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General Discussion

Brian Patterson
Brian Patterson
19,588 Points

Do tutorials help!

This is just a general question about whether tutorials like Udemy and Treehouse help with the learning experience of Web Development. Like some, I have struggled with learning this subject for about 18 months. Every now and then I get someone telling me that I should ditch the tutorials and focus on writing the code and learning through the struggle. Making mistakes, looking up solutions, going on to the next the next error. They say it is not about the getting through them as fast as you can. It's about understanding the subject area however long it will take. There is an education theory Bloom's Taxonomy that explains the process of learning. It says that in order to fully understand a subject area or we go through various stages of learning. I can see that Tutorials are only useful in the bottom three elements of this triangle. The remembering, understanding, and applying. They don't go beyond that. It would be good to hear whether other people agree with me or what is their experience when using tutorials as part of the learning experience.

4 Answers

Steven Parker
Steven Parker
225,756 Points

Mastership is a combination of knowledge and experience. Nothing can replace the value of experience, but the knowledge itself provides a solid foundation to build on.

At times I've been forced to "learn through struggle" (not by choice) and while I have become functional that way, I am aware that there are "holes" in my understanding. I had been a developer for many years before discovering Treehouse, and one of the benefits to me has been to fill in those "holes" and give me a thorough understanding of things I was already using but did not know how to use to their full capacity.

What your friends are suggesting might be a quicker route to competence, but it will never lead to mastery.

Hey Brian!

While I think tutorials are extremely helpful, everyone has a different approach when it comes to learning. Usually, tutorials are very great for hand-holding. It also helps to build confidence on a range of particular subjects, and could easily be used as a source or means to reference for future projects. I'll try my best to explain below.

Let's say that you're a beginner. You're just starting out and you don't have a general direction on where or what you want to do. Especially since you're trying to get started in Web Development, right? Using Team Treehouse, for example, will help to guide you in a general direction. Eventually, you can choose to do things on your own, once you've built up enough confidence, or continue to do the lesson until completion. You could also ignore this completely by taking on projects and learn as you go along. However, you choose to carve your own path is up to you, though I feel the latter would be beneficial only after you've become decent at understanding how programming works.

If you choose to do tutorials, it's also important to know that you still need to practice the material that you've learned. On occasion, I'll do a few tutorials for an hour and spend the next hour or two applying that knowledge to a self-motivated project. You have to apply what you've learned in order for it to stick. If you don't, then you'll forget it. It's kinda' like working out, right? If you don't use your muscle, then it won't grow and get strong!

With this in mind, know that there are many different approaches to learning. Figuring out what works best for you is the most important. If you feel as if you learn better by application and struggle, vs having a tutorial guideline, go for it! Or Visa Versa. There's no true defining path on the matter.

Brian Patterson
Brian Patterson
19,588 Points

I suppose my main take away from this is that everyone learns differently. It would be good to hear from other students on how they are learning. Maybe provide relevant examples. For instance, some might say I did the Express REST API track and then I developed a school subject API as a personal project. Anyway, something along those lines. Plus, maybe Treehouse could do a Workshop on different learning styles. Although, coding is the "future" and everyone from Apple to Bootcamps are trying to get people to learn how to code. I can't help feeling that teaching code is in its infancy.

I think your question is subjective. Everyone learns differently. For me, Treehouse, Code Academy, edX and the like, provide a foundation, though II will admit real-world experience is most valuable. So, it's not abut how the information you get from these sources will work for you but how you work with the information provided. Our needs are not always met in one place and from one source. And yes, through these tutorials I have had lots of trial and error...sometimes needing to watch a vid multiple times, other times submitting a challenge answer 3 or 4 times before it's accepted. ALL OF THIS is part of learning. So, combine your efforts if you see fit or, should you be so included, find different ways to the same goal. It's all abut how you learn and how you retain. But, I will say for myself, I've had some good instructors through Treehouse. And...I always make sure to take good notes.


In response to your post from yesterday...Repetition works for me. That and printing out any cheat sheets in the teachers notes as well. I'm a bit old school with the way I learn. People are either visual, audio or kinesthetic (tactile, touch) learners but everyone learns best when all three are incorporated. It's funny how I can pick up on a language like SQL no problem but have a hard time grasping HTML which is it's foundation. For this? Repetition. The code structures are similar from language to language but it's the tags, attributes blocking that changes. So, learning HTML is a challenge for me also but not impossible. I even purchased a couple books for reference, which I know will be outdated eventually, but my purpose for doing so was to learn now. And should all go according to my plan, the books will assist in providing a foundation NOW so any changes LATER will not be difficult adjusting to.