It's now roughly two and a half years I since I have signed up with Pluralsight. So I think now is a good time to draw some conclusions. Here are a few thoughts and my experience with watching trainings on Pluralsight.
I'm in general interested in IT technology. So I want (and also need for my job) to stay up to date about which technologies exist, evolve and how they work.
Often I start to learn about some technology, because I read about it on Twitter or some blog. When I read more often about the same topic, I perhaps get interested and start investigating details. But this approach is mostly not directed towards any goal. There are some issues with this approach:
Efficiency: It's too easy to get distracted. (Isn't this the main purpose of social media platforms?) So discovery and learning happens by chance and very slowly.
Discovery: This works more or less well on Twitter. I follow enough persons, so that new or interesting topics often pop up. As long as the interesting topics pass into my filter bubble. E.g. for things related to IT security, this works well. Finding out about other topics, e.g. related to containerization or mechanical CAD design, this does not work at all for me. Even if I try, it's extremely hard to escape your personal filter bubble, both on Twitter and Youtube.
No broad overview: It's not obvious if you get a broad overview of a topic or just a very slim detail. Sometimes that's exactly what I'm interested in, but more often it leads to unconnected fragments of knowledge.
Especially when I noticed that I was often browsing Twitter or Youtube, sometimes for hours, in the hope to find something new or interesting, I felt that my approach had to change. After hearing about Pluralsight (on Twitter...) and some investigation and , I decided to give it a try.
Pluralsight offers trainings mainly focussed on IT and technology. Courses in Pluralsight are usually between one and a few hours long. There are also shorter videos of about 20 to 30 Minutes to give a broader overview about some topic (the big picture courses). Courses are divided into modules, which handle one topic or aspect and are usually 15 to 45 minutes long. Depending on the topic, the courses contain theoretical learning sections, where you see a presentation and demo sections to show something in practice, e.g. how to use some tool.
They provide certificates for every course you complete. The certificates show that you have completed a course by watching the complete set of videos. There is no exam.
Courses are sometimes combined to learning paths. This is a collection of a few courses, usually starting at beginner level and with increasing level covering one topic extensively.
Results so far
I signed up with Pluralsight in August 2017 for a 10 hour free trial and then a monthly plan for ca. 30 USD. I feel that the courses are presented in a way that makes me enjoy watching them. I do not feel like this is work. It does not feel for me like much effort to learn something, but often more like a good alternative to watching videos on Youtube. I watch because I am interested. It's out of curiosity and not so much with the clear goal to accumulate knowledge.
After a few month with the monthly plan I changed to a yearly subscription for ca. 300 USD (they often have special offers with reduced price when signing up). Since August 2017 I have now watched a bit more than 100 courses, i.e. it's a bit less than one course per week.
I see that there are times, e.g. when there is much work to do in office and I am tired in the evening, that I do not use Pluralsight much. But that's ok, as so far I do this only in my free time and not with a clear purpose or goal, e.g. to advance my career. But as soon as I have some more free time, I again like to watch courses.
The bigger topics and areas that I covered in the last 2.5 years are these:
Basics of CAD design, especially with Fusion 360 - I am a computer scientist working in automotive embedded systems design, so both software and hardware are part of my daily job. But I never got a connection to mechanical design yet. This changed when I got a 3D printer...
Docker and containerization - This also was a completely new topic for me and without starting with the training courses I would not have put it to use so soon.
Linux system administration - I use Linux for a long time and think I know many details, but getting the perspective of a professional systems administration is still different.
Git - I already used it for some time, but the courses helped me to understand many more details and internals.
Python - As I use Python very frequently, I knew already many of the things presented in the courses. Still I could learn about some details and underlying concepts.
Many smaller topics - E.g. how to use Wireshark, ARP and ICMP protocol, MongoDB, Block chain, Web Assembly, ...
Many of the things I learned do now give me some advantage at work. Even if I do not put everything to use, I have a broader understanding now. Other things I only started to use at work (e.g. git and docker), because I learned enough about it to put these tools to good use from the beginning.
So far I think it was definitely worth to invest the money and the time for learning.