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OCW Stories

Matt Zand

Educator | United States

"When I saw and reviewed the course structure and materials of MIT OpenCourseWare, I knew I found what I was looking for. "

By Megan Maffucci | MIT Open Learning

As a mentor, tutor, and coding bootcamp instructor, Matt Zand has recommended OCW resources to help his students—from teenagers to adults—succeed.

Matt Zand is passionate about helping students gain proficiency in computer literacy. In the past few years, he has worked with students as a volunteer coach, through one-on-one tutoring, and by teaching coding bootcamps and classes at Washington D.C.-based computer training companies such as Coding Bootcamps and High School Technology Services. Matt’s students include high schoolers, adults looking to develop professionally, and independent learners who simply want to learn. Working with such a range of backgrounds, he sees his coding bootcamps as a foundation that students can build on as they continue to learn on their own. 

In the course of his instruction, Matt explored a range of online learning content to be able to point students to additional resources and tutorials beyond his classes. Being able to pull from a body of open source resources like Khan Academy and OCW helps him find high-quality materials to best suit their individual needs. 

“After a high school student finishes my class, my goal is to give them resources to learn it in-depth by themselves as a part of continuing education. When I saw and reviewed the course structure and materials of MIT OpenCourseWare, I knew I found what I was looking for. Over the years, I learned that teaching computer programming and STEM-related classes must be followed by fun and hands-on exercises. Many online sites are lacking such features.”

With all the free resources available today, Matt finds that the structure of OCW materials helps his students reinforce their training with more advanced concepts. Among the courses he recommends are MIT’s introductory courses in computer and data science, and programming in Java, Python, and C. This has been especially true for disadvantaged students he serves whose schools don’t offer programming classes and who can’t afford extracurricular training.

One course that has been particularly valuable is 6.046J / 18.410J Design and Analysis of Algorithms, which offers something extra to help prepare students for a competitive job market. Learning to program is not the difficult part, he says, but knowing how to design algorithms is what sets candidates apart, and this is something that many coding programs and bootcamps don’t provide. 

Matt enjoys supporting his students’ drive to continue learning at their own pace through OCW and other platforms, and has watched several of his students go on to launch their careers at prominent companies like Google. And for an instructor like Matt, helping your students grow is what it’s all about.