Datamonkey review – learning basic technical skills

Datamonkey review – learning basic technical skills

Learning basic technical skills, such as SQL or spreadsheets, is a basic requirement when you want to build your carreer in the data analysis field. I think this is why many sites like Udacity, Coursera or Udemy have tons of lectures and courses around these topics. Recently I have bumbed into a lesser know site, called Datamonkey, and would like to share my perspective on what you may gain from them, especially in comparison to the big names.

Basic proposition of Datamonkey

So what the guys building Datamonkey believe in a way of learning what I also support a lot. I also think that this way of learning is the best approach you can take to figuring your way through data analysis. These principles are:

  • Learn by doing – I consider this to be the key. I know there are a lot of other sites provide some similar experience (like Khan Academy for example), but this is still a basic requirement for me to consider a learning site.
  • Clear (and visual) explanations – I found it cool especially with the SQL course that they really do take the simplest approach. Even before diving into syntax learning how to build it as a sentence. And they do so in a nicely designed way.
  • Case studies – Many sites have examples, so does Datamonkey. Again an essential thing to have for learning technical skills for analytics

SQL magic

Datamonkey SQL screen

A 17 lessons sequence with a very good flow. So good that I have barely noticed passing through lecture by lecture. While there are other sites to support learning SQL, I really like the fact that Datamonkey goes slightly beyond the basic select, group by and join 2 tables approach.

I consider especially the lectures on union and subqueries a great addition in comparison to other sites. So far I felt these are among the topics which are really hard to learn without good examples, but in the same time are lacking easily accessible resources on the net. This is in itself was enough for me to give it a try.

Spreadsheet basics

Datamonkey spreadsheet screen

I found this course to be less throught through than the SQL one. I like the fact that spreadsheets and SQL are being the 2 topics taught together as you really do need both, but still the spreadsheet aspect seems to need some time to mature.

In the same time I have found it interesting that text formulas are being tackled here. Again this is a fairly advanced and less widespread topic when it comes to accessible courses. I’m not entirely sure if these functions can be considered as a basic element, but would definitely help you step up your game if you already have the very basic points covered.

The blog

Oh, yes. I loved their blog. Again besides the most basic things they write about topics which are more on an intermediate level (like control flows in SQL) and help facilitate your learning once you are over the courses. I find it to be an excellent complementary resource!

In the same time though I did not manage to find an RSS feed to subscribe to or even a newsletter subscription as an option. I know these are convenience features, but would have liked them. Also it seems that updating the blog is not yet a priority for the guys, but until they keep the quality of their posts in such a high level that should not be a problem.

Summary

I like the fact that Datamonkey takes one step ahead and tries to teach not only the basics, but helps you go further. A good testament to that a descriptive statistics course is in development. If I consider the learning path they are building with their courses they really have something well built in mind: first learn the technical necessities then progress into actual analysis.

While I think there is still a lot to do to mature Datamonkey into a real data analysis learning platform, I believe they are heading into the right direction. Plus what they already have on their site is very good quality, so there should be nothingto stop you from trying.


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