Designing Courses Nonlinearly with Kyle Shevlin

Designing a course isn't linear. And it makes sense, since learning itself isn't a linear activity!

We spend years building expertise and gaining knowledge, and concepts don't neatly build on each-other one after another. Our skills end up looking more like nodes on a graph with numerous edges connecting them all.

And Kyle Shevlin knows this well.

Sometimes ideas will live in his head for years before they develop into something more. And developing those ideas involves researching and learning the topic in his own ways.

Once things start to take shape it's important for Kyle to get things out quickly. With his MDX blog he's able to get out quality content for people in a short amount of time.

Getting things out quickly isn't just rushing. A better term would be optimizing for completion. Kyle is self aware of his own patterns and knows that what's best for him is to optimize for completion, and spend less time getting bogged down in making other aspects of the course perfect such as the marketing, or the pricing model.

And that's something that you should keep in mind after you've finished listening to his episode. Look back and think about previous projects that you may have left incomplete. Is there a pattern? Try to keep it in mind with the next thing you work on, and optimize for it!


Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Joel: I'm pretty excited to talk to you today because I think we both have a strong, mutual passion for teaching people and helping people and, you know, like elevating others through our experience. And we do that through, you know, like online teaching and writing articles and all that fun stuff. I want to kind of kick it off and ask you, when you sit down to learn something like what's your personal learning style, like, how do you think. New difficult problems or subjects or areas of knowledge that you want to dive into and go about learning.

How Kyle learns difficult problems and subjects.

[00:00:29] Kyle: Yeah, that's a great question. You know, it might surprise people because of video courses, but I do a lot of reading. And I do. You know, not just a lot of reading, but I have folders and folders on my machine full of like really silly little things. For example, I'm learning rust right now. And I already have a dozen tiny, super tiny, like little rust apps that for me to learn or, you know, I spent up.

[00:00:54] Code sandboxes left and right. I spin up JS bins still. Cause sometimes it's just the fastest way to do some JavaScript, you know? So yeah, that's me. I read a lot and then I try little things. I really encourage people. Just try it. Like you, you don't know how some expression or syntax or something works, try it and find out there's no harm

[00:01:14] Joel: it.

[00:01:14] break a little bit

[00:01:15] Kyle: Yeah.

[00:01:16] Joel: yeah, I think it's interesting to me. And I don't know if you've kind of noticed this but I hear it a lot and people obviously love video learning. I, and just having these conversations with people that, that create courses, there's kind of a strong opinion that text and written content is maybe a preference.

[00:01:35] And I'm wondering, have you noticed that in terms of people consuming your own content or just generally, or do you think, you know, what's the balance of those two kind of modes?

Video vs reading and using the combination of both

[00:01:44] Kyle: I kind of feel like both should augment each other for example you know, I watch a lot of stuff that isn't tech. Like I watch a lot of woodworking videos and let me tell you I'd much rather watch them than sit down and read it. So it's to some degree, it's what are you learning? But also there's other things when I'm reading tech, because so much of it has to be.

[00:02:04] Like code samples. I do at least want to see them in a place that is like static. So I can look at this, I can study it. Maybe I can play with it. I really feel like they can benefit each other. When I write blog posts, you know, I can dive into things in written words sometimes that are more difficult to explain with a video or, you know, it might just be boring.

[00:02:26] Like I am talking to you in a video. You'd rather just read that at your speed versus I'm showing you in a video you know, you eggheads all about show, you know, don't talk at the user, you know, keep showing them what you're doing. So I just kinda feel that. You know, really good content probably has a mix of both.

[00:02:44] And honestly, me moving forward, everything I'm trying to do is both like, and I'm not trying to do a one-to-one thing. The thing I write, isn't just a transcript. It's like the thing I write is the written way I would explain this concept. The video I make is the visual way. I would explain this

[00:03:00] Joel: And it's a different medium, and

[00:03:01] It's not just like taking a transcript from a video, doesn't replace the, like writing the article or

[00:03:06] The lesson in a written format. Yeah. I agree with that for sure. When did you like. You've been doing this for awhile now. .

