In May of 2017, I enrolled in the BLOC web development curriculum. What was I looking for and what have I found so far?

Where I was at

I have been working in the IT field in the healthcare and health insurance domains for over 20 years, both as a developer and in various support/administrative roles. I had acquired expertise in the SAS system and several other languages and platforms, but decided it was time to expand my horizons.

What BLOC offered

  1. A structured curriculum
  2. Not too long, but not too short. The BLOC web-based development course can be finished in 6 months to a year. It hit the "sweet spot" in allowing enough time to acquire a decent level of skill, but not so much time as to risk obsolescense.

  3. Reasonable price.

  4. Can be done while working a full-time job. This gives it an advantage over the bootcamps that require the user to be on-site.

  5. Lack of conventional classroom work in favor of a hands-on approach. I personally learn best by doing, not sitting in a classroom.

  6. Mentor available to keep you on track and help you if you get stuck.

  7. A portfolio of code to show future clients and employers. In my years in the corporate world, I have developed several dozen applications and programs. Most of them belong to the clients and companies I was hired to work at, and are not available for display or use outside. Since BLOC requires that the student develop a suite of web-based apps that can be shown on line and are open source, this allows displaying the skills acquired, as opposed to just talking about them.

  8. Emphasis on widely available open-source tools. Much of the curriculum emphasizes JavaScript and JavaScript technologies. Like it or not, JavaScript has become the standard for web-based development and is a requirement. There is also a lot of usage of tools like Git, which have become a de facto standard. So it's unlikely that the knowledge acquired will fade from relevance any time soon.


Yes, there may be a few.

  1. Some people may prefer a classroom approach.

  2. They may prefer to be with other people in a more social environment.

  3. Even though BLOC offers mentorship, some students may have a problem with motivation.

  4. Complexity of the curriculum. The web development course doesn't emphasize much in the way of theoretical knowledge. The Software Developer track may emphasize that more, although I haven't taken it yet. But it still requires the student to quickly get a handle on the complexities of CSS development, HTML5, JavaScript and its jQuery/Angular libraries, and Ruby. So there's quite a bit of material to master.

Given all of this, do the pluses outweigh the minuses? For me, the short answer is yes, but the specifics of my journey at BLOC will have to wait for another few blog posts.