Considering fee-based learning sites (Pluralsight)

In my quest to learn web development, full-stack JavaScript in particular, I have shied away from fee-based sites, preferring to frequent sites like FreeCodeCamp.com.  Recently, however, I received a free two-month subscription to Pluralsight, a video-based learning site with a $29/month cost.  I figured that, as it was free, I’d give the site a look-see.

In the six weeks I’ve had the subscription, I’ve completed three courses: Understanding NoSQL, Introduction to MongoDB, and Rapid JavaScript Training.

All of the courses were worthwhile, providing a good return on investment for my time (considering, of course, that I paid no money for them…)  It did take me longer to get through the courses than I’d hoped, but for focused learning, a good video-based course, coupled with hands-on experimentation with the concepts, is hard to beat.

The content was much more thorough than what I’ve found so far at free sites like FreeCodeCamp.  A great example of this is the Rapid JavaScript Training course, which was something I’d been looking for, but hadn’t found anywhere else. This course provided a relatively quick run-through of the JavaScript language targeted at an experienced developer.  It didn’t waste time on easy to grasp concepts, and provided insights into topics of interest to more experienced programmers.  I did spend about 6 hours across a few weeks (mostly due to my schedule limitations) consuming the content of the course.

I did my usual with a course: took notes with Google Docs, ran through code examples with CodePen, and even found a new site – jconsole.com – which provides a JavaScript console, similar to the Python command-line interface, that makes it easy to evaluate JavaScript statements or simple functions.

I’m a bit torn on whether I think this sort of content is worth paying for.  I’d love to have access to it for “free”, as it would be if I was employed by a company who offered Pluralsight as an educational benefit.  But for a self-employed guy, with limited funds at the moment, $29/month, or $299/year, seems a big chunk of change.

Alternatively, I have a membership to the ACM which provides access to a huge library of online learning content, including thousands of books and online training resources.  It costs $99/year, and I’ve kept it around since just after I graduated.  I have used several of their online books, and have really liked the access to relatively up-to-date content, but I haven’t been through any of their online courses.  I’ll try out one of them in the near future and compare it to the experience I had with Pluralsight.

For now, I think I’ll head back over to FreeCodeCamp, and ramp up a real live project of my own.

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