Learning Medicine

Learning Medicine
The Ultimate Guide to Study Skills in Medical School

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm gunna learn me some web skillz

The internet is becoming an ever-growing part of our daily lives. So much of what I do on a daily basis revovles around using the internet or something related to it.

Up until now, I've been a consumer of the web, but I haven't created much of anything. Back when I was a little kid in the early days of the internet, I dabbled with some HTML, but I haven't done anything more in over a decade.

I'm realizing more and more that the ability to create a website and understand how the internet works is a huge asset. I foresee web design and computer programming being taught side by side with other basic areas of knowledge such as reading and writing and math.

With that in mind, I think it's high time that I make up for my deficiencies and learn some things about web design and programming. One of the nice things about the computer world, I've observed, is that it's more meritocratic than most. It doesn't really matter what your credentials are. At the end of the, what matters is, can you get the job done? Do you have the skills?

I take heart in this because it means I don't have to go get a 4 year undergrad degree in computer science to become proficient. In fact, that might even hurt my chances of proficiency since I'd likely be learning outdated and slightly irrelevant things. The web world moves fast and it's hard for academia to keep up. From my interactions with coders and techies, it seems all of them are self-taught to one degree or another. If you've got a computer, and some time, and a desire to learn, the information is all out there. That's great for me, since I've always been an autodidact and I prefer learning on my own, at my own pace, and with materials of my own choosing.

Thankfully, there is a ton of very good quality learning materials out there for self-learners. Codeacademy, Lydia, and Udemy are some good ones. I know StackOverflow is another favorite of the tech world. But I've chosen another one. It's called Treehouse. I heard about it through tech crunch. 

In short, Treehouse is a really high quality, expertly-curated library of teaching videos that encompass the whole process of web development. Along with that, there is a progress-tracking system of badges. The idea is pretty simple. After a lesson, you take a quiz. If you get the questions right, you get a badge that shows that you've successfully mastered the material in that video.

I think the idea of badges is fantastic. There are broad implications for online learning and credentialing that go beyond just web stuff. I'm very optimistic. But for my purposes, the badges are extras. I don't plan to get a job in web dev, but I appreciate the quizzes so that I can track my own learning. And hey, perhaps one day someone will want to know about what kind of training I've had in web dev, and I can hopefully point to Treehouse for validation. For those who want to get into this line of work, Treehouse is an amazing resource. I read that Facebook, Virgin and Estee Lauder, to name a few, have signed on to acknowledge the badges from treehouse for their internal employee development and perhaps for recruitment from the outside as well.

I'll keep everyone posted. I should have done this a long time ago. If i get good enough, I may even be able to do the web work that is sorely needed for my startup venture.


  1. I haven't done any web design, but from what I understand, you'll want to learn javascript, pick some good CMS to learn and a database language (such as MySQL) - which is a good thing to learn anyway if you're in data-driven science.

    Good Luck!

  2. I instapaper your post on the ipad in medical education way back when it got on kevinmd (one of my short-term goals).

    anyways, i am super entrepreneurial med student. what is your start up idea?

    maybe we have some people in the same network. im from the southeast and knew a couple of kids who went to duke