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General Discussion

At a crossroad

Hey,

I'm currently in the middle of a few adventures and though the forum may not be the best place to write this, I find myself at a crossroad and I feel the need to speak my mind.

I love all the teachers at TH and I understand that there are many different teaching methods and students from all across the globe. However, while watching Zac's tutorials I felt that I had time-traveled to 2nd grade (or Grade 2 as the silly Canadians would say)...again this isn't a criticism, so Zac, if you are reading this please don't take this personally. I can tell that when you're actually sitting on the computer and talking in a relaxed, natural voice, you are clear and very understandable (without making me feel childish). A good example of a teacher that obviously worked on himself when speaking to/in-front of the camera is Nick. In the older videos (which I'd love to see revamped), Nick speaks in a nasally and self-conscious way; our lovable geek then turned hero. He's witty and charming while maintaining high self-confidence.

On the other side of this spectrum (I'm currently working on the WordPress adventure) we have Randy. Again, I'm not trying to criticize - my goal is to make aware...to be honest and upfront to make this place even awesomerer (yeah, I know...but it sounds good). Randy is too quick for me; I couldn't actually do the project side-by-side with him on my computer. Guil is a great example of someone with whom I can work side-by-side without pausing too often. Randy, I feel like you're rushing somewhere and it's hard for me to grasp the concepts of PHP because of your natural genius...I'm not there yet, give me a chance. This is my second time that I'm reviewing the "Building a Simple PHP Application", and I'm still vague on some of the information. After starting "Adding a Contact Form", things like "_POST" and "GET" are thrown at me and I still don't understand...please slow down. I find myself jumping to "Codecademy" to review things that I should be receiving here.

I understand the lessons were built to be fun and playful, and I love that (especially Nick and Jasons' banter in "The Treehouse Show"), but more importantly for me is the equilibrium between the different teachers and their lessons. I love this place and despite having signed up just two weeks ago, I feel like I've grown tremendously since then. Please take what I've said to mind (not heart) and thank you for your existence.

6 Answers

Jah Chaisang
Jah Chaisang
7,157 Points

Hi Motty,

I just joined for a week, but I'm absolutely addicted to Treehouse! All the teachers are my heroes, because I can sense that they truly care about their jobs. I thought I'd just give my 2 cents on the topic here.

This post reminded me of an idea I have that maybe Treehouse could implement, which is a student evaluation system. I am a teaching assistant in a university, and they allow students to evaluate me anonymously every year as well. Some of the comments will be pretty hurtful (esp. if you open it up for the whole internet to criticize you). But when you see some comments keep recurring, you have an idea about your weakness and can improve upon it. You can skip ones that are obviously personal.

For students, I'd say, go at your own pace. I pause and rewind Randy's and Andrew's videos all the time. Sometimes, I paused and try to make the function work on my own, before peeking what the teachers are going to do. Sometimes I tried alternate ways of doing it. I skip lots of things that I already knew, and just take the quiz to prove that I actually know it. I sometimes just read the transcript quickly on topics I'm familiar with. This is the beauty of e-learning. On Treehouse, they give you all the resources to make it fit your learning style. You cannot do these things in the university.

Matt Caden
Matt Caden
Courses Plus Student 6,588 Points

I really like this idea Jah. As students have a way in which we can submit our work and get feedback from the instructors here, we too could give constructive give feedback on the lessons. Who better to do so?

Maybe something as simple as a short survey at the end of a lesson or rating system for the videos encompassed in each. It could easily be anonymous and would give the instructors a clear understanding of what is working for us and what may not be.

Zac Gordon
Zac Gordon
Treehouse Guest Teacher

Yes, yes, yes to student feedback. I can assure you that once TH figures out a way to scale our ability to receive and act on feedback from our tens of thousands of students, we will do so :)

On a side note, if any teachers use TH in their classes, I would really like to personally compile this information starting on this thread: How Are Teachers Using Treehouse?

Thanks!

Hey Jah,

I too am addicted to Treehouse and 3,000 points in one week is amazing! You must be a robot!

I agree that every single teacher is amazing and that they all care about their respective careers. I was in no way, shape or form, trying to hurt the teachers, nor their reputations. I was trying for a constructive, not-even-a-criticism, guideline for future reference.

I would never request something that wasn't changeable. I used Nick as a good example of the possibility of change for the better. Just as I'm here - an adult that wants to learn constantly and improve on his work - I believe the teachers are also constantly looking to improve on their lessons. The best possible way for them to know where their faults lay, is by their students being honest and open with them. I must assume that the teachers are mature enough to handle critique from their students without taking personal offense.

I don't think any of my comments were "personal", yet they were specifically directed towards teachers. Meaning, the points I brought up weren't about the teacher - they were about something the teacher was doing that is changeable and isn't a defining quality about the teacher himself. I specifically stated good qualities about each teacher that I addressed; to remind him that I love this place and that he's an amazing teacher (though some things can be improved). I know that Zac is an amazing teacher...I have never misunderstood him. This doesn't mean that he's perfect.

