Salesforce Trailhead: An interesting approach to learning with inconclusive outcomes

What’s new?

Recently, I have changed jobs and in my new position I use Salesforce CRM platform. In comparison to my previous positions to become a productive developer in this area there is a very different approach to learning.

First of all, Salesforce created the Trailhead site that contains a large number of e-learning courses, which are more like tutorials that supposed to teach certain practical aspect of the Salesforce platform. These tutorials are called Trails which in turn consist of smaller Modules, which consist of even smaller Units. The units are small and don’t take a lot of time to go through.

To engage people interested in learning Salesforce, accomplishing units, modules and trails gives you points and badges. There are two additional types of activities that trailhead consist of which are Projects and Superbadges. These two are more hands-on oriented with Superbadges being a kind of real taste of what it’s like to work with production type of Salesforce CRM platform. Last but not least is a Trailmix which is an option to compose a freestyle collection of Superbadges, Trails, Projects or Modules in one bundle.

Overall, the structure of the Trailhead looks something like this

  • Trailhead
    • Hands-on learning
      • Suberbadge
      • Project
        • Units
    • Trail
      • Modules
        • Units
    • Module
      • Units
    • Trailmix
      • Superbadge
      • Projects
      • Trails
      • Modules
        • Units
Trailmix creation wizard

Some food for thoughts

After attempting and finishing each type of the e-learning in Trailhead I have some thoughts for improvements to this approach.

First of all, the e-learning concept is fresh and works good. It allows one to learn with his/her own pace. In addition, the content quality is good and assignments can be carried out in the free instances of Salesforce CRM that Salesforce provides a learner for free.

Second, the points and badges are really creating, at least in my opinion, a contest feeling where one competes with oneself.

After praising the learning platform comes my harsh criticism.

  1. There is no time stamp of when and also by whom the content was created. I deem this essential since I want to know is the content out of date, can I trust and rely on it. Also, it’s good to give a credit to creator of the content.
  2. There is no small amount of modules that have too much wording in them which is kind of repetitive and takes valuable time to read.
  3. The Modules present content in such a manner that doing it feels like being a machine, just type what they say as a dummy, and then by some magic the platform validates what’s done without providing too much useful feedback if something went wrong. This is especially frustrating while doing Superbadges. It’s easy to check that hundreds of novice Salesforce developers were daunted by the unintelligent feedback on the superbadge steps verification.
  4. In addition, it feels like doing modules is useless in comparison to doing a superbadge. Which means modules are only good as part of superbadges.
  5. But even superbadge doesn’t represent a real production Salesforce CRM environment and is a vanilla version of it, lacking crucial details, that make it or break it in the world of software development.

What can be done to improve the drawbacks?

  1. It would be nice for Modules and Projects to have an overview of how the content is used in a real life Salesforce development, by providing real use cases, even partially, without resorting to some kind of unreal companies with funny names.
  2. Superbadges should also be more production oriented with good and intelligent feedback or explanation of how one can debug the Salesforce CRM environment to understands what’s wrong with the implementation.
  3. It would be nice to try to incorporate the Trails, Modules etc. as part of the Salesforce CRM platform itself. This could assist in better understanding of how to work the CRM tool efficiently.
  4. The points and badges systems seems fine, but it’s possible to collect points without really understanding what the content means which defeats the point of having points altogether.

All in all

Trailhead is an interesting and engaging platform to learn Salesforce, but there are things that could and should be improved to make things better for the novice and seasoned Salesforce developers, admins etc.

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