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Vinicius Blazius Goulart
Vinicius Blazius Goulart

Posted on • Updated on

You shouldn't need to watch videos or lessons to learn something

Intro

If you wanna learn something from scratch, perhaps you have an excuse to ignore some things that will be talked about in this article, that's okay, I also ignore this stuff sometimes... in the end, we are not robots. But keep reading to find out the best practices to increase you productivity, specially if you like to watch videos to learn...

Stop doing it the wrong way

You don't need to watch videos or lessons to learn something. I'm starting this article with this sentence and throughout it i'll try to convince you by giving you examples and making you question. Do not hesitate to tell me your input on this.

I'm creating this after having gone through several challenges in my career and needed to come up with solutions for them. You've probably had the experience of wanting to learn something and getting that knowledge in lessons or videos. And now I ask you, why should you resort to a video to learn it?

People choose videos because they are a more comfortable way, they prefer just hear something and do it the easy way. I agree that it's much more comfortable. But... you must change your way of learning. Videos and lessons are slow, boring and contentless, above all, they lose a lot of your time finding out if the video really delivers what you expected.

You might be thinking: “everyone has a diferente way of learning”. Yes, you are right, everyone can choose and get used to a way of learning, but get used to learn in wrong ways it’s a mistake. Insist in flawed ways, unproductive and weak, will make you weak and flawed too. You have to search the best ways to increase your productivity and stop searching for useless contents that just take your time. Suppose that you learn some technology like ReactJS, there are thousands of videos and courses (free or not) that can teach it, but they have a lot of hours, you don't need and shouldn't waste these hours...

What's the correct way?

The best way to learn something if you already have the basic knowledge are: Articles, Docs, Forums, Communities..., that is, all forms of reading and seek knowledge by yourself are better than depending on other people in videos and lessons. Practices like scanning and skimming will save your time, they filter all information you need, making you accurate in what you're looking for.

Remember the React example, suppose you already have basic knowledge of React and want to learn about the useState hook. You have two options, sear or watching videos. You'll find the answer in the video that have hours, or in documentation that you read in your time? In written format more information can be transmitted in the same amount of time, because of scanning. If I don't find it in the article I can skip it and search for another. But in a video I have to watch the whole video to find out it doesn't contain what I need.

Maybe the video can focus on content that you already know, so you'll lose your time hearing someone tell about something that you ALREADY KNOW. This wouldn't happen with an article, since you can skip that part and know where to continue or skip it and search for another. Also, maybe the video doesn't talk about what you expected, being even worse because you will have wasted time watching it.

So, you must prefer to learn something seeking by yourself, this is and will always be the best way, learn to seek for what you want and go after it.

Stop settling with the easy, the basic, the comfort zone. If only watching videos or lessons were right way, everyone would be good... be different, be the attention, do the unexpected, the useful, do what really works...

Don't waste time just listening to someone talk about something that you don't know if it's necessary. Go after, search for exactly what you want, ask the community your doubt, search for articles and get straight to the point, stop being lazy.

In short, switch from time-consuming methods to ones where you can manage your time yourself and use it for the things you need that matter.

Top comments (37)

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jmau111 profile image
jmau111⭐

Hi,

I appreciate your post, but I think the format is relevant. Some people like visuals and live demos rather than boring documentations that only include "hello world" examples. There's no shame in that.

Writing good documentation requires skills, and some online docs may be pretty hard to use for beginners, perhaps intimidating.

Besides, being lazy is not necessarily evil. Of course, if you mean "doing nothing and hoping to get everything automagically," it's a very bad attitude that will likely make you fail. However, some people simply do not want to waste their time.

In a nutshell, I don't believe in "no pain, no gain" because it's usually not the best approach. It does not mean you can do everything without any effort, but it does not have to be painful and boring to be efficient.

I think some content creators do a tremendous job by making dev more fun, and the only thing that matters is quality. I'm a senior dev, and I don't mind buying online training videos to boost my knowledge and avoid classic errors made by beginners.

The only thing I would recommend is having multiple sources. Don't rely on one person or website to learn. Cross-check information. There are opinions everywhere, even good practices are debatable.

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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author

I ignore some of the things discussed in this article, especially when starting to learn something from scratch. However, it is undeniable that it is possible to extract more content and learning seeking by yourself than watching videos. Videos are slow and put you in your comfort zone

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jmau111 profile image
jmau111⭐

hum, I get your point, but bad content is bad, regardless the format. I don't think the solution is to stop watching videos but to leverage different formats.

I respect your opinion, but what do you mean by "slow"? I prefer long videos rather than quick formats (e.g. Tik Tok) that only scratch the surface.

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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author

yes, but there are bad videos too. Imagine having to depend on the video to know if it's bad or not, you're going to spend a lot of time on it, but something you can practice scanning and scanning is different.

no, tiktok is for entertainment. I say that videos with learning content are slow because you depend on someone's time to receive a learning. I think it's worth watching videos as a form of "extra content and entertainment", and not becoming dependent on videos to learn. Am I making sense?

