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Breaking the Illusion: How recorded video courses hinder your learning process

Alright, so you want to learn coding and after researching a lot, you decided that you would start taking online courses that will help you learn. You have researched for hours for the best rated online course available on one of the biggest platforms and now it is the time that your journey as a programmer begins.

You paid just 10 bucks for this amazing recorded video course and this is of course the best value for your money. You start watching the first video of the course, full of excitement, ready to learn. After watching 3-5 videos, you have started writing code exactly how it is supposed to be written according to the video.

Being a good faithful student, you made sure everything is exactly the same and Eureka!! Your code runs and you see the result in the console (most likely). Another video, another coding task, next video, one more coding task and slowly the course comes to an end and you are confident that you have learned enough to make a website or to build a mobile app.

Finally you sit down to start creating your dream website and you don’t know where to start, wait what?? I just finished a course, you think, so you start writing some code and it doesn’t work. You feel frustrated and angry that you don’t know how to solve the problem or don’t even know what the problem is. And you feel cheated because you were given a promise that the course will teach you EVERYTHING!!!.

This is the story of hundreds and thousands of students these days who are misled by advertisements that a recorded video course that just costs 10 bucks will teach them everything. In reality these recorded video courses rarely teach anything. The big problem with the online recorded courses is not that they cost just 10 bucks, but the fact that these courses can be watched like a movie by students without any mental engagement to induce learning. Having seen multiple student going through the same problems, here are the reason why “Online Recorded Video Courses” only create a learning illusion -


No Thought Engagement

How did you learn things when you were a kid? Did you just watch a video? Or did you have to invest hours and hours and make a lot of mistakes in order to finally learn anything. Can you imagine learning to ride a bicycle just by watching a video? Of course not!

Learning is a process that requires thought engagement. That simply means that if you are not thinking about the problem you are solving while coding, you are just copying what the instructor has provided in the course. Programming is an activity that happens 95% in the brain of a developer and coding is just 5% activity that includes typing code based on the critical thoughts in the brain. And online recorded video courses fail miserably in invoking a thought.


False Achievement Hit

Every time you finish a task given in a recorded video course, you code according to exactly what was taught in the previous video and hence you can solve the task. The trick here is that the video that you saw already secretly told you what the solution is and hence you didn’t really have to think a lot to actually solve the problem.

This creates an illusion of self learning and achievement. Even though you feel that you have solved the task yourself, but in reality, you were already provided by the solution secretly to keep you giving that false achievement hit so that you don’t ask for a refund. If very many students cannot solve a problem or find it difficult to solve a problem, it will reflect badly on the course and as a result the rating of the course will drop. And that is not what the creator of the course wants.


Fatigue of Solo Learning

Be it learning to code, going out to barbeque or going to watch a movie, it is the fun of doing things together with other people that keeps us interested in the activity. Watching a series of videos that is supposed to help you learn, is something that would get boring after sometime and you will feel tired. You would seek refuge in going to the kitchen to make a coffee, check facebook for 5 minutes or watching a short youtube video to get an excuse to take a break.

This is what I mean by fatigue of solo learning.

This is where real in person courses work like magic. The fact that you are learning together with other people and there is a real person who is involved in your learning process, keeps you interested and helps you grow your coding skills. The mental fatigue of learning is compensated by the presence of other participants in the course. Any time someone doesn’t understand something, they ask a question and that refocuses your attention back to the topic of discussion.


Punishment of Convenience

Buying an online recorded video course is something students do when they are highly motivated. Even though most of the time students start learning immediately, it is very difficult to keep this high motivation for long enough. This makes the students think that as they have already bought the course, they have the convenience to finish it any time they want, so it is ok if they don’t watch it today, but continue watching it the next day. What starts as a one time procrastination, starts happening repeatedly as the convenience of being able to watch it anytime results in actually never finishing the course.

This is rarely the case with in person real courses as students know that it is not going to be available forever so they have no option but to attend the teaching session. Though a little painful, this results in continuous learning and improvement of skills.


Copy Vs. Creation

Going back to the first point, having followed an online recorded video course creates the false illusion of having learnt the course content. Whereas in reality, the students have just copied the coding snippets that were presented by the instructor during the course. In order to learn any skill, it is important to use one’s own creativity and thoughts as that is the only way one can learn anything. Similarly copying code snippets cannot induce real learning for you as it lacks the sufficient brain activity for it to be able to teach you anything.

We have to understand that it is not the students who are at fault here, but actually the course creators and providers that, by marketing efforts, have convinced the students that just by watching a long series of recorded videos they can learn a specific skill.

Students must understand here that the real motivation behind creating these courses is not to induce efficient learning, but to earn money by creating courses that are easy enough to induce a sense of learning in order to get good ratings. Having fallen for these marketing tactics, it is the students who are victims of the predatory industry of recorded video courses.