by Travis Chan

How to stay sane and learn to code when there are thousands of online courses

Graph by Carl Richards

We live in the information age. Information about anything we can think of is accessible to us, at the tip of our fingertips. While this is great, it can lead to too many choices. If you’re a beginner learning to code, you may struggle with deciding between so many online courses.

If you head over to Udemy and search for “web development”, you’ll see that there are almost 1,000 courses to choose from.

Keep in mind, this is only the one platform! There’s also Udacity Nanodegrees, Treehouse, Pluralsight, Lynda… the list goes on. Herein lies the trap of having too many choices.

Learning web development is hard

Learning web development is hard. It’s a fast-moving field where there is always something new to learn.

For beginners, there’s an increase in mental load, and a possible fear of missing out when choosing a learning resource. So which course should you do? Should you do the Web Developer Bootcamp by Colt Steele, or the The Complete Web Developer Course by Rob Percival? Or how about a monthly subscription to Treehouse?

The answer is: it doesn’t matter, just pick one and commit to it.

I’ve seen countless people (sorry for outing you specifically Jeremy, yours was the most recent one I read!) get bogged down by enrolling in many courses that teach the same concepts.

Generally speaking, doing many courses on the same concept is not a good use of your time. For example, if you’ve realized the instructor’s teaching style does not suit you, you should choose another one (thanks DJ Khaled).

But, if you find yourself nodding along with what the instructor is saying most of the time, it’s probably time to stop watching. It’s the same thing as taking multiple Introduction to Biology courses at different universities.

Why does this happen?

From what I’ve observed, there is a bit of a disconnect in how to effectively study and learn web development. It’s not like the typical unit of study you’re most likely accustomed to, where you jot down notes and memorize concepts. Web development is a craft. Much like drawing or making music, it requires practice.

via Scotchi

If you are going through courses without actively making your own examples that show what you have recently learned, chances are that you will waste your time. You’ll go through more courses, which teach the same material you’ve already learned.

It’s also a good idea to note the time you spend watching courses against the time you actually spend coding.

Closing thoughts: Make all the things

It boils down to practice, and applying what you’ve learned by writing your own personal code snippet.

Being a developer involves a lot of problem solving. If you practice going through the process of crafting solutions from the ground up, your knowledge and skill set will naturally increase over time. For this reason, I’m particularly fond of freeCodeCamp and their project based curriculum.

If you ever hit a wall, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask the community, we all want you to succeed.

How to dig yourself out of the coding tutorial rut inspired this post.

Here’s a video that’s worth your time. Ed Sheeran talks about the practice which can also apply to programming.