Over the last year, I’ve taken two courses in Python programming through the O’reilly School of Technology (yes, the same people that publish those programming books). I don’t think I’ve blogged too much about that experience.
Before going with O’reilly, I tried out Code Academy. That’s as good a jumping off point as I know of for anyone wanting to get their feet wet with computer programming, in general, or Python programming, in particular. I certainly learned a lot from working through some of their exercises. But … once I got to a certain level I started to feel like I was getting what I was paying for. The most difficult thing became working through an exercise and having a correct solution, and the interpreter not recognizing it as a correct solution. That’s what my co-workers taught me is called “wonky.” I always thought “janky” was the right word.
I don’t want to be too critical of Code Academy because they are really interesting, helpful things. But, eventually I got to a point where I felt like I wanted to do more than I was going to be able to learn there. I eventually decided on the O’reilly school for one primary reason – access to an instructor. Programming is certainly something that many people can learn from books, but having had a bit of experience with programming through Code Academy and wishing many times that I had someone I could talk through solutions with, I was convinced having an instructor would be good for me.
My experience with O’reilly was overwhelmingly positive. The lessons were maybe not as interactive as they could have been sometimes, but Kirby, my instructor, was top notch. And, I learned a whole lot of things that help me with my day to day work. Most of what I do programming-wise on a daily basis is read tab-delimited text files, edit data in a database, and try to work with already existing data in a database to try to spit out new and interesting things. The first of those tasks was directly covered in my classes and for the database tasks I learned the loops, if-statements, and logical statements to accomplish those things. In addition, I learned just a little bit about making graphical user interfaces, and I made two, in particular, that saved me a considerable amount of editing time in my work over the last year.
Depending on your stage in life, you might consider the courses cheap, reasonably priced or expensive. For me, I felt like they were reasonably priced, especially having a human being involved in the process. And, they are pretty frequently running 30% off promotions.
Overall, I would definitely recommend O’reilly school to anyone wanting to learn some programming (no I don’t get any kickback for that). I may end up taking the last two Python classes and getting the certification myself. If you have any questions about how it works, hit me up in the comments here or on social media.