We designed our learning platform and product to realize a vision. Content plays a central role in user experience. The main objective of these guidelines is to ensure that all the content we develop is in sync with this vision and provides our users with the best possible user experience. All of these guidelines are driven by research into the factors that maximized student engagement in our 180+ desktop courses.

Courses

Shorter courses are more digestible and have higher completion rates. We aim for courses to be completable within 4 hours. The following guidelines are in place to ensure that courses enable learners to apply their learning as quickly as possible.

  • A course should consist of 4 chapters.
  • A chapter should consist of 3-4 lessons.
  • Chapter 1 should have 3 lessons.
  • A course should consist of 44 - 60 exercises.

Chapters

The first chapter should be short and concise, as it sets the tone for the course, and is at the top of the funnel. 

  • Chapter 1 should consist of 3 lessons with a total of 8 - 12 exercises (recommended is 10).
  • Chapters 2 - 4 should consist of either 3 or 4 lessons with a total of 10 - 16 exercises (recommended is 15).

Lessons

As a reminder, a DataCamp lesson is comprised of a video followed by 2-4 exercises.

  • A lesson should have no more than 1 Multiple Choice or Multiple Choice with Console exercise.
  • You are not required to have any Multiple Choice or Multiple Choice with Console exercises.

Exercises

The title of an exercise needs to be concise and fit within a line in the interface.

  • All Exercises should have a title of length 5 - 50 characters (recommended is 30)

Interactive coding exercises are the most commonly used exercise type on the platform. We have three types of coding exercises - Coding exercises (the most common exercise type on DataCamp), Iterative exercises, and Sequential exercises - each of which consists of several components: pre-exercise code (PEC), context, instructions, sample code, solution code, hints, success messages, and SCTs.

For further information on how these parts contribute to DataCamp exercises, reading the following article:


Read on for the specific content guidelines concerning exercise components and any nuances related to specific exercise types.

General

Instructions

  • Instructions must be written in the form of bullets. Each instruction generally corresponds to one line of code. There may be multiple ways to solve an exercise, but because we only have one solution script, allowing the student too much flexibility should be avoided. This makes it easier for us to provide useful feedback when students make mistakes.
  • No more than four instructions in any given exercise, including Iterative and Sequential exercises.

Solution code

  • In R and Python courses: No more than 15 lines of code.
  • In SQL courses: No more than 30 lines of code.

Sample code

  • In R and Python courses: No more than 15 lines of code.
  • In SQL courses: No more than 30 lines of code.
  • Your sample code and solution code should match line by line except for the scaffolded parts of the sample code.

Coding exercises

Context

  • Context should be between 30 - 780 characters (recommended is 540)
  • At least 40% of Coding exercises in a course should have context within the recommended 540 characters.

Instructions

Our data shows that the length of instructions is a significant driver of completion rates. Longer instructions often mean that the exercise is trying to do too much. This results in lower ratings, a higher percentage of users asking for hints and solutions, leading to a sub-optimal learning experience. The following guidelines are in place to ensure that instructions are concise.

  • A Coding exercise should have instructions between 30 - 480 characters (recommended is 360).
  • A Coding exercise should have 1-4 bulleted instructions (recommended is 3).
  • At least 40% of Coding exercises in a course should have instructions that are within the recommended 360 characters.

Limiting the number of instructions will limit the number of things a user is required to do to complete the exercise. The character limits are in place to ensure that instructions fit well within a page and allow users to complete them without much scrolling.

Hints

Hints help learners complete an exercise when they are stuck. It is important that hints are concise and don't distract the user. The following guidelines are in place to ensure that hints are concise.

  • A Coding exercise should have hints between 30 - 360 characters (recommended is 270).
  • A Coding exercise should have between 1-4 bulleted hints (recommended is 3).
  • At least 40% of Coding exercises in a course should have hints within the recommended 270 characters.

Code

On a 13" screen, the learning interface displays 15 lines of code in the editor. It would be ideal if the code fits within the editor and a user does not have to scroll to reveal the additional code. The following guidelines are in place to ensure that the code is visible without additional scrolling.

  • A Coding exercise should have sample code between 2 - 15 lines (recommended is 10).
  • A Coding exercise should have solution code between 2 - 15 lines (recommended is 10).
  • At least 40% of Coding exercises in a course should have sample code that is within the recommended 10 lines.
    At least 40% of Coding exercises in a course should have solution code that is within the recommended 10 lines.
  • Comments in the sample and solution code must match.

Iterative Exercise

Iterative exercises are perfect to help users learn by repetition or faded learning. The guidelines below ensure that the overall length of an Iterative exercise is in line with that of a Coding exercise. It also ensures that Iterative exercises appear in a visually appealing manner.

Context

  • An Iterative exercise should have context between 10 - 600 characters (recommended is 300).

Sub-exercises

  • An Iterative exercise should have 2 - 4 sub-exercises (recommended is 3).

Instructions

  • An Iterative exercise should have sub-exercises that have instructions between 10 - 120 characters (recommended is 60).

Sequential exercise

Sequential exercises are perfect to help users learn to combine multiple concepts. The guidelines below ensure that the overall length of a Sequential exercise is in line with that of a Coding exercise. It also ensures that Sequential exercises appear in a visually appealing manner.

Context

  • A Sequential exercise should have context between 10 - 780 characters (recommended is 540).

Sub-exercises

  • A Sequential exercise should have 2 - 4 sub-exercises (recommended is 3).

Instructions

  • A Sequential exercise should have sub-exercises that have instructions between 10 - 240 characters (recommended is 120).

Multiple Choice exercise

Context

  • A Multiple Choice exercise should have context between 30 - 600 characters (recommended is 540).

Possible answers

  • A Multiple Choice exercise should have possible answers between 10 - 300 characters (recommended is 240; Note: this is the aggregate length across all options in the exercise).
  • A Multiple Choice exercise should have between 3 - 5 possible answers (recommended is 4).

Multiple Choice with Console exercise

Context

  • A Multiple Choice exercise should have context between 30 - 600 characters (recommended is 540).

Possible answers

  • A Multiple Choice exercise should have possible answers between 10 - 300 characters (recommended is 240; Note: this is the aggregate length across all options in the exercise).
  • A Multiple Choice exercise should have between 3 - 5 possible answers (recommended is 4).

Please note that we prefer to limit the number of multiple choice questions to no more than 5 per course. We also do not allow back-to-back multiple choice questions. This ensures learners do most of their learning by doing in our coding exercises. Multiple choice questions in which students have to do some coding in the console to identify the solution are preferred to purely conceptual multiple choice questions. Note that you can also include a multiple choice question as one of the steps in a sequential exercise.

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