Learning how to code with Treehouse

By July 17, 2013 No Comments

treehouseOne of my objectives for 2013 was to learn something new. So I enrolled for a 10-week course to learn how to knit. By mid-March, my course was finished and I had started my first project (still ongoing…). But there were another 9 months in the year, so plenty of time to learn something else.

This time I set the target a bit higher (although knitting is no walk in the park believe me) and decided to learn how to code. 

As project manager in a web dev agency, I already understand code and how it works. I also have a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS that I learned by myself. But I wanted to follow a more structured path to learn code, starting with HTML and CSS to then go onto JavaScript and Ruby.

I heard about the learning platform Treehouse, so I gave it a go. I’ve completed my first ‘course’ and am in the middle of a second one so I wanted to share my views so far.

Videos, challenges and quizzes

I first started a course on how to ‘Build a simple website’. It’s divided into 5 sections: website basics, text editors and HTML, creating a website structure, styling content and launching the website. The first two sections were really basic so not very useful, but if you don’t know anything about websites, it’s definitely a good way to get you started.

Each section contains a few videos, code challenges and quizzes. The objective is to build this website: Smells Like Bakin’, from scratch.

Each video has a specific theme. They are quite short (5 to 10 minutes) so you never get bored listening to someone talking (that someone being Nick Pettit in this case). Besides, you should download a text editor and practice coding as you watch the video. It’s a lot more satisfying than watching someone else do it!

Everything is very well explained and if you didn’t get it the first time, you can always go back and watch the video again. The code challenges and quizzes are a good way of making sure that you understood and remembered the main points.

The only downside I found is that when you have a wrong answer in a quizz, you don’t get to try again (unlike the code challenges). You’re immediately taken to the next question, without even knowing what your mistake was. It’s frustrating and not very constructive. But you can always go back and re-take the quizz.

Good flow

The course flow is very good. You’re taken from step to step without doing anything. You don’t have to go back to the course overview to select the next lesson. And if you do go back to the course overview, you can check your progress and see where you’re going. Besides, passing some tests unlocks new videos and resources.

Because the videos are short, it’s easy to stop at any point during the course and start again later from where you stopped. Again, if you can’t quite remember what you did last, you can re-watch the last video.

Next step

I’m now doing the HTML ‘Deep Dive’ and again, I really like it. It’s not as entertaining as the ‘Build a basic website’ because it’s a lot more technical. But I just wish I had more time for it.

So if you want to learn about websites, programming, iOS development, Android development or even business, this is the place for you! It’s absolutely brilliant! (and may I add, well worth the money).