Rascals in the Treehouse

photo of a treehouse
Cool treehouse, courtesy of flickr user @emdot.

Based on a recommendation from Rascal Jackie, we decided to try out Treehouse as our code-learning platform of choice. Treehouse is just one of many tools (see also: lynda.com, Codecademy, Code School, etc.) that provide coding instruction and practice, but there are a few unique features that really piqued our interest. Here are some of the things that we like about it:

  1. Curated tracks. While lynda.com tutorials are very well-designed, the courses tend to focus on one piece of software really in depth. While it can be helpful to learn ALL the ins and outs of a program, we wanted to learn a skillset that we could apply to creating a complex final project, like a website. Treehouse has several different Tracks (we embarked on Web Design, Front End Web Development, and PHP Development) that are comprised of curated sets of Treehouse courses.
  2. Project-based instruction. Many of the Treehouse courses walk you through a project step-by-step, allowing you to pick up new skills while applying them to a real-life product. For instance, the How to Make a Website course moves quickly through HTML and CSS basics, while teaching you to build a mobile-first, responsive website. Later, as you move forward in your Track, you can take on “deep dives,” which cover HTML, CSS, and other aspects of website creation in detail. Treehouse also provides online workspaces, so you can work on your projects in your browser while watching tutorials.
  3. Gamification. Treehouse logs your progress and lets you test your knowledge through quizzes and code challenges. As you progress through Treehouse tutorials, you can unlock achievements and earn badges. You can also view group stats and see what the other Rascals in your group are up to.
  4. Price tag. Thanks to the Free Library of Philadelphia, Treehouse is free to us!

The Rascals plan to keep up with our Treehouse tutorials throughout the year. We use our weekly meeting time to check in about progress, and keep each other on track. Stay tuned for more reviews and reflections!