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General Discussion

What do you think of our stage and video lengths?

Hi everyone,

Teachers Nick Pettit, Dan Gorgone and I have been thinking a lot about our stage and video lengths.

We'd like to hear your feedback on the flow and pace of the stages and videos.


  • How do you feel about the length of our videos?
  • What about the length of stages?
  • Do you ever "test out" of materials and avoid watching videos?

Thank you so much, we value your input!


22 Answers

Leslie Hui
Leslie Hui
3,330 Points

The flow is very good with most teacher, but sometimes its a bit confusing.

In wordpress lesson, before they begin on the coding, maybe it will be good to show us the visual first before beginning on the code. Therefore it easier to expect which part Zac is going to code. For jquery lesson, i feel its a bit confusing to follow thru and i have a bit of experience doing it (maybe its me).

At times, I wish there are more in depth explanation, especially on programming language.

I know its very hard to please everyone. I really hope we can have a mini QnA right below each video. So the questions we ask will be based on that particular videos (maybe only for gold members). So its also easier for you guys to know which sections has more questions then the others.

Leslie Hui, I really like the idea of a mini-QnA below each video! I know we've talked about this in the past. Jeremy Jantz, any comments?

Christopher Peters Leslie Hui Yes, integrating some Q/A functionality on the videos pages is something we've discussed at great length in the past :) It's something I would definitely like to see happen, and your feedback is absolutely correct. Relating the questions more closely to the videos provides better UX for students (quicker to ask/answer/search), and provides better data for us to improve the quality of our content.

Michael O'Malley
Michael O'Malley
4,293 Points

I personally like this idea as long as it didn't create separate islands of threads.

If someone was taking Build a Simple Website the Q&A would appear there, but it should also appear in the Forum with the HTML/CSS tag, but not vice versa (questions asked on the Forum pertaining HTML/CSS don't necessarily find there way into the Q&A).

If the Q&A only appeared on a Video or even at the Stage level, people who have completed the course won't have eyes on the questions (unless they drill down to the Stage/Video to see them). I could make up statistics, but I feel a majority of the productive answers come from people who have already completed the material.

Leslie Hui
Leslie Hui
3,330 Points

I feel the QnA will be more for the teachers to answer. If more students asked the same questions, we will know its a concern for most. Then maybe teacher's note will be added to address the same questions asked.

Just thinking out loud

Oh! I get you, like a FAQ moderated by the teachers.

Kevin Korte
Kevin Korte
28,147 Points

Stages -

Some I feel were too fast, some too slow. For example...the whole Ruby on Rails thing went way too fast for me and I ended up giving up on it awhile ago to focus more on front-end stuff. I'll eventually try it out again, but within the first few videos I was not able to past the quizzes anymore. However, I think the JS foundations was a bit too slow paced because I kinda got bored with it and didn't finish it either. That's not a jab at Jim, he knows his stuff, but I did get through most of it and still can't write Javascript well. I can tweak someone elses code if I can find it, but writing my own from scratch, no not yet. I'd like to see a lot more attention put into Javascript, and libraries like JQuery. I've learned how to write PHP from scratch pretty well here (I'm still missing a lot of more advance techniques with PHP though), with a project like Mike's Shirt site, I'd love to see a similar build along project with Javascript where I can hope to learn to write JS from scratch. A stage I thought was just perfect....the PHP lessons.

Video length. 3 minutes is too short. I usually just try to test out of those videos, and usually can. 15-20 minute videos are too long. I usually just try to test out of those too. The short videos I figure how much new info can you give me in 3 minutes. The longer videos I think how much detail can you give me before it's brain overload and I just stop paying attention. I've found personally the sweet spot for me are videos that are 8-12 minutes. The perfect amount of enough time to get into some nitty gritty, but short enough I just do not become overwhelmed with the info. If a section needs to be 15-20 minutes long it's a great opportunity to break it up into two 8-12 minute videos. I'll add that the super short videos, and the really long videos also make it more difficult to go back later and find the information I'm looking to rewatch again.

And to my surprise, I'd actually like to see a lot more on using Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, and other programs, etc to create efficient work structures, techniques, etc. I actually enjoyed that more than I thought I would, and even though I have a degree in product design from a brick and motor university, I learned a lot.

Kevin Korte, I feel ya. I've gone through both the Ruby on Rails and JS Founations and I walked away with the same conclusion as you.

It's interesting to see you say an 8 - 12 minute max, that's about what I estimated we should be doing. /cc Nick Pettit Dan Gorgone

Jah Chaisang
Jah Chaisang
7,157 Points


Here are my inputs.

