code school – CSS Cross-Country Course Review

I just finished up my first code school course. CSS Cross-Country. I was very excited to try it since I have funded their Try iOS course on Kickstarter. I am also a corporate trainer so I was very curious on how they would present the material and how effective it would be.

The CSS Cross-Country course to quote from code school is to “Master the fundamentals and core foundations of CSS”. The question is obviously is: did I achieve mastery of the foundations of CSS? I would have to say no as I will explain below.

Does it give you a good foundation to build upon? Absolutely!

The course is broken down into levels. Each level  includes a short video presentation of the subject matter ranging from 4 to 8 minutes followed by 4 to 7 review exercises.  Most levels include supplementary links which can either help you with the exercises or provide you more in depth information on the level’s topics.

Below is a quick summary of the course content:

  1. Frost-Proof Fundamentals (video 5:52, 6 exercises)
    Adding style, selectors, the cascade, and floats
  2. Clear Carving (video 7:33, 5 exercises)
    Clearing floats, inheritance, and specificity
  3. Box Bindings (video 7:32, 5 exercises)
    The box model, positioning, and z-index
  4. Grooming Your Code (video 7:22, 6 exercises)
    DRY, display types, and centering
  5. CSS Safety (video 4:00, 4 exercises)
    Protecting your layout and specificity problems
  6. Image Issues (video 3:55, 5 exercises)
    Image use and image cropping
  7. Sprightly Slaloms (video 5:49, 5 exercises)
    Image replacement and sprites
  8. Pseudo Sitzmark (video 5:55, 7 exercises)
    Pseudo classes and pseudo elements

The video presentations are very well done. Both presenters were articulate and clear examples were shown. They were very easy to follow.

The exercises were the highlight of the learning experience.  You are given an objective based upon the level’s subject matter such as “Refactor the <head> tag so that all CSS is instead found on an external stylesheet.” Code school has implemented a split screen where you update HTML sources, CSS stylesheets or both on the left side and your results are immediately rendered on the right as you do the updates. The right side may also include addition information you need to complete the exercise.  In addition, code school has provided a hint system if you are stuck. Doing the exercises are never an exercise in frustration (pun intended). They also provide excellent feedback when you submit your code to be “marked”. Errors are clearly stated for you to fix your code.

With each completed level, you get an achievement badge on your account.  I imagine this will appeal to some but I can take or leave the badges. There is a final video review of the course with more helpful links to continue your education on CSS.

So overall, my only issue with the course is the subtitle “Master the fundamentals and core foundations of CSS”. I do not feel that 24 minutes of video and 43 short exercises will give me mastery of anything. What it did give me is the confidence to delve deeper into CSS on my own.

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