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Learning by books or videos?

oreste profile image Oreste Abizera ・6 min read

Self-taught developer, this is a term which is mostly used in the programming field to refer to someone who has taken programming skills in any way apart from college. They use any kind of means like attending training, reading books, watching videos, etc. Here the question arises, what to choose between learning by reading books and learning by watching videos? Let's tackle it in this article.

Quick note: This article is not only for self-taught developers but also for college students who are learning new things after studies or revising their courses.

From the Twitter poll I made, many like studying by watching videos than reading books

I'm going to pass through some merits and demerits of both techniques and this will help you to decide which one can work for you.

Merits of Learning By Videos

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1. Engages more senses (audio) and adds motion
Learning by videos engages more sense than learning by books. When you want to learn by hearing the sound, that's okay go ahead and if you want to read the words the instructor is saying in the video, no worries turn on subtitles. This flexibility of learning by videos is a great advantage.

2. Video how-to’s stronger than photos or illustrations – great for physical skills
When it comes to learning how to do something, I prefer the usage of videos. Let's take an example that I'm learning to code (I'm a beginner) and I want to write a program that will sum up two numbers. If I choose a book I can just go there and copy the code and paste it in my IDE and I'm not sure that I will get well what the code means. I prefer taking a video and seeing the instructor coding from the start to the end of the program. I will see the most common errors he/she will face and how they will be solved. I will realise every change of the program after every change in code instead of just going and grabbing the final working code without knowing what every line does. Simply that's why I will go for videos on this scenario.

3. Feels more conversational
When watching videos while learning, you feel like you are having a conversation with your instructor. This helps you to not get bored by the course although you may also get bored like if the course is very big or not properly understood.

Merits of Learning By Books

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1. Not tied to a computer or electronic device
This is one of the most important points about learning by books, "you are not tied to an electronic device". This is the fact that when you don't have access to computers or other electronic devices at a moment, you can still sharpen your skills while learning by reading the books. I know many people are not good fans of reading but it's just something that you have to practice because it might help you one time.

2. We can search e-book
One of the great advantages of e-books is that you can make a search in the book and jump right to the point you want. Let's take an example that someone sent me a book called "Introduction to Javascript volume 1" and I have some experience with Javascript, maybe what I want to learn right now are Callback functions. I can search for that keyword and if it is available in the book, I will jump right away to the topic of Callback functions and I will be able to study what I want with no much struggles.

3. Smaller storage
Storing 1000+ eBooks/GB compared to 23 minutes of HD video/GB is favourable to people who don't have devices with large storage. Books take small space on the memory. When you will need to store a lot of information and have a small space, I would recommend using books.

Learning By Books drawbacks

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1. Color Illustrations/pictures are usually limited
In many hard books, you will find only black and white pictures and Illustrations. This can lead to bad transaction of message from the book to the readers. This may even discourage someone from continuing to read the book's content even if it may contain useful information.

2. Harder to learn a practical course
While learning by books, this issue is one of the most issues faced by many people. When learning a practical course using books it is not easy to identify how the book writer wanted something to be done. You can see the result but you will not realize the steps where he/she reached and stop a bit before continuing. You won't know the errors he faced when making practice and how he solved them and when you meet them it will give you much headache. This occurs because mainly in the books, they show only the working part.

3. Consume a lot of time
There are millions of books in the libraries and online stores like Amazon. A lot of them contains above 150 pages. It is too hard to read more than 4 or 5 books. This is hard because it takes a lot of time to read a book and finish it. When you will have to read a lot of them, you will be forced to read them fast hence losing some important key points in the book.

Learning By Videos drawbacks

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1. Voice or manner of speaking can be distracting
It always occurs that the voice or manner of teaching of an instructor can distract you. For example, if you are watching a course and the instructor's voice is very low then learning that course becomes more difficult. Another example is when an instructor is saying many ehm,um,... This may also distract you and discourage you to learn the course.

2. Can’t jump right to the area you need
Here I don't mean to say that you can't skip some parts of the video or jump to a given minute and seconds. What I mean is that if I know the topic I want to study in that video, there is no way I can force the video to jump to the topic I want. Considering the example I talked about above on the merits of Learning by books, when I have a Callback functions topic and I have a video, there is no way I can jump to my topic when I don't know the minute where it is. This is a big drawback of learning by videos.

3. Large storage requirements
As technology is increasing, videos are also being developed and qualities are developing. Improvement of qualities goes with an increase in storage. Videos with high qualities like 1080p, 4k,... takes more space on the memory which may be a big hindrance to some people who can't afford to buy devices with large storage. This will limit them to keep a lot of videos on their devices.

