The Best Approaches To Learning Software Development

The Best Approaches To Learning Software Development

Tech careers are what all the cool kids are now into globally, and software development happens to be one of the favorite tech skills to acquire. 

With all the resources readily available to anyone searching for them, one would think that this makes learning easier, but that isn’t the case, instead, it’s easier than ever to get overwhelmed, and frustrated.

When you get on the internet, you’re most likely going to get into a rabbit hole and get information overload. As a result, instead of gaining clarity and answers to your original problems, you’re left even more confused than when you first started out.

But, it’s time to slow down and get back to the drawing board. Congratulations on finding this post as it is tailored to help you get a sense of direction, and boost your productivity as well as your growth.

Why should you learn software development?

One of the first things to do before learning anything at all, is to know your, “why?” Why are you interested in acquiring this skill? When you have an answer to this, you will be able to draw motivation from it and build resilience no matter the obstacles you may face.

You need to develop the right mindset in order to advance in your journey into software development, so, even when you feel terribly frustrated, you will be able to pick yourself back up and forge ahead.

When you have sincerely answered this question, you can now consider all the rewards attached to being a software developer.

Even if your “why” is strictly financially driven, you will not regret choosing software development as a career path. The Tech industry will continually progress and with this, more opportunities for those in the tech space, so,  you can bet on your relevance for a long, long time.

Money isn’t all there is to software development though, you can also gain immense fulfillment and satisfaction through these;

  • Problem-solving: the feeling that comes with being able to tackle a problem and give a fitting solution is absolutely exhilarating. This will be your job and experience as a software developer, you will often proffer solutions that make life easier and can guarantee smooth experiences for your users/clients.
  • Explore your creativity with code; as a software developer, even if you don’t get to create conventional art, you will create/provide innovative solutions. With your users in mind, these solutions can prove resourceful and can also flex your imaginative prowess.
  • Varied work structure: because most jobs come as projects, whether big or small, you will always feel challenged, this opens you up to new exciting knowledge. Being able to execute tasks that were foreign to you at the beginning makes you feel accomplished, alongside all the knowledge you have gathered as a result.
  • Collaboration with other developers; contrary to the stereotype that developers work in solitude, most of them collaborate with other developers to actualize projects. For this to happen, you have to develop skills in networking, communication, and teamwork. You also get to share knowledge and grow in the business. 

Creating Your Roadmap

Software Developer title tag

The truth is, without a plan, you can fall off course, or just float around in the software development space, with no real sense of growth or advancement.

It’s a feeling we’re familiar with and the frustration that accompanies it is what we wish to steer you away from.

So, how do you go about earning the skills to call yourself a developer?

  1.  Decide your learning pathway; how do you plan to learn the skills, do you want to join an academy or take online courses?

Even though it is cost-effective to take online courses, you have to be extremely disciplined to self-learn. You must be able to scour the internet for the best courses that are relevant to you and develop your own curriculum to teach yourself.

Registering with an academy means that you get expert support to guide you through your learning journey. Your learning is also streamlined to help you focus on what you need and dump what you don’t.

In addition to this, you also have access to a mentor to provide guidance and help you avoid mistakes. 

Think carefully about the pathway you want to take, afterwards, you can answer these questions;

  • Do you want to learn full-stack, front-end, or back-end software development? When you know this, if you’re self-learning, you will be able to decide on the languages you need to focus on
  • What is your learning schedule? How many times a week are you going to dedicate? How many hours do you want to spend in a week on this skill?
  • What sacrifices do you need to make? Calling yourself a developer comes at a price. What are the things you will need to give up to accommodate your learning schedule, weekends, early mornings, late nights? Write them down.
  1. Training Your Focus; if you have started your learning journey before taking a step back to re-strategize, then you’re probably of the opinion that mastering a programming language is hard. 

A lot of people even before starting at all already have this perception, but that is because a vital skill is lacking. This skill is called Deep Work. What this means is that you have to focus intensely for a long time to learn things that are difficult.

