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Monkey See Monkey Do

By Spencer Barriball
Published in Random
December 05, 2021
2 min read
Monkey See Monkey Do

What really gets on my goat is the rise of the online video tutorial, they are mostly complete rubbish at what you think they set out to do: learn a subject. Instead, what I see time and time again, and done myself, is follow along with someone coding, who’s likely planned everything and on their one millionth take…

At the end of the process you marvel at what you’ve built then later when you try to apply it you realise that you’ve not learnt anything. Moreover, you’ve paid some money to do the course and are on rations till the end of the month now all because Barry at the office said what an amazing course they saw on Udemy. No Barry your wrong, you can’t learn React in two hours watching some genius level 12-year-old build an Instagram clone on an Arduino.

What’s wrong with books? Does reading require too much concentration? Or for that matter what’s wrong with learning from the official docs? I am not saying all video tutorials are pointless, after all many of us learn from watching more experienced people than ourselves but there’s a very important difference: The person you are watching you ask questions, and they can answer them right at that point. These sites say “well you can leave a question on some forum and hopefully within 48 hours someone will answer your question”. Yeah, right… such productive learning that.

I mean when Luke was being trained in the Jedi ways by Yoda, Yoda didn’t upload a tutorial on R2D2 and say ‘Get on, you must’ did he? In a traditional master-apprentice relationship, there is a give-and-take. The apprentice not only observes, but also has the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback. They also act as guide, cheer leader and Chief Enthusiasm Officer.

Another problem is let’s say you’ve done your video tutorial, all eight hours of it, split into 80 contemptible recordings, and you want to watch that clip that you’re stuck on. That later app you are trying to build yourself - where is that clip you so desperately need? Was it lesson 45, 46, 47 or 48? Hmm, okay now find the clip in the actual video which, don’t forget, you’re streaming at the mercy of what bandwidth you have. By the time you’ve found it you’ve forgotten what you were doing or lost the will to live.

Generally from what I’ve found having wasted loads of money on them is video tutorials don’t really take into account the learner’s needs. Instead, they’re done in the way that works best for the teacher. I’m looking at you Udemy!

No Barry your wrong, you can’t learn React in two hours watching some genius level 12-year-old build an Instagram clone on an Arduino.

So do yourself a favour, get a book, an actual class or someone who you can actually speak to over Zoom if it’s a video based course, this is vital. Video based learning needs a mentor and something that places like Code Institute, Thinkful or Codesmith do very well.

Alternatively just throw your money down the drain and do away with the middle-man.


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Spencer Barriball

Spencer Barriball

Full Stack Web Dev



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