Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Validity of Online Tech Training

Here's an odd post, and I'm looking at Tipa and Saylah with this one for sure.

I recently graduated with my degree in Web Design, but it's more of a graphical degree and there's a part of me that VERY much still wants the technical knowledge of things like PHP, MySQL, and the like. Problem is, I can't afford the time needed or the price of the official MySQL classes. Nor can I afford to take out more loans for a full college degree.

In my eyes, that leaves online courses that can range anywhere from fifty to two-hundred dollars in price for unlimited use. I am VERY comfortable in online learning and quite disciplined when it comes to such education. I've been doing online school for two years now.

My question is, would these types of training be worth the relatively small investment? Here's one of the site's I'm looking into: LINK. To all those developers and techies out there, does this sort of training seem viable to someone who needs more than a book to learn by?


Hudson said...

I am in the same boat, I really need PHP but the time and the course cost make it nearly impossible at the moment

Bildo said...

Check that link, Hud.

The price for a 12 month access pass is $100 and the courses seem quite involved. I'd say that taking the course, combined with a decent desk reference would be enough to go from beginner to intermediate level. Then experience would take you to expert down the road.

That's what I'm hoping anyway. Now I just have to choose between taking an SQL class first to learn some DBA background, or if I should go right for the PHP and MySQL lessons.

Anonymous said...

Self taught on PHP and SQL, but then again I picked these up years ago and as they've expanded (especially PHP which started out very simple) I've adapted with them.

I would say at this point a course for PHP would be recommended, but basic SQL is something you could still pick up with a good manual / book. MySQL in particular isn't super complex.

br3ntbr0 said...

I've been in web development for several years, both with open source via PHP and ASP with Microsoft. I'm self taught, all through material online and books purchased on various topics. They weren't teaching this stuff when I was in school...so I guess I just gave away my age ><

Anywho, I recently had to make a low cost training recommendation at work to people who were transitioning into PHP from other parts of IT, and I really couldn't find anything cheaper or better online than the stuff taught by the web standards folks at W3:


I'd start there when you get ready to dive in to PHP. I'd be glad to help however I can too. Much like you, I started out as a designer and have progressed through development and into being an Analyst. I enjoy the business, and it really helps when my guild needs a web site to boot :)

Khan said...

If it's just for your own interests, I wouldn't spend much money, if any, on it. You're not under the gun to learn it and there are a lot of tutorials or online coding help available.

MySQL is pretty simple to learn (setting it up and getting it to work with another program is more painful than using it, IMHO). I'm less familiar with PHP but there are tutorials available and some decent books for those who usually aren't inclined to like books. The Visual Quickstart series is a good one as the focus is on examples you can expand from - generally a good beginning, anyway.

Bildo said...

Thanks guys!

I think what I'll do is end up buying a book first, seeing how well I do with just that and then judge if I need to spend the extra $100 on training classes.

I really want to be proficient in PHP and MySQL, and eventually get some knowledge in RoR as well for development purposes, so I'm looking for the best way to train myself without having to spend too much money.

Thanks again!

Tipa too, for letting me hijack her blog for a while... :)

Bildo said...

Hey Khan, what about the Visual QuickPro guides?

Along the same lines as the QuickStart ones, basically a mirror series.

They already have one out that deals with PHP6 in beta form as well as 5.

I'm thinking of picking it up as the 3rd Edition of the Quickstart series doesn't come out until July and I'm an impatient bastard.

I've worked with both in my design schooling, and either or would be beneificial I think, but just wondering your stance on it.

Tim said...

I got a degree in computer science where we learned using Java and Oracle. Half way through college, I realized I wanted to do web development. So I got myself a random PHP/mySQL book and self taught myself PHP and mySQL. It helped a lot that I had the education of how databases and programming languages worked, and could apply that to PHP and mySQL. I can say from experience that education, from someone, not a book, is extremely important as far as the quality of your code. If you have that formal education then I would think a book would suffice, but if not then I'd recommend some sort of class, even if it's a general programming class and not PHP specific.

It's easy to write PHP code. It's much harder to write good PHP code.

And, if you run into any problems, let me know, I've been doing PHP/mySQL for 5+ years since I graduated now, and I'm obviously a fan of your blog.

Bildo said...

Thanks Tim!

I'm fairly certain I'll be buying a book first, being at least familiar with PHP as I am and then seeing how well I do with that before paying the $100 for online courses.

What I'd like to do, if you're not adverse to it, is maybe display any code I write here and then those of you out there who know it could give me feedback.

In fact, that's very likely exactly what I'll do. Gotta love blogs... an open world of opinions and feedback ready and waiting.

Khan said...

I haven't tried the Visual QuickPro series but if it's by the same folks, it's probably similar. Amazon.com allows previews of many books so that's one means of comparing them.

I agree with Tim about the value of actual instruction verses book-learning in the long haul but books can help form a basis for understanding later, more advanced techniques. It's sort of like filling a toolbox. The book will give you the basic tools and you'll be able to create some neat stuff. NASA won't be hammering on your door to put together code for them any time soon, but you'll get the basics down. Then, if you decide to go further, you can look into other options (online classes, college classes, internships for programming, etc).

I'd be happy to look at the code you post here, however, my PHP is so rusty, I probably won't comment much. :)