With all the time I spend working through Pluralsight courses, it makes sense that I’ve thought about how to get the most out of the experience. Pluralsight is a great resource that can be used to improve your skills in almost any technology sub-topic. From web development to security to design to CAD skills, there are courses for almost any skill tangentially or directly related to software. Here are some tips I’m using to make my time spent working through Pluralsight courses as effective as possible.

Watch the Videos - Give your full attention to whatever video you’re watching. Slow down the speed and rewatch the important bits where needed. It’s almost impossible to learn anything new if your mind is focused on other things. Try to be completely present with the video. Close potentially distracting tabs or silence your cell phone if you have to.

Download Course Material - Download the course material for the course. The course material usually contains the slides used throughout the course and Before/After versions for each section of a code-focused course. The completed code samples are especially useful for troubleshooting errors that have been made while implementing the projects locally. I’ve had to diff my files against the completed versions several times to find tricky typos.

Review Slides Several Times - Before viewing a section, take a look at the slides that cover the material. When the section is complete, look over the slides again. Add notes where appropriate and fill in the details that are left out. Another way to use the slides is to look at the slides and rewatch the videos at the same time. This active form of learning can help solidify the content.

Enable Subtitles - If the video has subtitles, make sure they’re turned on. I often will listen to the instructor’s voice and read the subtitles at the same time in order to reinforce the content. The subtitles also provide clarification on exactly what is said. Note that sometimes the newer content will not yet have subtitles. If the course is something you’re absolutely dying to learn don’t wait for the subtitles to be available before viewing.

Summarize the Material - Write up a summary about every section of the course. I typically summarize the course material in OneNote after going through an entire section, but Pluralsight has a nifty notes feature within the site. The notes feature is useful because it bookmarks the location where the note was created so you can go back and review that specific section. I also leave comments in the code with information about implementation and things to look up for later.

Apply the Knowledge - Think about places where you can use the techniques you learned about. Apply them in the real world. Try to use the techniques where they fit naturally. Even though it might be appealing to use all the things you’re learning, be careful not force a specific technique into a solution where it doesn’t fit.

Test Yourself - Take the Learning Check exams. Go over any question you miss and find out why the answer is what it is. An even better practice is to write questions up for yourself and find the answers. Build upon the material that the course covered to gain even more insight.

Follow Along with the Project - Implement the projects the instructors work through yourself. Plan to spend at least double the running time of the videos on working through the course if following along. Try to implement the code before the instructor gives their solution. Compare the solution you produce with the one presented.

Race Through Courses for Enrichment or Review - Sometimes you don’t really want to work through the course with your full attention. I’ve often viewed entire courses for the single purpose of auditing the material just to get an overview of the subject. Other times I’ve blitzed through a course to review material I alreadly know. In these cases, I like to watch the course at 1.5x speed. It’s fast, but not too fast. This is more efficient and I can always stop and slow the video down whenever the subject requires extra attention.

These are some of the techniques I’ve found to get the most out of my Pluralsight subscription. The amount of quality content out there is staggering. Feel free to use these methods to enhance your own learning experience.