Review: Treehouse Training and Badges

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Having finished all the available badges on the Treamtreehouse.com website, I thought I would provide an evaluation of what I thought of the website, the learning method, and the delivery.WebsiteThe website is very well put together, even though there is a feeling of "start-up" on the site. The feeling comes from the three badges (as of this writing) that are incomplete (JavaScript Foundations, Photoshop Foundations, and Ruby Foundations). Also, there is generally a delay in getting to certain pages (like the Profile and Dashboard). When you take the quizzes to get your badge, occasionally some will blank out for no obvious reason, meaning you need to go through the questions again.But the organization is very well done. It's easy to navigate through the course materials, from one badge to another, and the Dashboard makes it easy to follow up on what your next badges would be. Over all, I really like the website.Learning MethodThe badges are organized by topic, which build upon each other to show which skills you have accomplished. You know you have accomplished the skills, because most badges have challenges and final challenges that require you to show your knowledge by accomplishing a task. It's well built, and equates to a classroom Topic then Quiz learning method to establish skills. I've mentioned the incredible motivating factor that comes from earning a badge.Straight video lectures with demos are not for everyone. They are great for those who learn in a visual and/or auditory, but those who are tactile in their learning (needing to get hands-on) will find the speed of the videos a little frustrating. Another frustration I experienced was the number of videos or length of videos that will precede a quiz. It requires the student to retain a lot of information. Without more practice for each video, quizzes can get frustrating. In particular I'm thinking about the Introduction to Programming badge and the iOS 4 badge.  Both badges had videos that lasted 11+ minutes, and had several in succession, making it harder to retain information for the quiz.  And I find that it's the test that helps you learn more than just the lecture.Overall, I think this is a great way to learn. Video lectures can work well when quizzes are appropriately spaced, and most of these badges do really well.DeliveryI found the most effective learning experiences with Treehouse were those that had videos lasting no more than 7 minutes, badges (modules) that had no more than 4 or 5 videos, and challenges that preceded a small selection of modules. From there the retention was optimal, while also giving me plenty of content on which to work.ConclusionOverall, I would definitely recommend using Treehouse, or any similar badge-based learning method. The motivation you get from earning badges that build into more badges is intense, the ability to show your knowledge in such a clear cut form is refreshing, and the knowledge that you know what you know is even better. Overall, badges are looking like a very viable new way to qualify learning at an incremental level.