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Why your developers deserve better than MOOC learning platforms

Aug 16, 2022 - 11 min read
Joshua Ahn
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If you’re here, your developers need to learn, but MOOC learning platforms are falling short.

It’s critical for any developer to update their skills every year. Developers are well-attuned that if they’re not updating their skills, they're not growing in their careers. 

That’s probably why 54% of developers are unattracted to teams that don’t provide high-quality resources to drive confidence in their work.

As an engineering manager, keeping your developers growing in their careers improves team retention and creates a positive working environment where team members become more productive. 

Today, we’ll cover everything from a developer’s perspective around MOOC learning solutions and why your developers deserve better learning resources.

MOOC 101: Assessing advantages and limitations

What is MOOC?

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Courses. Designed for a massive audience of geographically displaced individuals, MOOC platforms aim to provide a massive library of resources to touch on various learning categories of their developers. Generally speaking, MOOC platforms for developers don’t limit themselves to developer-only courses but touch upon multiple teams and subject areas within a company.

Put differently, imagine a public library with a massive inventory of topical sections; one of those sections is a developer-focused section. The developer section then has many topics developers may be interested in. Examples in modern use include LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, and Udacity. 

Developer’s perspective: What are the advantages of MOOC?

From a developer’s perspective, there are varying reasons why they might prefer MOOC learning. For example, MOOC provides:

  1. Holistic learning opportunities via courses on product management, product design, and business strategy.
  2. A broad range of introductory technical courses
  3. The option to learn at their own pace
  4. Video-based courses from industry experts

MOOC learning solutions have their own advantages. Still, a rapidly growing digital landscape of new technology and languages brings on new challenges that MOOC learning fails to address for developers adequately. In other cases, innovation has improved and developed higher standards for what developer learning should look like. But before we go into what those solutions are, let’s take a look at an aerial view of what improper learning solutions can cause on any developer team.

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The Worst-Case Scenario and Finding a Solution

Some think the worst-case scenario for MOOC learning solutions is lack of use. You know the drill: you buy a subscription to a platform for your team. Occasionally your team uses it — most of the time, they don’t.

Contrary to popular belief, the worst-case scenario for any Engineering Team is to purchase MOOC learning solutions and see a reduction in developer productivity. This can happen in two main ways:

  A. Wasted time looking for the right resource in a large library

  B. Scrubbing through individual video lessons for relevant information 

An article on Forbes highlights some of the worst-case time sinks that MOOC providers have to offer — useless certificates, marketing baits, and profit-minded courses.

Or take it from Educative’s co-founders (former Microsoft and Facebook software engineers) who sought to improve developer education opportunities:

"The resources available were inaccessible for beginners or packed into lengthy videos that waste a learner’s time. We wanted to create a learning platform that met developers where they’re at."

A loss in developer productivity is only the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other challenges from your developer’s perspective. They might also face:

  1. Course content that lacks focus or isn’t updated frequently to match industry standards.
  2. Lack of progress tracking across multiple courses or individuals.
  3. Weak supplementary resources. No associated documentation features reduce flexibility to include company-specific documentation for courses. 
  4. Tedious downloads and developer environment setup for practice with limited visibility into developers practicing course content.
  5. Inability to customize or curate custom learning paths or modules for their personal interests.

While MOOC learning solutions aren’t optimal, engineering managers still face the dilemma of finding ways to fill skill gaps on the team and providing engineers with opportunities to grow in their careers. 

To optimize the developer learning experience, new solutions grew from these challenges, and developers now have the option to access personalized and customizable courses.

Everything you need to know about customizable courses and preferred features for developers

Customized and personalized solutions embrace the individual's background and provide tailored options to every user. In the case of developers, it considers a developer’s technical experience, learning preferences, and time.

You might be asking yourself these questions:

  1. So what about learning courses should be customizable?
  2. How much of developer learning can you customize, and what are the benefits associated with this? 
  3. What features enable you to easily create custom solutions without sacrificing too much of your time?

This next section will answer what customizable courses look like on an Anti-MOOC platform and what features set apart customizable courses from average video-based learning.

What are customized courses on an Anti-MOOC platform?

A customized course model creates a personalized approach to online learning for developers. In short, customized courses provide developers access to a developer-focused platform while allowing engineering managers to tailor courses to fit their team’s needs. 

Customizable courses within an Anti-MOOC platform are more akin to a specialty bookstore. The bookstore is broken into sections by technical topic, yet with a digital feature to splice and merge different pages from different books to create a personalized book. 

To summarize, customizable courses are to editable books as Anti-MOOC platforms are to specialty libraries. 

Customizable course features on an Anti-MOOC platform

Here's what we'll cover in this section:

Creating high-quality and relevant learning modules

A customizable course development option opens the opportunity to develop a high-quality and in-depth learning experience for developers. With an Anti-MOOC approach, platforms focus on creating higher-quality courses by addressing the depth of technical topics while removing unnecessary content.

