We have a new option for developers in the mobile space. ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Android Bootcamp and ArcGIS Runtime SDK for iOS Bootcamp are not basic training, though—a bootcamp is an instructor-led class specially designed for experienced developers.
Recently, Esri instructor Ben Ramseth and Jason Hine, developer technical lead for our Training Content team, discussed the bootcamp concept. Jason spearheaded development of this new format, and Ben is working closely with Jason on the content and will be teaching bootcamps.
Asked to describe a bootcamp in three words, Jason and Ben quickly agree on immersive, social, and collaborative.
In a standard course, the instructor plays the role of lead actor. Positioned at the front of the room presenting technical information, examples, and demos, the instructor controls the pace and depth at which topics are covered. Contrast that with a bootcamp, where the instructor has a supporting role—that of facilitator. A primary premise of a bootcamp is that class-driven learning works well, especially for developers who like to get under the hood rather than listen.
Says Ben, a veteran instructor who confides a strong desire to teach in the new format, “Listening to and watching experts is useful, but people learn best by doing and practicing. An issue with lecturing is students may not pay attention.”
A bootcamp keeps participants on their toes. About 75 percent of the time is spent doing paired and small-group work, with each participant taking turns asking questions, making suggestions, and writing code.
The instructor’s job is to present concepts and use-case scenarios, then help the class talk through different approaches to building the required components. As a group, ideas are shared, discussed, tried, and either used or discarded. It’s a process of trial and error that supports deep learning.
Jason explains, “[In a bootcamp] students are invited to bring their knowledge and skills into the discussion and share it. We’re teaching them how to fish.”
Ben adds, “You’ve got more experienced and less experienced people in class. As a group, they try something, then try something else. The more experienced people help the less experienced. The great thing about a bootcamp is it provides opportunities for all levels to hit their edge, then move it.”
Hitting the Edge: It’s a Good Thing
By edge, Ben means “the limit of your current knowledge, skills, and ability.” The benefit of hitting the edge, he says, is “you’re pushed to dig deep, try different things until you figure it out. That leads to retention.”
Retention is, of course, the holy grail in the learning industry. Our goal is to enable Esri users to acquire, then apply new knowledge and skills to successfully complete different projects back at the office.
In fact, accepted instructional theory encourages content designed around making students feel successful—by performing a specific task error-free, being able to explain a complex topic, or passing a test. So it may seem a bit odd that bootcamps support success by introducing failure.
As they work on components of a real-world app, participants will encounter gotchas that they’ll need to troubleshoot and solve together. Obstacles are seen as a positive thing because they allow new solutions to be explored and tested. In other words, failure is a necessary step on the path to success.
If you’re a developer who wants to add ArcGIS capabilities to mobile apps and you like the idea of hitting your edge, a bootcamp is for you. If you go thinking you’ll sit quietly in the back checking your e-mail, be prepared to drop to the floor and give the instructor 20. OK, not really, but you knew a drill sergeant reference had to be coming, didn’t you?
A .NET version of the bootcamp is also planned for Windows Phone developers.