Tech Toolbox 2019: Learning to Code How Online Education Has Evolved with Mark Lassoff


Yeah. Hey listeners. Welcome to the show. I'm your host Lawrence Bradford today. Chatting with Marc last off as part of adverse special tech toolbox. Twenty nine hundred series this week to celebrate these second dish in of the ultimate tech career toolbox, which is a bundle. That comes jam packed with thirty three different tech products and courses from twenty one different expert, creators. It covers a wide range of topics in skills, and you can learn more about it in everything that comes with over at learn to code with dot MI Ford slash toolbox. Two thousand nineteen. Now back to our guest today. Mark Mark is the founder and president of framework television. He and his company have taught over one million people web and mobile development online in the corporate classroom and in secondary schools across the country. I'm so excited that Mark is taking part in the bundle with his certified web developer program where he starts with basic coding principles and then works through variety of languages to help you earn that title as a web developer insider conversation. We talk about his background in career intact. Why he started teaching in how his program works? Mark. Also share some of the best ways that you can start learning to code right now. Enjoy. Hey, mark. Thank you so much for coming on the show you for inviting me, it's really great to have you and associated talk to you in. A course you're part of the two thousand nineteen tech career toolbox, which will definitely get into later in. What you teach in all that. But I I wanted to talk about your background. So how did you get your start in technology are started very early? I am of the generation where the Commodore sixty four was kind of the big computer when I was a kid, and I begged and begged my parents to buy me one when I was eleven or twelve and they relented and they did. And once they bought it. I realized I enjoyed kind of making my own games applicastions and things like that more than I did the playing the ones that you could purchase with it. So I taught myself Commodore basic programming before I was thirteen and wrote a whole. A bunch of different games and programs using the basic programming language and probably pretty horrible coding technique at that point and just maintain the interest as I got older, I have formal training and computer science from the university of Texas at Austin. And when I graduated from school started my career in the industry. So when I started your career were you working full-time in software, engineering or software development or related. I've had kind of a weird PAF I did work in a couple of fulltime programming jobs. I worked for one of the largest polling agencies in the country. Doing coding also worked for a large computer manufacturing, computer, manufacturer writing code for the sales teams there in a couple of other jobs, like that enterprise level types of positions. And then I got very interested in two things simultaneously. The first was the new at the time online education industry became extremely interested in ways, we could teach online and also entrepeneurship and those two things merged to really guide the rest of my career. So everything I've done since I've did formal coding has been somewhere in the education space or online education space, but you know, very, very tech oriented Gotcha seven how long have you been teaching online for now? I was one of the first we started. Teaching online in two thousand two thousand one somewhere around there. And it was interesting back them because bandwidth was a lot more precious. So what we take for granted today of people universally being able to see online video and being able to talk, you know, real time through websites, etc. Through the internet the bandwith back. Then just wasn't quite there yet. So it was a lot more challenging to do some of the things we take for granted today. But it was interesting because it really felt like we were, you know, on the cusp of something huge. And you know, of course, you, and I both know how online education is really blown up and I got to see the beginning of that and see the industry develop over the last two decades. And I think it's only going to grow. I think it's a really exciting space to be. And I think you know, it's one of those things where I get up every day. And I know what I do is benefitting people, I know people are getting job and career skills out of. What I do. And what we do in industry, and I find that really gratifying. Wow. I didn't realize you had been teaching online for that one to be totally honest. I didn't even realize there were online teaching resources in two thousand or two thousand one. And I think you are probably the guest I've had lots of guests on the show that we're technology in various ways, I've had of course, a lot that are online instructors teaching online. You may have the most experienced teaching online. I think out of anyone I've ever interviewed. So that's really exciting. I didn't even know that when I invite you to come on. So this is a pleasant surprise to find out, you know, as as chatting right now, what did that look like in two thousand thousand one like when you were putting together these courses or programs kills interesting. I back in two thousand two thousand one I was still early on in my career. And I got a job doing corporate technical training for what was at the time the largest chain of technical training centers in the world. They at the time at one hundred fifty train. Centers everywhere from Dubai to Trumbull, Connecticut, and I was instructor for them. And then I was in a leadership position for one of their largest franchisees, and you know, the national effort for the franchise company was to get the training online because they saw immediately as much more efficient way to deliver training. So I delivered some of the first online live classes for them and helped design some of the first self paced, a synchronous online classes that they did at the same time. I was also working for I think a pioneering web say that recorded videos to teach visual studio, the PC based development environment or the say windows based development environment, and I was recording some videos for them as well. And it was really really interesting. I mean, it looked very rudimentary compared to what we have tha. Day. I was wearing the type of headset that you