The best online course & learning platforms, 2 of 5

Continuing on from my last post where I mentioned some of the best online learning platforms, here are some additional platforms that I believe are some of the better ones available.

Pluralsight (grade: B+) | Pluralsight is one of the oldest online course platforms, founded in 2004. It’s long had a reputation as a “corporate” learning environment, with a focus on material generally suited for use in enterprise environments. As a result, most of Pluralsight’s content covers enterprise software of various types, including Microsoft’s stack of technologies (Angular, C#/.NET, SQL Server, Azure, etc) along with others like Java and Android. In 2015, Pluralsight acquired Code School, a previous popular learning platform that took a gamification approach to teaching web development.

One of the major pros to Pluralsight is that it covers a wide breadth of material across a lot of different technologies, and most of the courses are very informational and excellent learning resources. However, the level of actual quality in the courses can be wildly inconsistent, which makes it unclear if Pluralsight actually reviews the courses on their platform. Although the instructors on Pluralsight are consistently knowledgeable (and also professional developers), unfortunately not all of them are competent teachers, which ultimately hurts the value of the platform. It’d be vastly beneficial if Pluralsight took a more active stance in reviewing the courses on their platform to improve the overall level of quality.

SitePoint (grade: A-) | SitePoint is a rather unique platform and has been around for a long time as well, founded back in 1999. It initially started as a platform for SitePoint-branded ebooks on topics like PHP and SQL, and over the years has expanded to cover the gamut of web technologies from the front-end to the back-end. Although the platform has primarily been focused around its various ebook offerings, in recent years it’s also added video courses on a variety of topics as well.

Although SitePoint’s main limitation could easily be considered its video courses (in that they’re taught by professional developers who aren’t necessarily also good teachers), the primary advantage of the platform is that almost every ebook that’s published under the SitePoint brand (which should be noted is NOT everything on the platform) is reviewed for technical accuracy by professional developers. In other words, as a result of their review process, SitePoint has one of the highest quality levels of any platform available online, at least when it comes to their self-branded ebooks. Furthermore, you won’t readily find “beginner”-level resources on the platform either, as the majority of resources tend to be more for intermediate-to-advanced developers. So although it’s not the ideal platform for those new to coding, it’s a great one for leveling up once you know the basics.

Udacity (grade: A) | Udacity is one of the more well-known platforms, primarily thanks to its online “Nanodegree” programs which got a lot of attention when the platform was first launched. Udacity’s Nanodegrees are roughly comparable to the type of experience that you might get out of an in-person coding bootcamp, as they’re typically about as long at 4 months. Suffice it to say that the Nanodegrees aren’t cheap, but for those willing to put in the money and time investment, it might very well be worth it, since Udacity now has partnerships with some prestigious companies like Google, AWS, and IBM.

Although I can’t fully speak for the experience of a Udacity Nanodegree since I haven’t done one, I can at least speak for part of the Udacity content, since the platform does allow you to take individual courses for free. I’ve taken some of these free courses in the past and they’ve all been very good, with very knowledgeable instructors and a solid pedagogical approach to the content. It’s clear that Udacity “vets” the instructors that they assign to these courses based on experience in teaching and writing software, and it’s helpful that the courses often provide in-video quizzes to help boost retention.