Trevis Rothwell's weblog

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Recurrent Training for Software Developers?

14 May 2014

Software developers who have been out of school for a while and apply for new jobs routinely bemoan that they have forgotten details of things like algorithms and data structures and other computer science topics that tend to pop up for discussion in interviews. Even software developers working in their current job can stand to be reminded of things they’ve been taught in the past but haven’t thought about for years.

Pilots undergo intense training before getting certified to fly in the first place, but then also must undergo recurrent training on a regular basis.

Instead of checking off having learned algorithm design in college and never thinking about it again, would it be useful for software developers to engage in regular recurrent training to refresh themselves on things they might be letting slip from their thinking?

Taking a full semester-long class might be overkill, and too much to expect out of the schedule of working professionals with families and responsibilities outside of their jobs. Maybe a twice a year spend a day or two being refreshed on things that should have already been studied in detail in the past.

A format of alternating between 15-minute lectures, 15-minute in-class exercises (done by individuals on their own laptops), and 15-minute review of solutions might be a good way to go.

How could such training be set up? Large companies could do it all in house, paying a small staff to be dedicated to administering such classes. Local community colleges could potentially offers this format of class to small companies and individuals in the area, as part of their alleged charter to foster continuing education.

In theory, it could also all be done online, with prerecorded lectures by especially great speakers, but spending the time to meet in person can sometimes be more motivating than watching videos.