Coding Bootcamps (and perhaps coding itself) on the Decline?

Audrey Watters writes about a couple of coding bootcamps closing up shop and ponders whether this is a trend.  Alfred Thompson references this same trend and wonders if it means there’s a more full-on CS bubble.  We’ve seen this script before.  I’m not so sure it’s the same script.  The landscape is much more complex than it was almost 20 years ago.  It is possible there’s a market correction in store, but maybe not a full on bubble burst.

Coding bootcamps have always bothered me.  I can’t find the reference, but I’ve written about bootcamps aimed at school-aged kids before.  What I think some of them do is let schools off the hook for teaching computer science.  Schools think, we don’t need to offer this because there are three bootcamps around the corner.  Never mind that some of those cost hundreds of dollars for a week’s worth of lessons and so, equity is out the window.

As Audrey points out, companies have complained about those bootcamps, saying that they don’t really prepare people for the work they need done in their industry.  A CS degree or extensive experience on the job is much better.  As I say to students and parents, it’s not about learning x language or y framework, it’s about learning a way to think, about logic, critical thinking, and problem solving.  You can Google the specific code you need, but designing the algorithm or the interface, that takes some deeper thought.

So, in some ways, reducing the number of these that are out there might be a good thing.  It might mean that schools finally say, oh, hey, our students don’t have access to these anymore; maybe we should offer that.  And as people aren’t able to get jobs with their limited training, they might work their way through a CS degree, starting perhaps at a community college, where the tuition is reasonable and federal aid is available.

Does any of this mean that CS will disappear or the bubble will burst? Hard to know.  While the number of jobs requiring coding may in fact be inflated, lots of jobs benefit from having not just the thinking skills one acquires from Computer Science, but also the actual technical skills.  Interestingly, responses from those in the field tend to fall along the spectrum of real coding is so specialized that only certain people can do it to AI is going to be doing all the coding anyway.  When there are extremes like that, it’s hard to know where the truth is.