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AI Is Changing How Developers Learn: Here’s What That Meansby@fahimulhaq
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7,735 reads

AI Is Changing How Developers Learn: Here’s What That Means

by Fahim ul HaqApril 24th, 2024
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Today I want to provide a glimpse into the future of learning for software developers — the ways in which it will change due to AI, and what developers can do to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.
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AI has already changed what we need to learn to stay competitive in this new tech era. Now, it’s changing how we learn.


Today, I want to provide a glimpse into the future of learning for software developers — the ways in which it will change due to AI, and what developers can do to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.


But in order to talk about the future of learning, we need to talk about the past.

Personalization Is Key


Effective learning, in all subjects, has always been about personalization.


Have you ever considered a school for your kids? Or think back to your own school experience? One of the first questions is the ratio of the teacher to the students. Everyone secretly hopes that the ratio is as close to 1:1 as possible. But typically, if it's a good school, it's 15-20 students to one teacher. If it’s an average class, the ratio is one teacher to 30 students. In many schools, the ratio is even higher.


Unfortunately, when an individual teacher has to cater to that many students at once, their teaching approach has to become more generic. They simply don’t have the bandwidth or resources to accommodate every student’s individual needs and learning style.


Now, imagine if everyone had their own human teacher – or tutor – for every subject.


A great tutor can adapt to their student’s needs in real time, helping them build confidence while addressing skill gaps. In a 1:1 format, tutors could present information in a way that would be best received at any given moment in time, factoring in the passions and progress of each student.


If we all had our own human tutor, we would all be learning to our greatest potential. Of course, this reality isn’t scalable, even in the best case.


The degree of personalization a learner can receive has historically been limited by the means they have, as well as practicality. Only the most affluent parents can afford 1:1 after-school tutoring for their kids. It’s impossible to deliver that ideal level of deep, personalized learning at scale.


Or, at least it was impossible until now. With advancements in AI that we've seen in the last few years, I'm confident that the future of learning is even more adaptive and personalized. It's true for kindergarteners, and it’s true for software developers.


What has changed? Well, AI is already doing some amazing things, and it’s only going to get better.


For example, AI can quickly assess what you have already learned and then present you with the best next step of your learning journey. It can adapt to your strengths and skill gaps. It can make dynamic decisions in real time. It can mold around your interests and goals, and help create a learning environment that is most conducive to your needs.


Rather than relying purely on human instruction, students can turn to AI for personalized lesson curation and mentorship that actually adapts to their needs. AI can personalize learning for students at home and in classrooms — all at a scale that wasn’t possible before.


Now let’s focus specifically on software developers.


Developers must learn continuously in order to level up their careers. However, most developers don’t typically have a lot of time to invest in their learning. That means getting a personalized, efficient learning experience – that is actually designed with developers in mind – is crucial for staying competitive in the industry.


To help illustrate this point, I would like to briefly share a bit of my personal background in the world of developer learning.

Developer Learning Must Be Hands-On


I founded Educative in 2015 with my brother Naeem because we were frustrated by the lack of quality learning tools actually built for developers.


We were software engineers at Facebook and Microsoft at the time and had reached a breaking point. With full-time jobs that demanded we upskill fast, the available resources we had felt too passive. Scrubbing videos and poring over textbooks can only take you so far. For the amount of time we and our colleagues spent studying, things just weren't "clicking" fast enough.


Any developer will tell you that the surest way to learn new skills is to get hands-on. We have to build and break things — we have to get our hands dirty. We felt this interactive, problem-solving part of the learning process was missing from the industry, which inspired us to create Educative.


Fast-forward nearly a decade, and I’m humbled to say that millions of software developers are now learning new skills and achieving career goals with Educative. With interactive widgets, quizzes, and in-browser coding environments, our platform aims to get developers hands-on with the skills they need to thrive in the modern tech landscape — skills like System Design, Cloud Computing, Data Science, and Machine Learning.



