I wrote recently about how tough it was for most of the relatively new and highly-varied coding schools that have popped up over the last year or two to cost-effectively and consistently attract sufficient numbers of students with common-enough goals and expectations (and skill sets) to make their businesses viable. (See How to Create a Business in Adult Education). Frankly, I’m not that confident that most of these newbie “schools” will even survive, much less do a great job of teaching their students anything of lasting value.
On the other hand, some of the places have developed tightly-focused courses, especially those targeting Apple’s tool sets. That includes courses being offered by programs like Mobile Makers the leading iOS mobile boot camp. Mobile Markers has been doing this kind of training for years in Chicago, (and now in San Francisco) providing a real value to its students because, right along with Apple, Mobile Markers keeps raising the bar and constantly upgrading and updating its materials. And this, to be precise, is exactly why the traditional schools (at any level) can’t compete. They simply can’t adapt and change their courses fast enough to keep up with the accelerating pace of change.
In a separate piece, talking specifically about what we should expect our students to take away from coding classes, I argued that the most important considerations aren’t the particulars of the coding skills that they learned in the moment, because they would soon change. Instead they were the life skills around approximation, iteration, curiosity and confidence that would provide the long-lasting value and benefits. (See The Real Benefits of Coding ).
As the Apple World Wide Developer Conference wraps up this week, it’s really encouraging to see that Apple has upped its game with the introduction of Swift 2.0 and that 2.0 is starting to really close the gap and catch up to Objective C, which is plenty powerful, but woefully complicated. This, of course, is exactly what successive approximation is all about. You get better and better and closer and closer over time and you never stop. In the next year or two at the outside, I would expect that Swift 2.0 will be the primary foundation for iPhone development going forward.
Not that Objective C will be disappearing any time soon, but the smart developers and folks looking to upgrade and upskill themselves need to be thinking about how to straddle and support both languages, which will be important in the XCode development environment for the next decade at least. It’s especially instructive, as I noted above, that Swift itself is only about a year old and it’s already being dramatically enhanced and expanded. That’s the autocatalytic rate of change (where each change takes less time than its predecessor), which most of the traditional players in the adult education world can’t remotely keep up with.
In fact, the WWDC conference and the announcements to come aren’t even over yet and yet I was really pleased to see a recent note that Mobile Makers in particular (I’m sure there are others that will eventually wake up to these opportunities) is incorporating these new Swift changes into its July classes. Of course, it helps that Mobile was at the conference and that it is part of a firm that uses these brand-new tools every day to build real-world solutions for clients.
Even more importantly, Apple also announced (not unlike the same comments made in the conversation I had last week with Satya Nadella the new CEO of Microsoft) that Swift 2.0 would be open source and that it would work on Linux. This is a further indication of Apple’s direction and its plans to create the dominant development languages in the Apple world. It also demonstrates the broader available markets and employment opportunities that these new commitments are creating for developers trained in Swift 2.0.
So, I guess that the bottom line for me is pretty clear. Learning the newest coding skills makes a great deal of sense for a lot of people right now. If you have the necessary skills, the jobs are out there. And, if you want to be sure that, as much as humanly possible, you are “future-proofing” your educational investment, you need to find the schools (like Mobile Makers) and courses that are created by the early adopters, the rapid responders, and the only ones who are able to deliver tomorrow’s goods instead of yesterday’s news. Otherwise, it’s worth neither your time nor money.