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Learn Webdev: Creating a Curriculum

steelvoltage profile image Brian Barbour ・4 min read

In my previous article, I wrote about researching technologies to learn and making a list. However, a random list of technologies (even ranked) doesn't equal a logical progression.

Being able to make your own path is a vital asset in the self-learning process. It keeps you organized and accountable. Also, it lets you set attainable milestones. With those can see just how far you've come, and where you need to go next.

Based on conversations I've had with people trying to learn web development, I've noticed they tend to meander and jump around without focus. They're uncertain what is important to learn first and what to do after learning a subject matter. That is why I suggested previously that you look at job postings and see what employers are looking for. Those technologies will be your north star, your guiding beacon.

So, the question is where and how do you learn the technologies?

That can be tough to answer. Mostly because there is a vast trove of free and priced learning resources out there. Just do a google search for any of the ones on your list, I assure you that you'll find something (unless its super niche.) For a new person getting into the basics, it can be overwhelming to pick and choose from the multitude.

Everyone is unique and thus their curriculum should be as well. There are different styles of learning, and knowing the type that works best for you can give you an edge.

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Reading/Writing
  • Kinesthetic

Take some time and research learning styles and types, as well as do some self analysis. Think about your time in school and what classes or teachers you enjoyed learning from the most. Was it the teacher who drew lots of pictures and showed you plenty of videos? Was it the interesting and soothing lectures of a teacher that rambled far too much, but you were always enthralled? Maybe the class that had you read interesting books and write out your thoughts did it best. Or, perhaps that art class or shop class where you got hands on building and creating things captured your adoration.

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There may be overlap too, and that's okay. I strongly believe that you can use more than one learning type. Personally, I am auditory and also do well reading/writing things. I prefer to listen to someone explain something, but also I can charge through documentation and figure it out myself, given it's written well and I have enough time.

If you're into visual learning, I highly suggest finding video tutorials with plenty of colorful graphics and interesting displays. For auditory learners, videos work well too--but you want to find someone who is an excellent communicator and talks you through their process more than distracts you with stuff on the screen. For me being an audio learner, I really enjoyed code along videos where the instructor stops to explain what they're coding and why.

There are no shortage of books for those readers out there. I prefer a well written book coming from an author that adds plenty of personality to their writing. For me, text or reference style books tend to put me to sleep.

For kinesthetic learners, you may do best jumping on a coding platform like Codecademy or FreeCodeCamp and banging out exercises. I did that too, even though it didn't help me as much as videos and reading did.

Unlike college or bootcamps, where the curriculum tends to be set in stone--being self taught lets you have the advantage of being able to modify your path whenever you need. If a resource you found doesn't work for you, find another one. Keep trying until it clicks.

Practice is vital. Reiterate and review as much as you can. Don't be afraid to take two separate courses or read two separate books on the same subject. Unique points of view from different instructors will help illuminate specific parts of the material you may have missed prior.

Use the flexibility of your circumstance to your advantage.

No matter your learning style, weave in little projects and exercises along the way. If you figure out enough HTML to make a website, stop your courses and go make one. If you get stuck somewhere, pause and go back to the material. Sure your first website won't be the prettiest thing in the world, but it will teach you so much. I discovered that my learning and retention increased when I took something that was conceptual to me and immediately applied it.

If you're watching a code along, build the thing the instructor wants you to build. Afterward, build it again but with a different spin on it. Add or subtract parts, tinker and tweak it until the project is unrecognizable from the one in the tutorial. This will especially be important later on in your journey, when you're making larger and more complicated applications. Imagine the instructor has given you a template. Riff off of it and remix the app into something you can proudly display on your portfolio.

You may find gaps in your knowledge at times. Or, if you're like me, get a creative idea in the midst of a project and want to add something outside of the scope of the curriculum. Don't shy away from this. Embrace it.

Because that's when things start moving along, and when you start really understanding the things you're learning. It's a magic moment, when you have enough realization to see the possibilities with the tools you're using.

Let yourself go down a few rabbit holes and explore ideas. Readjust and align your curriculum with your ideas and interests if they capture your attention. Make your curriculum work for you, rather than you working for it. Be fearless and unyielding in your pursuit of knowledge.

You got this.

Action Items

  • Determine the learning type that best suits you.
  • Find more than one resource to learn a technology or a subject.
  • Tackle your resources from start to finish.
  • Go through alternative resources about the same technologies for review and reiteration.
  • Riff off code alongs you do and remake the projects into something unique to you can throw up on your portfolio.

Interested in learning code? Check out this brand new Facebook group.

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