A Response to Coronavirus: Virtualizing the Launch Academy Experience

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

February 1, 2022

Last Updated: April 18th, 2020

While we must always put the health of our students, team, and alumni community first, the learning and launching of careers isn’t going anywhere! Launch Academy is actively monitoring COVID-19 and the challenges it may present to our community. Beginning Monday, March 16, we’ll be operating all of our current classes virtually. In addition, we are paying close attention to state health guidance and local authorities so that we make any adjustments if needed. During this coming week, we will be readying students for virtual work and dedicating our efforts towards ensuring that the student experience remains exceptional regardless of where our students are.  We anticipate that with a start date of June 8th, Boston 29 will be On Campus. We are, however, ready to deliver a remarkable virtual experience if social distancing timelines are extended into the summer. While Launch Academy is known for its in-person instruction, our history of work over the past six years and our investment in the use of virtual technologies has provided our staff confidence that we will be able to offer our current programs as scheduled. The ongoing developments around the Coronavirus have encouraged us to think in new and novel ways to provide an education to our students and we will work tirelessly to be both proactive and respond to the learning styles of our students as this situation continues.  During this virtual experience, we are planning:

Virtual Facilitations and Clinics

The Launch Academy team will continue to deliver all aspects of the daily Launch experience virtually. This includes all instructor-led facilitations and clinics, morning discussion groups, afternoon project-based work  and staff support and guidance. Using tools like Zoom, Slack, and VSCode Liveshare, we plan to continue to teach and collaborate with students virtually while still providing an engaging and individual learning experience.

Virtual Pair Programming

We will promote collaboration and community. One of the major benefits of attending a program like Launch Academy is learning from and working with your peers. With VSCode Liveshare sessions and regular check-ins with staff, students will be able to pair program and work together on their code remotely. Further, virtual lunches, Q&As and community gatherings are also being prepared to ensure everyone can continue to benefit from the close knit community which Launch Academy is known for. 

Chat Support and Video Conferencing

We will provide dedicated community channels, question and answer software and video conference rooms. Students will continue to receive support from Experience Engineers at Launch Academy via dedicated Slack channels, and will be able to escalate technical bugs or questions via our internal Question Queue system. In addition, Experience Engineers will be routinely reaching out to students individually for more extended virtual calls over Zoom, whether to talk about best practices and work styles or to tackle solutions to daily assignments and web applications collaboratively. 

Remote Career Coaching

We will provide exceptional Career Support. Students will continue to receive coaching and support from the Career Services team through virtual Zoom meetings, in addition to continuing to complete the Career Services curriculum utilizing tools like Google Docs. We will continue to work on presentation skills through Lightning Talks and Pitch Practice, as well as Mock Interviews and Whiteboarding practice, all while using Zoom and VSCode. 

Forming Lifelong Friendships From Afar

Keep the Launch culture alive! While we won’t be able to continue our traditional Friday evening “fun-time” in person, we’ll continue to have our Friday social time in the form of virtual cohort-wide movie nights and game nights. Non-technical virtual lunches and community channels are also being set-up to maintain the positive and cooperative culture Launch Academy is known for. 

Practice Like You Play

We always aim to align our curriculum towards the needs of the industry. The move to a temporary virtual campus also gives students a unique opportunity to learn an increasingly critical job skill - the ability to work and collaborate remotely. We’re excited to work with and coach students through how to be an effective team member from afar - something we know will be a great benefit to both the student and future employer. Our plan follows state health guidance to reduce community interactions and promote virtual collaboration. We fully acknowledge that we have to do our part to reduce the spread of disease while providing a strong technical curriculum.  We ask that our community of dedicated students, alumni and partners help foster a healthy community, and continue to explore new avenues for learning and sharing web technologies in a way that is both high-quality and safe. At Launch Academy, we’re prepared and committed to launching careers regardless of the format of instruction. Our Boston 28 students are doing incredibly well with the transition, and we're confident the Launch Academy experience is remarkable both on campus and online. To get you started with your own Online learning, check out our HTML show - a free series for you to starting learning responsive web design.