I just finished up the Learn JavaScript for Free course on Scrimba, taught by the CEO Per Harald Borgen, and the last thing he suggested in the course wasn’t to take another course, but to start writing about my learning experience. I’ve been blogging for almost 20 years so this was something I felt I could actually accomplish. The post is in response to his last suggestion in that course, and this may not be a point for point pros and cons review, but the fact that this post exists is how much I think of this course. TLDR; i would recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn JavaScript.

My Journey So Far

I’m sure my journey is similar to many others, but we all have unique stories to tell. For me, the short version would be, in March 2022 I left my old career behind to start a new career as a developer (specifically a front-end React dev).

I left 15 years of tenure, safety, and security to follow something I had wanted to do all of my adult life. But starting a new career after 50 can’t be easy. I’m not sure, I’ve never tried this before, but every year that went by I could look back and think “if I had started this a year ago I would be a year farther down the road now” (and I’ve said this to myself at least since 2015). I also had completely and totally unrealistic time frames in mind. Initially, I figured 2 months should be long enough. My expectations were unrealistic to say the least.

Having Realistic Expectations

The next two months I spent about 8 hours a day working through Codecademy’s full stack course (just because it had the most structure), and made it through HTML, CSS, JavaScript Part 1 and 2 (twice), then React Part 1 and 2, and Git/GitHub Part 1 and 2. My emotions ranged everywhere from this is awesome I’m super excited, to I can’t wait to get through this next course, to extreme frustration, to how can/will I ever be able to learn the sheer volume of information, let alone learn it well.

Then I read Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard and Finding it difficult to learn programming? Here’s why, and I started to get it. My unrealistic time frame was even more unrealistic than I first thought, and the way I was trying to learn the material was the most difficult way, for me personally, to learn.

Did I mention, I spent every day, 6-8 hours a day, cramming through Codecademy’s full stack course for two full months. Please know, I have nothing against Codecademy or how they teach their courses. The platform is amazing, the information is extremely detailed (though the React course was a bit outdated). But at the end of the two months I didn’t feel prepared for anything, nor did I feel like I knew how to code anything that wasn’t hand fed to me. The main way of teaching is through reading documentation and then doing a small exercise. I am a lazy reader so I tend to (not on purpose) skip details, miss important details, drift off, loose concentration… fall asleep. It wasn’t “tutorial hell” but it was close.

Find What Works for You Personally

My solution was to go to YouTube and find some (non-tutorial only) videos. One big video on JavaScript and one on React should get me back on track and then I would pick back up where I left off. That’s how I came across Per Harald Borgen and his YouTube video on JavaScript via FreeCodeCamp. Except it was 7 (seven!) hours long. I found out it was actually a course on Scrimba and a few minutes into the first video I felt like I had learned more in just a few minutes than weeks of previous work reading blocks of paragraphs.

I figured that was just a fluke, but it wasn’t. It was like that all the way through the entire course. Maybe because I learn better through video and doing, maybe because I had actually learned something over the last two months… whatever it was, I learned more from this course than from anything else, and in a quarter of the time.

The Scrimba Review

Local Files: as far as this particular course goes… one of the best things for me was being able to download the entire course work on GitHub, then work through every part/chapter/piece locally through vscode and Chrome dev tools. This helped me tremendously over just doing the work “in-browser.”

The Interface: they use takes a bit of getting use to, but it’s very unique, and I learned to really appreciate the combination of code editor, video, browser, mode thing.

The Cost: well this course was free, but I’m subscribing to their site, and it’s VERY reasonable.

The Teaching: like I said, I learn best in this format. So for me, I picked up the teaching method much better. Per is also a fantastic teacher, patient, sense of humor, and you feel like you actually get to know the teacher even though it’s not a live course.

What I Really Liked: Scrimba gave me hope. What more could you ask for. It made me figure out how to do things the way they would be done in the real world (or what I perceive to be the real dev world). It wasn’t theoretical, it was application and repetition. The projects you work on over the course are fantastic. The Blackjack game and the Chrome Extension projects were really great learning tools.

What I didn’t Care For: in short, the solo projects and Figma. This isn’t so much a criticism of Scrimba as much as my personal situation. I’m trying to get through this as fast as possible (for many reasons). There was a solo project after each major section. I felt like these were way too hands off. I didn’t even attempt them because I found Figma very confusing, and I didn’t know where to even begin, and I didn’t have the time to figure it out. I know this is counterproductive to my end goal and it would be a great way to learn, but I couldn’t take the time to do them. I plan to go back and do them later, but I don’t know if that will realistically happen once I get to the advanced React course.

What I Learned: this is one of the hardest things I’ve found in learning how to code. How do you know how well you are doing? I learned some JavaScript for sure. I learned concepts. I learned how to figure things out on my own (a little, but more than non-Scrimba courses). I’m also a big note taker (I’ve done dev notes in Notion from the beginning), but I finally figured out that I need to be taking notes in the code… everywhere (like the exercise below). I learned to take your time and give yourself time to figure things out. Don’t hurry, be patient, or learn to be patient. There are no shortcuts to learning code, none, not one, none, at all.

// this is what i did and it was completely wrong
// i didn't understand the instructions and got lost

     const fruit = ['Apples', 'Bananas']
     const description = 'The 2 best fruits are: '

 function generateSentence(desc, arr) {
     for ( i = 0; i < arr.length; i  )
     console.log(arr[i])
     return `${description} ${fruit}`
}

console.log()

// this is what Per did, and now it makes sense

function generateSentence(desc, arr) {
    let baseString = `The ${arr.length} ${desc} are `
    const lastIndex = arr.length - 1
    for (let i=0; i < arr.length; i  ) {
        if (i === lastIndex) {
            baseString  = 'and '   arr[i]   '.'
        } else {
            baseString  = arr[i]   ', '
        }
    }
    return baseString
}

const sentence = generateSentence('highest mountains', ['Mount Everest', 'K2', 'Moon', 'Mars', 'Jupiter', 'Sun', 'Stars', 'Pluto'])

console.log(sentence)


// this one was not easy at all and i came no where close
// to getting it right but it is pretty cool. 
//(May, 18 2022 {Wed} @ 03:08:17 PM)

All in all I couldn’t recommend this course enough. But it takes way more than just a course to learn how to do this stuff well. It takes discipline, the proper working environment, rest, breaks, focus, time, money, an understanding family or spouse, and just the right time and place in your own personal life.

One thought on “A Review of the Scrimba Learn JavaScript Course

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