Who and how does Skillum teach: an interview with the CEO of the Visual Programming Academy

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In April 2019, Anna Verba and Irina Lavrova launched short-term online courses on visual programming. This is a practical training in web development that does not require a technical background and writing code. In less than six months, 270 students entered the Skillum Academy. Today, 3 courses are available to users, each of which lasts 3 months. We talked with the project manager, Irina Lavrova, about the intricacies of the Bubble platform, the specifics of education, and real opportunities for graduates.

Академия визуального программирования

How did the idea of creating the Academy come about?

To begin with, in addition to the Skillum Academy, our group of companies includes the eTutorium project, known on the market as a webinar platform, and the Aktiv Financial Academy project – online courses for advanced training of financial professionals. Coincidentally, at the same time, two projects needed product scaling (in the first case, this was the creation of a distance learning system (LMS), which would become a logical continuation of the webinar platform, and in the second, the development of a digital platform for assessing the hard skills of financial specialists within Academy).

Due to the limited budget, we rather could not, but did not want to invest in attracting programmers, so we began to look for alternative solutions for implementation. This is how we met and became friends with the Bubble platform, which allowed us to develop products on our own without a single line of code and serious financial investments. Having assessed the powerful potential of the service and its functionality, we realized that this is exactly what the Russian-speaking space has long been waiting for. There are no competitors. There is a demand. Opportunities tested on themselves. Gotta get in!

We decided to train 2 cool specialists in Bubble development who could,

  • first, create a Finassessment platform,
  • secondly, write the course program,
  • thirdly, start sharing your skills online.

By the way, at the time of the start of the promotion, we had a zero subscription base. Word of mouth, partnerships and our publications worked.

I can’t help but ask a provocative question about Bubble. If he turned out to be so cool, then why is little known about him in Russia?

Bubble is an American service. Despite the fact that he was “born” in 2012, it was only in June 2019 that his founders loudly announced the product, began to attract investors and invest in advertising. That is, we began to actively cultivate bubble development even earlier than they did. Initially, it seemed strange to us – why have they positioned themselves so modestly all these years? Only then did their logic become clear. They did not want to present the platform in a “raw” form, they constantly worked on strengthening the functionality. But what is impressive is that even with the complete absence of marketing activities, in 5 years Bubble has gained 300,000 regular users, most of whom live in America. But we know that all powerful technologies come to us from the West. So the time has come for the post-Soviet space to make friends with visual programming. And our Academy is the only guide in this matter so far 🙂

If we talk directly about the development. By what indicators does Bubble outperform classical programming in the form of writing code?

  • Firstly, you can learn visual programming on Bubble in 3-4 months, and learning, say, C / C ++ or Java can take from 1 to 5 years.
  • Secondly, in order to masterfully code, you need to be a techie. It is a fact! Visual programming will appeal to a person without any technical background and even a humanist.
  • Thirdly, development time. On Bubble, the product will be ready faster than on code. 4 times faster. This has also been personally verified by us.

Well, fourthly, Bubble allows you to control development in real time. Let’s say a project manager wants to see and evaluate what stage the development is at and how the product looks at the moment. He connects and sees in real time everything that programmers do. In the case of code, if you don’t rummage through the code, you will never know what a programmer is doing and how much time he really needs to develop.

обрезка карты

With coding, everything is clear – you just print many lines of text, according to which the machine will understand what actions should be performed. How is the process going in Bubble?

The principle of creating application logic is that you manipulate visual objects (blocks) to create a chronological action and set certain conditions in each of them.

What can be developed on Bubble?

Okey. Besides games. With gaming applications there is a special specificity. But I am sure that the creators of Bubble will solve this problem as well.

Let’s move on to learning. Who comes to your courses?

We have segmented our potential students into 3 categories:

  • aspiring startups and Internet entrepreneurs;
  • people of pre-retirement and retirement age who are thinking about changing their profession;
  • newcomers to programming who want to get a sought-after IT profession, but they are intimidated by programming languages and coding.

Why exactly these directions of CA?

Will explain. If we take a novice startup, for example, then his motivation is understandable – he has a certain product idea or a need for product scaling of the business (as we did), but the budget is limited or absent altogether. The situation is aggravated by the fact that it is necessary to start the development of the project as quickly as possible, until the competitors wake up. Therefore, Bubble just allows you to bring the idea to a successful product release many times faster, many times cheaper and in an easier to understand implementation.

Now for the second category. It is no secret that in our country the problem of employment of people of pre-retirement and retirement age is gaining momentum. Due to the desire to automate work processes and increase the retirement age, many specialists are left without work. And when trying to find a job, they often encounter “ageism” (discrimination against a person on the basis of age). Our course, unexpectedly for us, has become an excellent opportunity for this category of the population to provide employment to their liking without serious financial investments. By the way, many of them preferred freelancing, where gender, age and place of residence do not matter.

Well, with the category “newbies in development”, everything is logical and predictable. These are young people, more often students of engineering specialties, who want to get a sought-after IT profession, but programming languages and coding are difficult for them. We give them a faster start in web development with a simpler understanding of all internal processes.

What format is the training in?

Training is built on 3 pillars: practice, mentoring and knowledge control. You won’t be able to cheat 🙂 Interaction formats are webinars, class recordings, notes, tests, homework, final assignments and a presentation of the finished project. Each student is assigned a personal account and a personal curator. An important feature is that the skills acquired during the course are immediately applied by students, while simultaneously developing their own product.

And the last question – how much do your courses cost?

250 dollars.

Separately, we note that colleagues from the Skillum Academy form a community forum of visual programmers for communication and exchange of experience or opinions, comprehensively support students in employment, and the best ones are taken to their staff.