I don't feel it's necessary to be anonymous when we belong to a family.

I'm also not perfect, and because of this I am going at my own pace and paying $50 a month (very much worth it) to be a part of this amazing community. A place where I can learn.

When I review a topic twice and I still don't understand the material, it's not for a lack of trying. You seem like a very smart woman (accumulating that amount of points in a week, wow!), and I commend you for your efforts and achievements. The very nature of me not understanding the same materials as well could be a hint towards a better system (or that I'm the only guy that's not as intelligent as you).

Andy Watkins
Andy Watkins
3,828 Points

I like all the instructors as well. I think Nick just sets the bar really really high. He is an expert at what he does and that is taking a subject he knows and breaking it down in a way that is both easy to understand and engaging.

It is very hard to do. Zac makes me laugh. He provides a little bit of comic relief. I think sometimes we take things too seriously and he is a good reminder that this is supposed to be something we enjoy. I think of his enthusiasm as a positive.

I will admit that I was sad to read of Allison's departure. Chicks that code are awesome and treehouse needs them. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of her.

Nick Pettit
STAFF
Nick Pettit
Treehouse Teacher

Hi Motty Jaffe,

Thanks for taking the time to write this super honest feedback. We always welcome constructive feedback and would never take it personally. Trust me, Treehouse teachers have heard it all. :)

I'll leave it to each teacher to address their own courses, but one thing I'd like to point out is that the teachers we hire are experts first and actors second. Teaching in a classroom or writing a blog post is very different from being on camera. It's incredibly difficult to find people that are both top-tier technology experts and outstanding presenters, so instead, we try to take subject matter experts and provide them with an environment that will train them to be better presenters.

That said, a lot of it just comes with practice. I was an actor from ages 2-18 before I became more serious about a career in tech, and as you noted, it still took time for me to adjust to being on camera again. :)

I'm not trying to make excuses here. Rather, I'm just trying to highlight why your feedback is so valuable. We need to hear things like this so that we can improve and make Treehouse better.

Hey Nick,

I'm happy that you find my feedback valuable and I'm glad that you understand what my goals are. As you pointed out, the disposition that the brilliant Treehouse teachers find themselves in whilst standing in front of a camera is both natural and understood. This is exactly why I felt the need to point out the things that a non-natural presenter (or a natural perceptive) might miss.

I recently joined the community, but like every community, the symbiotic relationship between the participants (including the teachers) is a necessity to maintain a thriving community and to keep the engine running, so to speak. I love what this place is and who you guys are...I wouldn't want to change any core components. Keeping them well rounded and properly oiled however, is possible only when you see the component from the outside.

Thank you guys for listening and for being.

Zac Gordon
STAFF
Zac Gordon
Treehouse Guest Teacher

Motty Jaffe I want to second Nick Pettit and say, as long as it's like you have done and provided constructive feedback that doesn't get personal or malicious, then bring it!!! We (I) love the feedback and nothing you have said is something I haven't reflected on myself.

To share some explanations. When I came on board a year ago I had some guidance to go for a very very simplified and humorous instruction on how to build a Blog with WordPress. We realized pretty soon after launch that we had gone too far with this approach, as you rightly point out with your explanation of "going back to 2nd grade," a comment which actually made me laugh :p although I realize you made a very serious point.

When I moved on to the How to Build a Theme Plugin I dropped a lot of that humor, tried to bring a more serious real world project into the narrative, and step up the professionalism and target audience for the project. With my third and most recent project, How to Build a WordPress Plugin (soon to be on roadmap) I think I have refined this process even more and hope you will find much more of what you're looking for.

Also, a big shout out to Guil Hernandez for demonstrating some really strong and spot on teaching skills. He's definitely one of my role model teachers here at Treehouse.

I am getting ready to start on redoing the first blog project into How to Build a Website with WordPress and if you would like to ping me outside the forums zac [at] teamtreehouse.com I would love to hear your thoughts on how to improve it even more.

Thanks again for speaking your voice and I encourage other students to do the same and follow your respectful approach for doing so.

Andy Watkins
Andy Watkins
3,828 Points

Keep up the good work, Zac. Regardless of how some feel on the presentation, nobody is arguing with the quality of your content. Your demonstration skills are top-notch and I can't wait to see more from you.

Take care.

Guil Hernandez
Guil Hernandez
Treehouse Teacher

Thanks for the kind words, Mr. Zac Gordon! :)

Motty Jaffe –– Thanks so much for the honest feedback. Like Nick mentioned, we've heard it all, and a lot of it has helped improve our teaching methods and content. For example, I used a lot our student's feedback to reshoot the first 3 stages of CSS Foundations. So keep it coming, Motty! :)

Zac Gordon
Zac Gordon
Treehouse Guest Teacher

Thanks Andy Watkins !!! Always good to hear the positive too ;)