Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

To Be a Successful Web Developer You Need to Learn How to Learn

But so many of us make the same mistake

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Have you ever sat through a 20-hour Udemy course teaching you how to build a website or app?. Maybe you have gone through a popular YouTube series that will teach you how to become a guru at React?. Yes, these resources do exist and to be honest many of them are teaching you all the right things. Some of the tutors are world known. It’s not what you are learning that is the problem but instead the way you are processing the information. Let’s look at this in detail and how you can tackle it going forward.

I once completed a Udemy course on learning how to build a WordPress theme. It was 27 hours long. By the end of it, I had an awesome Website that had so much functionality that I couldn’t wait to show it to family and friends. I was working with the rest API and using AJAX for just some of its features.

It wasn’t until I decided to start a new project of my own did I realize that I had forgotten everything I had learned. I was literally staring at a blank screen and even started to look at the old Udemy course again.

I probably spent close to a year learning this way as a self-taught developer. I knew no different and thought it was the only way to learn. In the end, I just had a stack of finished or half-finished courses and projects that I only got so far with. This left me with a lack of confidence in my abilities to show that I was a real developer.

Passive learning

The real truth was that all my efforts were resulting in “passive learning”.

“Students are assumed to enter the course with minds like empty vessels or sponges to be filled with knowledge” — Norman Herr, Ph.D.

In web development and programming in general, passive learning will only get you so far. You may be going through a course, coding along and following all the concepts. The human brain can only hold so much before you forget. In programming, it is definitely a case of “use it or lose it”.

Although it may give you great satisfaction in saying to yourself that you completed a course and received a nice virtual certificate to pin to your LinkedIn profile. In truth, all that you have been doing is spinning your wheels.

Active learning

The only way that you can reach your goals and learn web development in a reasonable time scale is to adopt an “active learning” mindset.

“The instructor strives to create a learning environment in which the student can learn to restructure the new information and their prior knowledge into new knowledge about the content and to practice using it” — Norman Herr, Ph.D.

Active learning is all about breaking learning down into smaller concepts and practice them until you are comfortable before moving on. Taking a Udemy course for example. If you stop after each module and not code along with the exact project the tutor is developing but instead develop your own completely different project then you can really learn.


The trick is to take your time. If a 20-hour course takes you two months to complete for the skills to set in then so be it. The main thing is to retain the information and put it into constant practice. This mindset should be an ongoing way of learning whether you are a junior or senior developer. You should always be building and practising what you learn as this will improve your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Passive learning will lead to Imposter syndrome and Tutorial purgatory which could potentially end your journey before it even begins.




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Rob Doyle

Rob Doyle

Web Developer Specialising in WordPress, Digital Marketing and Freelancing | BSc (Hons) in Business Computing |

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