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The Idea

Learning to code is hard but it doesn't have to be

Learning to code is hard, but not only because of the nature of the material. It's also hard because of the sheer volume there is to know and the infinite paths you could take to climb the technical mountain.

Sean had an idea to change that—build an online course that is extremely opinionated and approachable. He brought up the idea with Ian and they decided to work together to build a new product.

Opinionated Curriculum

What does an opinionated curriculum look like? It's linear. Most online learning resources suffer from one of the following shortcomings. Other resources aren't bad, they're just not ideal for beginners:

  • Too niche. For instance, Courses on a specific framework or library. These resources are good for existing developers but not useful for beginners.
  • Too broad. This type of course has all the relevant material, but it reads like a choose-your-own-adventure book—Many paths, any of which could lead you to become a developer.

Linearity is key. We'll tell you where to start, where to go next and where to go after that. We don't force students to do things in order, but we give them an order that they can follow if they're unsure how to proceed.

The Founders

Ian and Sean are both self-taught software engineers. They have no technical degrees and didn't attend any coding bootcamps. As such, they're very familiar with teaching yourself to code. To be specific, they know that it's both possible and difficult.

Late in 2019 the two set out to build a prototype. Initially the project was called "Prototype X" and it was about as rough as a rough draft can get and still work. The prototype went up surprisingly quickly. In just a few weeks the first usable version of what would later become Pairwise was born. Ian and Sean had something they could show to users. For a few weeks they did just that.

However, as first-time founders they quickly got really excited about the product. They stopped meeting with users in order to focus fully on building content for the first course: Introduction to Programming.

The Future

It's really exciting to have the first sections of the course done. Pairwise has hundreds of challenges and video explanations. It represents the most widely accessible and low friction approach to teaching programming yet.

The first cohort

The time spent building the course was not spent talking to actual learners. It's still very early days and we're is actively filling out the first user cohort.

We have an excellent (totally unbiased...), free curriculum that anyone can access. There's not even an email signup wall. Just go to the Pairwise Workspace and start coding. This beginning course can teach anyone the basics of programming and building a website with HTML and CSS.

As we continue to build an audience we will also start to focus our effort on building out our other course modules. When finished, our course will present all of the topics and skills required to build and deploy a modern software app. We're confident that by the end of the course learners will know enough to work productively on a professional software team or kick-start their own startup from scratch.

We're really excited about the future and looking forward to developing our course content and getting to know our first users!