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First impressions of Epic React by Kent C. Dodds

This is my first post on a series the Epic React courses. This one is about my first impressions and opinions on the course in general (tl;dr I think it's great!), while the upcoming ones will focus on the content covered on each section. Stay tuned for more!

I purchased my subscription to Kent C. Dodds' Epic React course when it came out last year, but I hadn't been able to start it until yesterday. I knew from other courses by him that it would be great, so I wanted to make sure I had time in my schedule for it before I began using it.

Now that the new year is in, I decided it was about time I saw what it was all about. And so last night I watched the first chapter.

Welcome to Epic React πŸš€

I was instantly surprised by this initial tour of the course. As first impressions go, this looks like way beyond any other online course I've ever done. More so, it feels like the best parts of every online course I've done, optimized to work together and cater to anyone's learning habits and preferences.

What do I mean?

E-learning, the good parts πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ’»

What are those awesome parts that (I think) Kent noticed and put together in just the right combination?

Video tutorials 🍿

It's no secret that many people prefer watching a video course or tutorials over reading a book on a certain subject. There's so much more that you get from having someone just tell it to you instead of reading it yourself. To start with, listening to a real person speaking, using their voice and emphasizing on things, not just words on a page, really makes a difference. That sort of thing is usually really hard to convey in written word, especially in the formal writing often found in books. And in the end it really makes a difference in making the learning process feel more informal and relaxed.

But videos (or books) are never enough, if you can't get your hands dirty with the code. That's cool though, Epic React's got you covered:

Interactive tools πŸ‘Ύ

The first thing that surprised me about Kent's course is that it's a full product and not just a library of video tutorials. The course comes with a dedicated application you can run locally and use to

  • read about the current exercise,
  • see the result of your code, and what the final result should look like
  • as well as using some handy tools to control network calls.

Similar to the classic Codecademy-style apps, this is your control panel for learning.

Ah, but I remember taking my first ever coding lessons in Codecademy (back in 2012 or so) and feeling like the learning was good but partial, because I had literally no idea how to create and run code that actually did something outside of the learning platform. And that's why many other types of courses give students:

Project Files πŸ—‚

I remember first learning Javascript within a learning webapp, kind of intuitively knowing that "Javascript runs in the browser" but having no idea how to actually make a browser run my code, let alone make it interact with a page.

This is another ingredient in Epic React that contributes to enhancing your learning experience. You get to see your code run in a real environment, like it would if you were building an app and not just solving exercises.

The more the merrier πŸ‘―β€β™€οΈ

The courses also provides a detailed explanation of each exercise (to add to Kent's videos explaining the subject), together with links and references you're encouraged to consult in order to expand your understanding.

Solving the basic tasks seems to be more or less straight forward with the help of the courses cast of code comment emoji (most notably Kody the Koala 🐨) so that you don't spend much time trying to "please" the exercise checker into accepting your solution: I know I've been through that and it can be both frustrating and distracting from what you're trying to achieve.

But if you're into challenges you can take on the extra credit for a less hand-holdy experience. I believe solving problems on my own is one of the best ways to solidify new knowledge.

The cherry on top πŸ’

To top it all Kent has created a Discord community for learners, and even a model for people to create their own learning clubs to stay motivated and learn from each other. This, I think, is the most innovative and generous thing added to this course. It really feels like it's providing every tool available for us to succeed.

Conclusion πŸ˜ƒ

Without even starting any of the actual material I can tell that this is miles ahead of any other course out there. I can't wait to start watching the next chapter: React Fundamentals.

Well, thank you for reading this far! These were my first impressions on Kent C. Dodds' Epic React course and what it proposes as a learning platform. I hope you enjoyed it!

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