{FAQ}

What about homework?

Each module has up to 60 minutes of optional homework for a maximum of four hours per class per week.

Certificates require completed homework.

What's a status?

Status shows the status of content development, crucial in keeping up with a very volatile industry. Status codes will be changed over time as courses evolve and are improved or retired.

How old do I have to be?

Ages are always recommendations. I regularly encounter students who are 10 with the technical aptitude of 30-year-olds.

By the same token, adults are very welcome to our program. Our adult Upskilling program has been successfully grandfathered into our current offerings. But the principle remains for those adults who want to improve. Labs can be used for independent-learning adults who want to just check-in on the plan and progress.

For example, helping you know to never (ever) do the Codecademy.com Python course (which is ancient and deprecated Python 2) v.s. the JavaScript course on the same site (which was one of the first to update to JavaScript ES6 syntax).

What are the prerequisites?

Prerequisites are the specific courses for which a current certificate must be earned and presented before signing up for the offering with the prereq.

What are codes?

Codes of four capital letters are fun and terse ways of referring to an offering, be it a course, camp, certificate or other special offering.

Code patches come with most achievements and credentials and can be worn any way you wish. The most formal way to present them stacked on the left long sleeve of a standard charcoal SkilStak Dickies® shirt, always long-sleeved, never tucked in. 😁

What does FAQ mean?

FAQ is short for Frequently Asked/Answered Questions.

Who is answering these FAQs?

This is Mr. Rob. Hi there.

Why should I come to SkilStak?

This question is coming up more now that many schools are waking up and adding computer science and programming, which is great! We don't really consider any of it competition.

In fact, our current and former students started, led, or have assisted with most programs in regional public and private schools. In many cases they taught the whole thing exemplifying our pay-it-forward mantra.

I realize there is no way for this to not sound self-serving so I encourage readers to start with some of our referrals before continuing.

Here's the problem. It's very hard not to come off negative, but it is simply today's reality.

💬 "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." (Daniel J. Boorstin)

The honest answer why you should come (beyond the benefits of a supportive co-learning community) is that existing learning options are still woafully behind industry standards and the rest of the world, yes, including AP Computer Science, one of the most broken parts of the system. All colleges still require computer science students to take beginning CS courses even though the whole idea of "advanced placement" is to supposedly "advance" past them (even if they might give them a few credit hours for it). Why?

Because the content of most AP programs is down-right horrible by any objective industry standard. Schools and AP programs are currently teaching languages and technologies that are completely dead and defunct. For example, a local high school "HTML5" class required learning the marquee and center tags that have been deprecated for more than seven years; Adobe Flash is still taught despite Adobe abandoning it and its many security flaws; Java inheritance is emphasized over composition when using such professionally would instantly marginalize most developers. It saddens me to report this and I'm committed to helping everyone as much as possible -- including schools that need (and want) help.

Meanwhile, entire schools are blocking professional tools for dubious reasons. GitHub (which was just purchased by Microsoft for 6 billion dollars, that's how important it is) was blocked for almost a year until our students successfully lobbied to have it unblocked and explained why. Chrome DevTools -- reported to be the #1 most important web developer tool -- was also blocked by an entire district because the horrible testing software they use actually has the answers coded into the source code. One hour of technical review of that educational software package could have prevented that wasted purchase.

Usually no single individual is to blame. It's a systemic thing and thankfully it is improving, slowly. This is the reason I started SkilStak instead of working within such a broken system. Something had to be done. And I'm glad I did.

I'm very proud to say since 2015 SkilStak students are head and shoulders beyond most of their peers and many currently employed adults (which creates something of a chronic problem with student humility).

For example, our students started officially learning the Go programming language (created at Google) in 2013, and it has since become one of the hottest languages on the planet. Duke, for one, is hiring heavily to create monitoring systems with it and near the end of 2017 Forbes called it "one of the 2 highest-paying languages you never heard of." Well, we had.

The most important course every single SkilStak student must take is Essentials where students learn what most do not teach: how to become and remain a relevant technologist. It really makes no sense to build skills without knowing how to maintain them.

SkilStak students have responsibly identified significant security holes in several companies networks and helped them to close them and have helped corporations track down and correct web sites that had been hacked.

Students at SkilStak have received professional Linux certification at the age of 15. No other local educational institution can currently claim that in our region.

How do I sign up?

We use PayPal and Meetup currently.