The impact of making courses on Kyle's life

[00:03:13] Joel: Has making courses and teaching and taking that from kind of more of an ad hoc. Almost hobby level, of instructing into making more refined courses is that had a impact on your life or career

[00:03:24] in any way.

[00:03:25] Kyle: You know, when you go to make content, it's okay. Maybe not to know everything, but in the process of making it, you're going to learn so much about the topic you're trying to share it.

[00:03:34] You thought you knew it, you don't know it like until you try and teach it, even then you don't know it. Like teaching refines understanding. And you know, It's worthwhile to pursue trying to try to even just share information because you'll gain a more solid understanding. I think other things are like, let's be honest.

[00:03:51] It's made my network a wonderful network. Like I've gotten to meet really cool people. I've gotten to know a lot more. People and just the idea that people reach out to me every once in a while. And they're like, dude, I took this. I, you know, honestly I think my LinkedIn list lesson, that one lesson I think has made half the money, just because so many people have to learn how to do a link list for a dumb interview, you know?

[00:04:16] You know, not to thank a poor interview question for my success, but to some degree I get so many people reach out and be like, I didn't know shit about this until I took this course. And I didn't know shit about it till I made the course. So you're welcome, bro.

[00:04:32] Joel: I've had to implement a link list on the job. Once again, for like a purpose of, it was the perfect data structure for which made me pretty happy actually to

[00:04:40] like actually need something like that in, in a practical sense. Like I'm graphing it out and I'm like, wait, this is a linked list.

[00:04:47] And,

[00:04:47] you know, like

[00:04:48] Kyle: I've only used it once too. So

[00:04:50] Joel: It's like synthesizing it from scratch a little bit, but then, you know, the pattern forms and you, all of a sudden you're using something that, you know,

Teaching people the patterns in what they're learning

[00:04:56] Kyle: If I can go on this a little bit, that's the thing that drives me. I really like to think . About patterns. I like to think about underlying concepts. And so when I'm trying to teach something, I want the people who are learning from me to be able to walk away with like maybe it's a linked list as the implementation, but the idea is like this node connects to this node connects to this node.

[00:05:19] And if I ever have something in my. Work life where that's happening. I recognize the pattern and then apply the data. Like I don't want them to just go off with, I happen to know XYZ about this thing.

[00:05:32] Joel: I would assume then it's funny. Cause you talked about woodworking and I've done a little bit of that and learned, and kind of do it through the visual demonstration way and seeing plans and even taking classes. And to me, like it's just this idea of anything that we want to know. It's the idea of a pattern, spotting the pattern, seeing it in one context and learning it, but then being able to take that pattern out of. In new contexts and that's really the trick, right? When you were able to take it from following instructions, step by step into, you know, like something where you build it on your own or solve a problem on the job where the variables are different, but you're like way, this is the same pattern and you're able to apply that.

[00:06:07] And I've never been able to achieve that with woodworking, but I definitely have been able to achieve it in my coding life.

[00:06:12] And see it over and over again. It's probably true for. Almost do almost most things at the end of the day, when you're really trying to learn like complex subjects, right?

[00:06:20] Like that's the, that's where it's at.

[00:06:21] Kyle: I totally agree. That's exactly what I'm trying to get at. I don't really enjoy making content that I call like duct tape content and it's perfectly fine. It needs to be out there especially in the dev REL space. And by that, Let's build X app by duct taping Wayz or whatever, these three things together.

[00:06:42] And I don't enjoy making that content as much because. To me, those variables are interchangeable. I'd much rather talk about how did we put these together? What was the patterns we used to do this? So then, you know, tomorrow, if you want to refactor something that you say, let's say it's a react app and you're using one state management.

[00:07:04] Truthfully, like if you follow good patterns, you can probably replace the whole thing with something else. And I'd rather, you have the confidence to be able to. Do that, to be able to follow the pattern, not just what were the docks that this library had me stitched together and stuff like that.

