Think Vitamin just launched an anticipated rebranding and overhaul. They are now known as Treehouse. I signed up for Think Vitamin earlier this year because their web design/development tutorial videos are very useful, so I have been looking forward to seeing where they go with the new effort. I am only one day in but I must say that I am very pleased with Treehouse.

They have taken their library of videos and structured them into a more cohesive curriculum. Every subject is built around a new gamification device called badges. Like boyscout merit badges they are awarded when the user has proven themselves competent in the corresponding subject. There is a way to test out of a specific badge if you are already familiar with the subject. If you find something you don’t know while taking the test there is a corresponding video tutorial ready to watch (although I did notice bugginess where videos were not always available). Some badges require the user to pass “challenges” where they code up exercises right in the browser.

It is very satisfying and addicting to work through new subjects, collecting badges. I have been pretty skeptical of the current gamification craze but this is an excellent example that demonstrates its potential value. The rewards are so great because they are indicative of a useful skill that a person should feel proud of. The badge is an external sign of an internal reward. This is something that many gamification obsessed brands completely miss when they try to package advertising as customer engagement. I feel completely engaged in Treehouse because they reward me for doing something that I feel good about. The potential for other kinds of education that adopt this model is huge. The lessons that I have taken away so far are the importance of a well-structured curriculum with consistent testing and reinforcement.

You can probably tell that I recommend Treehouse wholeheartedly to anyone who is interested in learning about building great things in modern technologies. Go give it a try.