Have you ever wondered what the difference is between learning a programming language like Python using SoloLearn versus Codecademy? Well wonder no more. I spent the summer using both platforms to learn Python. Now, I’m going to share with you here what I learned. The experience took place over a period of 8 consecutive weeks. And would not have been complete without long nights, bouts of boredom, and reoccurring periods of frustration. But I did it, I tackled my personal Mt. Everest. I completed two online Python courses. Two?! I can hear you through the internet, “Why two?” Well it comes down to practice makes perfect.
A few years ago, I gained valuable insight into learning a program language when I decided to learn C++ on Lyda. Half-way through the course, I realized the information in the second part was the same information from the first part just a different instructor and compiler. My anger was quick and definitive, I never finished the course. But with hindsight I realized the advantage to that approach. It provides a firm understanding of the basics which can only be a good thing. So, when I decided to learn Python I decided to take the same approach and use two different platforms to cover the basics of Python. Deciding between all the options available involved a short requirement list.
Why SoloLearn and Codeacademy?
The criteria for choosing a platform to learn Python came down to the basics: price, teaching style, and social feedback. When I decided to tackle learning a programming language during the summer it presented an advantage of time but also the constraint of time. My schedule was full of personal and professional activities, so I needed a mobile learning platform. In addition, I needed the platform to be free (student here), provide practice, and have a good social credibility. In respects to the later three requirements SoloLearn and Codecademy have all three. However, only SoloLearn provides mobile and desktop access. While Codeacademy is only desktop capable (there is not even access to the desktop platform on your phone). In addition, SoloLearn came highly recommended in the Women Who Code network. While I’d used Codecademy before for other languages. In the end, I decided to use SoloLearn and Codecademy.
SoloLearn’s distinctive approach to education is ideal for someone on the go. The platform offers a desktop and mobile version available for Android and iOS users. Despite the ability to use the platform on your phone it is the modular sections that are the key selling points. Concepts are broken down into modules. The modules are then broken down into three parts: the lesson, the quiz, and a section quiz. The lesson pages are concise with little scrolling necessary. The section quizzes consist of small blocks of code where the user is asked to use a combination of fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, word-drops, and rearrange words to complete the code. When inevitability you get stuck there are two options for help either use points and see the answer or use the community thread which appears on the screen. Beyond the code SoloLearn includes information about the programming language and its tools.
On the other hand, Codecademy’s approach is best for someone looking to practice without having to find your own exercises. For those unfamiliar with Codecademy it is a completely web browser-based platform. The course is broken down into sections. Each section has lessons with real-time practice in a compiler that culminates to a complete program at the end of the section. The most helpful section was at the half-way point of the course where you create a program that builds off previous sections. Error messages are handled in three different ways either use a “Hint”, visit the community board, or let Codecademy correct the code. The later however doesn’t highlight the correction, so it can be difficult to learn from your mistakes. Also, it doesn’t provide any information about the programming language.
Despite their different approaches to learning SoloLearn and Codeacademy have several features in common that make them ideal for learning a new programming language. Most importantly, they are free to use. SoloLearn lets you buy help and Codeacademy lets you purchase additional practice and quizzes. In addition, each platform has a vibrant community of programmers from around the world willing and able to help novices. Also, both platforms teach Object Oriented Programming concepts. Lastly, both platforms provide an e-certificate that can be displayed on LinkedIn or another social media platform.
In conclusion, it is difficult to claim one platform supreme over the other. SoloLearn and Codecademy each will successfully teach you Python or any other language. However, I do believe that SoloLearn is the best approach for a ground level review of a language, especially if you are intermediate to advanced level in another language. If you are completely new to a language I would suggest Codeacademy for the incorporated practice, which is essential to learning a programming language. In either case, I suggest following up with additional course work elsewhere to cement the basics.
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