[00:07:22] Joel: I seen a pretty strong preference just in the world is like sorting by new. It means the best things are going to be at the top when you know, like the newest thing is the current best thing. And just my practical experiences that isn't always the case, right? Like you can if you go back to thought or philosophy or computer science or anything, it's there's this, these patterns that people have discovered over the years and you know, if you're ignoring those or we're constantly renaming those, it makes it really a struggle. For learners because it's vocabulary is already a struggle. So now you're dealing with this, you know, like renaming for all sorts of various purposes. Some of them commercial, some of them, you know, just mistakes, right? Like we just rediscover things

[00:08:02] Kyle: Yeah, I agree. I agree.

Deciding what to teach people

[00:08:04] Joel: It kind of relates to, I was wondering how do you decide what to teach?

[00:08:07] Like when you're, you know, like you're sitting down and you're like, I'm going to make a course. Is it like this something, is it like a Eureka moment or is that something that's in intentionally, you know, do you seek out what to teach.

[00:08:19] Kyle: You know, I, gosh, I'm probably not. Best at this. I think there are people who are more pragmatic and more rigorous in coming up with a lot of it is just like what intrigues me enough to put in the time, because Making courses takes me quite a bit more time . Than I think people

[00:08:38] Joel: It's work.

[00:08:39] Kyle: yeah, and I don't think that, I don't think it's just oh, a video editing takes off it's even my process is just long out, if you don't mind.

[00:08:47] I'll explain a little bit.

[00:08:49] Joel: I'd love to hear it.

[00:08:50] Kyle: so my state machine course for egghead is a really great example. I made a course that has, I don't know, 20 something lessons and. I did a workshop and we had probably, I think it was four or five weeks to do it because we were getting it done for the holiday.

[00:09:07] If I remember the holiday promo and I shit, you not, man, I probably put 200 hours into it. Like I was getting up early. I was going to bed late. And the reason I put in so much as, cause the way I. Build up my knowledge base for something like that. It's I literally rewrote the docs, like in my own notes, basically.

[00:09:27] Like I just kept reading them and rewriting them and I was like, oh, in fact, I made six contributions to the docs because I ended up finding oh, this doesn't match up. This doesn't make sense, but I needed to build up. That knowledge base to feel confident about something I was already interested in, but like I thought I knew, but I didn't, you know, to some degree.

[00:09:47] And so half the time was that. And then the other half is just, you know, with my ADHD, sometimes I really I just don't make great incremental progress. So things take me a lot of time. And so having that interest in something it's a really big deal for me. If I'm not interested, even though it's practical, like I'll never do it.

[00:10:04] Like I just won't get it done. And so I think that's why my courses have looked quite a bit different than other people's courses. You know? I think I think to me it really is interest driven

Preparing a course with a knowledge graph

[00:10:16] Joel: you mentioned that you did workshop the workshop and approached it that way. Is that something you're typically going to think about or. I know that at the time, I think we're asking people to do that sort of thing, but just what is your, you know, outside of that, if you're going to sit down and you're, thinking about the reduced course or async await and just asynchronous JavaScript in general what are you doing to design and prepare for that?

[00:10:38] In kind of the asynchronous way, right? If that's an idea in your head, so you're obviously thinking about it and you know, like you're in the stream of thought, but you know, like what other kind of processes do you employ.

[00:10:47] Kyle: That's great. That's a great question. Cause, cause I don't think people realize some of these ideas sit in my head for like years and they're just like churning. But in terms of actual like work that's documented progress I've been starting to write obsidian notebooks or whatever you would call them about the topics.

[00:11:06] I have this idea and I don't I feel I've been sharing this in private, but I might try this. I'm just not sure it's worth it, but I'm thinking about releasing or selling my obsidian notebooks on a top. As like additional material or as part of the material. I have this belief that there's value in learning graphically, not just linearly, but it's unproven to some degree or at least, I don't know.

[00:11:34] I don't spend a

[00:11:35] Joel: mean like a network graph, like a

[00:11:36] neural net? Not a neural network, that's probably the overloaded, but

[00:11:39] Kyle: no, but just the

[00:11:40] Joel: versus a straight line where like a book is a straight line and the entire curriculum for your college degree is a graph.

