“Trailhead is awesome!”
I said to my friend as I just finished another badge on my personalized learning course and watched confetti bounce across the screen. My friend works for Salesforce and had been bugging me to try out the learning platform for some time, but I was hesitant at first.
I’m a developer who doesn’t work with Salesforce products at all. I assumed that the platform would be entirely Salesforce focused and only bore me with point-and-click drivel about “sales pipelines or something”.
I was wrong
For those of you who are not familiar with Trailhead, this is an online education platform built by Salesforce. This is not just for Salesforce-specific technology but much more. Here are some examples of topics you can learn about with Trailhead:
- Data Structures & Algorithms
- Apex & Lightning Components
- Amazon AWS
- Management Skills
- Team Building
The list goes on with a wide variety of skills to learn. The platform has endless modules, trails and full-fledged courses (superbadges) for you to learn and become a master of any subject.
I first heard about Trailhead after attending a conference where I stumbled upon a Salesforce booth. I waited in line at the booth because like other conference attendees I wanted to get some of the super cool swag the booth had. Once I made it to the head of the line a booth employee guided me on creating a Trailhead account and completing my very first module. The UI was smooth, things were very easy to navigate and at the end of the module there was confetti and I earned points!
I picked up my lovely new Salesforce-branded water bottle and was on my way to the next booth. The experience stuck in my mind and I was curious to learn more but didn’t fully commit until that nudge from my Salesforce friend later down the road.
Let’s take a look at why learning this way is so much fun.
Learning with Trailhead feels like a game
Now, this is definitely not the first time a platform has come along and gamified learning. The addition of a points system and rewards (or “badges”) is not groundbreaking, but the way Trailhead implements this is groundbreaking.
The user experience is incredibly polished and easy to use. Getting started is even easier, there is no complicated sign-up process and the best part is its totally free. There are no paywalls, no credit card free trial trickery, or other stumbling blocks to get in the way of your education.
They also now have an equally as polished mobile app for learning on the go. The app let’s you complete most of the same modules and quizzes as the desktop app with the exception of manipulating Salesforce organizations or writing code. The app even has a dark mode!
This is one of the really important parts for me. The multitude of small bite-size modules available makes accruing points quicker and keeps your momentum up way more than a long drawn out video course.
You also get hands-on learning with the Salesforce platform right away. You’ll begin learning about objects, layouts, Process Builder and more.
The points system in Trailhead is broken down into different levels or ranks. After you earn a certain number of points and individual badges you achieve a certain rank:
While there isn’t much that comes with achieving a certain rank other than the status itself, it is fun to progress with these milestones and show them off on your Trailblazer account.
Making a simple to-do list application to upload to your GitHub is fun and shows practical knowledge, but you need more breadth. Break out of your comfort zone and learn about management, learn about sales or even HR (gasp!).
Force yourself to pick a new learning module on a topic you might not normally gravitate towards. You might surprise yourself. You might even have fun.
After learning with Trailhead for a few months now I’m confident Salesforce has constructed an educational platform for the future. Its simple, straightforward and most important of all its fun.