How do you feel about the length of our videos? What about the length of stages?

I think it varies a lot and make it difficult to estimate how long each badge will take. But I'm not worried too much. Videos and stages should be as long as they need to be to give a fair coverage of a given topic. I don't have issues with length, but I have issues with pace. I downloaded many videos and play them at 1.5x-2x speed to prevent boredom without losing comprehension. This means many videos go too slow for me. But maybe this is just me being generally crazy about maximizing efficiency, and I only do this on topics I'm familiar with. On the contrary, many project videos go too fast. I feel this for all the projects, except Randy's PHP project, and Nick's Smells like Bakin'. Pace goes beyond speed of talking. It is more about what assumptions you have about your audience's knowledge of the subject, and how you design the flow of your materials.

Note that my general opinion will always be that learners should adjust their learning strategy to suit the materials (since in the real world, you don't have an army of smart people who carefully engineer the learning materials for you like in Treehouse). I think Treehouse does a really really good job compared to, well, everywhere on the web. No doubt about that!

Do you ever "test out" of materials and avoid watching videos?

Yes. Only for topics that I'm super sure I know well and it wouldn't make sense to repeat. I take the quiz to make sure my assumption is correct. If I don't past the quiz with ease, I force myself to watch videos.

Jah Chaisangmongkon , see my comment above to Kevin Korte. I've been thinking a lot about the consistency issue. That's actually a fairly easy thing to analyze!

We're thinking about a facility that would allow users to test out. There's a lot of details that need to be worked out, but it's something we're looking at.

Michael O'Malley
Michael O'Malley
4,293 Points

How do you feel about the length of our videos?

This varies from subject to subject. If you can cover a subject in 3 minutes, obviously there is no sense in extending it (just for the sake of extending it).

I also don't mind a 10-15 minute video if the context stays consistent. While doing the Project: Build A Simple PHP Application last night, I hit the Code Challenge: Objects. I didn't feel like I had a firm grasp on Objects at that point, so I went back and watched the 2 previous videos Using A Third-Party Library and Sending The Contact Form Email. I had to stutter my way through the videos jumping to points where Randy covered the fundamentals of Objects. I understand he raised a disclaimer that the only reason he was covering Objects was because PHPMailer utilized them, but then you hit a Code Challenge: Objects which tests you on the rudimentary knowledge of Objects. Again, he covered the material tested in the 2 previous videos, but among other things. In this, limited I'm sure, use case I would have preferred 3 videos; Objects (raising the disclaimer and covering the basics), Using A Third-Party Library, and Sending The Contact Form Email.

In short, if you're going to make videos longer keep them cohesive. The flow may work if you're playing through the whole video, but keep in mind that people sometimes require a refresher of the content. Which is harder to isolate if it's embedded in other material.

Aaron Walton
Aaron Walton
3,557 Points

Given that people have different learning styles and backgrounds I'd say the pacing is where is needs to be.

Thanks for the feedback! :+1:

Jason Miller
Jason Miller
11,311 Points

I think the overall length of the courses and videos are great. I've watched roughly 10 courses over my time at Treehouse and the only one that stands out for me being too long(both the videos and course) was CSS Foundations. Don't get me wrong the course was fantastic and Guil is an amazing teacher but I felt it took far too long to get through the course compared to the others and makes it a little harder to retain the information. I think a video on a certain subject should be anything between 3 to 8 minutes long, something around the 5-6 minute mark is usually the sweet spot. Usually anything after that I feel my mind begins too wander a little.

Matt Campbell
Matt Campbell
9,767 Points

I like them. I think some topics need redoing completely and I think the old CSS content should be brought back, even if it is duplicate. It's good to have and there's nothing wrong with doing stuff twice, it's good in fact as it gets theinformation locked in.

Aaron Walton
Aaron Walton
3,557 Points

I really like the code challenges as a learning tool. Maybe you could add some optional advanced code challenges to each project.

Elliott Frazier
Elliott Frazier
Courses Plus Student 9,647 Points


Both PHP courses were perfect! Randy made them in nice bite-sized videos that was easy for my mind to digest. CSS was long but extremely interesting and captivating.


JQuery goes way to fast without clear explanation of the sentax for me, so I decided to go elsewhere to learn that. While JavaScript was long and worked 99% of the time in the console and it kinda felt useless because when I was though with it the only thing I learned was in the console.


It would be nice to see a JavaScript project that interacts with a website so I could have more of a use for it like you did with PHP.

