Noroff review – front-end development course online and campus

Why there are so few developers and the market has a huge demand of people interested in the field? Because teachers like the ones that are in Noroff exist.

I taught for many years in the IT field, mainly targeting adults looking to improve their IT skills, from the basic usage of the computer, to basic/intermediate/advanced levels of the Office suite Excel, Word, Access, PowerPoint, then Networking and programming techniques. I never left someone back in the learning process.
I was not the only teacher there, and soon I understood that I was a good one. Why? Because students that went to another teacher, went back (or they met me another time) and told me how other teachers were driving the class. I was shocked. Mainly was a “one way scream of information”, and it seemed to me more for the purpose of showing that they knew “things”.
So I thought that was just “the moment”, or “the situation”, or a “bad coincidence”.

But then, I had the opportunity to give support to someone with no background, that started an IT class, “front-end development course” with “Noroff”.
I strongly suggested to take the on-campus class, much more expensive, but more support could have been available, real time help from the teacher, can practice the Norwegian language and learn all the technical terms, and so on. It will be fun, as said. And easy: if you don’t understand something, just ask the teacher, he will be happy to help!

It was a no-brain suggestion. Easy, right?

Then – after the first day of lessons – the shock came: it was impossible to understand basically nothing, on my surprise, so I started to investigate “why”.
I was shocked.

So the teacher that Noroff used to teach to “beginners” was not able to understand a very simple thing: they are beginners. Their website states it clearly:

The program is suitable for both beginners in the field and those who have worked with conventional media and want to continue working with digital solutions.

What a “beginner” is, is something I should explain? I don’t think so. And if I need to explain this to a teacher, then maybe he need to change profession.
As a beginner, you need a clear path, a guided itinerary, from basic to more advanced concepts. Step by step. And then build your knowledge and trust on yourself over it. “IT” can be very thought to learn nowadays, a lot of technologies are involved, and each of them are new/strange concepts if you are pretty new to the It world.
How many know what “git” is? few years ago – and after 15 years in the IT field – it took time to me to understand how it worked, and someone pretend someone else should learn in 15 minutes? Or they mean me and my colleagues are dumb?

So, it can happen now that you don’t believe me, and I just want to give a bad feedback to Noroff, just for fun.

I can tell what a typical on-campus session has been:
– the teacher arrives, not clear when, as the schedule change pretty often, and you need to follow 3/4 different media/software.
– he starts to read (in english, as they cannot Norwegian) slides from a (poor) Powerpoint
then starts to jump to more advanced topics
– everyone looks disoriented, only few (that have pre-existing experience) do something.
– go out of the class very quickly that another class should start soon.
Ah, and the on-campus class is 2-3 hours a day, 4 days a week, and the teacher is not available other than in that timespan (and if he is not busy reading a PowerPoint).

When I say “then starts to jump to more advanced topics” I mean that in hour, after around 10 days, they needed to – by themselves – install Git, node.js, Visual Studio Code, Vite, create a github repo, pushing changes, and building a project made with Vite.js, configure a pipeline and deploy to Netlify. Yes. I’m not kidding.
Can you imagine how frustrated could someone be after a day like that?
Do you think you could like to be a frontend developer?
I will not.

And the funny thing is that the first course was on “Design” (that means Figma/Adobe XD).
So the teacher instead of explaining how to use Figma, how to make a color palette, how to think in the design process, fonts, ecc, he thought that “ah this is boring, I want to make them enjoy the course and do something cool”. Or maybe he felt unprepared and wanted to show to the class he can do frontend? Who knows…

So, I’m not sure how this could be possible, but there was no supervision from the school itself, and it was not possible to give them feedback, so then the solution was to switch to the online course, hoping it could have been better, or at least the course material could have been available for self-studying.

And now, the funny part, part 2.

So Noroff is very quick to onboard you, and get your money, but then they disappear.
The switch request was made after few weeks from the class start, and then after around 10 days they forgot about it!
We needed to complain, and then they said “oh but now it’s too late”.
Ok, it’s not a comedy, it’s really happened!
Hopefully I’m not a guy that likes to be “trampled”, so I refuse to leave the situation as it was going… short story, we made the switch to the online course.