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jmau111 profile image
jmau111⭐

you depend on someone's time to receive a learning

Like anything else when you use Internet. You need people to update content and write books.

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decker67 profile image
decker

Videos are most of the time scratching at the surface and give no deeper insight into the topic.

Think about why somebody creates a video and what he/she maybe want to achieve.

I would think: Create many in no time to get more viewer and in the end more money. Does this fit to your goals, I think not.

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ufgabiira profile image
Gabriel Ferreira

Just scratching the surface may be beneficial for beginners, too much info tend to scare newcomers. It's ok, just raise the bar at your pace.

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kvetoslavnovak profile image
kvetoslavnovak • Edited on

Sorry for my different opinion.
Some learns watching someone going through the process and explaining the way including solving problems in a way.
Some learns by reading texts.

There are good videos and bad ones. There are good texts and bad ones.
The good videos and books usually focus on process and problems solving. Code along
The bad ones only show you the result. Copy and paste.

There were a times when people in Europe learned yoga or Taji using books. Only after gurus from Asia started to arrive and show them they really learned something.
So it really depends. .

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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author

good point. You can really learn something by watching videos. The point I want to make is that they are weak and slow ways of learning. If you get used to the best ways, you can have a bigger learning advance.

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julimuz profile image
Julian Muñoz

Really nice thought, I’ agree with you, its really funny because I discover now, I learned more from React by docs and articles than videos or courses.

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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author • Edited on

yeah, nice!! many people see the docs and get scared, but they are the best form of content... Who could explain something better than the documentation itself?

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lexiebkm profile image
Alexander B.K.

You are right.
I am sure the instructors who teach the topics on videos, learn or get the knowledge by reading the docs or other written resource first.
But I can understand the scare or reluctance from some people, though. Main reason is probably the size /length of the doc or resource. For example, in pdf file :

  • MySQL, PostgreSQL : more than 3000 pages.
  • C# : about 2700 pages
  • ASP.net Core : about 8800 pages
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ufgabiira profile image
Gabriel Ferreira • Edited on

For me, I usually get frustrated reading official docs because it is hard to read, too technical for a beginner to understand. So searching for alternative sources, like YouTube videos, turns out to be a better approach.
It gets easier as you get more experience with the technology though.

About size, that won't be a problem if the developers care enough to write tutorial sessions, beginners FAQs or something like that.

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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author

Exactly, I also used videos at the beginning of my apprenticeship, but as time goes by, try switching to documents, you will notice greater productivity.

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lexiebkm profile image
Alexander B.K. • Edited on

@ Gabriel Ferreira,
For an absolute beginners, probably right. But I think this post is also targeted for those who have enough background in some basic techs such as HTML, CSS, Javascript to proceed to learn specific techs like React, Vue, Node.js, etc.
So, for them, it's expected that they won't get into difficulty when reading docs.
Some docs, like React, Redux, provides FAQ after they gain basic/fundamentals.
Some docs even provide written tutorials that should not be difficult to follow.
React Native, for example, provides section of getting started :
reactnative.dev/docs/getting-started
in which there are code snippets where learners can play with on the tools provided in the docs, to give some motivation for learners to read more.

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lexiebkm profile image
Alexander B.K.

Now, I find at least 2 articles of similar topics here. Maybe you want to comment in the following post : dev.to/medusajs/articles-vs-videos...

I am glad seeing that quite a lot of people (as seen in that post) prefer written resources of learning than videos, with quite the same reasons that I want to tell.
So yeah... thank for sharing your opinion here too.

“everyone has a different way of learning”.
Even in the official docs like React, Redux, the team understand this thing. But what they mean by this is :

  • some people prefer learning by doing. That's why the doc team also provide written/textual tutorial (but not videos, except in some websites) to fit the learners.
  • some people prefer to develop the understanding straight from the concepts/fundamentals from which they can create things they want to. However, it still comes from the same resource : written/textual doc, not videos.

I myself have been accustomed to learning from written resources : books, help utility (like F1 button on MS Excel, FoxPro for DOS), docs, articles.
I watch videos to hear opinions by people about particular topics such as :

  • React vs Angular vs Vue, Java vs C#, etc, and read the comment sections too
  • Patrick Syu aka Techlead sharing his experience
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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author

good, videos are valid when they are some debate, opinion, comment, something like that

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valeriavg profile image
Valeria

I see your point, but would like to disagree or rather suggest a correction. Noone should feel obligated to consume educational material in a certain way or on a particular medium, this part I fully support. Yet the most efficient way varies from individual to another. För me and you, author, videos are not the preference, I also find it really hard to listen to a podcast and would rather skim through a text. But that's a mere coincidence we're alike. I know plenty of dedicated and hard working developers who've learned their craft by watching videos, listening to podcasts or simple hanging out around other developers.

