Take a Deeper Look at Launch Academy’s Hybrid Program
What’s it like to Launch your coding career in these unprecedented times? After pivoting to a fully remote learning experience in March and running two successful virtual cohorts, Launch Academy is excited to be partially back on campus with our first ever Hybrid program. The 30th Boston cohort began at the start of September and gave students the choice of attending either entirely remote or in a Hybrid (in-person and remote) format.
While opting for the Hybrid format, students are split into two groups and are able to attend in-person at the Launch Academy campus every other day while attending virtually on the days in between. Additionally, students can opt to remain at home and participate virtually at any time.
Our priority in returning to campus was to ensure that each member of the staff and students were safe. To prepare, our staff took every precaution to ensure that the in-person learning experience was as safe as possible.
Health and Safety Protocols
Every visitor to the Launch Academy campus is required to take their temperature and log it before entering the space. Take a look at the video below to see how the process works:
A Completely Reimagined Space
Before inviting students back to campus, the team at Launch rearranged and reimagined our Deck 7 campus using guidelines from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to create a safe learning space and better allow for social distancing.
Desks and workstations have been placed a minimum of six feet apart, and with a maximum of 13 students on campus at a time, students are able to work at a space that gives them plenty of distance from others.
Markers on the floor indicate a one-way flow around the campus, with doors propped open at all times to reduce the amount of contact on handles and common touch points. Additionally, barriers are set between workstations and the walking route through the space to increase the distance between those moving around the campus and those working at their desks.
Signage around campus indicates spaces where students need to wait for others to leave, including the kitchen and gender-neutral bathrooms – each of which only allows one student at a time.
Cleaning supplies are stationed throughout the office, and students and staff are required to disinfect any areas they come in contact with, including their own workspace, the kitchen, and bathrooms.
Finally, the facilitation area – the central area for instructor led lessons – has been set up with chairs a minimum of six feet apart. Students can opt to either attend lessons from the socially distanced facilitation area or Zoom in from their desks along with those who are working remotely.
General Safety Requirements
Outside of the changes to our physical space, many changes have been made to the general program in an effort to create the safest environment possible.
As mentioned above, all visitors to the space must take their temperature and log it upon entering the campus. Additionally, masks must be worn at all times. While students are in the immersive phase of the course, they are able to work from home whenever they prefer and attend all parts of the day virtually. Additionally, while on campus, students and staff minimize the number of interactions that take place in person. While they are physically there, students still complete much of the day in a virtual format from their laptop.
“For many of our Launchers, learning On Campus is ideal. Particularly for those who have families or other attention-grabbers at home, it’s important to have a dedicated space for learning. For others being able to chat with other Launchers in the same space helps them to connect with the craft. With a bit of work, we’ve created a space and environment that balances a solid work environment with the necessary safety precautions” – Dan Pickett, Co-Founder
A Day in the Life
Let’s imagine a student named Lyla is attending the program in person on a Tuesday. At a given time, a maximum of 13 students are allowed to work in the space, so this assumes that 13 other students and ~2 staff members are present.
Lyla arrives at the lobby and is greeted by our incredible doorman, Noel. She uses the hand sanitizer provided by the front desk and Noel calls the elevator down for her. Only two people are allowed in the elevator at a time, but Lyla rides to the 7th floor on her own.
Once she enters the space, Lyla puts on latex gloves and takes her temperature following the Temperature Taking Protocol outlined above. She then enters her temperature in the log book for contact tracing and safety purposes.
Lyla walks to her assigned desk and drops her things off. She then takes her lunch to the kitchen to disinfect her lunch bag and place it in the fridge, following the Kitchen Protocol. Before heading back to her desk, Lyla stops at the restroom. Since both of the restrooms are gender-neutral, she enters an unoccupied one and flips the sign to “Occupied” to designate that the restroom is in use. When she is done with the restroom, Lyla disinfects all common touch points and leaves, flipping the sign to “Vacant” and heading back to her desk.
