Computer science, software, and technology has long since become a vital skill that has only grown in demand as we become more technical as a society. Thankfully these skills are now easier to acquire and develop than ever before. What was once an option only for those willing to invest thousands of dollars in a specialized programming school is now available in the comfort of your own home at the fraction of the price. In fact, there are several different online computer programming courses on the market today. One available option out there that many have looked into is DataCamp.
If you've never heard of them, DataCamp is an online learning platform that teaches and trains students on various computer-based programming courses. It is very similar to other well-known online courses like Udacity (our Udacity review), Codecademy (our Codecademy review), or Treehouse (our TreeHouse review).
Still, because there are so many different available options out there, many often wonder what makes DataCamp so special? Well, in this review, we will go over the different aspects of the program; from its origins to its different features and even its price compared to others. This way you'll be able to fully understand whether the course is worth your time and if you should use it as a method to invest in your IT skills.
What is DataCamp?
Originally founded in 2013, DataCamp is an online and interactive learning platform that teaches students and users about programming and programming languages as well as data science.
Compared to other available massive open online courses (MOOCs), DataCamp is focused primarily on data science, analytics, and R programming. They have classes on Python and SQL as well as different courses surrounding Tableau, Spreadsheets, BI, and various other topics.
Since coming onto the scene, the company has over 340 different courses and over 50 curated learning paths and real-life interactive projects available. They are one of the largest data science platforms, with over 7 million users in over 180 different countries.
On top of a large number of courses available, DataCamp is also well-known for its impressive amount of partnerships with university instructors as well as companies and academic organizations. They are connected with nearly 300 different instructors, most coming from top institutions such as Duke University as an example. Similarly, they have partnered with almost 1,700 companies as well as 3,000 different academy-based organizations.
Is DataCamp a Legitimate Platform?
As with most other MOOCs on the market today, it's important to know exactly what you are looking for before making a decision whether DataCamp is “legitimate”.
For most people looking to improve their abilities in computer programming and data science, DataCamp is completely legitimate. Especially if you are a beginner in programming languages, DataCamp's robust library, narrow focus, and affordable rates (more on that later) make it definitely worth your time.
For those looking for an entryway into a specific job position, a complex and advanced understanding of software programming, or transferable credits into higher education such as an institution or university, DataCamp is not something you should invest too much time, effort, or energy into.
As you can see, while DataCamp is completely legitimate from a legal and ethical standpoint, it largely has to do with what you are looking for in a course. If you are someone that already has a high level of skill and expertise in data science and computer programming, the course options may not be something for you. That said, if you are just starting your journey, or are looking to improve your overall abilities, DataCamp is certainly a viable option to consider.
Features and Benefits to DataCamp
Compared to other MOOC platforms, DataCamp is strongly focused in computer and programming skills rather than as an open learning platform. As such, it is much more narrow in its focus compared to other online providers like edX or Coursera. Not only that but as I mentioned earlier, DataCamp is much more suited for beginners and those just starting their journey into programming. Because of that, it is much less intimidating than Codecademy or Treehouse.
DataCamp is made up of 3 separate membership plans:
Each of these memberships varies in both pricing as well as content with Free having the least amount of content and Premium having the most.
The Free Membership option is, as expected, the opening trial option for many just getting introduced to DataCamp. In exchange for not charging them anything, members are only able to access the first chapter of any course or class throughout the site's library. It also comes with 100+ interactive challenges and 7+ real-world projects.
While not enough to establish a complete or full understanding on any of the different subjects, this option does grant students and users a firm understanding of the information before making a financial decision.
The Basic Membership offers more knowledge and information as compared to the Free option. Here, students are granted full access to all R and Python computer programming courses that are directly geared for data scientists. This translates to over 44 different courses, each following along either the Python or the R Data Scientist Career Track. As a result, users are able to actually understand program languages and learn to use them (albeit to a beginner level) in real-life settings.
This option is not as robust as the Premium option and is limited in the number of different interactive coding challenges and projects for the student. As with the Free Membership program, it also comes with roughly 100+ interactive challenges as well as 7+ real-world projects.
Finally, the Premium Membership option offers students the full library catalog available on the DataCamp platform. Here, students will have complete and unrestricted access to coding programs, This option includes well over 340 different courses. Similarly, there are also over 50 available Skill Tracks and 14 different Career Tracks available with more than 500 different practice interactive challenges and 81 real-world projects.
Without question, while this option will not make you an expert or master programmer, it will make you an incredibly skilled and capable one that can function in virtually all coding environments even if you've previously never done coding prior.
In addition to the many courses and projects offered to Basic and Premium members, the platform also has an online community with over 23,000 members.
Known as the Slack Group, this community works similarly to other community options in other online communities. It is somewhat of a combination between a standard forum and a private Facebook group. There, members can network and connect with one another, sharing code, getting feedback, posting issues, or brainstorming ideas. The community has 7 different channel forums available: general, feedback, introductions, SQL, Python, R, and jobs.
Interactive Learning Window
A fun and interactive addition to DataCamp that makes it more interesting and appealing to beginners is its interactive learning window. Rather than only give students different tasks to complete, DataCamp makes this more interesting and interactive by including an “instructions” or “learning” window.
This will include instructions for completing the next exercise and is intentionally made to be somewhat reminiscent of a video game in terms of completing a task. As you complete more exercises, the window will note this in 1 of 3 different segments, Exercises Aced, Courses Completed, and XP Earned.
- Exercises Aced: Includes all individual exercises completed in any course or class.
- Courses Completed: Includes the number of courses actually completed overall.