[00:11:48] Kyle: Yeah, I just have this feeling like if I were to hand someone a graph, a second brain of my react knowledge I could make a linear path through it and I will, but I would love the idea of having, being able to connect to all the concepts. And they're giving you the opportunity to just have access and to explore, because I think part of learning is exploring.

[00:12:12] Like you really want to solidify a concept. You can't just go watch my video or take some exercise. You have to explore this or that, try building this or that it doesn't have to be big. It just has to be big enough to connect the nodes of ideas in your brain. And I'm writing those to some degree.

[00:12:28] Those are sporadic. I'm not the best note taker I never have been. So it's a bit of a pipe dream, but it's something I'm thinking about doing. But then I'll start to write some articles. I'll start to, I have a whiteboard up here. I'll start to break down. What are ideas I want to hit? And frankly, like half my ideas.

[00:12:45] Probably don't make it, you know, and it's just I have never been afraid to just have an idea, have it explore it, maybe it goes nowhere. And yeah, I just kind of sit there and there just comes this inflection point for better or worse where it's okay, I feel comfortable enough to know the direction I'm going, where I'm starting.

[00:13:03] Maybe I write a script or two. You know, and get started. Once I get moving, once I get some videos recorded or a blog posts written on it or whatever, then I can really sit down and start to break down the tasks and I'll do like the state machine course, for example, I had a Trello board because it's nothing special.

[00:13:23] It was just a few columns, but it was like, here's all the videos I got to do. Here's all the writing I got to do. Knock them out.

[00:13:29] Joel: But to do list at the end of the day, but

[00:13:31] in a nice nicer format, I think T Charla boards, like Kanban and swim lanes in general, or

[00:13:36] it's just a useful way to visualize right.

[00:13:39] Kyle: get some of that dopamine of knocking it off, you know?

[00:13:43] Joel: I think one of the interesting things, and I actually like fully agree with you on this idea that we are working in nodes on a graph. And then the connections, like why is this connected? Like the edges between the nodes is really like a over often overlooked bit of metadata. You know, like why should I go over here?

[00:13:58] And you're absolutely right. You can carve a path through it and you can carve a straight line through a graph. And we have to do that at some point. Like you have to, you know, even just connecting two nodes is making a line, right? So now you have that. Why these connected, why are you moving onto this?

[00:14:11] And why is this? The next step is really an interesting concept to me. And then also this ability to, you know, for everybody's circumstance, they might want to like veer over here and it's like completing a course. Isn't the. For most people, I don't think many people sit down and wake up in the morning and think, you know what, I'm going to take a course today and I'm going to get finished.

[00:14:31] We can sit down and kind of think about general ideas that, you know, people probably want to get a. Six figure job as a web developer. And you know, more of that please, but you know, what else is going on in their lives or what goals are they trying to achieve is always an interesting challenge of navigating people through the graph.

[00:14:47] Cause now everybody wants a trail to like that's important.

[00:14:50] But how do you balance that prescriptive with the freedom of choice and that we're all presented with on

[00:14:56] Kyle: it's true. I think that might be informed by where you are in your career and like how you learn or what you want to learn. Yeah.

Designing examples

[00:15:04] Joel: I think it's interesting. So when typically a course is going to have examples where you're demonstrating something and then exercises, and I was wondering, how do you design examples for your lesson? Like when you want to sit down and you're like, what should I like demonstrate to build? Cause that's part of that, this choice we're making, right?

[00:15:20] That is part of that structure and it's kind of important.

[00:15:22] Kyle: And you almost never get it right. And rights. Maybe not the right word. I just, man, I've said this on Twitter. I probably shouldn't say here, but you're never going to make everyone happy with your

[00:15:33] Joel: I don't know if you do, like you're probably making something so watered down that it's not useful, to be

[00:15:38] honest.

