image It might surprise you to learn that Lighthouse Labs is one of the top employers of senior developer talent across Canada. In every city in which we run courses, we seek out the best developers we can find to bring their expertise and wisdom into the learning environment. Our instructors and mentors are all active developers, and always have been. This has been one of the pillars of our educational model since we began back in 2013.

The metaphorical gauntlet that we have thrown down in challenge to each mentor and instructor that has ever worked for us is simple: Take each student you work with and teach them what you think they need to know to be successful. The reason this is so effective is that as developers, we know what both success and struggle look like. We know what the ebb and flow of skill development, product development, and debugging feel like on a day-to-day basis. In particular, as experienced professionals in the software development industry, there are some learnings that we’ve gained from our own challenges that we can now pass on, accelerating the process of the students' growth.

This same mentality has driven the development of our curriculum. Because we are able to approach the task of designing student success from a mentality where we’re evaluating what a developer needs to know to enter the industry and contribute from their first day on the job, we do so from a position of authority and domain knowledge. From the prep work that students do before they start bootcamp, through to the guidelines we give for the final project that serves as the capstone of their bootcamp experience, each step aligns with our own experience of building a career. We source inspiration for our course from our entire cadre of mentors and instructors from across the country, making sure that we’re building a course that prepares new developers to work in any geographical market, any industry, and with the industry-standard tools and techniques that will allow them to have an impact from the time they graduate.


However, those steps which combine to form a complete curriculum have definitely changed over time. And this is due to the fast pace of the tech industry and the ever-changing ecosystem of best practices, languages, and libraries that are bringing the digital experiences onto our screens every day. Since we populate our teaching staff with developers who are on the front lines of innovation in tech, we're able to inform ourselves from within as to what a new developer needs to know. This allows us to iterate rapidly. We make frequent changes to our curriculum, keeping the projects and technologies up to date. You've even seen us make big shifts, such as when we went from a Ruby-focused curriculum to a JavaScript-centric one, to when we extended our bootcamp from 8 to 10 weeks, to our recent announcement that we’re stretching bootcamp to 12 weeks this year.

These changes are all led through a collaborative internal process, polling the expertise of those mentors and instructors in our environment about what they feel they need to know to be successful and making sure that our program is in alignment with that list of requirements. And for each requirement for success, we ask ourselves what kind of learning experience does a new developer need to have which is going to allow them to go into their first job demonstrating wisdom and good judgement. There is a popular aphorism that says 'Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement'. Each cohort of graduates from a Lighthouse bootcamp is able to benefit from the learning that our teaching staff has gained, and wisdom that has been accumulated throughout their career. In each interaction we have with a student, we’re able to leapfrog that student past the problem they are facing, and share best practices for not only solving that problem, but building the skills to understand the situation and prepare to face it again in the future.

However, we also make sure that there is a solid pedagogy in play when we are building out the curriculum. Specifically, we implement modern educational trends, such as project-based learning, a flipped classroom model of introducing new materials, and ensuring that our delivery of the material is superior. Despite bringing together cohorts, our educational delivery model is focused on individual progress, and our teaching and support staff leverage an immense number of metrics to be able to offer the right kind of support for our students, at the right time in the program for their needs.

That means every day of a twelve-week program, our students know that we believe in them, are providing them with the world-class training that they need to be successful based on our own experience in having careers in the industry, and that when they graduate, employers are going to be welcoming the skill set and approach they've developed throughout the bootcamp.

This series of posts discusses the Lighthouse Labs approach to education which has informed our shift to a 12-week program.