We were excited when the blog editor for Newegg, the hugely popular e-commerce site for tech enthusiasts, shared a story about a Seattle-area sysadmin who learned C# on Udemy in order to improve how his employer manages technical documentation. Not only does Kyle Wisdom have an awesome name, he has a great love of learning. Creating his WiseNotes tool is just one example of how he takes a proactive approach to problem-solving. Rather than go with an off-the-shelf product from a big vendor, Kyle supports open source software, and he’s made WiseNotes available for free.
We followed up with Kyle to find out what led him to Udemy, how he applied his new knowledge to make WiseNotes, and what else he’s learning and working on.
Udemy: What was your goal or motivation for seeking out online learning resources?
Kyle: Ever since I started learning the ins and outs of computers as a young kid, I wanted to be a computer programmer. I had picked up books here and there, but nothing ever clicked. The books were dry and didn’t have any practical lessons that sparked the right creativity in my brain to jump on something. I wanted something that was interactive where I could see a real example and then grow it from there, making something my own. So, I chose to purchase my first Udemy course and give it a try.
Udemy: Which course did you take to help you build WiseNotes?
Kyle: The first course I signed up for was “Programming for Complete Beginners in C#” by Eric Wise (another appropriate name). This course was great. It was all command line/terminal type programs based on text (no graphical interfaces), but we learned the basics of strings, ints, counters, if/while statements, etc. We were able to make some games like a coin toss, hangman, rock-paper-scissors, and, more. I quickly took the things I learned in the course and decided to see if I could make them work in a C# Winform program with a graphical user interface. And I did! I made a rock-paper-scissors game using a random-number generator and assigning the numbers to a specific picture and string (rock, paper, scissors). When I clicked one of the three images, it would fire off an RNG for the computer player to pick rock, paper, or scissors. I then did the same with the coin toss, made a tic-tac-toe game, and more.
Meanwhile, my boss at work kept mentioning how he wanted to get a wiki but never took the time to research it or take the time to migrate the mounds of notes we had over to a wiki. I went and downloaded a few free ones, but they just didn’t fit our needs. So, I dove in head first and started coding. Over the next couple of weeks, I worked hard on my first version of what is now known as WiseNotes. This version was certainly rough around the edges. It wasn’t very streamlined, and it required a lot of manual work on the database side as well as having to edit the source code and recompile every time I added a note (I was still new, give me a break, haha! ;D), but it worked! I started importing our notes into the database, and slowly but surely they were all there–viewable and searchable.
However, it wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted something that anyone could sit down and use, but it wasn’t user friendly at all unless someone had a knowledge of the internal setup on the code side, Visual Studio installed, and an understanding of updating things on the MySQL side. I really wanted this to be a positive experience and tool that could be used by our entire IT department. I got to work on version 2.0, and this is pretty much what you see today.
So, on the C# side, I really only had this Udemy beginner course under my belt when I hit the ground running, and it has served me well! It’s a great course to get someone prepared and ready to code!
Udemy: What did you think of the course instructor?
Kyle: Eric was a great instructor. He was clear and easy to follow, and the practical applications we developed really helped me understand how to use the objects in C# to make a complete program. He did what any great teacher does: gave me a nugget of knowledge that sparked my desire to continue to discipline myself and learn more.
Eric was also very accessible, and he was great about replying to questions in the Udemy course. I remember having a problem with the hangman game, and he looked through my code and found the problem. His guidance helped me understand my mistake so I wouldn’t repeat it in the future.
Udemy: You said you’d tried learning from books before but didn’t find that helpful. What was it like learning from online videos on Udemy?
Kyle: I love it. It’s easy to do in small chunks or in big strides. I would watch, pause, code, rewind, pause, and code some more during each video so I could test out what was going on in each specific lesson and completely grasp each concept along the way.
Udemy: What’s next for you to learn on Udemy, for fun or for work? Do you consider yourself the kind of person who’s motivated to learn new things, in general?
Kyle: I am sure I will; my only problem is deciding which courses! I am part-way through an intermediate C# course, and I’ve also been interested in courses on Python, Ruby on Rails, etc. I would also eventually like to get into advanced C#, as I would like to be an intermediate on the way to expert programmer someday, but for now, the knowledge I have serves me well in the applications I need to develop both on a professional level as well as a personal level.
I definitely consider myself self-motivated to learn new things. I am constantly wanting to challenge myself and rise up in the moment of need. When something doesn’t work, I want to figure out why it doesn’t work and how to fix it. As a result, programming has been really fun for me, as I will learn something, take it to the next level, learn more, and then hit something that challenges me that I have to dig deeper in order to learn, conquer that, and continue to move on to the next challenge. This is what spurs me on!
Thanks to Newegg blogger Adam Lovinus for bringing Kyle to our attention and helping us demonstrate the power of online learning.