What’s wrong with online courses?

Hello! My name is Pavlenko Vitaly, and today I want to talk about online programming courses. This is not an advertisement for online courses or even anti-advertising. I myself collaborate with two well-known online schools. This article is rather a retrospective on online education in IT and an attempt to solve existing problems.

Online schools have a large staff, constantly rewrite and update their courses, try to take into account all negative feedback, constantly improve processes, create different SLAs for mentors, etc. But I want to talk not about some problems at the moment, like “why are we teaching this if they are using it on the market now,” but about more fundamental problems.

In the quotes I will insert real student reviews that I heard myself.

Natural selection

They show us the example 2+2, and then in homework we have to assemble a spaceship

It is clear that students are of different levels, but everyone has the same program. And this is one of the main problems with streaming courses.

Who typically benefits from the courses the most? Those who come are not zero, of course. If I know layout and more or less JS, then there is a greater chance that a course in the profession of front-end developer will work for me:

  • I will consolidate my knowledge of HTML/CSS

  • I’ll get better at JavaScript

  • and by the end of the course I’ll also master React, just super

But often people come with zero knowledge, who don’t even have programming skills – they don’t know what a condition, a cycle and other things are that are obvious to many at the start.

And what happens to such a student? Most likely, he will simply stumble about 20% of the course, get disappointed and abandon everything. But this does not mean that it is not worth continuing for him, of course not. It’s just that courses can greatly harm such a student, break his self-esteem and kill the very idea of ​​\u200b\u200bentering IT. This is a very serious problem.

Unnatural process

They throw one topic after another. No sooner have I mastered one thing in my head than another topic follows, and I need to do my homework on it. And at some point you just get completely lost and don’t understand what’s happening

Let’s see how we assimilate some new technologies in reality:

  1. We already know how to do something and we do it as best we can.

  2. Let’s learn about some technology

  3. We are slowly rolling it into the current project

  4. Gradually read the documentation as needed

  5. We consolidate knowledge over a period of time, depending on the complexity of the technology

And how does this happen in courses? In N months we must master the profession: master all modern frameworks, libraries, coat yourself with linters, and Git is a must, and so on and so forth.

What’s wrong here? The developer masters all these technologies over several years, gradually introducing new things into his current work, developing and consolidating the skill gradually. And in courses several years are compressed into several months, which not everyone can handle, especially if you have some other work at the same time.

No motivation

It’s not interesting to do some kind of regular chat or list there. I don’t see the value in this and I don’t want to invest in such a project

Of course, one could say that the money paid for the course is the motivation. But here we are talking more about some kind of dopamine boost. Let’s think about how in reality we are motivated to do, study, implement, etc. something. It’s simple, it’s:

  1. Or money. Developers, as a rule, do not care much about the essence of the product if they receive compensation for it in the form of salary

  2. Or when you do something interesting and important for yourself.

In courses, as a rule, everyone works together on one project. Agree, if each student did something relatively unique, could choose a project or implement their ideas, then it would be a completely different matter. Even if he did not receive incentives in the form of a salary for this.

Nurturing Freelancers

What does a student have after completing online courses? A couple of template projects in React, which he had been toiling away for several months. Of course he learned something:

  • mastered some technologies

  • learned to work according to technical specifications

  • seek information to solve problems

But how does this relate to real IT? Very remotely, of course, because the student did not receive any team experience, he became a freelancer and almost all courses nurture freelancers. Although experimental team tracks appear at the end of training, it is still very raw.

What do we get as a result?

The courses are definitely suitable for someone and can provide value, but for others they can only be harmful – at best, you will simply lose money, and at worst, you will bury the idea of ​​changing your profession.

What can be changed? There is little that can be done regarding the courses themselves. But I see the following solutions to problems:

  1. Shift towards an individual approach. Now the topic of personal mentors is becoming increasingly popular. And it’s surprising to me why online schools have not yet picked up this trend and began to provide the services of proven full-time mentors to suit the needs of students.

  2. Developing a natural work environment. At this stage, you need to create real projects, gather in teams, hold joint meetings (from daily meetings to retrospectives). This stage will allow students to learn how to work in teams, introduce them to processes, and it would also be great to get a real unique team case as a result.

Friends, what problems do you see in online education? Let’s discuss 🙂

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