If any of you are like me, you will understand the desire to just learn something new. You could need to hone a certain skill to compete in the job market, or maybe you’re looking to expand your knowledge and delve into something fresh and exciting. You may have tried to learn one of these things in the past with extensive Google searches, but gathering bits and pieces of knowledge on a topic is only marginally useful. If any of this sounds remotely like you, it is probably worth checking out the multitudes of resources available online. Here are just a few:
What Udemy offers is essentially a series of high quality video tutorials. You can receive certificates of completion, but that is basically the extent of it. These courses are occasionally free, sometimes cheap, and often hovering in the $50-$300 range. They’re perfect for those of us who don’t regularly have time to keep up with course work but would like to be able to learn a new skill in our downtime.
In contrast to Udemy, Lynda is actually a subscription based service. It’s between $20-30 per month (depending on what subscription you choose) and it provides access to a plethora of videos that you can browse at your leisure. If you are looking to dip your toes in a few different things, Lynda would be a wise choice for you as it does not require you to pay a lump sum for access to a particular series of videos on one topic. Lynda focuses mostly around business skills and skills that require a computer, so if you’re looking to get your inner Nietzsche on, this is probably not your site.
Those of you who were saddened by the news that Lynda would not work for your purposes may find solace in Coursera. This is a site offering MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on plenty of different topics. I recently enrolled in my first class through this site and I was very impressed. The professor is very knowledgeable and the content of the course and discussion forums is pleasantly surprising. While you can choose to enroll in many courses for free, I opted to pay a $49 dollar fee for each of the three legs of the course so that I will receive a Verified Certificate of Accomplishment upon completion. Coursera verifies this by conducting a typing pattern assessment prior to the course so it can make sure you are the one completing this course. It also requires you to take a picture of yourself via webcam and supply a webcam picture of a valid government issued ID to validate your identity. So cool.
EdX, similar to Coursera, is a MOOC provider. They too offer many courses for free or you can choose a course with a verified certificate for a fee (I cannot vouch for their verification process as I have not yet completed it myself). It does seem that EdX has more affordable rates than Coursera. While I am looking to pay about $150 for my certification, many certs on EdX are running around $50 overall. EdX will definitely be on my radar when I’m looking into taking my next class.
Udacity is similar to Lynda. Although it is not subscription based, it caters mostly to the techies, especially budding developers and programmers. If you’re looking to build an iOS app or learn Java, PHP, or jQuery you will certainly find what you are looking for on Udacity. Unfortunately, many of the classes cost a few hundred dollars to complete but for a skill that could help land you a job in the future, that is a small investment.
While I recognize that many of these options are still not free (or even close), even the most expensive cost less than a three credit class at most universities. Besides, if you’re a little bit of a nerd like me, a few hundred dollars is worth every penny if it means you’ll get to immerse yourself in something new.