[00:15:39] Kyle: even then they'll complain. Cause it isn't useful. Some people are very good at it. I honestly. I feel like my examples are weak, but that could be more like, I view myself that way, not how the world views me and I'm willing to admit that. But it depends on the thing. For example this reduced course, I made examples the exact way I decided to really learn reduced.

[00:16:02] I decided one day as a joke to sit down and redo all the array methods with just reduce. And I got through 20 of them, there's a boatload of them. I got through a lot of them. And so those examples to me, that's how I did it. That, that just was just, that's how I learned. So you get to you know, how I learned to ride a bike, you learn to ride a bike, but other ones like, so my state machines course, this was kind of fun.

[00:16:25] Like I didn't want to do it UI focused. Someone else was already making a at the time, a state machine and react course during that same window of time. If you remember. And I just looked around my house and I looked for things. Our state machines, like a light switch. I'm pointing to one in my room right now for those listening or the space heater.

[00:16:46] Literally I did three or four lessons. I think there was some, if I remember right there about like parallel machines and maybe hierarchical machines and stuff, and my space heater literally has both of those. And I. Took things in my life and put them in there. And then other ones are like, I'm working on some material for a potential react course.

[00:17:09] I don't want to promise anything nothing's promised. But you know, I think it's okay to just make the simple thing. I'm making a note taking app. Why? Because it covers all the concepts. Like I don't, it doesn't need to be esoteric to be useful.

[00:17:22] Joel: Well, domain is, cause I'm actually a huge fan of the to-do list when it comes to web development. Just because you don't have to explain it to anybody. Everybody knows what to do list is and share where we're sick of that example, but also most apps that I've built at time. Devolve that into just being a to-do list anyway. Or, you know, it's like crud forms and lists forms, and lists. And that's so much of development and that's not necessarily the most interesting side of development, but it's like a very practical and, you know, often true element of what the actual job is.

[00:17:50] Kyle: Exactly. I think I'm with you are the whole point of the to-do list. Isn't to do an interesting, to do list it's to make something so mundane that you actually can observe. And see, what's neat about say this framework or this language or this statement, like the whole point is that the details are mundane, right?

[00:18:13] Don't complain about the example. Cause that's not the real point of what you're doing. The real point is to give you exposure to whatever this new concept or topic is through the lens of something familiar.

Dealing with prerequisite knowledge

[00:18:26] Joel: so when somebody is coming, how do you, when you're thinking about and designing a course or putting together your course material, how do you balance this need for prerequisite knowledge and the assumptions of what they will actually know coming into the experience?

[00:18:41] Kyle: Sure. I probably side a little too far on the. The I'll give you all the foundation kind of stuff. It's not it's not I taught people JavaScript to do any of my courses. That happens to be the language I know best in, in writing, but there are things where I'll take a moment and explain what is just a language feature.

[00:19:03] But I feel like sometimes it's just worthwhile to. Beat and be like, okay, Hey let me break this down for you. Or, you know, I did a workshop on hooks and, you know, I take a beat to be like, this is a closure, just so we're all on the same page before we go forward.

[00:19:19] The hardest part about doing that is you'll always run into people who are like, I know that Kyle I'm like good for you. There are some people who don't. Can you. Stay calm for two minutes while I finished, you know, you know, there's always people like that. The truth is when you teach, you just have to accept the fact that you won't meet everyone at the exact right place.

[00:19:42] So in my case, I probably lean a little more towards explaining concepts. Maybe I don't have to, to most people, but I'd rather do it to be safe than to leave people confused later on down.

Deciding on a platform

[00:19:57] Joel: Yeah. When you set out and you've built a course delivery platform to present your courses on, what was your approach for building that? What were the options available to you and ultimately, what did you decide in

[00:20:09] terms of kind of broad strokes? Not necessarily

[00:20:11] Kyle: Not detailed.

[00:20:13] Joel: yeah, like the, you know, like we're this, isn't a, we're not chatting about the programming details, but I'm curious about the, like the thought process.

