Build Projects to Make Your Learning Stick

Zac Jones
Zac Jones
Build Projects to Make Your Learning Stick

Staying Current

Staying current with your web development skills is a never ending process.

The learning never stops.

Our industry is always moving forward; new technologies are being created every day, old technologies (some you might have put decade+ time into) are deprecated with little warning.

You need to demonstrate that you stay current and know how to learn whether you want to shine at work, look for your next position to further your career, or get that promotion you've been dreaming about.

This means you need to be as efficient as you can in how you learn.

You need to leverage whatever you learn to help your current and future self.

Resources like egghead dramatically jump start your research and learning which helps you get a grasp of the API and patterns you'll run into.

But watching courses, and taking in information passively, can only get you so far.

Project Based Learning

At some point, you need to apply the knowledge that you're stuffing into your brain to really make it stick

We're talking about working on projects that apply the knowledge you just acquired. Maybe it's building a bug tracker or eCommerce store, something to test yourself with that replicate the type of projects that you might take on at work (or hope to take on someday).

The immediate benefit is fairly obvious... you sus out what you truly learned and then battle through the hidden misconceptions that lurk behind a well crafted course.

Concepts and skills may make sense in your head as you watch an expert apply them but the nuance is always in the details and you can't really prove to yourself that you know something without actually doing it.

There are more benefits to project based learning as well..

As you know from work or any project that you've built in the past, there is much more that goes into a project than just the final (hopefully working) result.

There's the planning you put in, decisions that you had to make based on current constraints, solutions you built out (some that worked and a lot that didn't), and of course the deployed/built code that is the fruit of your labor.

Not capturing these plans, decisions, and solutions is a huge wasted opportunity as they show the expertise that you gained through out the project.

Write About What you Learn

If a project is worth your time to build, it's also worth your time to write about what you're building and why you chose to build it that way.

You're future self will benefit as you can return to your writings to refresh on the concepts that you worked out.

Not only that, but writing about your project insights and implementations proves your expertise to the world at large whether you're aiming for that promotion or landing your next job.

What's awesome about this approach is that you already have the resources you need to truly level up.

Next Steps

If you've been learning on egghead, check out Joel's article on how to turn any egghead course into a project: how to use to level up as a web developer

Or if you're looking for a more specific project idea, see why Code Foundry: The Essential Coding Project You Need On Your Portfolio To Get A Software Job