For courses, camps, and labs simply send an email or call with the specific offering you are interested in. A PayPal invoice will be sent to that same email address. You can pay however you like -- including cash or check -- but payment must be made within 30 days of the invoice or 30 before the offering begins (whichever comes first) or it will be canceled automatically.

Meetups and reserve your spot. Donations and payment for is cash only.

I opted for a personal connection over any registration system. The fewer layers between me and you the better.

How do I reserve my spot?

Your spot is not reserved until you pay.

For courses, camps, and labs the process goes like this:

  1. You make a request
  2. I send you an invoice
  3. You pay the invoice to reserve
  4. If new, I enrolled you and give member ID
  5. I add your ID to the attendance roll

For meetups the RSVP reserves your spot.

Should I get a certificate?

Astute hiring managers will always assess your work experience regardless of any credential. They are searching for someone they can trust to do the job. Notable hiring organizations (such as Google and Facebook) actually look down on software engineers who list credentials over code.

These days many hire directly from GitHub repo review without even looking at resumes. Two separate parents employed as recruiters have declared that very thing in class when they noticed we teach GitHub in Essentials . Yet no public or private school in the region teaches this important service.

After all, what does answering a bunch of multiple-guess questions and paying $150-$500 at some testing center actually show about your skills?

This is why SkilStak certificates map directly to work you have accomplished and can proudly demonstrate. In many ways our certificates program is like that of some scouting programs. A list of requirements that are evaluated during an intense assessment. Plus you get a patch in addition to the paper. 😁

How early can I arrive?

You can arrive no more than 10 minutes before your class. At that time you can enter SkilStak and wait in the other rooms quietly during the transition until your seat is available.

Students who enter or are dropped off before 10 minutes will be automatically charged a full hour of lab.

When situations call for dropping off much earlier than class begins arrangements should be made to register for a lab before class begins. This not only allows for occasional needs but also ensures I am prepared with something for them to do during that lab time.

What if I'm late?

It is crucial students arrive on time -- particularly now that we are video capturing lessons. Disruptions will not be tolerated. Questions like "What are we doing?" after arriving more than 10 minutes late can result in expulsion without refund.

In all cases, students who are late will not receive credit for that module or, potentially, lesson depending on the level of disruption.

I understand there are legitimate reasons for being late or missing and have provided labs that can be purchased to make up for such cases. If you are going to be more than 10 minutes late it is best to just not come and redo the whole lesson rather than cause a significant disruption.

By the way, this is a good lesson in life as well. It is always better not to show up than be more than 10 minutes late. It is one thing to affect your own learning, it is unacceptable to disrupt the learning of others.

What if my ride is late?

It is crucial students are picked up on time. All rides should be in the parking lot at least 10 minutes before the end of class.

Rather that disrupt class with a phone call when late, for whatever reason, please send a text informing of the situation.

Students can wait up to ten minutes in other rooms or outside for late rides but SkilStak will not be held responsible for the safety of any student whose ride is late.

Rides arriving more than 10 minutes late will be automatically charged for a lab allowing up to a full hour of time. At that point the student will be handled as if signed up for a lab at that time. Even in this case please inform me of the situation.

Do you accept credit cards?

Absolutely, just not on site currently. We use PayPal for all of our transactions currently meaning we sent an invoice for course payments and you pay though that. Check or cash can still be used and recorded in the invoice.

Do you accept PayPal?

Yes. It's our main method of payment.

Do you accept Venmo?

Venmo is a "digital wallet" system popular for paying babysitters and such and is subsidiary of PayPal. We plan to accept payment through Venmo soon.

What if I leave something at SkilStak?

You could lose it forever, so don't.

If it looks like trash to me, it will be immediately thrown away and the fact that you left something will be noted in our log.

ProTip™: Pick up after yourself.

Repeatedly leaving trash (or any kind of mess really) could result in dismissal without warning or refund, so don't. 😁 Remember, I'm the janitor as well as the CEO.

The following look like trash to me:

If it doesn't look like trash to me, I'll put it in our lost and found bag and give it away to Goodwill or whomever I feel deserves it WITHIN SEVEN DAYS. We don't have a lot of room.

The most common items people forget (that are not trash) and that are given way include the following:

The following will never be given away, but I cannot guarantee they will not wander off:

Remember, you bring electronic items including computers, phones, games and controllers at your own risk. So far we have never had an issue with anything walking away, but it could happen. Also make sure to personally mark any electronics you bring here.