Thanks to Technology Ireland Software Skillnet as part of the Women’s TechStart 2020 program, I was given access to the Pluralsight.com, an OLE that specifically caters for on-demand technology learning. Over three months, I have completed 50 Courses and decided to take time out to reflect on the platform.
Pluralsight has three subscription plans: a free trial option (for 10 days), personal use option for €26 per month and a Premium Plan which gives access to exams, projects and interactive courses. It has two member options, Skills or Flow.
The instructors are qualified and experienced, and if you find someone you like you can follow them to find other courses they offer.
Pluralsight has two platforms; the Skills platform allows you to measure and evolve skills, discover skills gaps and get suggestions to master roles; and the Flow platform which is designed for leaders of software development teams.
Getting Started on the Skills Platform
When you create a profile you can select which sections to complete and whether they can be viewed privately or publicly. You can browse by technologies, course titles, pathways or assessments. Do check the date the course was created to ensure relevance. Courses that I have completed or that I have in progress range from 30 mins to 6 hrs in length, there are longer courses available.
Other features include:
- Learning Pathways suggest a set of courses to prepare for specific roles, or exams.
- Channels are available to organise courses in collections, e.g. Pathways, Microsoft Office, ITIL, Programming, etc. A bookmark feature is also available to organise your interests.
- Learning checks are self assessments available with most courses. They can be used at any time during the course. Downloaded the app for practicing on-the-go, it beats surfing Facebook!
- Badges reward time spent and new explorations, there’s also a visual data map that shows the range and strength of subject areas based on completed courses.
- Skills tests measure proficiency levels in professional areas. These tests give two attempts initially, the second being a ‘do-over’ and Pluralsight records your highest score. If you didn’t pass the second attempt, you have to wait a period of time, or in some cases after completing a percentage of the course before retrying. Skills tests can be done to identify your skills gaps before taking a course as well as afterwards.
- Completing a course earns you a Certificate of Completion
I selected to enroll in courses for different reasons; new learning, revision or to consolidate previous learning experiences. At first I began watching the course videos, taking notes and screenshots during it and doing repeating the Learning Check at the end. Later I adapted from lesson learned.
The self-paced videos were ideal, I especially liked being able to change the pace, usually to speed up the delivery although I found one instructor who needed slowing down a little at times; the passion in his delivery was obvious.
Learning presentations are available to be downloaded in the form of PDFs. Transcripts are also available, they are automated, so some words may not be accurate; strangely I came across AZ a number of times which was automated version of ‘as well’. You can download the entire course and watch it via the Pluralsight offline player app.
Most courses include instructions and guidance for practical exercises; downloading, installing or creating online accounts to use the technologies in parallel with learning from Pluralsight videos.
I particularly loved the Pathways and Skill IQ tests, and even the Badges successfully incentified my journey. The overall functionality and design makes for a pleasant consistent and cohesive user experience, definitely a winner over all the OLE I’ve experienced to date.
Instead of note-taking and taking screenshots, I began using the transcripts. I edited them them whilst following the videos to create my own notes. I occasionally added screen shots of relevant graphics and added other relevant data and diagrams found through internet searches.
I was unhappy with using the ‘Learning Check’ at the end of each course, especially with the longer courses in which I occasionally felt like a passive participant. Then, I started using the ‘Learning Check’ throughout the course, and selecting ‘I don’t know yet’ as an answer to questions about modules that I hadn’t covered. Learning Checks can be done at any time, which is probably why the ‘I don’t know yet’ option is included! This was very beneficial and also a lesson for me to challenge my presumptions.
Initially I found the wait period between skill tests annoying as I was eager to complete an area while the subject was fresh in my mind. On reflection leaving time elapse between the two may ensure answers are more likely to come from knowledge rather than short-term memory. I can see this maybe something to consider if you are on a monthly subscription and the retest keeps you there longer than you had planned.
In the graph above right, the larger blue bubble represents ‘CompTIA A+’ and the smaller blue bubble represents ‘Business Professional’, these bubbles represent the subjects most viewed in the last 30 days. Pluralsight’s user analytics are very impressive and encouraging – successful motivation that encouraged me to complete 50 courses in 3 months! See my Pluralsight Profile here and sign up yourself for a free trial.