wear to talk to someone on Skype and plugging that into my USB port, and basically recording on my laptop, and you there was no HD video at the time. We were very worried about compression, and you know, trying to get the appropriate level of quality where people could still stream videos consistently. No matter where they were. So I think the biggest thing that's catalyzed, the growth of online education has been the availability of bandwidth, and the fact that you know, anyone now can connect to YouTube or any site and stream video without a problem yet. That's something. I never even. Had put too much thought into. But it makes a ton of sense. And especially talking to guests that had a lot of folks, I talked to top themselves in these, you know, the late nineties or the early two thousand it's the conversation. Just of how the learning resources available to people learning how to code have just just insane volition, right? Like so many, folks. Yeah. That they were very limited in what the resources were. Now there is. I couldn't get you may know better than me, but thousands and thousands of YouTube videos on learning how to code alone, not to mention other platforms. So I would love to hear a bit about what you have seen just over the years teaching people these technical skills like especially in as far as like, what are the best ways to learn with people you've worked with you. I mean, there's a number of choices out there. And I think that's one of the things that's really beneficial about learning. This point is that there are so many options for people who wanna learn, and I think, you know, partially it's determined by how much time do you have how much budget do you have and how aggressively do you want to pick up the skills? You know, I commonly say, you know, you can learn anything on YouTube. But you know, you might be learning from a thirteen year old Ukrainian with a cold. So you know, that's an option is free YouTube videos and people make those sometimes just because they love to teach the problem with that. What makes that difficult is that there's no specific curriculum laid out for you. And you kind of have to push your way through hundreds of, you know, ten fifteen minute videos to to to learn what you're gonna learn. And then you still may miss things that are important. So, you know, with online curriculum like I teach it's carefully designed based on the needs of industry before we designed our latest curriculum. We went out and talked to one hundred people who were hiring first time web, developers and said aside from the the irrelevant list of skills and the job ad. What are you really looking for? What are the things that make new developer successful in the web space? And then we designed curriculum around that. So I mean between, you know, free YouTube, videos, and. Our formal boot camp style curriculum like we do, you know, there's there's a million other options for people to learn you know, what I learned in college. I mean, none of that is is really relevant anymore. So I continue to to learn in all sorts of ways, I take formal courses. I learn from. I learn new techniques on YouTube, and sometimes I go to Barnes and noble and sit down with a book. And I think that's what's so exciting is there's so many ways to learn and it doesn't have to be expensive. And and I think one of my core beliefs too. And I think this was something that's changed over the years is there's nothing special about developments in that the average person can learn this it we used to consider development monolithically like, you know, creating algorithms for artificial intelligence to same things creating a website. And frankly, it's not and just about anybody can learn HTML and some Java script and put up a website, or or some type of basic mobile app. You don't have to be particularly smart or good at math. You don't have to have a college education or a master's degree. You know, you just have to be willing to learn and put in the work. And I think that's the other thing that's exciting as the accessibility of these skills now to just about anyone with an internet connection. He I I love that angry with so much that you said like that how work ethic is just so important when it comes to learning anything new or maybe not anything, but the HTML CSS Java script, and and things like that just getting a website up. That's exactly how I fell and people ask me about how when I first start teaching myself how to code. I hated math. I did not do well with computers at all high school or college. I was not like you. I was not tinkering on the computer when I was, you know, thirteen years old in in. I was still able teach myself in a relatively short amount of time. So yet totally great what you're saying. So I was doing research on you in looking at all these different topics. In skills in language in frameworks that you teach. I would just be curious if there was a certain one that is like your favorite to us or to teach or maybe both. And why should I am pretty vanilla? When it comes to the technologies that I recommend that new people learn because I think it's really important to choose things that are very very widely used. So I teach a fairly standard curriculum starts with HTML, and that's the underpinning architecture of every website and many mobile apps that you see out there. It's kind of the the structure the skeleton I teach CSS which is the design layer, which is how you make things. Look the way you want make them look good and usable. And then Java script her interaction. Javascript increasingly is the most important language out there because of its flexibility you can use it in the web browser which was the original intent, but now with no J s kind of different implem-. Implementation of Java script, you can use it on the server side. You can run in the server and even on the desktop and then for for server side languages, we also teach PHP and while it's not the sexy choice. It is the most commonly used back in language out there. And when we teach I think, you know, it doesn't matter as much what language you you. Learn initially if you have a good foundation because that's what prepares you to learn other languages because languages have a lot of similarities, it's kind of like if you know how to use Microsoft Word, you should be able to go ahead and use for example, the Google word processor without much of a transitional problem because you understand how word processors work. My goal