Want To Code? Prepare To Do Quizzes

Day 2 of learning Javascript on Learn.co!

Tests. Tests. Tests. I progressed/learnt enough to encounter a test. So for any online learning course (especially on a technical subject like coding), i think it’s important to have “milestones” along the way to check your understanding.

This is very similar to the kind of quizzes that Coursera or Udacity does. Just simple questions with Multiple-Choices. But it doesn’t look like there’s a score at the end. It just gives you immediate feedback (per question) on whether you got it right or not. So in that respect, learn.co is slightly different. The UI’s pretty clean so that’s great!

Screenshot of Quizzes in Learn.co

TESTS = The Scientific Method

Interesting enough, the first real module of learn.co’s class wasn’t really about what every other course will be doing at this stage. Typically most coding courses will go through a little bit about consoles, data types and very simple operations (e.g. 2 + 2) which Learn.co did too, and the next lesson will typically be on functions, followed by perhaps logic conditionals (e.g. “FOR”, “WHILE” etc). So imagine my surprise when the module was actually an introduction to tests.

In programming, tests place the scientific method into computer science. We run tests to verify that our programs behave the way we think they do. Tests help us identify bugs, and they give us a sense of the health of our applications.

This was VERY interesting and surprising to me. I work in a tech startup (business-side) and one of the interesting topics that came up recently was how we need to introduce more “automated testing” into our code — so for learn.co to put tests front and centre in a beginner’s module on Javascript was very interesting (and relevant) to me.

Screenshot of lesson on Tests

Lessons Are Long And Not Bite-Sized

The only downside so far is that the lessons doesn’t seem completely bite-sized to me. This is a different pedagogical approach compared to Codecademy where they’ve tried (very hard) to keep each lesson bite-sized (typically less than 10 minutes). For example, this “lab” on tests is about 1,300 words- which will easily take someone 30 minutes to read through with >70% comprehension, work through the exercises etc. A previous lesson on “Data Types” had about 1,000 words (easier content, not as technically involved)

So Far So Good And So Interesting

Having a full-time job with 2 young children AND learning to code (at night mostly) is not easy. But so far the learn.co’s experience has been pretty great so far. I love reading — so a (mainly) text-based learning experience (much like codecademy) is okay for me. But I can imagine others may prefer the Coursera approach which is more video-dominated. We’ll see how it goes!

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