NOTE: I have no affiliation with Front End Masters nor any of the people mentioned in the review. All of the opinions are solely my own.
I've been lucky enough to spend over 100 hours using the Front End Masters program for the past year and I've decided that I've gotten a good enough feel for the quality of it to give an honest review. Being that the course can run a few hundred $$$, a lot of people might want to know if its worth the money. Hopefully, I can make things a bit clearer for those of you who are undecided.
I've divided this review into 4 sections:
- Teaching Style
- Suggested Improvements
There definitely is more focus on certain frameworks/technologies over others though. I develop in React and there's a ton of React content but for someone who wants to focus on Vue, the amount of content for that is marginal in comparison. Luckily, you can browse their entire catalogue of courses to determine if they have an adequate amount of lessons on the things you would like to learn before you sign up. The length of the lessons vary a bit but almost all of them are long-format ranging between 3 to 10 hours in length. As long as the topics being taught aren't too broad, I've found that you can get through quite a bit of content over this time-frame.
The style of teaching is in front of a live classroom. While this may or may not be conducive to your learning style, I find that the interaction between the teachers and students helps to fill in some gaps that I typically don't get during traditional video lessons. Most of the teachers are full-time developers themselves so they bring a ton of real-world scenarios and perspectives into their teaching style. I just finished up a course called Full Stack for Front End Developers by Jem Young who works at Netflix. He sprinkles in bits of information about how Netflix utilizes some of the technologies being taught and that added a whole new layer of knowledge that connects real-world scenarios to the things you're learning in the classroom.
One of the best things about FEM is when the teachers actively get the students involved. I know we all hated it when teachers called on us in school to answer questions, but as a 3rd party viewer its extraordinarily helpful to have these students answer questions you may have been scratching your head about yourself. The students sitting in the live audience usually range from beginner to advanced so in every class you'll get a range of questions being brought up. One of the grand masters of getting the students involved (along with killer white-boarding skills) is Will Sentance.
I believe this guy should be one of the benchmarks when it comes to how people should teach code. The enthusiasm mixed with step-by-step drawings and explanations broke a mental barrier I had on a lot of JS concepts. Many of the teachers are great about giving detailed explanations on how to do X without going at breakneck speeds, which is a plus for me.
As with everything, the program isn't for everyone and could be improved. One of the great things I was touting earlier, the live teacher/student interaction, doesn't actually happen on all courses taught. Some of the teachers don't really get the students involved and I find that these lessons have a lot less retention for me. I think the FEM organizers should make it mandatory that the teachers have some level of interaction with the students because it makes a huge difference for the 3rd party viewers.
Another issue I've had is that there doesn't seem to be an outlet for students to interact with one another and/or find help with the courses. One thing I enjoy about Wes Bos's paid courses are the Slack groups. There's always a handful of people able to help you if you're ever stuck in one of his lessons. If you get stuck on a FEM lesson, you're kinda out of luck unfortunately.
One thing in regards to accessibility is the closed captions. Its great that they have them on every video but sometimes I notice misinterpretations of what is being talked about. IE. "git" will be translated to "get" or "vue" to "view". I can imagine a hearing impaired dev might get a bit confused if they're solely relying on the captions so its definitely one area that could be improved.
This one is kind of nit picking and almost counter-intuitive given that the name of the program is 'Front End Masters' but I really wish there was more back-end courses. As I've gone through a bit of the front-end technologies, I've gotten more and more interested in the back-end. I love the teaching style and besides the Full Stack course I mentioned before with Jem Young, there really isn't a whole lot of back-end lessons. Again, I know how counter-intuitive this sounds but its an option I wish I had given that I enjoy the format so much.
Should you buy the program? Well if you enjoy the live & interactive classroom teaching style then yes, I find it to be a fantastic resource and worth the money. The variety of subjects and teachers keeps things fresh and the quality of the content is always impressive.
As someone who just started out in this industry, I've found the content fascinating and I'm always looking forward to the newer courses that get released. If you have any specific questions about the program that I didn't cover, feel free to ask me in the comments below.