If you are person who has dreamed of making your own Internet of Things (IoT) devices or if you are interested in elements or the direction of the exciting maker community, you cannot go wrong jumping into the many courses provided by Tech Explorations (Peter Dalmaris). These courses can be found either by going directly to their website (www.txplore.com) or through Udmy’s training portal; which is how I took it. Let me say up front, do not let your lack of knowledge in Arduino, programming, or electronics scare you away from learning something new. What can be more exciting than to imagine a gadget, build it, and watch it function. I had a blast and look forward to so much more to come. I recommend this course to all those who want to learn and build things that interact in the real world. Not to date myself too much, but it brings back the old memories of combining a metal erector sets with a Radio Shack 300-in-1 electronic sets; awesomeness happens. Your ability to create is only limited by your understanding of this amazing platform and the knowledge you will get from this class. Peter makes this experience fun and engaging the whole way.
The course being reviewed is the Tech Explorations “Arduino Step by Step Getting Started” which is mainly geared towards beginners who are looking at getting started in their journey using the Arduino microcontroller platform (www.arduino.cc). What I found helpful with this course was that it started off simple and ramped up over time in a very well organized and paced manner. The instructor clearly outlines any required and recommended course pre-requisites and items upfront at the start of the class. He not only provides a list to the student, but also provides links and helpful ideas on the best places to purchase items prior or during the course. Based on where one lives in the world, often ordering the components from Asian sellers can save you quite a bit of money, but this also adds quite a bit of time to receive them. I do like that the instructor provide both the necessary items for the student to be successful and those items that are more a nice to have so those who may not have the necessary funds up front can skill enjoy the course using only the minimum materials.
The course is just over sixteen hours of instruction broken up in bite-sized pieces of learning. These shorter class sessions allow for quick consumption when you have some free time to learn, and this can be while at home, on the road, and even at work. Most of the session are between three to ten minutes in length; with a few that are more in depth running upwards of sixteen minutes. Again, this course is intended for the beginner, so many of the early sessions are focused on what the Arduino is, how one interacts with it, and the ways of getting information from sensors, etc. I will say that if you are not a complete beginner to this platform, I’m sure Peter will teach you something you did not know. I have a development background but little or no experience with hardware, and at no time did I feel lost while following the course outline. A full syllabus and curriculum can be found at the instructors site found here: https://www.txplore.com/p/asbs-gs.
For me, course content is only one aspect of a good learning experience. I want to ensure the instructor is easy to understand, is able to explain concepts in various ways or using a number of analogies as many of us learn differently. Peter easily articulates the various aspects of the course and one can easily see he is passionate and knowledgeable in his expertise with the Arduino platform. I also want to make sure the course’s video and audio is of high quality. This course had cameras places at various locations and angles making what the instructor covered easier to see and understand along with a few time where he zoomed in on specific items needing highlighting. The video quality is all filmed at 1080p (I believe), but this depends on the device and connection rate at which you are watching it. The course’s audio was clear and crisp with only a few small hiccups or post edits/corrections. These are few and far between.
One of the great things about Peter as an instructor, apart from his Australian accent, is his comfort level with the subject matter and his transparency during the lessons. There are a few times when things did not go as planned or the project did not perform as expected, and Peter took this opportunity to use it as a teaching moment. Being new to the maker community, you will find that failure is a part of the process and it is good to see that not only those beginning to dabble in the technology is impacted by this problem, but even more seasoned people and instructors run into this from time to time. There are clearly differences between people who have strong knowledge in a topic and people who can teach others this knowledge. Peter is in the second category. He is able to teach and express concepts in a way that is clear and concise for the student while not talking down to them.
In summary, if you are interested in learning from the ground up how to get started with the Arduino microcontroller platform, you cannot go wrong by speeding up this process by way of the Arduino Step by Step Getting Started course material. I highly recommend this course because of both the instructor’s ability to teach the subject matter and the professional video and audio production. You can tell that Peter is passionate about the material and these are the people you want to learn from. If this review has you thinking about learning something new, I cannot say enough about what you will get from this course. Join the community of the maker community and build stuff.