The best online course & learning platforms, 3 of 5

Continuing on from my previous post, here are a few more additional platforms that I really like and think are some of the best available online.

Frontend Masters (grade: A+) | Frontend Masters is an absolute standout of a platform, and spoiler alert: this is actually the highest grade I’m going to give out to a platform in all of my platform reviews, including the additional ones to come later. In fact, I consider price to be the only real downside to this platform. It’s by no means the most expensive platform that I’m going to review, but it is one of the higher-priced ones at $39/month or $390/year for individual subscriptions.

Frontend Masters’ courses are taught by “vetted” professional developers, and out of the limited number of courses that I’ve done, all of them had excellent teachers. This is especially notable because some of the instructors on Frontend Masters are actually well-known developers too, like Kyle Simpson (of YDKJS fame), Sarah Drasner, Kent C. Dodds, Brian Holt, and Steve Kinney. The course formats are always well-done and the presentations are very professional. Although a small number of courses could stand to be improved pedagogically (some of the instructors need to be reminded that saying text out loud that’s already written on slides is not an effective teaching method), most of the individual courses are absolute A+ material and pack a ton of information that developers of any level will learn a lot from.

Lynda / LinkedIn Learning (grade: A) | Lynda was originally founded way back in 1995 but didn’t start offering online courses until 2002, making it one of the oldest learning platforms online. It was acquired by LinkedIn (which is now owned by Microsoft) in 2015, but while it’s gone through ownership changes, its content hasn’t changed at all, and the content remains one of the best available online anywhere.

One of the best parts to Lynda is the breadth of material that can be found on the platform. It doesn’t cover just software development, and in fact, the core strength of the platform is that it’s viable for learning technology in general, ranging from 3D modeling & animation, to audio & music, to UI/UX/design, to marketing, photography, and video. What’s equally impressive is that the vast majority of instructors on Lynda are top-tier professionals in their respective fields and often turn out to be excellent teachers as well. It’s actually almost amazing at how Lynda manages to find the level of quality teachers that they do, considering the amount of bum instructors on other platforms like Udemy and Skillshare. But that only serves to make it more obvious that Lynda has some type of vetting process, because at least 99% of the instructors on Lynda are both very knowledgeable and very good teachers. As a result, nearly all of the courses on Lynda are absolutely excellent and guaranteed to teach something new for developers at any level. Highly recommended platform, and one of the rare ones that’s worth paying for.

Laracasts (grade: A) | Laracasts is a platform that has a very specific scope in content, and is primarily focused on general JavaScript, Vue.js, PHP, and Laravel. The platform’s coverage of general JavaScript and Vue.js is perfectly fine and acceptable, but not nearly as definitive or comprehensive as it could be. There are certainly better platforms for learning those topics, including individual courses on Udemy, so I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who’s considering a subscription for that content alone.

However, if your goal is to also learn PHP and/or Laravel (or just these two topics alone), then Laracasts is probably one of the best platforms for that purpose. Sure, you could probably still buy individual courses on Udemy for this type of content, but Laracasts is an excellent single-stop resource that puts every related topic together in a way that makes sense. Their content is systematically organized into categories and series so it’s very approachable to those learning the material for the first time as well. A lot of thought and planning has clearly gone into the platform and it shows on the website and in the videos. Some of the videos do have minor flaws unfortunately (like code that doesn’t always work after following along to a screencast), but that issue aside, Laracasts should be considered a definitive resource for learning PHP and Laravel. Just consider the JavaScript and Vue.js content to be a bonus rather than a focus.