Customizable courses also provide the option to splice and merge various courses to address developer skill levels and company needs. For example, with varying developer skill levels on a team, some developers might prefer higher-level courses but still require some refreshers on some technologies or languages. Engineering managers can provide relevant coursework in one package while omitting some content they know will be too junior for their developers. Vice versa, junior developers can be given beginner-level courses with inserted advanced topics that best serve their team. 

Embedding company documentation

Customizable courses provide the opportunity to include company documentation, or engineering manager touches to create a more personalized developer team learning experience. We know that this specific use-case scenario calls for more explicit examples or documentation to properly teach a developer to work with a company’s unique code base and tech stack.

Instead of providing multiple platforms for developers to jump between, having documentation aggregated into one platform provides a seamless and unique learning experience for developers. 

Leveraging courses for developer onboarding

Lots of learning materials are used in the early stages of developer onboarding. Especially for teams made up of junior developers, everyone on the team must be technically equipped.

With junior developers especially, they must spend the first weeks learning the tech stack and languages of the company. Customizable courses allow inserting key learning points from multiple courses while avoiding unneeded information overload. Engineering managers can create courses based on developer skill levels, which can then be reused to scale the team rapidly. 

How Educative can help your developers learn and grow in their work

Educative was formed by brothers Fahim ul Haq and Naeem ul Haq, former senior software engineers who quit their jobs at Microsoft and Facebook when they grew frustrated with the lack of continued education opportunities for developers.

The resources available were inaccessible for beginners or packed into lengthy videos that waste a learner’s time. They wanted to create a learning platform that met developers where they were at, so they created Educative. 

With a developer-first mindset, Educative focuses on features that best serve developers — text-based, self-paced, and hands-on courses.

Here's what we'll cover in this section:

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How Educative courses are created

Let’s take a look under the hood — Courses are written either by Educative’s dedicated group of technical content creators or by experienced third-party authors. Much of Educative’s content is written by published authors from their well-performing texts, seeking new outlets to share their knowledge. Authors are able to upload their own content with the help of a technical and proofreading team, so they have control over how their content is offered.

Courses come packed with interactive features built into Educative’s all-in-one online platform. This includes code snippets, playgrounds, quizzes, interactive graphs, and more. The Educative platform enables learners to read at their own speed and build real projects without the hassle of additional downloads.

Learn-by-doing courses with side-by-side text & code

Educative offers customizable courses that prioritize a “learn-by-doing” learning experience. With various offerings such as code snippets, playgrounds, quizzes, and most importantly, an embedded coding environment, developers are encouraged to retain their knowledge through various industry-proven methods. 

The interactive and hands-on features for courses are not limited to specific topics but span across all our topic verticals and the depth of each subject matter. 

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The course library currently features 500+ courses on the following topics:

  • Basic Computing And Algorithms
  • Common Programming Languages
  • Frontend
  • Backend
  • Web Development
  • Mobile App Development
  • Database
  • DevOps
  • Software Development
  • System Design
  • Distributed Systems
  • Cloud Computing
  • Docker
  • Data Science
  • Machine Learning
  • API
  • Miscellaneous

Each course provides interactive features such as quizzes, skill assessments, in-browser coding environments, illustrations, challenges, and learning goals. 

All of these features focus on providing the most detailed, supported, and efficient learning experience for all developers.  

Match your tech stack and manage your team’s progress

Educative provides a dashboard highlighting your team’s learning and onboarding progress. This high-level visibility gives engineering managers insight into a team’s growth area and creates career paths for rising stars. 

An intuitive design with dozens of widgets allows engineering managers to build custom learning plans from hundreds of expert-built courses — not to mention the added flexibility to add personal or company documentation.

This slice-and-dice approach with courses helps to tailor developer training to the unique tech stack of any software engineering team.

Personalized courses sets Educative apart from any other MOOC platform by providing to option to deploy custom courses to fill skill gaps or refresh rusty skills. It considers the range of developer skill levels that might start on your team.

Learn Fast: No set-up, in-browser, and text-based

Reduce each developer’s time to productivity by removing the unnecessary time needed for setting up developer environments and switching between multiple software platforms. Educative provides an all-in-one platform that allows engineering managers to curate and manage custom courses and learning paths. Meanwhile, developers can access courses and embedded coding environments from one window.

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When learning a new technical topic, developers immediately face the hurdle of setting up coding environments, downloading files, and opening multiple windows to practice their learnings. Educative lifts that burden by providing embedded coding environments directly into a course’s sequence. 

Alongside an all-in-one in-browser experience, Educative intentionally avoids lengthy videos. For most developers, a three-hour-long tutorial on Python where someone stands in front of a screen and talks at length isn’t the ideal way to learn. Videos mean you’re learning at someone else’s pace and lack the option to skim, reread challenging concepts, or control your time.

Text-based learning paired with hands-on practice has proven far more effective for tech education. Reading is faster than videos. The average video tutorial is spoken at 150 words per minute, while the average human reads at 250. General education-based research has also shown that text-based learning improves retention and comprehension. Meanwhile, Educative’s independently facilitated focus groups revealed that text-based courses are preferred for deep, effective learning. 

Devs prefer it, and science backs it.


WRITTEN BYJoshua Ahn

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