really using HTML CSS and Java script is little understand how digital development works, and then they can take that basic knowledge. Neither use that to execute projects or use that as a foundation to learn more advanced skills in language. He's got it. So when someone is starting out and learning these things, and now you mentioned earlier, it really can vary depending on the like how they are. And how much time they spend a few other factors, but for most people who do have strong work ethic. Let's say in our dedicating a few hours every week or Regan day. How long is it taking them to pick up on these things like the HTML CSS Java script, it's very individual everybody learns differently. So, you know, some people may be very aggressive, and they can be functionally creating websites and in a few weeks others because of time commitments because of just taking longer to absorb the skill sets. It may take them a month or two, but if you put in the effort just about anybody can become functional with these skills, and I really think you know, what we're talking about. Here is modern day digital literacy. Right. Whereas when I was back in high school. School many years ago. We were all required to learn physics and chemistry and biology. But I think the modern literacy is really these skills is HTML Java script CSS, and if you look at today's high school students they're spending all day every day immersed in digital media. But so few of them know how it's made. And I think it's important for everyone to learn these skills for that reason got excel really have been talking a lot about what your program teaches that is offered in the ultimate Tekere toolbox. This certified web development professional, and we cut about all these things one thing that we didn't talk about that. I know get into is sequel. So could you talk a little bit about that? Yes. Sequel is first of all structured query language, and it's used with any type of sequel compliant database that's out there. So common databases include my s q. Or my sequel, and then, you know, sequel light so most databases that use sequel have the letters SQL in it and these databases use a very similar sequel language to access database content. So for example, if I had a database of for example, students at university, I could write a sequel statement that shows me all of the first names last names and social security numbers of those students if I had the appropriate access so sequel databases still even though again, kind of old school computer science are still an important school skill because when it comes down to it most databases that people use use the sequel language, so once you understand the sequel language you can start communicating with just about any database out there. And it's a skill many employers look for in new developers in a lot of new developer start by working with day. Databases database admins or database developers in order to work with the actual data. That's used by the employer fat. And I was looking at this course, certified web developer professional, and there's a lot of content there. Lots of different modules after person goes to the program. What do you suggest they do next like what should their next step be typically when we're working closely with soons once they achieved the certified web development professional certification, which means they've you become functional HTML, CSS, etc. The technology we were discussing before I think it's really important to build a portfolio of project work. The portfolio is really I think one of the most important elements in getting your foot in the door in the industry because it shows what you're able to do and it shows that you can get projects done. So we actually have some suggestions for our members to build their portfolio in different types of project. Acts they can build, but the idea is that you can show a portfolio to potential employer, and they can see rebel to get something done. This is a specially effective with nontechnical employers. You know, there's there's two types of jobs at a high level out there. Right. There's employers who are nontechnical, but are hiring technical people for some function. So I have a friend for example who runs the website for a pet supply company. Well, their main their main focuses Pet Supplies, not the technology. But then there's technology companies. But if you're working as a technology person at a non technology company, we found that the portfolio is extremely effective at getting hired because they don't have the technology background to test you on your sequel knowledge, or if you're HTML is correct. But if they can see visually in an online portfolio that you can get things done you're very likely to get the job. And the other thing is that Br. Which is the gap between traditionally trained programmers with a computer science degree and people who are taught through programs like we're talking about today who you went through an alternative education experience. They may be just as skilled, but they don't have that degree the portfolio can help bridge that gap. So I'm a big fan of portfolios. I love that. And I okay. So supernova pie have a whole episode about portfolios. But it, but if there's someone thinking of making a portfolio, and they're trying to target these non tech employers as someone who may not really understand exactly what they're doing. What do they look like how do you balance not make your portfolio to technical? So you confuse these these non technical people, but still show what you're capable of you. I think you know, it's one of those things if you're dealing with technical employers oftentimes, it's it's the old adage, you know, the the. About the cover it with the book cover book cover for getting it can read read don't judge a book by its cover. Right. They will. That's what I'm trying to think of they will very much judge the book by its cover. So if you're dealing with Anton technical employer, they're gonna look at the portfolio, and they're going to look at it from a user's perspective. So they want it to be attractive. Look good be functional, and they're not really gonna probably asked you any questions about the underlying code is long as things work. So I think it's important to include some web applications and mobile applications, if that's what you're interested in that are appealing and have simple working functionality. So one of the things, for example, to take a transit API and building