Courseware Review: Pluralsight IT Learning Materials Are Versatile and Engaging
With a library of more than 3,000 training courses by 600 expert instructors, Pluralsight makes it difficult to pick the course you are going to take next. With so many options available to students and instructors, chances are good that if you are looking for technology training, Pluralsight has the course you need.
Certification being the end goal, we found it most useful to reference the Learning Paths in the blog area of the Pluralsight website. This helped us determine the set of Pluralsight courses that needed to be taken to lead a student to a certification. These Learning Paths include the objective of the learning path as well as the target audience for a specific certification.
Learning Paths are definitely a great resource for both students and instructors looking for a guide for the certification that they are looking to achieve or teach toward.
Video Instruction: The main focus of Pluralsight's student instruction are its video presentations. When launching a video on a subject, a separate window is opened displaying the video and an outline of the course. The interface provides multiple ways to navigate through the different videos in the course, through both a text outline on the left and a timeline outline at the top of the window.
The video player provides students different options to customize their learning for their optimal experience. Some of these options include:
- An 8 second rewind button.
- Captions (on most videos) that can be translated using Google translate.
- Video playback preference of HTML5 or Silverlight.
- Video speed control from 0.5x to 2.0x normal speed.
- Keyboard controls of the videos.
The content of the instruction videos are presentation slides, narrated by an instructor who is a subject matter expert in the field of study. The videos we reviewed did not appear to have any live demonstrations, but there are plenty of graphics to illustrate concepts the instructor is teaching. This helped us stay focused and also made concept easier to grasp.
Course Transcript: Several Pluralsight courses we reviewed had a course transcript included in the course. The transcript gives a student the option to read along while going through the video, or even just read the lesson to review its content. A nice bonus is that each sentence in the transcript is a link to the point of the video where the sentence is spoken. This not only gives the student the option to read the lesson, but also the ability to quickly jump to any point in the video instruction for visual reinforcement of what is being taught.
Exercise Files: Almost all of the Pluralsight courses include exercise files to guide a student on their path to certification. These files work to provide the student multiple ways to gain the knowledge needed to succeed in their certification goals.
The most prominent exercise files we identified are:
- PDF files of the video presentation slides used during the instruction videos.
- Slides and documentation from the certification providers (such as CompTIA) containing exam objectives and tips for getting and staying certified.
- Supplemental study materials containing images, tables and diagrams that identify hardware and their important properties.
- Documentation listing key terms a student should know as they are progressing through the course.
- Certain courses have exercise files that students use to complete an assignment or task that helps them learn more about the subject matter.
Assessments: Pluralsight provides both a pre- and post-assessment for students to test their knowledge on the subject material of a course. Both assessments consist of a set of multiple choice questions. The pre-assessment is available until the student has seen up to 25 percent of the instruction videos in a course (after 25 percent is completed, only the post-assessment is available).
During the pre-assessment the student is given a test timer which is far longer than the student needs to complete the assessment. The more useful timer is the one-minute question timer. If the student takes longer than one minute to answer, it marks the question wrong and notes that the student took too long to answer the question.
After submitting the answer to the question, a correct or incorrect answer is marked as such immediately, providing the student quick feedback on each question. One helpful aspect of both the pre- and post-assessments is the fact that after you submit an answer, it gives the student an option to view the video explanation.
Clicking this link will pop up the video instruction where the information was presented to help the student understand the correct answer for that particular question. Also available is a "Leave feedback" button to record feedback for Pluralsight. At the end of the assessment, Pluralsight gives you an overall percentage on that assessment. The student is limited to taking the pre-assessment once and their score is recorded in their personal Pluralsight transcript.
After taking the pre-assessment, the option to take the post-assessment is available for the student. The post-assessment can be taken twice in a 30-day period. The post-assessment is structured exactly like the pre-assessment. At the end of the assessment, students who look at their transcript can see if they have passed the assessment for a course. If they have passed, they can view and print a certificate of achievement for that particular course.