What to Look for in Coding Courses
Before you select your next (or first) coding course, there are a few factors you’ll want to take into consideration and questions to ask yourself. Choosing a coding course can be overwhelming because there are so many high-quality options available, but if you take the time to carefully select the right one, you’ll be able to remove yourself from your comfort zone and gain tons of valuable knowledge. In addition, completing coding courses can help you to begin a new career or help to advance your current job position.
Clearly identify what you need out of this course
Before you even start looking at what coding courses are available, create a list of your current skills. Where do you feel your weaknesses lie? Make sure you’re entirely honest with yourself because the last thing you want to do is waste your time and money on a course that isn’t currently right for you. A good rule of thumb is this: If you can’t teach a concept, you don’t truly understand it. Make a physical list of the technologies, tools, and concepts that you understand and could teach to someone else. Then, make a list of the things you’d like to or need to learn in the near future. Figure out what you expect from this course. Here are examples of some questions you may want to ask yourself.
- Do you need an instructor to be available for help or can you manage without a teacher being available?
- Do you need certification to be included?
- Is it important that your course is taught by a university professor or academic?
- What is your budget for this course?
Look at coding course ratings and reviews
Compare the course reviews for each of your prospective coding courses. Your course of choice does not need to have a perfect five-star rating. However, pay special attention to detailed reviews. Look at both positive and negative reviews, especially ones that leave constructive criticism. Look for clues about the following elements of each course.
- How easy is the instructor to understand?
- Is the instructor boring or dull?
- Is this course for beginners or more advanced coders?
- Do most of the reviewers seem to have received a good value out of this course?
Find out what kind of projects each course contains and how many are included
Whether you’re new to coding or you’re a seasoned developer, you probably know that projects are instrumental to learning new technologies. Watching videos and completing exercises are one thing, but creating projects from start to finish is how you’ll know if you’ve truly grasped a new concept or not. Look carefully at the course description and reviews to check how many projects there are. You’ll likely want there to be three or more, depending on how complicated what you’re learning is. If you’re looking for an introductory coding course, you will probably want closer to ten projects included in your course at the very least.
Check if the coding course offers any kind of support
Find out what kind of support is included with the course. Is there a forum that you can use to get help? Can you email the instructor with any questions you have? Clearly identify what kind of support comes with the course and make sure that you’re comfortable with what’s being offered.
See if the course offers any kind of certification
If you’re taking a course that is from Google or Microsoft, it likely comes with a certificate of completion or some kind of official certification. There are many coding courses out there that include certification and many that do not. More “official” courses tend to be easier to list on a resume or use as career-boosting ladder rungs. However, don’t discount the value of other courses - you can use many courses without official certification to expand your knowledge of technologies that are relevant to the company you work for or want to work for. For the most part, development jobs and job promotions require knowledge, not certification. That being said, having professional certification may be important to you or your employer in some circumstances.