• Tim Buchalka

How to Pick an Instructor for Your Online Programming Course

On today's Internet there are thousands of programming courses. So just how do you know that the person who has put that course together, the instructor, is someone who actually knows what they're talking about and can actually lead you on your journey to becoming a software developer? Let's talk about how to do that today.



Today, we're talking about just how you can figure out if a particular person has the skills as an instructor to pass on to you to help you in your quest to become a software developer.


Well first and foremost, check the credentials of that instructor. What I'm talking about is not looking at the sales video or looking at the sales page and not looking at the testimonials on those pages because those pages generally have got the best case scenario. They'll give you a bit of information about the course and they'll say how good they are and how great the course is et cetera and perhaps the person who's most happiest with the course leaves a testimonial and they put it on there. That doesn't really give you enough information in my opinion to make a decision.


Firstly, I would check is to make sure that they've actually got credentials and by that I mean real world commercial programming experience. It's very important to have done this for a living as a commercial developer. If your instructor or the person who has put together this course that you're looking to take has no commercial programming experience, then really how can they hope to teach you the skills that you need to get a job and to actual programme commercially? Unfortunately, the reality is there's a lot of marketers out there today and by marketers I mean as people who are trying to make a quick dollar. They put something together that they hope will be worthy of someone wanting to buy it but they've got no idea whether it's correct, whether it teaches best industry practices or whether it's really suitable to help someone. They have to be able to teach someone how to programme is what I'm trying to say.


The best way to make sure that happens is firstly to make sure that this person is a programmer. Pretty basic but if you're wanting to learn how to programme, make sure you learn from a programmer. If they need to have real world commercial programming experience, I would say the substantial number of years of commercial programming experience would be a couple of years at the barest minimum. That's number one so make sure they've got some experience.


Secondly, this is a lot easier for you to check, is just to go and read the reviews. I know that this is probably an easy thing but go and read the reviews left by real people, people who have left reviews on this particular instructor's courses in the past. Not necessarily the course you're looking at but another course, even some of their earlier courses. Try and see if there's a pattern there on their teaching techniques.


Now obvious things here, if there's a lot of negative reviews and very few positive reviews then that's already a red flag. More than just that, I suggest you go through and read the comments. What do students love about this instructor's course? In other words, what do they get the most out of? What do they think that this instructor has done best and done things right than most? But also what do they dislike about it? What's the things that in their opinion they felt that the instructor didn't do properly?


Try and get a general overview from a number of different students so don't just read one negative review. I can tell you right now that there's always going to be someone who absolutely hates someone's content for whatever reason and that applies to most things in life. Some people will love something, a lot of people will just think "Yeah, it's all right" and some people will hate something. That's just the reality of being a human. So don't just read one or two reviews to form your opinion. Try and get a diverse range of views.


You might want to read 20 or 30 reviews and see if there's a pattern emerging. Now if you read 20 or 30 reviews and it's constantly glowing and everything is exactly the same and they've just got all five-star reviews, maybe that's a bad sign. Bad sign in the sense that are they fake reviews? You aren't gonna find that in any programming course of substance. You're gonna find people who love it as I said before, people who are on the fence about it, and people who hate it. It's what the majority of people think about the course that should be what you're formulating your opinion on.


If overall I'd say 80% or 90% of the people are giving it five-star reviews and absolutely love it, then there's a good reason why they love it. They think it's teaching them and they've learnt a lot from it. They've got a lot out of the course and that's a sign that you've found a good instructor. The best thing you could do is try and find reviews where the person has said that they've used the content and they've gone on to get their first programming job. That would really to me be like a no-brainer that would be a tick to say, "I've found the right instructor" for that.


Again, there are two things that you can do. Check the credibility of the lecturer. Make sure that they're not just a marketer, that they are a programmer, and they've got teaching experience. Another is also to check the reviews to make sure that other people who have been through the course - either the course you're looking to buy or another course by the instructor - are happy with the material. Get a gauge for that and that will put you in the greatest position to be fairly sure, nothing's 100%, but be fairly sure that this instructor is the right one for you.


All right, so I hope that helped. If you've got any questions feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

© 2019 Tim Buchalka