The online course is much better, but the confusion of tools, the poor material quality, the unclear tasks, make learning to be a front-end developer a real challenge.
So the challenge is not the course itself, but the confusion this people is able to generate, teaching very basic stuff.

You can get a feeling about it when you access their online tools. A babilonia of tools, with poor UX… and they teach UX, frontend and fullstack courses!
In the Discord chat, people is screaming for help, and students try to do their best to help. Tutors are available and help as much as they can. They throw links in the chat, they throw also there the template you need to fulfill to be able to deliver the Course Assignment (CA), they organize (few) online meetings to explain stuff at the last minute. No planning. Chaos. Not professional. It looks like it was the first year the course has been made, but it’s not!
The CA are so poorly described, that the real challenge is to understand what to do and how you need to deliver, and not the task itself.

Who will survive this course and will be able to get a diploma, deserves to be hired instantly, this people made it, and for sure is strong people.

From what I have seen, the technical part is pretty good, they build websites from scratch, from the design to the HTML/CSS, everything made by themselves, so I think it could be a pretty good learning opportunity. I can say they can be ready to start a professional experience.
But I want to make it clear again: you will not learn because of the school, you will learn because you will put all yourself in the topic. You need to invest at least 12 hours a day, weekends included. But you need them right? how can you get a diploma watching videos on Youtube and doing the tasks by yourself?

It could be much better, and people could learn much more, but for that we need better teachers, not better students. The topics are not difficult, but instead is difficult to find people that is able to teach.
It’s the same with math: math is not difficult if you meet a good human being/teacher, but instead bad teachers will made you hate it!

And I think not everyone will make it, and I’m pretty sure many will give up, not because the topic is difficult, but because institutions like that make you hate it.

The IT world is in this situation from the very beginning.
Do you know that in the ’70 there were much more woman (roughly the 50%) in the field, as they are more precise and smarter? Then men come and send them away, with their way “men are best”.
Now we need desperately more women in IT, their quality, their soft-skills, their attitude, their ability to work in teams, their communication skills, and huge investments are made to make it happen. Do you wonder why?
It’s very tough to work with men, especially with who has no soft-skills (for my experience is more than 80%).
You can learn more about this “funny” fact in this video (starts at 8:45):

Update 2023 – javascript module

I have seen the Javascript course too, and in my opinion there is something very wrong with it.
It consists in a bunch of external links and videos thrown randomly and grouped in “modules”. There is no book of organized material that you can follow (alone, too).
The videos are very bad in my opinion, and this confirms why there are so few developers around: the teaching level is very low. For me it doesn’t make sense that, if you can a bit of Javascript, you can teach to beginners. I think the basic concepts of javascript are very very simple, but if you make it super complicated and confused, jumping around to random topics, can be very very demanding.
As example, there was a video about “loops”: they spoke for 1 hour in a low-emotional/boring way some super-complex and out-of-context stuff, and only in minimal part it was related to the main topic.
It’s like you are teaching basic math (+, -, * and /) and you explain them using Fourier transformations, just because it contains these operators at some level. Does it make sense to you? For me of course not!

From my understanding this is a course that is going on from several years, and this means to me that they don’t understand the basics of teaching, do not listen to feedbacks, or that they are not interested that you learn, but they care just that you pay and stay there to get your “paper”. Basically 90% of the work is on you, finding good material in youtube, but for a beginner can be very very challenging, as the quality in those youtube channels is pretty low. And if you think how much are you paying them…
They also ask for feedback, how they can improve, but then nothing happens. I think could be better that they don’t ask, because then the frustration just become worst and worst.
So, in conclusion, my opinion is that this is not a course for beginners that are “alone”, without a mentor, but it could be ok if you have previous experience and you need a “paper”.
If you are a beginner and alone (I mean you need a friend/mentor continuously helping you to decrypt the bunch of stuff thrown in the air), just find another way to become a developer, maybe a more structured or university-level course, as the material/path should be more organized and thought.

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