Leslie Hui
Leslie Hui
3,330 Points

Yes, the jQuery was indeed too fast without clear explanation. I stopped after a few videos. I might revisited it later just to collect the badge. lol

As far as the two stages I have taken so far have been pretty good on time. I normally pause them and write notes, and practice on my own before continuing. So I honestly have no issues with the pace yet.

Once I get more into the videos I will see how I feel. Until than all I can say is keep up the good work!

Although most of the time the length of the videos is perfect, I do tend to get distracted sometimes if the particular video's length is more than 15 minutes. Splitting those videos up in two pieces with a nice little code challenge or quiz in between would be perfect!

Robin Verhaeghe, I think that's what we're going to be doing more of!

I've only been a member for three days but the pace and length have been pretty much perfect so far.

I'm actually seriously impressed, particularly with the way the narrators seem to immediately address my thoughts of "how" and "why" as each video unfolds.

It's story-boarded and presented in an addictive way - I've been logged on for nearly three days straight.

Update 11 days on....

The Javascript lessons seemed quite fast-paced but just followable.

The jQuery ones are currently on the verge of leaving me behind - just clinging by a fingernail to what's going on in places.

For me, the biggest problem isn't so much the actual pace - more the lack of an overview of the syntax. Lots of additional reading outside of Treehouse required.

Update 18 days on....

The HTML and CSS videos must have stuck as I now have a few websites rigidly-constructed but not yet deployed - need to learn Photoshop and Illustrator before letting them out into the wild.

The javascript and jQuery has disappeared from my memory, sadly.

The PHP is sticking well, though I keep making dim mistakes when calling functions, which turns code challenges into "reach for a burger and ponder what semi-colon or brace/bracket is missing."

That's me though. The videos in the PHP section (and the CSS deep dive) are, in my view, as close to spot-on as I could reasonably hope for - the narration in the PHP videos is particularly good, as is the clever way each separate element or entity of the coding aspects has been broken up. Really appreciated the security protection aspects in these series, too.

I have to say this. One month and almost 9,000 points and 121 badges? Holy buckets you are cooking through all these lessons.

It's all good fun, Steven. :D

I think most of the courses are doing very well in terms of length and steps.

My main problem is with Jim's courses he suddenly moves really fast assuming things that I don't even know about, I had to watch the videos at least 3 times just to keep up with him as well as dig deep in blogs and other tutorials for some of the things he's doing, this is very obvious in the code racer project for instance suddenly he is using node.js express and other stuff that is very overwhelming I don't mind at all having lengthy videos even up to 2 hours each as long as they will cover the basics in detail and let us understand really well what's going on.

Great work guys keep it up

Blake Webster
Blake Webster
5,901 Points

I can tell that some of the videos were shot in one recording and split up to make smaller versions. What I would like is a sort of "continuous play" option where the video is bookmarked by those lessons so that students can easily navigate back to review a session or just continue watching in one session. When I sit down to work on things in Treehouse I very rarely ever watch 1 or 2 or even just 3 videos, I usually make it through a whole Stage. If I could watch the whole video and then take all the quizzes and code challenges I think that it would provide a better review than taking a code challenge or quiz right after watching the video. It makes the students either take notes or really remember the information in order to complete the challenges or quizzes rather than regurgitate information.

I also do "test out" stages by taking the quizzes. If I pass the quiz I skip the videos but I find it difficult to pick up on the next one because the lesson files don't always follow along with the video (I posted about this a loooooong time ago but the method still doesn't really make sense to me). I also think that a "pre-test" might be helpful to point somebody to good starting place. It may be a bit long in order to pick the right lesson to begin on but I'd be willing to do it in order to find the best place for me to start.

Michael O'Malley
Michael O'Malley
4,293 Points

I also want to note I noticed this too. A few times while doing Build a Simple PHP Application I have left my thumb drive at home. When I downloaded the Project Files, the files were a few videos ahead. I was able to sort it out, but there was a moment of confusion the first time it happened.

I wish there was an introductory video that laid out the Learning Adventures and helped influenced newcomers down the right path. I've only been a member for a few weeks and I've already seen a handful of people asking questions on the Forum, only to have people respond in turn by telling them they started at an intermediate level stage.

I can see this causing people to get discouraged and maybe turn elsewhere for their academic needs.

