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How Regularly Should I Practice My Programming Skills With Online Courses Like SoloLearn, Udemy?

How Regularly Should I Practice My Programming Skills With Online Courses Like SoloLearn, Udemy?

In this week’s edition of Ask Sololearn, the SoloLearn community has chosen one of the most important topics for any learner -- how much should someone practice? Specifically, this week’s question was “How regularly should I practice my programming skills with online courses like SoloLearn, Udemy, or other bootcamps?”. 

To answer this question, we need to consider two different things -- how much practice is a good idea to learn to code, and what is the most effective way to practice? No matter which online course you are working through or what your desired programming specialty may be, knowing the right way to practice is as important as the total time you spend on it.

So let’s tackle this as a two-part answer, and give you some tips and tricks on managing your practice schedule, habits, and expectations as you continue building your coding skills and progressing toward junior developer status.

What Does Effective Practice Actually Look Like? 

Learning scientists have done tons of research on methods of practice and how they affect memory retention and application of concepts over the years. Whether you are learning to play the violin, throw a football, or build a database, there are some similar themes in terms of actually making the most of practice. Here are some of the key takeaways that learning science can teach us:

Motivation Is Essential

Study after study has shown that actual interest and motivation to learn a concept can greatly increase the value of practice. To put it simply, if you don’t care about what you are learning, then your practice won’t be as effective (since your energy and attention won’t be fully committed). 

An easy trick to increase motivation is to do some research on potential coding careers you may be interested in, and learn about the skills required to master them. With a clear set of goals and a “finish line” to shoot for, practice becomes much less repetitive and more meaningful.

Goal-Setting Should Be Used Responsibly

Setting “achievements” or expectations for learning is also backed by learning science, but goals need to be reasonable and staggered. You should ideally create some short-term learning goals (“I will finish two tutorials by X date”) and long-term learning goals (“I will build my first software program in Python”). By creating a tiered list of goals, you can measure actual progress while still keeping long-term achievements ahead of you to continue dedicating yourself.

Network To Allow For Collaboration As You Practice

Whether you are completing a course on SoloLearn or simply reviewing some concepts on your own, having a study buddy or fellow learner to collaborate with can help you recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and have some moral support when times get tough. 

SoloLearn’s community is a great place to find fellow coding learners to partner with (or compete against).

Be Reasonable When Building A Practice Schedule

Of course you want to be designing an iOS game right now -- any coding learner can’t wait to start building. But overloading yourself with practice can lead to exhaustion or burnout, which can be tough to overcome and can actually hamper your long-term development.

So How Regularly Should You Practice Coding With Online Courses, Specifically? 

While there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are several tiered answers for you to choose what works best for you:

Daily

Depending on your work or school schedule, doing a little bit (like a tutorial or a quiz or a challenge) each day can keep you constantly fresh and learning. This is also a good way to maximize memory retention -- if you don’t take too long off between each practice session, science shows you’ll have an easier time connecting course concepts and building your knowledge base.

A Couple Of Times Per Week

If you are juggling other responsibilities, it might not be possible to practice coding effectively every day (remember, you need a fresh and rested brain to really get the most out of an online coding class). Choosing 2-3 days a week that fit nicely with your work or school schedule can help you retain the benefits of daily practice without overloading yourself.

Weekly

This is probably the most “relaxed” schedule that is still effective for seeing sustained progress. A weekly coding schedule also makes sense for folks who are attempting to learn code to switch from a full-time career. It’s probably not possible to ignore your day job, but you can still make significant gains in your coding knowledge by dedicating a day or evening a week to online coding classes.

If you are interested in learning more about practicing coding, we’ve taken some deeper dives into what learning science can tell us about practice and learning effectively. Take a look at them here to better design your practice plan and be on your way to coding success with SoloLearn!