How to Choose Online Courses for Software Development: 4 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Although ‘learn to code’ has become a cliche line nowadays, it hasn’t stopped being true. People who know how to code earn a premium and have a lot of job growth prospects. It is one of the best things you can do for your career in a lot of industries.

Sadly, although most people would tell you to ‘learn to code’, not many will tell you how to do it. There are a plethora of resources out there for people interested in learning software development, and it can be overwhelming.

Although textbooks are usually the go-to for many fields, for programming and software development, they’ve been slowly replaced by online courses. Online courses have multiple advantages over textbooks: you can see the process easier, there are more interactive sections, and you can finally see the end product run. This is why people usually learn how to code from online courses far better than they do with textbooks.

But, this barely narrows down your choices. There are millions of online courses out there. How to choose the best software development courses? In this article, we’ll go over some general criteria you can use to measure the quality of any online course you come across and see how well it fits you and your needs.

#1 Why Do You Want to Learn How to Code?

You really won’t know whether an online course is good for you or not without knowing precisely why you want to learn how to code. For example, we can recommend one of the most comprehensive and highest-quality UX courses on the market right now, but if you aren’t interested in UX, the quality of the course doesn’t mean anything to you.

There is this mindset among new learners where they want to be online course completionists randomly watching tens of courses. While this might make you feel like you’re learning a lot. If they’re not directly relevant to your goals and job, you’ll quickly forget about all the info you’ve learned and it’ll basically be a waste of time.

Why Do You Want to Learn How to Code

So, the first thing you need to check when looking to decide whether a course is right for you or not is to look through the syllabus and see how well it jibes with your goals.

#2 How Much Money Are You Willing to Pay for the Online Course?

The cost of the online course is an important consideration:

  • The courses can be relatively expensive, costing upwards of half a grand.
  • The quality of an online course is usually positively correlated with its price (though far from always).

It is often a balancing act between choosing a course that’s comprehensive enough while not costing an arm and a leg. Thankfully, sales for courses are very regular, and if you really want a course, it is quite likely you can buy it on sale soon enough if you decide to keep up with its creator.

Many learners often have an automatic aversion to paid courses, but this might only harm you. There are a lot of high-quality, comprehensive, and detailed courses by professors and industry leaders that are locked behind a paywall. And you shouldn’t automatically discount all of them.

It is best if the amount of money you’re willing to spend is informed by the realistic outcome of you learning how to code. For example, if it is a clear path forward in your job if you learn how to code then spending money is definitely a good investment. On the other hand, it isn’t as clear of an investment to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a course just because you are interested in coding and that’s it.

#3 How Much Time are You Willing to Spend on the Course?

Software development courses can vary greatly in length. There are some courses that you can finish by spending an hour a day on it for a week, and there are courses that would need your constant attention for months before you can finish them:

  • If you want to learn about an area of software development in a comprehensive and complete manner and you are willing to spend months doing just that, then you’ll be profoundly disappointed if you choose a shorter course. These only touch on the basics and usually leave you wanting more.
  • On the other hand, if you’re looking for a course to help you grasp the basics and get your foot warm, you wouldn’t like a really long and detailed course that touches on a lot of technicalities that you either don’t need or don’t care about. You’ll have a much better experience with online learning by choosing a shorter course.
how to choose online course

#4 How Well-Versed Are You in the Subject Already?

You need to select a course that matches your current knowledge level. This is absolutely essential if you want to get your time’s and money’s worth out of a course. There are a few things you can check to see if the course matches your expectations.

Check How the Course is Marketed

When choosing an online course, always pay attention to how it is being marketed. Even if the course doesn’t outright state the knowledge and experience required to view the course, you can get a good idea by checking the marketing. If in marketing, you see words like ‘for beginners’, ‘novices’, ‘101’, etc., this course is almost definitely targeting beginners. On the other hand, if you see words like ‘comprehensive’, ‘advanced’, etc., it is targeting more knowledgeable people.

Look Through the Syllabus

Almost all courses publish their syllabus, even those behind a paywall. Looking through the syllabus can help you learn who the course is meant for you. If it is covering simple topics you already know, then the course is likely going to be a waste of your time. If, on the other hand, the syllabus sounds complicated and you can’t even recognize most of the concepts on it, then maybe the course is out of your league and it is better to start somewhere else.

Use a Trusted Platform to Help Match You with Courses at Your Level

Choosing whether a course is suitable for you or not is an important and often difficult task. And since choosing the right course is very important due to the amount of time (and perhaps money) you need to invest in it, relying on outside help makes sense. There are good platforms out there that select the best courses and help you learn if they’re suitable for you or not. Using a trusted platform like that can make a world of difference when choosing an online course.

Udacity

If you’re looking for a trusted platform to view, categorize, and purchase courses, Udacity is one of the best platforms out there. Not only is it trusted by hundreds of thousands of users and has a 4.8 out of 5-star rating on TrustPilot, it is also accessible and easy to use for people just getting into online learning. 

udacity logo

And with the wide range of courses suitable for every level they provide, you won’t really need to look anywhere else for most of your online learning needs. Furthermore, they offer regular discounts (at the time of writing this, they have a 75% discount on all their courses until the end of July 2021), which makes the courses really reasonably priced. Below, are six courses worth taking depends on your field of interest in Software Development:

  • Introduction to Programming: this is a really popular course for people who want to familiarise themselves with the basics of programming through HTML, CSS, and Python. It teaches you the basics of basic functional programming and scripting. It is an excellent course for people who want a course to work as a foundation for further studies in data science and web development. 
  • C++ Nanodegree Program: if you’re looking for something a bit more advanced like C++ programming, which is essential in developing a lot of high-performance and low-level software programs out there, you can take this course. It takes you through all the stops from object-oriented programming (OOP) to memory management and concurrency in C++. 
  • iOS Development Nanodegree: if you want more than just learning a programming system and you want to familiarize yourself with an entire ecosystem like iOS, you’ll benefit greatly from this course. It teaches you the basics of the programming language Swift (which is used to develop native apps on iOS) to more advanced iOS features.
  • Android Kotlin Developer: this programme, created in partnership with Google, will prepare you to become a professional Android developer while also allowing you to build a broad portfolio of projects. By the end of this programme, you will be able to build your own apps for the world’s most popular mobile platform using Android development platform best practises, Android Studio, Android Jetpack, and Kotlin.
  • RPA Developer with UiPath: this course is dedicated for those who’d like to learn more advanced automation techniques for confident automating various software, web apps, and beyond.The RPA Developer Nanodegree Program will teach you how to create and deploy software robots at a professional level.
  • Agile Software Development: this is a great programme to take if you’re considering Project Management in Software Development. Learn how to use an Agile approach to software development to create solutions that provide ongoing value to consumers. You will be able to differentiate between Scrum, Kanban, and XP at the end of the programme, as well as build an environment that encourages high-performing teams and manage iteration planning using Agile methodologies. Students will also be able to plan a release for a Minimum Viable Product, set metrics to track project progress, and effectively communicate progress both within and outside the development team.

Conclusion

Online learning isn’t easy, but if used right, it can be immensely powerful and beneficial, and courses are one of the most powerful tools in online learning. So, it is really important to learn how to choose the right one. In this article, we went over 4 questions that you need to ask yourself and fully answer that will definitely help you choose the right course.

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