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1 June 2020

Coding Bootcamps: Online courses vs traditional in-person classes

The future of work is digital. You got to that conclusion a long time ago and you know: I got to learn a tech skill, I got to learn how to code or how to become an expert in UX, UI or Data Analytics. The only question which remains: How in the world do I do that?

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education

With tech skills becoming increasingly important, the number and variety of course providers to learn those skills is steadily growing and in this vast variety of programs it becomes harder and harder to choose the right format for you. With online courses from unknown providers to courses from prestigious institutions like Stanford or MIT flooding the internet, how shall I find the right course for myself? And why should I enroll in an in-class program instead of relying on the endless resources of the internet?

Define your Learning Type

In the end, it all depends on you. Before diving into the sheer endless list of courses available out there, ask yourself: Am I well organized? Am I able to motivate myself? Do I need an engaging learning environment? Do I tend to procrastinate and easily despair of problems?

Learning a new tech skill demands a lot of energy, time and dedication. Consider it a process and make sure to define your goal. Maybe you just need to update your existing skills, already have a good understanding of the topic, and know exactly which course curriculum fits your need best. In that case, applying to an online course might be suitable and you make sure to avoid redundant content for you. If you consider yourself to be a beginner, tending to lose motivation or focus when you reach a bottleneck, an in-person program will be the better choice. You will be pulled into the group dynamic, and with the direct feedback and support from instructors you can avoid being held back by tiny problems.

But why speculating about the why if we can ask our students at  Ironhack:

I chose to do the course in person because doing it online only takes you so far. But having the atmosphere of a tech-culture helped me to become an actual developer.”

Tormod Flesjø, Web Development Bootcamp (Jul 2018)

“I did a few trainings online but I felt in order to learn coding properly I needed to have a teacher and be supported. Learning web dev is not like learning a new language, you need to be able to solve issues, to practice everyday…”

Camille Chapleau,  Web Development Part Time Course

“I wanted the framework of an actual school rather than dictate my own schedule.”

Na’aman Hirschfeld, Web Development Bootcamp  (Jan 2019)


Although it depends mostly on you, your learning type, and the goal you want to achieve with completing the coding course, the following comparison can come in handy when you are struggling or are too indecisive:

In-person Courses


  • Close interaction and collaboration with teachers and classmates enhances understanding of the content

  • Clear path, guidance and goal

  • Career Services (optional)

  • Introduction to typical working methods of the industry such as pair programming

  • Immediate feedback: Problems will be solved on the spot and you have the possibility to ask follow-up questions

  • More formal certificate and portfolio

  • Community: Making valuable connections with peers and companies in-class and at extracurricular events and workshops


  • Limited with regards to time and location

  • Generally higher initial cost

  • Intense workload

Online Courses


  • Flexibility in terms of pace and location

  • Low-cost options available

  • Can increase your problem-solving skills


  • You’ll need a high level of self-discipline and self-motivation

  • Difficult to choose most suitable course in the wide variety of offerings

  • Lack of interaction: No direct feedback from instructor and no access to classmates

  • Less acknowledged by potential employers

Step out of your comfort zone

To many people, learning a new skill from scratch seems like a step back in their careers. But in this day and age, change is everything and proves you are highly-dedicated and invest your time in smart personal and professional improvement. So, stop the hesitation and take the risk. Apply today!

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