastructure – but most of all, the ability to provide a really cool, fun, relaxing and focused environment perfect for learning. But each location I considered had disadvantages that were ultimately unacceptable.
Until we went to Bali. You'll find more info on why Bali was the right choice here in our site. We were the first – and we're certainly the best – offshore, experience based tech bootcamp. In the world. And the reason I originated this idea is the decades of my experience that preceded it, in tech education and being one of the earliest bootcamp providers.
As you research the site, I really hope and expect that you'll directly compare what we're doing with the top bootcamps out there. (Hint: that's part of the application interview process). You'll notice the huge emphasis we place on things like instructor ratios, small classes, great environments for living and learning, and the importance of downtime. Those are the elements that 20+ years of observing, teaching, and learning how people learn to use powerful code tools have made my priorities.
As I said at the beginning (and hey, thanks for sticking with this, I guess you're getting interested!) the thing that distinguishes Ruby on the Beach from others, really isn't the location. It's the decades of experience that makes the key factors in bootcamp learning non-negotiable.
If you think suffering is part of learning, that the gorgeous comfortable villas that we force you to spend time in are irrelevant, you probably won't like Ruby on the Beach, and that's fine. We know it's not for everyone. Those that have found our approach and philosophy appealing have tended to be distinct from the people that I've met when running or teaching at other bootcamps. There are other bootcamp experiences out there, and I really do hope you'll find the one that best suits you.
Our participants see life as an adventure. They aren't taking a course with us to escape a crappy life, but using our programs as a teleportation device to another way to look at the world. They tend to do lots of things, from business to the arts, from politics to adventure.
And they make the programs we run so damned great. If they sound like you, I really hope that we'll be talking soon. There are never enough of the people who make life amazing by being amazing, and we gotta stick together.... ;)
We created Ruby on the Beach with one goal in mind: to improve the way tech bootcamps work. It's a twenty-plus year story. And now that you understand some of what went in to creating Ruby on the Beach, I hope you'll want to find out if your switch to a tech career or creating a new startup belongs with us. Our team is looking forward to meeting you, so we can find out together…
--Dan Donaldson, Founder, Ruby on the Beach
Peak manages our asian presence and marketing from Bangkok
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