Conclusion
In recent years, videos are developing at a high rate whereby now we have technologies like video conferencing where people can talk to each other live. Books also remain as one of the major ways to store information and learn whether you have an electronic device or not.

When deciding a way of learning between these two, I recommend that you must try them and choose the one that works best for you.

opinions of Twitter users:

Thanks for reading this article until this line. If you prefer, you can let me know what you think about this topic and which one you like among those two learning techniques. I hope you liked it, feel free to share it. You can find me anytime on Twitter and Instagram. See you in the next article!😍😍

Discussion (19)

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ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

I struggler with Attention Deficit Disorder, so for the longest time I could not do videos. I found that if I increase the playback speed to 2.0x, I can stay focused. But regardless of whether you choose books or videos, you will gain very little unless you put into practice what you are learning by creating projects.

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oreste profile image
Oreste Abizera Author

I agree with you on this point since Practising helps to not get bored when you are either taking a video course or reading books.

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schleidens profile image
Schleidens_DEV

Perso j'aime l'apprentissage par vidéos ( bien que j'ai commencer dans les livres, je me rappelle de mes premières expériences en tombant sur le petit pdf HTML CSS du "site du zero"), mais tout juste après avoir pris les bases je suis maintenant plus de type vidéos 😊.

Les livres vous aide a avoir beaucoup de theorie donc très bon pour ceux qui veulent aussi partager leurs connaissance en créant des cours ou des livres.
Les vidéos vous donne la rapidité d'apprentissage et un max de pratiques, vous voyez le code de votre enseignant au moment ou il le fait ce qui vous donne une idée directe.

J'ajoute que faire les deux est très bon si vous pouvez certaines fois ya des choses que vous pouvez mieux comprendre en lisant :).
Si vous ne pratiquez pas au même moment, que ce soit livre ou vidéos les deux peuvent paraître difficile. 😊

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oreste profile image
Oreste Abizera Author

J'aime aussi les vidéos pour le fait que je vois l'instructeur coder à partir de zéro. J'essaie toujours des vidéos pour des concepts plus petits (même si elles sont également bonnes pour des concepts plus importants si vous pratiquez).

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schleidens profile image
Schleidens_DEV

Yes 😊

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brandonwallace profile image
brandon_wallace

Use both books and videos is what I suggest. Books are great because some go in-depth. Unfortunately, the latest technology books are not available in the library and they are quite expensive. Videos are good because there are many free online.

So use books when you do not have internet access. You can carry around books anywhere you go. You might get stuck somewhere and be bored, that is a good time to read.
Use videos when you do have internet access. The alternative is to download the video if possible for offline usage.

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bracikaa profile image
Mehmed Duhovic

I think it depends on the concept. I just started learning K8S and let me tell you, learning it using books would be a complete pain, but the videos (and those by good instructors) explain everything like I'm 5. :)

On the other hand - I recently wanted to pick up some advanced tricks in Angular, and I got myself the famous [ng-book] and I realized that I better memorize already known ideas when I read them, compared to watching videos.

So - just learning something -> I'm picking up a video course.
I want to make the knowledge deeper -> I go with a book

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zmadi1 profile image
zmadi

Nice article but in my opinion it is of benefit to use both, I for one use videos to understand the concept in a high level and when i think I'm getting hang of things i then switch to a book to see other things that maybe the content creator hasn't covered and also to understand the concept even better.

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margo_hdb profile image
Margo McCabe

I think it's important to learn through different methods. Of course everyone is different, but I usually find that some things stick better with written vs. audio vs. visual learning. Luckily there are so many different methods and materials out there to learn from!

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oreste profile image
Oreste Abizera Author

For me, I also recommend that everyone should learn through different methods and figure out the one which works better for him/her.

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blessingartcreator profile image
Blessing Hirwa

For me the right videos work for me.

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oreste profile image
Oreste Abizera Author

how do you choose the right videos?

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blessingartcreator profile image
Blessing Hirwa

I do lots of research about the author of the course.

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oreste profile image
Oreste Abizera Author

that's a great approach

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piaomu profile image
Kasey Wahl

I've definitely coded along with my fair share of videos, but one of the underrated benefits of books is that there's a greater barrier to publication, so there's usually more quality control in a text. Videos are also typically 1 video per concept, so unless you're coding along with a series of videos, it can sometimes be difficult to effectively transition from one concept to another or check your understanding of a previous concept in the next video.

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siddharthshyniben profile image
Siddharth

I prefer books/articles, because I can move at my own pace and don't have to fiddle with the video settings and stuff

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oreste profile image
Oreste Abizera Author

books and articles are great. But I think videos are also worth some time especially when you want to add some options of understanding things like including sounds,...

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Videos work best for me I like visuals and audio.

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dev_emmy profile image
nshimiye_emmy

Great arcticle

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