Code Chrysalis Staff Introductions: Krista Moroder

Today I’d like to introduce Krista Moroder, one of our senior instructors, in what will be the first entry in a series of posts centering on our Code Chrysalis staff members.

krista-moroder

An award-winning educator, experienced software engineer, and brilliant video producer, Krista co-founded and leads the LA-based creative agency and software consultancy NonQuixote. Outside of video production and software development, she works here at Code Chrysalis as a Senior Educational Software Engineer, teaching students and developing the curriculum for our expanding array of programs.

In short, Krista is a “hybrid professional,” mixing expertise in the arts and education with equivalent experience in tech.

Can you tell me more about your background and how it has influenced both your present work and philosophy?

After completing degrees in Theater and English, Krista entered the field of education, where she would quickly begin to incorporate tech into the classroom. Three years into her career, she received an award from the International Society for Technology in Education, which led her to become involved in technology-in-education initiatives with Google, the Verizon Foundation, and the Congressionally-authorized nonprofit Digital Promise.

Her transition into software engineering stems from a speaker panel at YouTube headquarters, where her fellow presenters led her to reevaluate her preconceptions of coding and software engineering:

“The goal was to inspire the audience, but I left probably more inspired. I realized that these women next to me were incredible problem solvers, and could solve problems in ways that I couldn’t. Which isn’t a way I looked at coding before. I think I had fallen privy to the stereotype that coding was unsocial and math-focused, and I’ve always seen myself as more “artsy” and “creative” and I didn’t see that connect. They described it as a structured way to solve problems, and is also something that allows me to communicate better. Because not only am I communicating with other people, but I’m also communicating with the machines that have structured our world. So I left that weekend..learned to code, and made the transition.”

In fact, she details this experience herself in a fantastic post (which you should absolutely check out).

After spending years in software engineering in various capacities, Krista came to Tokyo to work with Code Chrysalis.

“Code Chrysalis was a really good fit, because I could teach software — I brought in GraphQL and VueJS — so on the technical side I was excited. On the education side, they had just started, so I was excited about being able to add some of those supports in.”

Her perspective on the benefit of having experience across multiple fields before entering software engineering is particularly apt:

“The value of being a second career software engineer is that you have a network in and understanding of other careers and can connect the dots in the ways that others cannot.”

How has this background influenced your approach to technology education, and how have you used it during your time at Code Chrysalis?

“I’ve spent a lot of time in education, with research-backed practices and ways to structure schools effectively. And one of the gaps I’ve seen in coding bootcamps is the extensive use of the stand-and-deliver model with lectures — and yes, the activities are often hands on and its portfolio-based, which is good — but there are certain pieces that are missing that can help make things more efficient and effective at reaching students.”

In Code Chrysalis, Krista has introduced the following research-based educational strategies:

  1. A competency-based engineering ladder for students, so they can progress at their level and set goals against it, and we can keep track of their progress.

  2. Weekly assessments with connection to intervention strategies. So if we do see a gap we have a structured way of intervening and catching them up.

  3. More interactive (and effective) lecture strategies that scaffold information they already know, and also encourage them to recall and connect information.

  4. A teacher effectiveness rubric for staff to use to improve our own instructional practices.

When asked about what makes Code Chrysalis unique, she pointed out the startup’s close ties with locally active companies like Rakuten Airmap, Pivotal, and R/GA among others, as well as its emphasis on developing student “soft skills” alongside their technical ones (in fact, this comes up frequently in student interviews).

“Students aren’t being set up just for junior software engineer roles [at Code Chrysalis], they’re being set up to take a leadership role very quickly after they graduate. Which, I think, sets them at a different level.”

Any thoughts on women in technology, or anything that you have seen that Code Chrysalis is doing in this regard that you particularly like.

“When I was first starting to code, it was so important for me to see female software engineers — and to see them also maintaining their personality. I didn’t want to change how I represented myself just to fit a stereotype. And I hope this has been inviting for other people who want to take Foundations or our English Communication Intensive, because they’re in a community of other women where they feel supported.”

So what are you working on now?

Krista has a number of fascinating projects on the horizon, almost all of which mix VR, storytelling, and more “traditional” filmmaking.

In June, she’ll be joining her partner at an artistic residency at one of the U.S. National Parks, with the goal of producing a 360 film with VR elements. Another project she’s working on is a VR art piece, “The Million Memory Immersive,” where she and her partner will create an interactive space created from (as the name implies) millions of photos from the last decade.

NonQuixote also finished training videos for Lenovo’s VR headset alongside Educollaborators.

Finally, over the next year, she also plans to film an education documentary which will also be a mix of 360 and VR.

Any last thoughts?

“For me, the important takeaway from my experience is less about the shift into software engineering, and more about these stereotypes we hold in regard to software engineers. That it’s not creative, that it doesn’t involve communication, that it doesn’t involve collaboration…It couldn’t be more opposite! [Software engineering] has required more communication than any other job I’ve ever done, and it has required — in a lot of ways — more creativity as well.”

Code Chrysalis is a 12-week, full-time advanced coding bootcamp located in the heart of Tokyo. See why we are an industry leader in technical education in Japan.

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Written on May 18, 2018