Podcasts: An untapped resource for new programmers?

Following my own graduation from Makers Academy, a coding bootcamp based in London, I have been exploring ways to continuing growing and maintaining my coding knowledge. I have increasingly been turning to podcasts as a way to both continue my education and to better understand the community. I have found that the number of podcasts available, varying in tone and content, and their flexibility (just plug-in during your commute or whenever an opportunity arises) makes them a particularly valuable resource.

I was surprised then, when I came across Free Code Camp’s recent survey in which it was revealed that only 26% of participants were using podcasts as part of their learning.

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Reasons why I use podcasts

I have found that podcasts provide a uniquely convenient way to consume high quality information, enabling listeners to gain useful insights and knowledge through unobtrusive sound-bites that can fit around your life and schedule:

  • You can continue with your routine (your commute, the daily shop, the gym etc.) whilst remaining up to date.
  • You can curate what you want to listen to. As you can select and download podcasts on different subjects and of varying lengths, you can choose the appropriate podcast for your needs and ensure that it reflects your personal tastes.

On the subject of curating your podcasts, you can generally find a considerable amount of options to suit your situation. I generally break down my podcasts to reflect the following:

The Commute – Typically a podcast of 18 to 25 minutes in duration, consistent with the average commute time.

The Conditioner – From 30 to 45 minutes, this podcast is intended to last a conditioning session in the gym.

The Companion – Between 1 hour and 1 1/2 hours, these longform podcasts are useful for solo car rides.

(There are other podcasts that are typically a lot shorter than those I have mentioned (anywhere from 2 – 10 minutes in duration). However, I have found that I do not respond particularly well to these shorter bursts of information and tend to prefer stringing multiple shorter podcasts together or keeping to something a little longer.

Example podcasts:

Below is a list of  just some of the podcasts to which I subscribe:

  • CodeNewbie – Interesting interviews with experienced and new developers alike. Episodes are 60 minutes long
  • GeekGirl Meets – Podcasts by GeekGirlMeetup. Episodes are 30 minutes long.
  • BoagWorld – I’m newer to this podcast, but BoagWorld contains content for designers, developers and website owners – it declares itself to be “quintessentially British”. Episodes are usually about 60 minutes long.
  • This Developer’s Life – a podcast about developers and their lives.
  • Devchat.tv – A group of podcasts covering multiple development topics (example picks:Ruby Rogues, iphreaks on iOS dev, JavaScript Jabber)
  • Developer Tea – Dev podcasts designed to fit into your tea break
  • Software Engineering Daily – Interesting insights and discussion around software engineering concepts. Episodes are 60 minutes long. 
  • Learn to Code with Me – This is an interview-oriented podcast that’s hosted by a self-taught programmer who’s still at the beginning of her own journey. Episodes are 30 minutes long.
  • Coding Blocks – Coding Blocks is all about introducing the audience to all kinds of programming-related topics in a way that can be easily digested while commuting to work, cutting the grass, or making dinner. Episodes are 60 – 150 minutes long. 
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