Scrapbook / Web Design & Devleopment

University vs online education

Everybody chooses a different path in life, sometimes achieve the same goal. The question is whats better, University or online educational services?

Web design and development is becoming bigger and much more popular, with appearances and references in blockbuster games like grand Theft Auto 5 and countless adverts online promoting educational services such as Treehouse and Codecademy.

Recently, ad’s on Facebook have pervaded my news feed with links to treehouse and other similar online educational sites. This got me thinking, is it really possible to learn to be a designer/developer within weeks/months at a tiny fraction of the price of University?

The short answer

I don’t think there is a sure answer for this kind of question. Everybody has a different opinion on the subject. There are many people who stand by services like Treehouse and promote the fact that they have changed their entire career path for the better. On the other hand, people who have been on the roller coaster journey through a degree will say otherwise.

I can kinda see why graduates and degree holders find this slightly annoying. They’ve spent thousands and thousands of pounds or dollars on getting a first class education, and can lose out on a job to somebody that spent 3 to 6 months on treehouse or did a “12 week course to become a web developer”.

This doesn’t go without saying that not everybody with a degree is capable of doing what they say they can. Also, you can’t forget that many developers, some widely known for their incredible talent, are self-taught.

At the end of the day there isn’t a governing body in the web development industry and you don’t need a license to practice, like doctors or lawyers. This means there is no control over who can and can’t do it. This is the reason web development and programming in general has excelled at the rate it has. We wouldn’t have all the cool web applications available today if it weren’t for the individuals that thought of a cool idea, and built it.

The rest

As I’ve already said, I don’t think there is a real answer to this question, just facts and opinions.

Firstly, you don’t need a degree to make it as a designer or developer. Many employers are just looking to see if you can do what you say you can do and to the standard that they expect.

Looking at Treehouse’s stories section on their website, you can see the happy customers from all around the world that have used it to change their career path, build upon their existing knowledge or used within a business to maintain staff knowledge.

You can’t deny that services like treehouse are useful. I personally used Codecademy loads throughout my degree, and why not? it’s there to help and it did just that! I did a bit of reading on the subject and found a few interesting articles on the treehouse blog. Obviously they promoted their business of online education, but there wasn’t complete dismissal to a University education.

A degree shows an extended layer of professionalism. Doing a degree is hard! If you can stick it for 3 or 4 years then it shows you really want to make it in the industry. The structure provided by a degree is also helpful in building project and personal management skills. Theres a lot to do and in some cases, not enough time to do it in.

A degree has other benefits such as social and life skills. Another key point is it lets you grow up. I wasn’t the most mature individual when I started my degree at Plymouth University. It gave me chance to grow up while doing something useful with my time. It also allowed me to enjoy myself; University isn’t just about long hours, coursework and exams.

At the beginning of this post I pointed out how I get loads of “learn to code in 12 weeks” adverts of Facebook. I decided to look at the comments for these adverts and to be honest I wasn’t surprised with what they said. They where basically arguments between disgruntled developers and the company providing the educational service.

What do I think?

I can only provide my own opinion on the subject so here goes. I think a degree is a good thing! Yes it costs a lot of money, but it gives you the chance to grow as a professional and an individual. If faced with the decision of University or an online educational service again, I would choose the degree hands down.

I do however like the idea of online educational services such as Treehouse and Codecademy. I think it’s not a case of which one, but how can they both benefit me and make me a better designer and developer.

My degree was a platform for me to excel upon. I will be honest and say that most of the things I have learnt were from other people doing the same degree, my placement year and also design and development blogs online.

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