[00:20:18] And they went into the actual construction of

[00:20:21] it. And because we have so many options really,

[00:20:22] like at the end of the day,

[00:20:23] Kyle: I wanna, I want to speak about it from a, like a philosophical point really quick. I do not feel naturally inclined to be a good like entrepreneur to build businesses. It's not really where my interests are, what I think about, but I recognized having that it's almost a super power having that ability. Could be useful in my life.

[00:20:46] And so building a platform for myself was partly a way to experiment and pursuing, building a business and. Being an entrepreneur in a low risk way. At the end of the day, my courses, aren't going to get me sued. Like I'm not writing stuff that's gonna cause security issues or something someday.

[00:21:09] And so this is a low risk way for me to practice being an entrepreneur to see one, can I do it? What lessons can I learn? So to me, just building the platform was a lesson in. In that. So the way I chose to go about. Was as I do with most things, I started with a tweet as stupid as that sounds, but I made a tweet of you know, I saw some people who needed to learn, reduce.

[00:21:36] I had this crazy idea that I would just take my blog, which really informed why and how I want to write courses.

[00:21:43] So my blog is a Gatsby blog with MDX. It just happens to be Gatsby. You know, I don't care if it was on next or it could be on something else, but MDX is the thing that I really like. It works best for me. I love writing and markdown and I love being able to create little components, little things I can throw in the middle of like a blog post with react because I know react well.

[00:22:08] That makes me fast and comfortable. And I think that's the key to making anything like, you know, is You don't want to spend all day like reading docs to try and make this thing if you're trying to get stuff out quickly.

[00:22:19] Joel: so just to back it a little bit. Yeah.

[00:22:21] MDX is marked down

[00:22:22] with JSX meaning you.

[00:22:24] can import react components into your markdown. And then they render and you get interactive interactivity versus how you might have used to do it via an I-frame or

[00:22:34] Kyle: And J

[00:22:34] Joel: mechanism to to like inject some other piece into it.

[00:22:39] You get this like native ability to put react components in markdown, which is

[00:22:42] Kyle: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Thank you for clarifying that for the listeners. I really appreciate that. Yeah, that technology has been really useful for me. My, my blog has been an MDX for years. I've always wanted to be able to take my lessons to the next level, which I think meant marrying what we talked about earlier about video and written content and not making it just like one-to-one transcriptions.

[00:23:07] Like MDX was a simple way forward for me to be able to author things in a way I'm very comfortable in fast. While still having the option to create interesting things. For example maybe making a quiz or making an interactive component that teaches people a little thing, or, you know, excuse me.

[00:23:28] Giving them a chance to see a diagram that I was able to make with something. I don't know that wasn't just an image something could interact with.

Technical hurdles

[00:23:35] Joel: What was the biggest surprise then? What they, the, you didn't think about and kind of ran into that. Might've been a technical hurdle.

[00:23:40] Kyle: Honestly, to some degree, for me, it was the first time interacting with Stripe. So I had to make a choice. Do I do this with client site sessions or do I do this with server sessions?

[00:23:51] I prefer, you know, to some degree, I think even Stripe people who reached out to me said I chose wrong, but I wanted to make it as simple as possible.

[00:23:59] And I did the client side stuff, but it does have limitations. So you had to make choices. Other things would be like, you know, I tweeted about this. I said I didn't realize some serverless functions you really need to make idempotent. But the idea that. If this accidentally gets hit a few times with the same information, please don't make multiple purchases or please don't give them seven licenses or whatever it was. So I actually learned that one the hard way. Luckily the way I had it structured, like it just showed up as the course showing up several times in their course list of what they'd bought.

[00:24:33] Like it wasn't like they had extra licenses to give to their friends.

[00:24:36] Joel: You weren't billing them over and over

[00:24:37] again with a runaway serverless function. I've

[00:24:40] had my more than a couple of runaway serverless functions in my time. So I

[00:24:44] Kyle: Lesson learned quickly and hard, you know?

Designing a course platform vs producing content

[00:24:46] Joel: how has building a course platform building and designing a course platform different than. The content production. Cause I, it feels like they're two totally different skillsets to me, but you know, I think it's interesting to think about the platform as well as the delivery mechanism for the course content that you're creating and it's important.

