I’m very excited to see that Rik Lomas’ new start-up—Steer—has launched. Their goal is to set up high-quality courses in web design and development. Some of their courses are aimed at people pursing a new career, whether it be creating their own web startup or wanting to become a designer or developer, and other courses are aimed at giving people in the industry extra skills to improve their craft.
Some of their courses are long form multiple day courses, for instance, they have a course called “Learn to make websites” coming up in April that’s Monday to Friday, 10am until 6pm every day for 10 days. Another interesting product is a series of courses called Slow Code: sessions every fortnight for people who want to learn more casually or just don’t have the time to commit to an intensive course. They’re launching with Ruby on Rails and jQuery Slow Code courses.
Their long term goal is to create a platform for learning during and after the courses so that their students can always get help solving problems. There are a few education startups that help do this, but importantly Steer are providing the educational infrastructure than will underpin the platform; tailoring it precisely to their students’ needs.
The staff at Steer—who, incidentally all code themselves—know the pain of learning how to program, so in parallel with the main platform they’re building web apps to make creating websites easier. Their first app, Teepee is for people looking to get static sites online easily. They say, “Think of it as a cross between Geocities and a super simple web host. We’re working with Code Club on this so it has to be simple enough for a 9 year old to use which in itself is a big but fun user experience challenge for us.”
Finally, Steer are donating money from each course to Code Club, to help their programme that helps kids learn to code. For instance, every ticket bought for their 2 week learn to make websites course will fund 12 children to code for a year. “We love Code Club and it’s amazing to see how much enjoyment children get out of creating their own inventions. That sense of fun and achievement is something that we want to replicate with Steer.”
Given the woeful state of design and development education in the UK and the US, I’m excited about Steer, and genuinely believe that it will be startups like this that will carry the mantle: I haven’t seen any innovation by traditional educational institutions and can’t envisage a future with them playing a significant role in educating the next generation of talent in our industry.