Why online school?
Whether you are a student on the lookout for a new skill, a business owner trying to hone a new skill, or just looking for a way to pass time in the colder months; online classes offer a convenient and accessible form of learning. Over the years websites created solely for the purpose of teaching outside the classroom have boomed in popularity creating a multitude of options.
Picking the right classroom for you
Perhaps the most important part of making the most of an online class is to tailor your wants and needs as a student to the logistics of the actual content that will be covered. Doing this requires you to weigh several different factors. The time it will require, the level of difficulty, and the cost of the program itself are just a few of the things to consider. I will be breaking down some of the course websites based on these factors.
One of the better known options for online learning is Coursera. It allows users to take classes at a bachelor or master’s degree level. Some but not all Coursera courses are affiliated with universities and users can earn degrees through the platform. The cost of the different courses can be seen in this article. Some of the courses are labeled as free but in order to obtain a certificate of completion students must pay a fee of $49-$79 depending on the course. All coursera courses are estimated to take about 4-10 weeks to complete with a few hours of studying each week. On the site you can see ratings given by students that completed the course based on if there was a tangible career benefit from the class. Students can look at the syllabus before they enroll along with instructors and their reviews.
This is one of the few online course schools that can produce a bachelor’s degree from affiliated universities. Degrees have an all in pricing program so all of the courses and hours required to complete the chosen degree are included. These programs start at 9,000 dollars, which can be paid in installments.
The formatting of each class is more involved for students than that of some of the other online course sites, universities that are affiliated with the university may require group work and projects to be completed for their certificates. With Coursera’s all in pricing these projects individual prices are included with the cost of obtaining a degree. In classes that learn hard skills a project/product can be expected to demonstrate the students ability in said topic.
Cost of classes: Depending on the chosen level degree/program $49 to over 9,000$.
Time committed: Broken down into the individual class details, see an example of this below.
Difficulty:Reasonable if appropriate time is committed.
Udemy is an online learning platform that has a wide range of topics within their library, their course library includes 130,000+ different classes. This platform however does not have university accredited courses or paths of study like Coursera. Users instead pick out what classes they want to take based on the content within each individual class. Areas of study range from business and personal finance to music and lifestyle. Classes range from a 20 to 200 dollar price point. Waiting for a class to go on sale is a recommended tactic since a $150 class could be on sale the next day for $20. Classes are ranked by their difficulty level as beginner, intermediate, advanced, and mixed. Each class is also listed with the length of lectures, and reviews from past students. Formatting of these classes is decided by the individual that created it may include videos on the topics covered, questions to respond to, quizzes or exams.
Cost of classes: Ranges from 20 to 200$.
Time committed: Listed in course description and dependent on difficulty level.
Difficulty: Suggested prerequisite knowledge is listed as well as what the course goals are for the class.
One of the most popular course websites on the youtube platform is SkillShare. They offer frequent brand deals to youtubers and have grown in popularity largely for these sponsorships. It utilizes a monthly subscription model for all their classes, so one flat rate of 20 dollars a month or 150 dollar a year gets you all the courses available. A two month free membership is provided for new users. Like Netflix for lifelong learners. The courses are created by experts in their respective fields, some find there is overlap between the Udemy professors and SkillShare Professors. There are no certificates provided after finishing the courses and they are not accredited by any universities so these classes will not go towards earning a degree.
Most SkillShare classes are one long video broken into 2-3 minute sections. The about page will explain what students will be able to do once completed.
SkillShare has also launched a program called “SkillShare Live” that allows professors to set predetermined dates for live classes held over zoom. Usually lasting 60 minutes students will be able to respond and interact with their professor.
Cost of classes: All classes are included in the subscription fee of 13.99 per month(167.99 annually).
Time committed: Each lesson is generally 30-60 minutes, Workshops are a series of classes(3 to 4) determined by ShillShare as complementary to each other.
Difficulty: Ranges from beginner to advanced.