As someone who’s been working on an edtech start-up the past few years, I’ve had some interaction with most of the new education platforms out there. While MIT Open Coursewear and Edx are two of my favorites, Lynda.com has actually been the most useful. It’s almost crazy how much the Lynda videos have taught me:
- Design. Photoshop. Illustrator. Fireworks. All awesome courses at Lynda.
- New Web. The HTML5 and CSS3 classes are fantastic.
In just over a year, Lynda took me from an international relations major (who had just finished a job working in micro-finance) to a proficient front-end developer, designing and developing fairly complex webpages. Looking back, it’s somewhat remarkable how that could happen.
But in my various experiences with these new education platforms, I actually never tried Code Academy until recently. And now, I’m hooked. Some thoughts on why it’s been so effective for me:
- Super high-quality lessons. They do a great job of curating the lessons, so only high-quality ones are presented to the learner (Lynda is awesome at curation too). For most topics, I don’t need to click around to try to a find really good class; rather, there’s only a couple of options, and they’re both quite good. I think I actually prefer this to an “open” system that has many more courses and then ranks quality based on user ratings.
- Self-paced done right. Self paced works really well for me. I love being able to skip topics I’m already comfortable with, and spend more time (and revisit) topics for which I need more familiarity. Shiffman’s ICM videos from last semester were effective for the same reason. I work well on my own where I can define my pace (but I wonder if this is effective for most people; I can see the case where other types of learners may need an externally driven pace).
However, while Lynda, Code Academy, and Shiffman videos all work really for me, I’d like to see a system where these components are combined into one seamless entity. For example, the Lynda-style video pauses, and won’t restart until you do a Code Academy-style exercise (or click to skip it). Combining the video and the exercises seems like an obvious step, but few systems have been set up this way as of yet (none of the popular platforms do this).