Using Creativity after Structured Learning: Your First Project

Structured learning is great. Courses support you each step of the way giving you challenges to test your knowledge. There are drawbacks though, especially when using your own creativity to start your own project.

I have been working through Treehouse and FreeCodeCamp for over 2 months now and have created some projects I am very proud of as part of their curriculums. Treehouse gives you lots of structured learning with quizzes to test your knowledge, but little in the way of independent learning. This is where FreeCodeCamp comes in. They give you challenges after their structured tutorials and basically say “Get on with it, you’ve got Google!”. As a free learning resource, it is fantastic.

These curriculum based resources are great. They give you structured learning at your own pace and test your knowledge incrementally. The problem is that the real world isn’t like this! When you undertake your own project, you will inevitably have to research your own solutions and come up with ideas that are beyond the scope of the tutorials you have taken. I think that FreeCodeCamp helps especially with this as you are encouraged to be independent from the start, but nothing can prepare you for your first independent project!

Your first independent project will teach you originality, resourcefulness, and the confidence to trust the skills that you have learnt.

Today I decided to start my own project. It is a flexible training plan creator for runners, that uses your recent race times and mileage to create a template plan, at which point you can drag and drop your training plan elements to which day suits you.

It was so challenging to start with a blank slate. I created my form input elements and linked them with variables using vanilla JS, then using some handy functions with the information to start generating complex running data like projected VO2 max.

Problems I Encountered and Solved:

  1. Remembering how to select elements by id, class name and label in JS. I completely forgot! (I don’t want to wimp out and use JQuery just yet)
  2. Using the Math object in JS for powers and Euler’s theorem. Don’t ask about the second one, that took a while to get!
  3. Converting string inputs of distances (“Marathon”) to metres using a for loop and a “key” array.
  4. Converting a time input field into minutes and useable data for my VO2 max calculator…. still working on this one.

I have just found the process really enlightening and enjoyable to put my skills into practice and be truly challenged to make something that I have come up with myself. I have a long way to go but I feel like it is great practice for my future independent projects.


Originally published at CHRIS PHILLIPS.

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