[00:25:04] I think it is important how it is delivered. But how what's the, you know, like how do you how do they different in your mind?

[00:25:09] Yeah.

[00:25:10] Kyle: they are totally different. To be honest, I don't necessarily recommend people go build a platform for me. It was an experiment in learning how to build like business functioning, like being, building a business,

[00:25:23] Joel: you really want to get in there and do it from scratch. And

[00:25:25] That's like not, that was that you were, you had a niche and it's not that you couldn't have picked something off the shelf, even if you wanted to get in there and do it at a low level.

[00:25:32] Kyle: And even if like your thing is you want to focus on being a teacher, right? Like not, you know, teacher. Maybe we shouldn't have to do all the other stuff. And I think that's where a place like egghead really makes a lot of sense for people who want to be educators, but don't want to learn marketing for example, or something like that.

[00:25:50] I think the big difference is like, You really need to think like a product person when you're building a platform. Like you need to think in terms of okay, what features can I build out that will maybe differentiate what features do I have to have? Because everyone's just going to expect them, what things can I get away with not having at launch?

[00:26:12] What things can I add later? Like you really become a product manager of your own. Your own thing, you know, like you can't just sit there all day and be like, I'm just adding this and adding this, you, you really need to be decisive and judicious about what you're building. Okay, what can I add? That fits whatever Kyle Shevlin offers to people. And I don't know if that makes any sense, but it does, to me, it's like you don't go out to try and be like everyone else.

[00:26:42] Like you recognize competition or you, I don't even want to really call it that. But you know, you recognize where people in the space specialize and you have to ask yourself, What do I add? How can I amplify that? How can I reach people with what I add?

[00:27:00] Joel: It's funny when you described this and I asked the question is what are the differences? And you talk about it like a product and what should I add and how do I build this? And it needs to represent my voice. And it's funny to me, because I think the better question maybe was what. These experiences of building a design and a platform, the same as building and designing a course,

[00:27:17] because frankly, what you described to me is very similar to what we've described as the course concern. Process, right? Like where the course is the product. And then the platform is the product and you have these two different things. And those there's a lot of, maybe there's a lot of overlap in there even, which is just kind of a different way to flip it on its head. And you almost get the same answer, but you know, like They are very Like they are different products. Like a

[00:27:41] platform is different from a course, but at the same time, they are both like this thing that needs to serve the needs of the users. And the person that's creating and all these kinds of, kind of multifaceted aspects of building a marketplace.

[00:27:54] And then the products that sit on the market.

[00:27:57] Kyle: Yeah. I agree. I see that. And I didn't intentionally do that but I agree because, you know, you make a course, you have to consider who is consuming the course or and stuff like that. So there's, there are these like metal level decisions that you make either implicitly or explicitly when you're designing it, that's not really that different from doing product design.

[00:28:18] Joel: How do you know when it's good enough to ship?

[00:28:19] Kyle: Do I know? For

[00:28:20] Joel: you've got to launch it, right? Like it

[00:28:21] has to go out into the world.

[00:28:23] Kyle: yeah, absolutely. You know, I'm not going to bullshit anyone with you know, if you're feeling comfy, it's too late, you know, I don't know any of that crap. I'm not, you know, I'm not trying to build anything that gets into YC someday. For me, it was just. Do I feel comfortable with what I have done for the price I'm going to offer it, you know, to people.

[00:28:47] But to me it was just like, okay, I've written all the. I've made as many videos as I feel are necessary. There's a few more I could maybe make, but these are the necessary ones they're done. People can go through the workflow and they can buy shit.

[00:29:01] There's no other bells and whistles other than the discordant. Launched let's go the only smarter thing I could've maybe done other than I sent out an email to my email newsletter list, but maybe I could hype them up for some time, like actually had a plan date and do a launch and, you know, optimize for money.

[00:29:19] But for me it was optimizing for, I finished something. People who maybe don't have ADHD maybe don't understand, but like 90, 95% of the things I start don't get done. Like I have a music folder sitting here with 500 half written, half finished songs, you know? So to me, I have to optimize for, if I like I have to optimize for just finish, it don't matter.

