If you haven't noticed, technology moves fast. There are constant improvements and reworking of every programming language out there. Sometimes the changes are small and easily dealt with, while sometimes the changes are huge. Complicating things further, most developers need to learn a wide variety of tools and frameworks in order to be effective in their current job. At a minimum, most of us need some kind of front end framework, a database (and its associated libraries), an IDE, a source control system, and some sort of devops. For most of us, it's worse than that. And it gets even more fun as your team tries out new technology or you switch jobs, as that often means learning two or three new tools in a short period of time.
Lots of developers (ourselves included at some point) attempt to learn on the fly by having training videos playing in the background while they are working on something else. While you can learn a little this way, this usually doesn't work very well. Lots of developers will also buy courses from Pluralsight, Uedemy or other vendors, or even find courses free online from sources like FreeCodeCamp, and still spend an inordinate amount of time trying to learn. Pretty much every developer has tons of courses available to them that they either completed while learning little, or didn't complete at all. Even more of us have stories of online tutorials that were out of date, covered the wrong things, or had errors in them that frustrated us and made us quit. And everyone has examples of tutorials that showed the rosy side of a new framework, and then abandoned potential learners in a mire of real-world troubleshooting they were unprepared for.
However, there is a better way to ensure that you get the most out of online tutorials. Not only is it possible to quickly learn from online tutorials while retaining information, but it's also possible to do so in a way that is fairly time efficient, gives you good experience with the tools you are trying to learn and teaches you to work through common errors. Further, the process of learning is not isolated to the process of watching a tutorial, but also helps you choose more appropriate tutorials, while making sure that you learn what you came to learn. And this process also helps you get real world experience actually applying what you learned afterward and helping you find the next thing to learn.
With the wide variety of libraries, platforms, and databases available on the market now and with the rapid evolution of tools, it's absolutely necessary to learn on the fly as the need arises. However, most people haven't really thought about how they learn and often have internalized some maladaptive learning strategies. This is especially true in software development if you attended structured, formal classes. It can be difficult to learn in an unstructured manner, especially if you aren't used to doing it. It can also waste a lot of time. However, there are a lot of tricks that can make such learning more effective and efficient in terms of the time you spend. We hope the tips in this episode will make your next “learning adventure” more effective and time efficient.
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