arrivals board or departure board Pank careful attention to the user experience and making sure it's good because that's what nontechnical employer is likely to be paying attention to versa. Technical employers is more likely. To look at the code and care about the code and its structure and its correctness nontechnical employer may look at the things that are more obvious to an actual user faring a half to ask this. And I think it may be obvious to some people, but especially for those just listening. I'm just starting out in really knew I knew I would be thinking as had what even know if the employer is technical or not or the person that is hiring me he thinks that's that's a fair question. I would ask what the person's job title is who's who's interviewing and you might ask. If they're part of the technical team. You know, some clues that the person is not technical as they work in the HR department, or you know, they're there have a broad title like vice president of something and you'll often find that their non technical. But also, you can tell by the size of the companies, you know, in small companies that don't have a large technical team or any tech team is off. Often where people get their start. And they're you know, you may be the technical person. It's real common for me to hear that people get their first jobs wind up kind of providing a little bit of desktop support along with managing the company website. So you've gotta just by the size of the company. But I think it's a fair question to ask the person interviewing you what they do. And you can also just ask this technical interview. And almost all the time. Someone is nontechnical. No, it's not a technical interview. And then you can approach it from more of a user's perspective. Yeah. Yeah. Time to laugh. I'm laughing is technical interviewing if the person's not technical coarser gonna say they could feel like if they can almost be nervous if they think the nervous, but oh man, I can have to run a technical interview. Because even that to me idea running one could be overwhelming, if you're not you're not technical, and they wouldn't know what they were looking for. Anyway, I it's real important to to be very honest about, you know, the level of skills that you have. Because it's very easy to in a nontechnical interview over promise and under deliver. Because if someone is nontechnical they may look at you as a guru, even if you're just starting out. So I think it's important to be honest as far as you know, what your limitations are at that point. And but also state that you know, you're continuing to grow and and learn and you'll continue to to grow in the position. Once you have it mean sense. So we talked about a lodge things today. And I think we got into everything that the program certified web development professional teaches. But is there anything that we didn't touch on that you think is really important for all the listeners to hear? I just want to talk about the certifications a little bit. You know, the certifications are designed to show that you know, what, you know. So when you earn the certification a couple of things happen one. You get a validation page through credential dot net, which shows your certification at shows. The knowledge that it represents and also allows you to directly link the certification with your lengthen. So it's listed under the certification section of your Lincoln and often employers will search by those types of certifications for skill sets that they're looking for the second thing with the certification is it becomes part of your portfolio because you have unique certification page that displays the certificates that you earn and explains what they're about. So those are good to include in your digital portfolio. Again, help people understand that you know, what you've know especially if again, you've been through an alternative education experience versus something more formal in college setting these will help you compete in the market against people who have a degree got it sell. Obviously people can catch this product in the two thousand nineteen Tekere toolbox. But do you have any other resources that folks might find useful especially for those that? Are listening to this episode maybe months from now. Yeah. So you can first of all visit our website at framework, TV dot com, and there we've got a number of different programs from beginners to intermediate level, developers who are learning and those programs range from short half hour free project based content where we might do something like build a tip calculator or a weather conditions application to twenty four week formal courses on digital design, and that's framework TV dot com. Anyone can come and join for free and take advantage of the free content that we offer in decide whether or not a more advanced level of learning with us for them. I thank you so much Mark for coming on. I appreciate you. Having me this has been fun. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Mark again, you can check out his product the certified web developer program inside are two thousand nineteen version of the ultimate tech career toolbox. This toolbox is a collection of thirty three different tech products in courses seriously. It has so much to offer. Here's what one bundle buyer revert. Oh who lives in Atlanta, Georgia had to say about it? I was skeptical at first thousands of dollars in coding courses for hundreds of dollars sounded too good to be true. But the ultimate tech career toolbox turned out to be the best way to save a whole bunch of time and spent a fraction of the price. You would try to get all these courses separately as I advanced my learning in decide to pursue new subjects. I'm very fortunate that I can still access all of these courses that I bought months ago. In fact, I was even able to drop out of my second bachelor's degree to spend time working on these courses. You won't regret getting this. All. As revert. Oh, said you're not going to regret investing Innis. You can find out more about the bundle at learn to code with dot MI Ford slash toolbox. Twenty nineteen that you are L is all one word in remember the car closes on Saturday may fourth at midnight eastern time, and it won't be vailable ever again. All right. That's it. For me have a great rest of the day. I'll be back tomorrow with the final episode in our special tech to locks twenty nineteen series.

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