Bassem Marji is an educator and IT professional with 15+ years of industry experience. He has worked as a project implementation manager in finance, energy, and investment banking. He has published one course with Educative: PDF Management in Python. His second course, Face Analyzer in Python, is scheduled for release in October 2022. Here’s the story of how he created his first technical course.
My journey as a technical writer was not something pre-planned.
It all started three years ago when my country, Lebanon, was assailed by compounded crises: an economic and financial crisis, followed by the COVID-19 outbreak, and lastly the explosion of the port of Beirut. The confluence of these events wreaked havoc on supply chains, causing stagflation, currency devaluation, and a fall in nominal wages.
These unprecedented and exceptional circumstances challenged me to move forward and awaken my technical skills. I had been working as a project implementation manager at a Lebanese bank for many years. However, after experiencing liquidity shortages, the acquisition and the implementation of new software solutions had stalled, and my work was limited to maintaining existing applications.
Instead of feeling disheartened and overwhelmed, I decided to set a goal for myself: to polish my coding skills until they gleamed. To achieve this goal, I explored a plethora of online resources, webinars and interactive tutorials covering a wide spectrum of areas in Python.
In addition to furthering my professional skills, this strategy boosted my self-confidence and motivated me to publish my own articles. I started posting my articles to thepythoncode.com, which have generated around 100k total views and earned the appreciation of Python learners from across the industry.
While my primary objectives were to grow my skills and find self-fulfillment, it was gratifying to gain followers and to see my content helping people around the world. I even noticed that my article How to Sign PDF Files in Python was translated by other writers into Spanish and French, and posted on Morioh.com.
Armed with increasing experience, improved writing, and a growing portfolio, I decided to take the next step: developing a complete online course.
Two important questions popped in my head at this stage:
Selecting an engaging topic was not an easy task, but after an exploratory search, I settled on PDF Management in Python for the following reasons:
Then I needed to choose the online platform where I would publish my course. My intent was to find a hands-on online platform that really emphasized learners.
Right from the start, I rejected the idea of creating a video-based online course. I personally feel uncomfortable in front of camera, but also believe that video-based learning imposes many challenges on learners:
Video-based courses can be an excellent supplement to other forms of e-learning, but in my experience, they only impart surface-level knowledge on their own.
Taking all of this into consideration, I landed on Educative, a leading online learning platform providing interactive courses for software developers. I was fascinated by the quality, comprehensive analysis, and convenience of Educative’s online courses, as well as their Educative Answers platform.
In my opinion, the cornerstone of Educative’s success as a platform is its interactivity. The opportunity for hands-on learning is a key component for attracting and retaining students in online courses. The content itself is more engaging that way, and the learning process is reinforced through interlaced tasks like practicing code widgets and running quizzes.
Educative gave me the chance to realize my goal of publishing an online course, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t growing pains that came with this new experience. I had to learn how to use a new platform, participate in review cycles and address comments, and hit many milestones.
Just because you have an appealing course idea, an approved roadmap, and a signed contract doesn’t mean it will translate into a great course — let alone ensure it gets completed within the proposed time frame. In reality, crafting the course content and making it digestible is a demanding task with a challenging learning curve for first-timers. For example, I struggled with the visual design components of the course, especially when modeling sketches for my lessons in order to ensure compliance with Educative’s high standards.
I decided not to give up amid the complex and unpredictable challenges of creating a comprehensive online course. Beginnings are always the hardest parts of any project.
Luckily, the Educative team empowered me to achieve superior performance and gave me all the support required to override any issues that surfaced. From the beginning, Educative’s technical content team helped me make the course interactive, leveraging the ergonomic capabilities of the platform. On a related note, the author success team helped delineate the standards associated with writing courses, and advised me on argumentative and persuasive writing techniques.
Success was the result of this collaboration and hard work, and finally my course was released.
After mastering the rules of the game, I developed another course: “Face Analyzer in Python” planned to be released by Educative in October 2022. This is a state-of-the art course that combines deep neural networks with computer vision, bringing face analysis technologies to the forefront. I highly recommend this online course mainly for those interested in discovering the seamless integration between artificial intelligence and facial beauty innovations.
Upon completing my second course with Educative, I have identified a succinct recipe for success. Before embarking on the journey of writing an interactive course, I recommend mastering the course topic in greater depth and conceptualizing its lessons — not just in the programming aspect, but in the design and presentation of the information, as well.
Developing an online course always breeds fresh ideas, brings you closer to your passion, and leads to new opportunities. For me this was an opportunity to increase my productivity, creativity, and ability to cope with changes by stepping out of my comfort zone. It also gave me the chance to collaborate across teams of different cultures, perspectives, and expertise.
To sum up, my writing journey has taught me the importance of perseverance. Publishing content of value, like high-quality articles and interactive courses, enabled me to grow my personal brand in ways I could never have imagined. If you are an aspiring technical writer or instructional designer, do your research and don’t lose sight. I highly recommend Educative as a great place to make your vision a reality.
Bassem Marji is a T-shaped IT professional with 15+ years of hands-on experience delivering high-value projects. He is an Oracle 12c certified associate, highly proficient in Python, Oracle, SQL server, and Java. He has demonstrated success in authoring high-quality software documentation, user manuals, presentations and technical articles. His work can be found on Educative and thepythoncode.com.
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