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle does not groom this particular skill in us, so, when you want to transition into this, you could easily give up because it’s not a habit that you already have. Our attention span is getting cut short daily as we are tempted to check our phones every two minutes, for the fear of missing out on trends on social media.

When you get to learning, set a timer or use a productivity app to help you focus. You can do this for 90 minutes where you’re giving software development your full attention. 

The Two Approaches to Learning Software Development

Generally, there are two ways to learn how to program, these two ways also have their advantages and disadvantages.

The Top-Down Approach

With this approach, you develop real software as you learn. This approach is popular among those who self-learn. 

They want to see the immediate outcome of their learning by replicating what they’re learning from the jump. With the help of detailed tutorials, they follow the exact steps and end up replicating their tutor’s work, and learn through the process.

Pros 

With the top-down approach, you create something really quickly. The feeling of success and accomplishment afterward, can be the motivation you need to push forward in your learning journey.

Cons

The top-down approach does not cover the fundamentals, and this can pose a problem for a newbie who doesn’t know their way around.

After watching a tutorial and replicating the tutor’s work, there’s a high chance that you do not understand how what you have created is supposed to work. You may struggle if you do not adhere strictly to the instructions because you don’t understand how it generally works.

The Bottom-Up Approach

As the name suggests, you learn right from the most fundamental concepts and make your way up to the more advanced level. This approach is very popular in formal education. This approach aims to give a solid foundation and thorough knowledge of software development, that way, you will be able to build any type of software you want.

Pros

This approach allows you to truly learn all the concepts as it relates to software development, so you can make a well-rounded application of this knowledge. It doesn’t matter what you want to build; a game or an interactive website, you will be able to apply the same principles across the board.

This approach also lets you focus on one concept at a time, rather than being crushed under the weight of numerous varying concepts, you can move from basic to complex skills progressively.

Cons

Some people find this approach slow. It might take a while to create something with the skill you’re learning because you have to patiently advance from one level to another until you can create something significant.

Some people can easily lose interest because they are unable to see the practical application of software development, and may feel like they are wasting their time.

Which Approach Is The Best?

There is no best method of the two, to become really skilled, you require both approaches.

You need to study and understand the concept of software development but at the same time, you need to see that you’re progressing by creating software at the same time to help you prepare for working on actual projects.

Academies like ihifix academy, apply the two approaches in their teaching methodology to help you fulfill your dreams of being a skilled software developer.

You need a middle ground where the abstract and practical-based knowledge meet to help you understand codes that may belong to other developers, or even with projects alien to you.

How Do You Test Your Competence in Software Development?

Feeling like you completely understand all that you have learned without actually testing it out can birth something known as an Illusion of Competence. When this happens, you may feel like an expert, when in the real sense, you would be unable to execute a task using the knowledge you have gained. You can test your competence  by;

  1. Writing all you remember on a blank sheet of paper; this is important because Software Development can be quite broad, therefore, doing this after each lesson helps you keep track and not get lost in the sea of knowledge. Look at this like reviewing each chapter of a book after finishing it to make sure it sticks.
  2. Finding exercises online to execute that relate to that particular lesson; this is another way to test your retention of the knowledge you gained and its application. External tests can help you gain new insights into other areas of the same topic, or give you alternative methods of solving the same problem.
  3. Challenge yourself with self-developed questions while learning: this is a very good way to test your own competence because, to come up with great questions, you must have substantial knowledge of the subject. A lot of studies back up this method of testing, it’s been shown that it helps you retain and retrieve knowledge whenever you need it. Although, as humans we’re drawn to ease, so you will need to intentionally push yourself towards finding a balance between easy and difficult.

Learning Is a Repetitive Process

A picture with 'learn'

Learning is a lifelong process, this applies to all facets of life. If you want to remain relevant, especially in an ever-evolving field like Technology, you have to be open to learning new things.

Think about your goals and create a learning system to get you where you want to be. 

Check us out for more blog posts relating to your career as a software developer. Good luck!

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