TreeHouse and How It Changed My Learning

I’ve recently found and joined the website TreeHouse, which is an online video learning site dedicated to programming. After doing their free trial for 7 days, I think I have found the tool I’ll go forward with in my learning. Books may be on the back-burner! Here are some of my favorite features:

Tracks

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Tracks allow you to easily focus on your area of work.

This is probably my favorite feature. Most online learning sites I’ve tried out are horribly unorganized, and while they may offer a wealth of content, it’s hard to find what you need. With TreeHouse, it’s easy. These are pre-made collections of courses designed to teach you a specific subject, such as Web Design, Java Web Development, or iOS development. This lets you easily set goals and plan out your studying. This leads me to my second (and very closely related) feature…

Course Organization and Flow

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Courses are organized by topic on the main page.

Courses are organized by topic, and easy to find based on topic, difficulty, or type. The PRO subscription offers additional workshops and conference videos, as well as the ability to download these courses for offline viewing.

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A course preview.

Courses themselves are easy to navigate, with notes and transcripts on the bottom of the page. Teacher’s Notes almost always go into more detail than the video, so while not required reading, anyone looking to get more understanding can open these up and master the topic. The video player was pretty flawless, and also offers an in-browser text editor so that you can work alongside the video. Cool beans!

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WorkSpaces allows you to work alongside videos with no additional downloads or setup.

Personal Achievements and Motivation

I’m a very badge/achievement oriented person. I’m the guy who explores the whole game, has to do every side quest, and fill up all the bars on the progress screen of any game I play. Getting the highest number in each field feels great, and the goal keeps me focused!

TreeHouse takes this system of motivation and applies it to learning, offering badges and achievements, plus a points-based score that represents your overall level of learning. I found it very similar to Khan Academy, which I like a lot.

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My low-scoring profile so far.

How This Affects My Learning Plan

I decided to currently focus most of my attention on TreeHouse courses, since my aim is mostly in the web development area. I will continue to study my books, hopefully still finishing all by the end of the year. These will help give the backup theory and a more in-depth understand than most self-taught web developers.

I’ve added TreeHouse tracks to my learning goals on GitHub, which you can see by clicking here. By the end of this year I hope to complete the following tracks, aiming for 1-2 paths a month:

  • Web Design
  • Beginner Game Development with Unity
  • Front-End Web Development
  • ASP.NET Web Development
  • Beginner Android Development
  • Beginner iOS Development
  • Learn Swift
  • Full Stack Javascript
  • Learn React
  • Learn Python
  • Learn Flask
  • Learn Django

I may also add some of the more basic tracks, as a refresher on topics I haven’t worked with in a while. By completing these courses, and finishing through my books, I’ll have an in-depth understanding of algorithms/CS and web development with popular tools.


This article is related to my 2017 Computer Science study, which you can read about in my previous post. You can also follow my progress and any projects I’m working on through my GitHub.

 

 

February: Algorithms and Web APIs

February is over, and I was both able to complete more than I had anticipated, and still be behind where I intended at the start of the year.

Most of this is due to the addition of some “new” books tailored more towards the current programming tasks I’m doing at my current job. I’ve placed these on the highest priority since the main goal this year is getting a programming job full-time.

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Missing one other book, Beginning ASP 3.0 by Wrox Publishing

Also, Sedgewick’s algorithm course is split into two parts, of which I completed the first this month. The last couple of sections were just lecture, no implementation, so I didn’t get much coding done for my personal study repos these past couple of weeks. The second part still hasn’t been given a release date yet, so I’ll jump into that when it comes back up. Still, I’ve been able to do a lot of coding at work.

Work Projects

Since I haven’t really mentioned them before, here are the two current projects I’m coding at work:

  1. Creating a web-based ticketing system to replace my IT departments current implementation of Spiceworks. I’ll be doing mostly back-end work on this application.
  2. Creating a web-based Network Monitoring application that constantly tests connection to our locations nationwide, so that we are alerted of any network outages. I’ve been doing both front and back-end on this application.

Most of the work I’ve done so far is getting routes and data setup with Microsoft’s ASP.NET WebAPI, and completing a simple front-end for the Network Monitor. Eventually we’ll also implement a Google Maps API to have something flashy for display.

Goals for March

Here are my current goals for March:

  1. Complete the Network Monitor in full.
  2. Start back-end work for ticketing system. Complete as much as possible.
  3. Finish the following books:
    1. SQL Queries for Mere Mortals
    2. Teach Yourself ASP 3.0 in 21 Days
    3. Review my JS/jQuery book
    4. The Art of Unit Testing
    5. Why Programs Fail: A Guide to Systemic Debugging

 

You can check out the progress of my 2017 studying on GitHub, or read my post about it: 2017: A Year of Learning.