- XP Earned: The amount of XP, or “experience”, gained through completing a course or exercise. The XP earned doesn't directly relate to anything in particular, though it often can be seen as somewhat of bragging rights when taken to the community sections amongst your peers.
Another great addition to the learning window is the Take Hint Button. This option offers a hint to a particular exercise's solution at the cost of some XP. When first starting out, this feature will be very much invaluable for beginning students as they initially navigate the coding world.
Those that are really struggling with a problem can simply have the final answer shown. In these cases, however, they will not receive any XP due to not solving the issue on their own.
Skill & Career Tracks
In both the Basic as well as the Premium Memberships, students can either take an individual course on the site or they can engage in a set curriculum known as the skill track and career track.
Both of these options are a set of different course curriculums that work to improve one's overall programming skills for either their personal life or specifically for a job profession.
Skill Tracks are a set of different courses meant to improve one's overall skill in programming and data science. There are roughly over 50 different skill tracks available, each lasting around 15 hours.
The tracks cover a number of different topics and can range between R, SQL, Spreadsheets, Python, and many others.
Career Tracks, like skill tracks, are a set of different course curriculums that focus on a specific area of data science. Unlike skill tracks, however, career tracks are much more specific to learning skills for the job market and the professional world. Whether the student is attempting to learn more for the sake of creating a career or improving their current professional standing, this track is much narrower and intensive than the former skill tracks.
There are roughly 14 career tracks available with each being made up of 15 individual classes and taking around 70 hours to complete. Some of these tracks include Data Analyst, Machine Learning Specialists, R Programmer, Python Programmer, and several more.
DataCamp for Business
A separate aspect that is meant more for companies with large teams, DataCamp has a specific membership feature that helps groups of students work on custom learning paths. This option also has several online tools that help measure team progress as well as creating reports for it.
What is the Pricing for DataCamp?
As with many other online learning platforms, DataCamp uses a monthly subscription service. Depending on which category you fall into will determine exactly how much you will spend each month.
There are 2 different types of memberships as well as 2 separate pricing figures. Personal and Business. These 2 membership types include all 5 options and are largely based on the number of people in a group.
In regards to pricing, DataCamp has either the monthly or the annual pricing option.
- Free: The free option for new beginners. It only includes the introductory class from any course on the site. It does not include the community options nor any of the interactive elements. This option is Completely Free and can be used indefinitely.
- Basic: Also known as “Standard”, this option is for those that have determined to have an interest in actually using DataCamp. It comes with basic courses as well as access to the community forum. This option is $15 per month if billed monthly ($180 a year) and 12.42 per month if billed annually ($149 a year).
- Premium: The complete option for the platform. Premium has all of the benefits of Basic while also having full access to all of DataCamp's library. This option is $49 per month if billed monthly ($588 a year) and $33.25 per month if billed annually ($399 a year).
- Professional: The first Business Plan option for those with larger groups. This grants all of the benefits of Premium while also having a number of teambuilding benefits specific to larger groups. This option costs $25 per month per user. This means a team of 7 would cost around $175 per month.
- Enterprise: A larger version of the Professional option. The Enterprise option is meant for a group with a size in the 20s and beyond. It has benefits specific to very large groups. You'll have to contact them directly in order to get a specific price.
Does DataCamp offer a Certificate upon Completion?
As stated earlier, if you are looking to gain a certification or a transferable college credit through using DataCamp, you are going to be disappointed. After completing a course or any particular skill or career track curriculum, DataCamp will provide you a Statment of Accomplishment.
While this item is somewhat similar to a certificate, it is not accredited. This means that it cannot be used to transfer to a university nor does it guarantee a potential job position. In reality, while there is some use to a statement of accomplishment, it is largely indirect and more so a form of recognition on a persona level for completing the course.
Thankfully, it is not entirely without use. While it does not have any direct use in the business or professional world, using a statement of accomplishment as a method of supplementing your existing resume or portfolio is a great option for giving it that extra edge over your competition. DataCamp as a company is highly respected by numerous companies ranging from Paypal, Uber, Google, and Intel just to name a few. As such, while the form itself is not useful directly, it can be a great first impression.
Who Gets the Most Benefit from Using DataCamp?
Overall, when it comes to determining who gets the most benefit from DataCamp, it largely depends on their overall history with computers and programming.
Beginners actually will benefit the most from the platform itself. As mentioned earlier, much of the site and the platform itself have been developed with the beginner in mind. Because of this, learning coding and data science is much easier and more fun for beginners than in other MOOC platforms.
Those in the Intermediate area will still get a fair amount of benefit from the different courses and curriculums. Especially if you are attempting to expand on a certain skill, DataCamp is a great option in order to improve. An example of this is shown by way of the “XP” window. This window shows as you complete more classes. an increase in potential knowledge and experience.
Unfortunately, while beginners and intermediate will get benefit from this platform, the same can't really be said for those considered advanced. With rare exception, the vast majority of courses are focused on beginners and intermediates respectively. Even in those rare exceptions, it is expected that the person solving it has logically improved their skills enough to be able to complete the tasks. Because of this, it is generally recommended that advanced programmers find a more in-depth program.
When it comes to available platforms out there, DataCamp is wholly unique in its interactive nature and willingness to improve a complete beginner. And while it may not be enough to stimulate the minds of more advanced students, for those starting for the first time and those that have gained a prior understanding, DataCamp is an essential offer that effectively puts you on the competitive level with outright skilled programmers in very little time and for a very small amount of money.
If you are wondering whether DataCamp is for you or worth your time, consider signing up for the Free or Basic option to get a feel for what is actually available and how you can benefit from it.