All languages, Notes to past me, Swift

10 Tips to help you get the most from your online course.

I don’t know about you but I have found that I have purchased and enrolled in more online courses than I should and some I never even started. As of today, I have 88 Udemy courses and I think I only ever finished 1 course. I have tried SkillShare, SkillCrush, Udacity, Coursera, and others that I can’t remember at the time.

I have finally finished a full course and am about to finish another one. I think I finally figured out how to get through an online course after that excitement of something new wears off. I am here to share those tips with you so that you too can finish off a course and learn from it.

10 Tips

1. Get on a Schedule

It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned a person starts out, life will get in the way of your learning. It’s very easy to say I will do it later, and that later will never come. I have learned that setting aside that time for studying will make me more apt to sit there and study. The amount of time that you set aside is up to you and what you have going on, but make sure you block that time and when that time comes that you actually spend it studying. Rarely do I stick to the 45 minutes that I alot myself, I usually do 1:30–2 hours. The hard time is getting started.

2. Set up your learning Environment

In the beginning, I tried to study at home with my family, but this was hard and there were too many distractions. So when I finally decided that I was going to finish a course I would go to a Starbucks after work and I watched videos and coded. This ofcourse was before COVID affected us so when that happened I made myself a mock office in a shed in the backyard where I would go work and study. It might not be easy but find a comfortable, quiet place and try to focus on what you have to do.

3. Find the time that works best for you.

I am not a morning person I do my best work in the evenings and night. Knowing this I shifted my schedule around so that I would do housework, meal prep in the mornings so that I was free in the evening to do my studying. My family was very supportive and knew that this was important to me and helped out.

4. Overachieve when you can, but take time off as needed

I found that working past the 45 minutes gave me enough of a headway so that if there was a day when I just couldn’t get in front of my computer I was ok with it because I had done 2 hours for the past 4 days. You don’t want to burnout so breaks are important just be reasonable and get back into it as soon as you can. Programming is all about consistency and repetition.

5. Engage with the Community, Connect with others that are learning

Most courses have somekind of a community. It might be on Slack, Discord, the course platform, or some other social media tool. Find those people and connect with them, ask questions or even better answer questions when you can. These people are learning just like you are so take advantage of having them around. Some might be a few lessons ahead of you so they know the complicated areas, just like you will be ahead of someone else.

There’s are lots of groups that you can join and meet other developers. I am quite fond of Women Who Code, iOS Dev Happy Hour and Underdog Devs. I am as active as I can with these 3 groups and have meet lots of great people and have gotten tons of help.

6. Persevere

Learning anything takes time. Sometimes things will not make sense the first time you see it, but don’t give up. Keep going, come back to it later. It still surprises me how the 2nd or 3rd time I go over something it finally clicks and I understand why things are done a certain way. It’s a great feeling and one that keeps me going.

7. Know how and where to look for answers

There is so much to know when learning, and it’s not possible for most courses to cover them all. This means that you will need to rely on outside resources when learning. This can be previous code, Google, StackOverflow, or other places like your learning community or the tech community as a whole. One skill that you will develop is knowing how to ask a question. You need to be able to articulate the problem, what you have tried and what you are looking for. This will definetely take time but it comes in handy even when on the job.

8. Ask Questions (Lots of them to whoever will listen)

If you can’t find the answer yourself ask questions. Ask your instructor, ask your classmates, ask Tech Twitter, ask Facebook groups, ask anyone who will listen to you. Over time you will have a group of people that will answer your questions and this is a great feeling.

9. Focus on your track.

There will always be new tech, new frameworks, new trends but make sure you learn the fundamentals first. Learn them well and don’t try to move on too fast. Everyone started where you are now, they just started before. You will get to a point where you learn the fundamentals so well that you can then pick up the latest and greatest.
Along with this stick to one language at a time. It is very easy to jump around from Javascript to Java to Python to Swift. But don’t do that, it will only hurt you in the long run. Learn one language at a time. Picking up a second language will be easier when you know one already. The logic and problem solving is the same. It’s just learning syntax after the first language.

10. Have Fun!

Learning doesn’t have to be serious work all the time. Listen to podcasts, go to a hackathon or a tech conference, build a game. Don’t spend all your time coding, enjoy your other hobbies as well. You will never know what will inspire you to build a project.

It’s ok to feel behind at times or to take a few days off of learning. The important things is that you continue learning, do it at your pace. It does not matter how long it takes you, as long as you get to the end. Everyday you learn is a day closer to your new career.

Image created by pikisuperstar —

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