Learning at the Speed of the Web

Few things in this world change as quickly as technology. New languages, standards and techniques are coming out constantly and if you’re not staying current then you’re falling behind. It has never been more important to keep up with what’s going on in tech as the demand for top quality developers is on the upswing.

But with so much changing so rapidly, how do we stay current? Within the last two or three years we have seen an explosion in online technology training options. It’s no longer necessary to go back to school or scour the web to learn the latest and greatest technologies. With with many structure and unstructured learning options available it has never been easier for us to keep current with our craft.

Structured Options

For those among us who benefit from formalized approaches to learning there are several options available. Treehouse is a great online option that gives users access to their content for a monthly subscription fee. You can bounce around self guided if you wish or take advantage of different tracks all while earning badges as you go for extra motivation.

Virtual learning options abound but for those of you who want to get out of the house and learn with other people there are opportunities for that as well. General Assembly has locations in a number of major cities around the world and offer an array of full-time and part-time in person courses focusing on tech and business topics. They also have online options as well, but learning while physically interacting with other people is more fun!

Another great way to learn is by teaching other people. You don’t have to be an expert on a specific topic to share your knowledge with others and it has the added benefit of helping you brush up on your presentation skills too. If your company does lunch & learns then step up and get on the schedule to present a topic that interests you. And if your company doesn’t have lunch & learns currently then you should start them. They are a great way for departments/specialities within a company to share what they know with one another.

Unstructured Options

I have never been much for the formal learning approach. I’m much more of a window shopper, bouncing around from topic to topic picking up nuggets of information here and there. Luckily there are great resources for people like me too. tuts+ is my personal favorite for keeping up with the latest and greatest the web has to offer. A monthly subscription fee gives you access to regularly updated videos and an ever growing ebook library. Free tutorials are also posted on a regular basis for those not interested in a monthly commitment.

Any post about online learning options would be incomplete without mentioning blogs. There are plenty of high quality blogs pumping out content about the latest technologies and techniques on a regular basis. I have fallen way behind keeping up on blogs since Google Reader was discontinued, but two sites I make an effort to check weekly are Smashing Magaine and CSS Tricks. There are many more where those came from, feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

Books

I used to be a big tech book reader. I wouldn’t think twice about dropping $50+ at Barnes & Noble for the latest book on PHP. Lately however I find myself spending more time on blogs or some of the other resources already mentioned. But with that said there are still good tech books published all the time and with digital access/library options available from companies like O’Reily and Packt books are still a great way to stay current.

How do you stay current with the latest and greatest web technologies?