Learning to code with Treehouse – a review

| 4 min. (775 words)

So I wrote a while back about my journey as a recovering technophobe, and I wanted to write a review about how I’ve found learning to code with Treehouse over the past few months.

Treehouse is an educational service which combines video tutorials and exercises to teach a range of web based technologies.

As you can see, Treehouse offers so many topics to learn that I didn’t know where to start and was really quite overwhelmed with choice. In the end I settled with the front end web development track, and discovered just how extensive this course was.

I also discovered that if you change your mind about which track to take, you can just choose to ‘switch’ to a new one and your course work is adjusted accordingly.

I discovered this because when I was part of the way through the Web Dev track I suddenly decided to change to Rails Development because that’s what all the cool kids are doing – I wanted to be cool too. I also wanted something to try out the Raygun4Ruby error tracker on for myself! When I switched, what I’d already completed was still there, and the lessons segued into being more Rails based. I changed back though, because I thought that starting with an overview of web development would be better for what I’m trying to achieve.

Treehouse has a nice UI and slight gamification which lets you score points in different skill sets and collect achievement badges. I have to admit – my heart starts beating a wee bit faster when the congrats wheel spins and I earn another badge. Disclaimer – I am easily exited!

To give you an idea of how much content there is in each track, I’m on section 1 out of 14 parts to the Front End Web Development course. After each section, you unlock access to the next section until you have completed all 14. For someone who gets uneasy about unfinished business, it really freaks me out how far I have to go! I do all of my learning in my spare time, and progress is slow.

After ‘How to Make a Website’ there’s still ‘CSS Basics’, ‘Introduction to Programming’, ‘JavaScript Foundations’, ‘HTML Forms’, ‘Interactive Web Pages with JavaScript’, ‘jQuery Basics’, ‘HTML Tables’, ‘HTML Video and Audio’, ‘AJAX Basics’, ‘Accessibility’, ‘Website Optimization’, ‘Console Foundations’, and ‘Git Basics’ to go, so plenty to get stuck into.

With the in depth nature of each course, I’m only 6 out of 10 achievements through ‘How To Make a Website’ – and each achievement involves about 5-10 steps!

 Treehouse or Codecademy?

When I first started learning code I was using Codecademy, because it’s free. In my opinion, Codecademy is also a great service – and is helping thousands of people from all walks of life learn the languages of the web. It seems to me that paying for Treehouse provides more content in general (most courses have an estimated time of 50 hours to complete), and detailed video guides that take you step by step through the tasks.

So how much has it helped me?

I’ve been on a HTML5 and CSS course before, and after 2 full days in a classroom situation, I came out feeling like I didn’t know much more than when I went in. Treehouse works for me, because I can pause and rewind the videos whenever I need which helps me learn at my own pace. I really benefit from watching something through several times to make sure I fully get the concept. There are also very comprehensive resources on each topic covered, if I need further explanations. Once an idea has been taught, a coding challenge always follows so you actually have to try the code yourself before you are able to move on. That really helps cement the ideas in your head. The challenges are completed in what is called ‘Workspaces’ – Treehouse’s version of a text editor, which helps get me used to coding ‘in the real world’

Treehouse is worth the $25USD a month that we pay for it and has helped me come a long way since I first decided I would be a technophobe no more. If you’d like to give it a go yourself, they offer a 14 day free trial (and you can learn quite a bit in that time!). They also have special offers for students, schools and organisations – which I think is awesome. Education should be affordable!

My next blog post will be about how Raygun alerted me to hackers on my blog and how learning code helped me stop them! Stay tuned, and happy coding.