Not so long ago, I dropped in BrainStation’s first ever class for their part-time Frontend Development bootcamp. I knew the founders, Duncan McCall, Alex Karasyov, Jason Field, and Apoorv Gupta. All except Jason were formerly involved with Bitmaker Labs in one capacity or another.
While there’s Bitmaker Labs offers bootcamp style immersive courses, BrainStation saw an opportunity to carve out a part of the market especially for part-time students who couldn’t make the full-time commitment that’s required of Bitmaker.
While not the same in their approach, Karasyov and McCall both played a large role in crafting the curriculum for their first cohort of students.
The instructors at Brainstation
The instructors were Alex Karasyov himself, who’s a self taught front end developer had cut his teeth at a number of startups himself, including 500px. There’s also Calvin Tennant comes from a number of startups, and is currently working at Checkout 51 and also teaching part time at George Brown College for their web development course.
Obviously, it’s a good thing that their instructors are working in industry as they’re bringing best practices and bleeding edge approaches and technologies to get students up and running with the most up to date front end technical education.
Students of BrainStation like many other coding schools require that students apply and go through an interview and several exercises to get a sense of their commitment and attitude before they’re considered to be part of the program. From what I saw, it was quite diverse in terms backgrounds – those who wanted eventually founders or already founders, agencies or just wanted to learn to be technical were represented. The female-to-male ratio was quite impressive as well as I saw a 60 to 40 male to female split in their class.
Their teaching style:
While they went over the high level overview of what was being taught and how certain technologies such as CSS and HTML worked, they also went into depth with some real world examples such as going referencing something everyone could related to by going through Wikipedia’s website and “going under the hood” and showing them what they were teaching and how a world-class website like Wikipedia executed it. Only when they got a sense of students getting a feel of the material they taught, would they layer on new concepts that built on top of what was being taught. They called it “Just In Time” teaching. I would surmise their approach would remain consistent for the remainder of the course.
Hosted at Project: RHINO in the heart of tech hub in Downtown Toronto by Queen and Bathurst, there was ample space to learn and pair up with other students in class.
Between lessons, the instructors were dive in and help out where to find out where students were stuck. Students would self-assemble and would try to learn from each other, which further reinforces and crystallizes their learning or you can go out on your own.
From what they’ve told me, BrainStation will be offering Part Time Backend courses that focus on the Ruby on Rails development stack simultaneously with their Front end course. Other courses they’re considering offering are Mobile Development (iOS), Digital Marketing and Data Science. They’re a welcome addition to the Toronto technical education landscape, while offering more choice, top notch instruction and competitive tuition is always a good thing.
How BrainStation Differs:
Because they don’t offer full time courses at this point, their students aren’t looking to become junior full stack developers and be “job ready” at the end of their program like Bitmaker Labs or HackerYou’s full time offerings. The students they attract are people who are already gainfully employed in roles that are in tech, looking to get into the tech industry, are already founders of their own startups or just want to become technical so they’re more qualified for a promotion within their companies.