Educative's AI-Powered Code Feedback Widget


Today, AI is allowing us to deliver an even higher quality of learning through personalization. We can now do more than just deliver world-class course content — we can actually adapt the learning experience to the individual needs of each learner on the platform, making their learning even more practical and efficient.


We are hardly the first to do this in the online education space (Khan Academy, for example, is already doing some interesting things in this area with their OpenAI-poweredKhanmigo tool). But we are the first to do it, at scale, in a way that is specifically designed for software developers.

What Does AI-Powered Learning for Developers Look Like?



Individual developers have unique needs — so our goal was to use AI to create a truly adaptive learning experience tailored to each learner. To achieve this, the team at Educative has been hard at work in the past months adding various AI features and enhancements. These include:


  • Smart code test widgets
  • Mock interviews
  • Adaptive skill assessments
  • Personalized learning recommendations
  • Instant code and text explanations
  • Prompt engineering widgets
  • AI code mentor for beginners


(If you want to try them for yourself, here’s a link to where you can explore Educative’s AI-powered platform).


With all these features enhancing our catalog of 1,000+ AI-enabled courses and resources, it’s fair to say that Educative is the world’s largest AI-powered developer learning platform.


There are a lot of exciting new AI-powered experiences available to learners on Educative today, but the one I’m most excited about right now is probably our AI Mock Interviewer.


(Interview Prep has always been a big focus for us at Educative, so it’s the perfect complement to our catalog of 100+ prep courses).


There’s an old piece of advice in developer circles: Interview at lots of different companies before you go interview with the company you really want to work with. While this may seem like a nice way to lower the stakes and get real-world practice, it's highly inefficient and impractical.


Mock interviews, meanwhile, are a great way to get confidence and constructive feedback — but unfortunately, 99% of candidates don’t have the resources to get a “real” mock interview before their interview. It can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per interview to purchase one. Plus, most people also don’t have friends who work at FAANG who will offer you their time to mock interview them!


Unlike traditional mock interviews, AI-powered mock interviews give you multiple attempts to hone your skills — without shelling out a ton of cash every time. You can also prepare from the comfort of your home, without the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed or unprepared — or running the risk of burning any bridges.


Product Screenshot of a System Design Mock Interview


Our mock interviewer tool is available for Coding Interviews, System Design, API Design, and OOD — and it's the first of its kind anywhere. Luckily, we’ve been getting some great feedback so far. If you’re curious, you can check out our AI-powered Mock Interviews here.


The Future of Developer Learning is Already Here



There is understandably a lot of anxiety about how AI will affect the tech industry in the coming months and years. I have heard from many aspiring software developers who are wondering if they should even learn to code at all.


I’ve talked about this a lot, but I’ll say it again:


Becoming a successful developer has always been about more than merely knowing how to code. The world needs more than just “coders.” We need problem-solvers, collaborators, and creators. The presence of AI isn't going to change that — in fact, I think it makes those intangible qualities more important than ever.


Of course, programmers must still learn to leverage AI in order to work smarter and more efficiently. Otherwise, they are at risk of becoming obsolete. The same, I believe, goes for developers who don't leverage AI for learning. As we know in the software industry, the learning never stops. It’s a lifelong pursuit.


Luckily, developers of all experience levels can use Educative’s AI-powered platform to build and practice new skills more efficiently. Meanwhile, our goal remains the same: to help learners confidently navigate the challenges and opportunities of this new era.


As excited as we are about all of this, it’s really just v1. We’ve barely scratched the surface of what AI-powered learning can do for software developers. The potential is truly staggering. The AI will only get better, and so will we. But we wanted to get something out there fast so we could pressure test it and learn from real developers to see how to best optimize the experience.


So today, I invite you to give us a visit. Poke around the platform. Build things. Break things. See what works. Find out what doesn’t. After all, it’s how we learn.


Happy learning!