Why Dev Bootcamp and Iron Yard Shutting Down is a Good Thing

Yes, I'm glad they are shutting down. I'm also glad that they existed in the first place.

Dev Bootcamp announced their impending doom on July 13, 2017.

Iron Yard announced one week later on the 20th.

I'm glad they are shutting down because, at this point, software bootcamp education seems at odds with high-volume, shorter duration software bootcamps that are scaling to make a profit. The reason that they are at odds, at this moment in history, is because no one yet has discovered a proven, sustainable, repeatable process for ensuring a high quality education in software development, and ensuring that the vast majority are able to find gainful employment. Since that foundational element has not been discovered yet, attempting to do it at scale was destined to fail.

That's not 20/20 hindsight. This is something I've discussed with peers for over a year, and the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. The writing got outlined with neon yellow and green paint when those schools were purchased by their respective, colossal, for-profit organizations.

I'm also glad that they existed in the first place. Single location bootcamps have existed in tandem with, and competed against, the high-growth, more expensive counterparts like DBC and IY. The fact that the high growth ones shut down simply shows us that the industry isn't ready for them yet.

That's a good thing.

The schools that are currently thriving are the ones who have their fingers on the pulse of the communities that they are serving. They end up being as much a community service as they are a vocational school. The closing of the chain schools shows that a national, cookie-cutter learner experience doesn't work just yet. Software development is still predominantly a craft, as well as a skill. While it remains that way, finding a large scale, national, or even global, curriculum is nigh impossible.

I'm encouraged for the future of the industry and the important role that it will play in getting people into a career that is in desperate need of people. I'm thrilled to be working in a new industry in which I can experiment with new techniques, so that we can uncover what actually works. Once those conclusions emerge, then we can try to scale them bit by bit until it can truly be scaled.

I believe this is years away. I've been leading the instructional team at Nashville Software School since July of 2015, and the truly effective techniques, patterns, and processes are just barely starting to emerge. I plan on continuing to make significant changes to how the team engages with our students based on the evidence we've gathered, and will continue gathering.