I received a verbal (typed) whipping for making similar comments in the past but I feel the css was way too long. I was able to retain a lot of it but most of it went in one ear and out the other. The media queries section was way too short. A 3 minute video with a 5 question quiz left me wondering what just happened. 5 to 10 minute videos, more interactivity, and maybe a hint button on the quizzes and tests would be a huge improvement. So far all the stages, and instructors have been great.

Reb Con
Reb Con
4,607 Points

I prefer the short versions (under 10 minutes). I noticed my motivation has dropped a little while going thru the"Building Social Features in Ruby on Rails" project. Most videos in there are 15-17 minutes and it´s a bit overwhelming.

It's fine. Maybe a few videos got me exhausted because there was too many features. I remember I was confused the Rails Framework with the Git control version and Github remote repository. Well maybe because English isn't my first language, but still was really hard to differentiate and keep going. Now I feel quite good and every time I wan't to go back and watch any topic it's easy to find it.

Ally Hodges
Ally Hodges
3,949 Points

With the CSS videos, most of the lengths are great, now that I'm on the last few badges, it's getting hard to not take a break with some videos that go over ten minutes. I write notes with the videos so that I reinforce my learning, so sometimes a 12 minute video can take me about 45 minutes to go through. So I prefer 10 minute chunks. :) But besides that, I'm very happy with everything, and I can tough out the longer videos, they are still very enjoyable.

The longer videos are pretty hit or miss for me. Some are great and the length makes perfect sense. Others seem to go on way too long or convey way too much information. The CSS Foundations are a good example. Some really do need that time to convey the subject being focused on. Others convey tons of information which aren't always fully covered in code challenges or quizzes.

I know there's a pretty diverse crowd on here in terms of experience with coding. For those students who are learning all this stuff from scratch, I think breaking up some of the videos that cover too many points and adding more code challenges/quizzes can only enhance the learning experience. It seems like it's harder to produce a long video that is effective, than a shorter one in most cases.

Kellie Etterman
Kellie Etterman
5,859 Points

If I am already familiar with the stage, then I will test out and not watch the video. I'm sure as I get to the stages I am unfamiliar with, I will watch the videos more than once and rely on them a lot more.

Speaking for myself, some of this stuff i'm already well versed in. I'm just using the learning path as a refresher course-- to make sure that I am up to date on the latest "standards".

Mark Hipshire
Mark Hipshire
4,708 Points

I actually did not know how to code until this summer. Started with codecademy, phpcademy, tried Lynda, and I've settled with treehouse as my primary learning tool. I enjoy how well it is presented, and I think the QnA would be a great addition underneath the videos (Although, my wallet would prefer it not be only for gold members). As a customer, what I see in you guys is how committed you are. The site is attractive and uses many of the same styling techniques we see in the lessons. You update it with new content regularly, which shows me how much more you are committed to helping us along than Lynda, which I found to be way too disorganized.

As well, I'm paying money to come here to learn, so I like the baptism by fire feeling. In order to crank through the material and actually learn it, I have typed every single line of code that you guys show us in the videos (except when my roommate got on my account to learn some CSS and HTML, sorry for cheating you). I have to pause it and type to keep up, but I truly understand the principles in the end. I have only completed a few courses, and I try and find ways to implement the stuff I learn, as I learn it. After the first part of the PHP course I made my own site:


It uses a similar email server setup as mike's store, except I had to learn a better way to protect the site, access the server, and go through google on my own. But guess what happened next. You guys post a video that covers that exact content. It really showed me how committed you guys were.

I know not everybody does it the way I do, and they often test out. To be honest, I didn't think of doing that until I just read it. (The questions are kind of stupid easy, so I just do them to get the check marks. Kinda like 3 starring all the courses on Angry Birds.) But if I do type all the material, so far it helps me quite a bit. I want to one day be a success story for you guys, and I really appreciate the speed at which you all keep after it. Hopefully that will happen, but until then I just want to say the flow works well for me.

benjamin perodeau
benjamin perodeau
7,469 Points

Long videos lose me every time. 4-8 is great. <10 should be the rule of thumb. More important than video length, for me, is the number of objectives covered in a video. Ideally, there'd be one objective followed by one assessment. Leslie's suggestion in the first comment is right on point re: an advance or graphic organizer beforehand that would help us contextualize the content and skills as they're being introduced. Pedagogically, the best practice is to show students what they're about to learn so that they know what to focus on. (An aside: if it's not what I should focus on, consider removing it from the presentation or give an indication that the upcoming information is lagniappe.)

The assessments should also avoid making leaps that are more complex than the material presented. If we need to advance the complexity there should be an introduction, its assessment, then a more complex extension of that skill followed by another assessment.