My previous blog posts focused on personal experiences, new learnings, and the odd rant. I’m changing directions and focusing on the next step in my life - learning how to program.

The past few weeks I’ve been floating between continuing to freelance as a community developer, joining a company’s marketing team full-time or picking up a new skill. After some back-and-forth, I decided to go ahead and take the leap towards picking up a new skill. I’ll still take on freelance projects but given that it’s nearing end of year, I think projects will be minimal. I’m giving myself 3 months to pick up programming.

So far I’ve given a few online learning tools a go: Codecademy, Dash (recently launched by GeneralAssembly), Treehouse and Code School. My personal favorite so far has been Code School as they combine a variation of learning tactics.

First you view a video on the topic (say CSS: Level 2) and then you go through a set of exercises. You can open the video slides in another tab, to keep them easily accessible. As a whole you get the visual and practical learning experience. Here’s a screenshot:

Taste of Success

Looks good, yeah?

Whilst testing out these different platforms, I found myself becoming bored, impatient and uninspired. I quickly realized that using only those tools, I would soon lose momentum. It’s not because the tools are poorly constructed, but because they require that I stare at a screen and type away day-in and day-out. I needed to find another tool that provide more stimulation.

Enter Coursera. Hopefully, my savior!

Coursera is an online education platform, whereby you can sign up for courses and work through lectures and assignments alongside other individuals taking the same course. All courses are provided by real-world educational institutions and most of the time you’re given a certificate of accomplishment, which you can add to your CV / Resume. I’ve previously taken a couple Coursera courses and really enjoyed them. Assignments were a bit tough to keep up with due to work, but this time I’m committed to fully following through with the courses.

I’ve signed up for Social Network Analysis, given by Lada Adamic at University of Washington; Machine Learning, given by Andrew Ng at Stanford; Algorithms: Part 1, given by Kevin Wayne and Robert Sedgewick at Princeton; and Learn to Program: The Fundamentals, given by Jennifer Campbell and Paul Gries at University of Toronto.

I start these courses full-time tomorrow. For the next three months I’ll be blogging about my learnings and what it’s like to move from marketer to programmer. Should be fun!

Update: It’s been about a week and I’ve decided to stop taking the Algorithms course. It’s over my head at the moment. I plan on completing my other courses and revisiting Algorithms in the new year, once I have some more programming experience. I’m still going through some of the exercises (and videos) but I’m doing so on an ad hoc basis, this way I can focus fully on the other courses. In replacement, I’m running through the HTML/CSS and Javascript courses Code School has put together. I’ll be kicking front-end programming ass in no time!