[00:29:45] So to me, once I felt like they could go through the workflow, do everything it was is just hit, publish. Let's go.

Testing with learners

[00:29:53] Joel: Did you do any testing like we're with learners or any other way before you launched it?

[00:29:58] Kyle: No I did reach out to a few people. I guess maybe I did. I didn't do it intentionally. It wasn't like.

[00:30:03] Joel: It wasn't a strategy

[00:30:04] necessarily. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:30:06] Kyle: reached out to a couple of friends, a few that I knew who had struggled with reduce in the past, because that was the only course I had done for the platform. And I said, Hey, can you watch a couple of these lessons?

[00:30:18] And tell me what you think. And I got good feedback back. Truth is I probably need to gain some more people who give me critical feedback,

[00:30:26] Joel: Yeah, that's a challenge really.

[00:30:28] Kyle: Yeah, but you know, they seem positive about it. And to be Frank, I was banking on the success I had prior, like success I've had with egghead success.

[00:30:40] I've had with my blog. I'm like, I feel I maybe haven't codified it. I feel like I have some sense of like, when I've made a good lesson or a not so good lesson. And you know, I just trusted my gut a little bit and in, in rolled with it.

What's next?

[00:30:55] Joel: We're kind of changes. Do you think you'll make for the next course that you really said? Do you have like platform changes or things that you'd like to see improved either

[00:31:02] with the course design process or the platform itself?

[00:31:04] Kyle: The next one I want to do I have ideas of which one will end up but I'll just say things I'm going to add are actual like licenses. So companies can buy an X amount of licenses and distribute them to their to their employees. That just seems like an obvious way to increase revenue and to increase distribution.

[00:31:24] So I have to build out that feature or find someone who's built and I'm sure somebody else, but I'll probably build it from scratch. Cause that's what I'm doing to learn. Other things I'm going to add are I would like to add little maybe like quizzes or checks. Throughout the course of have you learned this thing?

[00:31:42] One thing I'm going to do is the. The courses we'll do more like hyperlinking between the lessons, just so cause as concepts overlap, like one of the things that was tough about state machines is you really needed to know four or five concepts all at once to do one lesson and there wasn't an easy linear path.

[00:31:59] So just making it more networked within the lessons. Cause I think it's just so easy to have an auto-play Veatch or something and just go.

[00:32:07] Joel: Yeah. Build out that graph basically.

[00:32:08] Kyle: Yeah. And then on top of it, I'm toying with the idea. I haven't flushed it out, but I'm toying with the idea of a little, choose your adventure kind of stuff.

[00:32:18] If I'm teaching react, we get to a point like, how do I style react as well? There's a bunch of choices. They're all good. They all have. Trade-offs like, and so like maybe at this point Like for styling, for example, you could try for Kate. I don't even know if that's a word between CSS modules, CSS in JS and tailwind, you know, and like maybe the course has one linear path with just here's a two lesson tangent.

[00:32:46] Other path that you can kind of do. I imagine whatever my current like, table of contents is just a list. I imagine that we'll get some changes in the future.


[00:32:57] Joel: Yeah, that makes sense. Kind of, I really appreciate it. And I really think that's, it's great to watch. And I always appreciate when people go out there and have that, that just Jones and desire to build from scratch, like it's just impressive because it's, you know, there's a lot of choice out there and we can just go pull stuff off the rack, but to see people like, honestly go out and build something for themselves is inspiring to me and. I love to see your enthusiasm, teaching people and kind of sharing what you know and helping developers and all that fun stuff. It's been a great experience on my end, just to, to watch you grow and put this stuff out into the world. So thank you very much for doing that and taking the time to chat with me.

[00:33:34] Kyle: Absolutely. Thank you for thank you for all the ways you've helped me and doing this to I appreciate it deeply, and thank you for this chance to share my thoughts and have this chat to

[00:33:44] Joel: Absolutely. My pleasure. Thanks col.

[00:33:47] Kyle: thanks to.

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