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

While I agree to certain extent to the OP, I'd rather put the documentation on the top 1 list of what you need to learn something.

If you think about that there are three situations in which you seek for help on the internet:

  • When you want to get the things done and don't know how.
  • When you want to learn a new thing.
  • Whenever you face an issue you fail to comprehend while implementing.

If you just want to get something done and don't care about learning, videos are fine.

If you want to learn, you just need articles or videos to know the basics, once you're done with that, better head yourself to the reference/documentation and articles that dig deep into the topic.

When you face an issue, seeking for the solution on a video is extremely inefficient, you can scan quickly the text searching for keywords and find the answer quickly.

That's of course an opinion formed through experience and years 😁

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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author

good point!! I had never thought about these 3 points and from this perspective!! LGTM

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kazinix profile image
Dominic Pascasio • Edited on

It is hard for me to comprehend what I read, aside from the fact that many articles are not written in my native tongue, I suspect I have a condition -- visuals and audio helped me a lot.

Regardless of the medium though, I like concise tutorials to get me started. If I want to know more, I want an organized and complete documentation.

Many tutorials don't stick with the topic, they include and explain topics that's already known to the readers or topics that belong to the prerequisite section -- I usually avoid them.

It is faster to identify a well written tutorial than well made video. So instead of watching, I read, even though I have to read repeatedly.

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lexiebkm profile image
Alexander B.K.

" I like concise tutorials to get me started"
I think the introduction of React Native for cross-platform mobile development : reactnative.dev/docs/getting-started
is one of the most concise written tutorials to get started I have ever seen.
Assuming we have some background in React, we don't even need to install anything; just play with the code provided in the code playground, and we can immediately see the result of what we are doing. This should be exciting that can give some motivation to learn more from the doc.

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wesleycheek profile image
Wesley Cheek

I agree with you as a professional developer it's been frustrating to see people resorting to the video format to teach and learn programming (what is effectively advanced text editing). Almost more than any other discipline, programming must be learned in a hands-on way, and at least you should be able to copy text and play with it. Luckily, I've rarely had to resort to getting help from these videos and usually find what I need in docs or articles.

If videos help you, then go for it, but the author is right that they are usually an inferior time-waste compared with exploring on your own and searching docs.

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lexiebkm profile image
Alexander B.K. • Edited on

The only time I needed to watch video when I learned a new thing is when I learned about routing in Laravel.
I was new to web dev then, so when reading Laravel doc, I struggled much even in the topic of basic routing. I needed to get started, wanted to see the routing run in the web browser. So I watched a video on Travesty Media. Without waiting until the end of the video, I got a clue on how to make a simple basic routing run in the web browser. I stopped watching immediately after I found the solution, and went back to the Laravel doc.
Since then, I have not watched video anymore for learning purpose, even for new things like React, Node.js, Express, Redux, Chart.js, etc. I just visited the official websites of the corresponding subjects/materials that provide documentation.

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andrewrgarcia profile image
Andrew Garcia, PhD • Edited on

Totally agree with you. Videos can be a waste. I guess for people who want to take programming as a hobby it can be a comfortable medium, but for those who want to take programming seriously, documentation, open-source development, and practice on data structures / algorithms are the way to go.

P.S. I can't take anyone who "learns from TikTok videos" seriously.

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christiankozalla profile image
Christian Kozalla

100% agree. Learning is a process that requires the learner's activity!

Watching videos is recreational at best.

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lexiebkm profile image
Alexander B.K.

Yep... recreational, esp after exhaustive learning from the documentation or book.
Like watching the guys like :

  • Patrick Syu aka Techlead sharing his experience or opinion on his channel
  • Chris Hawkes talking about ditching React and other things
  • Stefan Mischook talking about freelancing and his opinion about Ruby
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freebeliever profile image
Blogger and Programmer

Why can't you watch videos to learn?

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vinibgoulart profile image
Vinicius Blazius Goulart Author

you can watch videos to learn. But what will you learn? Is it no longer valid to see an article? Search the community? Interact?

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freebeliever profile image
Blogger and Programmer

Reading and watching videos both have their pros and cons. You can also be interactive in videos.

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adeyemzygraphics profile image
adebiyi mustapha

🤦🏾‍♂️ personally i think videos are really helpful especially if you don't have a personal teacher. It gives u insight on the real application of whatever you're trying to learn and there's no better way to learn than watch others do it and trying yourself.

Learning doesn't have to be hard for anyone, and true articles and docs are good as well but should be advised for people who already have knowledge of whatever it is they're trying to learn and not for us newbies 🙄that'd be like chasing em all away.

And besides tell this to the millions of people learning to code through YouTube channels like freecodecamp and the likes.

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decker67 profile image
decker

The title should be "You should not ..." ;-)

🌚 Friends don't let friends browse without dark mode.

Sorry, it's true.