“I really enjoyed the hybrid learning model where I had the opportunity to attend the program in person a few days a week. I felt safe going into the space because of all the safety protocols setup by the Launch team. They even made great little videos, showing us how to record our temperatures and how to maintain cleanliness in the communal spaces. I felt the protocols were never a barrier to learning, and the staff did a great job adjusting protocols based on the changing trends in infection rates. Overall, I appreciated the flexibility of the hybrid learning model as I feel I benefited tremendously from the opportunity to get out of the house and work in space outside my home.” – Heidi Hood, Boston 30 Hybrid Student
Before heading to the facilitation area for morning discussion group, Lyla ensures her mask is secured and potentially washes their hands or uses hand sanitizer. Lyla chooses a seat in the facilitation area and the discussion of last night’s homework begins while masked. Some students are attending virtually and participate via Zoom.
Today is Lyla’s turn to present, so she remains at her seat but shares her screen to the Apple TV on the projector so everyone can follow along.
Discussion group concludes, and students are allowed to return to their desk or use the bathroom before facilitation, wearing masks and disinfecting as they do. Lyla returns to her seat, masked, in order to attend onsite facilitation (which at least half of students will be attending virtually).
Lyla brought her lunch, so she heads to the kitchen and waits until the kitchen is empty before preparing her lunch. She takes ~5 minutes to prep her lunch and then disinfects the area, following the Kitchen safety Protocol detailed in the video below. Today, Lyla has a social lunch with other students, so she returns to her desk and hops on Zoom to chat with peers both at Launch Academy and at home.
After lunch, Lyla works from her desk on the afternoon challenges. If Lyla wishes to discuss a challenge with another student, she Slack messages them first and heads to their desk while masked. They chat for a moment while maintaining a distance of six-feet and ultimately decide to pair-program together. Even though they are both in the space, Lyla heads back to her desk and they pair program remotely using tools like VSCode and Zoom. When Lyla gets stuck, she puts a question into the Question Queue and one of the Experience Engineers meets with Lyla via Slack, Zoom, and VSCode Liveshare to help solve the problem.
Towards the end of the afternoon, Lyla attends the afternoon clinic in the facilitation area, once again masked and sitting in the same seat as she did in the morning.
At the end of the day, Lyla cleans and disinfects her workstation before leaving the office. Lyla gathers all her belongings and either stores them in her locker or takes them home.
Let’s now imagine that Lyla is either a) attending the program virtually on Wednesday due to the hybrid nature or b) attending the program entirely virtual.
Lyla is ready to start the day over Zoom by 9:00am from a pre-designated work area at home. Lyla ensures that she tries to minimize distractions in her work space, and communicates with her roommates accordingly. Before Morning Mentor Group begins, Lyla joins the 24/7 Zoom channel to check-in with their peers from home
Lyla joins the Morning Mentor Group Zoom channel with her designated discussion group. Students discuss the homework virtually, using Zoom’s Screen Share function and VSCode. After Morning Mentor Group, Lyla has a few minutes to herself before the Facilitation begins. Once facilitation starts, Lyla joins the Zoom channel to attend the Facilitation virtually. Lyla is able to ask questions throughout the facilitation using the “Raise Hand” feature in Zoom. Lyla can access any resources from the presentation in the morning once they have been shared by a staff member.
Lyla has lunch at home and has free-time for the hour before the afternoon begins. Once a week, Lyla joins a social lunch Zoom with other students and staff.
Lyla works from home for the afternoon. At least once a week, Lyla pair-programs on an assignment with another student. Today, Lyla opts to ask the Slack team if anyone wants to pair-program on the daily assignment. A student on-campus agrees, so Lyla and her peer use Zoom and VSCode to work together on the assignment. Additionally, once a week, Lyla meets in a group with other students (virtually) to discuss a plan of attack for the largest challenge of the week. When Lyla gets stuck, she puts a question into the Question Queue and one of the Experience Engineers meets with Lyla via Slack, Zoom, and VSCode Liveshare to help solve the problem.
Towards the end of the afternoon, Lyla attends the afternoon clinic virtually.
“After hearing about their plan for the hybrid experience shortly after Ignition, I knew that the Launch Academy team had thought clearly about how to translate the on-campus experience into a virtual one! Since choosing to go fully virtual, the Experience Engineers have made it easy for me to learn effectively, receive regular support and connect with my peers and alumni. The highly structured, well-communicated workdays have exceeded my expectations of what virtual learning would be like.” – Liishi Durbin, Boston 30 (Virtual)