Let’s talk about online courses, shall we?
Have you taken any online courses in the past five years?
If you are like me, you prefer to take in the information and digest it at your own pace, in the comfort of your home or office. You are not alone.
According to statistics from eLearning Industry, online courses are extremely popular and are growing in number. In the corporate arena, 77% of the US companies utilize online training as part of their professional development. By the year 2017, this number is about to rise by another 13%.
Higher-education institutions are also part of the mix, accounting for a large chunk of online enrollments. A study from Online Learning Consortium found out that 83% of higher education institutions offer online courses and the tendency is for them to keep growing.
For individuals like you and me, the opportunities are limitless—whether you want to improve your skills or just create courses to help people achieve their personal or business goals, the trend couldn’t have come in better time.
Technological tools are at our fingertips. The plethora of social media networks and different platforms, including the ones in which video is the focal point, made learning easy and more interactive. People don’t want to look back. Besides getting good value for their money (when it doesn’t happen that the course is free), there are no hoops to jump through in order to enroll or take courses—one can take sessions on their smartphone. Plus, the experience and practical application are compared to an in-person session.
As a big enthusiast of the eLearning education, I lost count of how many online courses I took during the past year. Those courses came in handy not only for professional development, but also to help me in defining my business and writing style and to better prepare for the challenges to come. It was through online courses that I set up my blog, self-published my books, and learned the ropes about marketing.
Now, as I count fewer than 60 days to the end of the year, I was inspired to review different online platforms to take courses and the ones to create courses as well, and hopefully, shed light on options that fit all types of budgets.
To ease the process, I’ll split the post into two parts. In the first part, I will focus on finding the right platform and online course, and in the second part, I will tackle online course creation options.
With that in mind, let’s dig in.
Where to find reliable and inexpensive courses
If you are looking for professional development and want to give your resume a boost or become up-to-date with the latest in your area of expertise, websites such as Coursera, Udemy, Lynda.com, and others are the way to go (if you have experience with others, feel free to leave a comment below).
A very popular option, Udemy offers more than 40,000 courses in the most diverse categories that range from design, marketing, business, personal development, photography, IT, language, health and fitness, to name a few.
According to recent changes in their price structure, expect to find courses ranging from $20 to $200. However, you can still find free courses—mostly short introductory tutorials. But the majority of the courses will be around the $20 range.
Once you buy the course(s) of your choice, you will have access to a member login, where you will enter the course when and where you want for life. I took several courses on Udemy, and I found the platform straightforward and easy to navigate.
A subscription-based platform, this video‑tutorial service operates under the LinkedIn umbrella since acquired by the company in May 2015.
Lynda.com offers video training in a wide variety of areas, ranging from business to marketing and the creative arts, at a cost of $29.99/month, and the user has unlimited access to all courses.
If you are a LinkedIn premium member, you can have access to thousands of courses for “free.” Lynda.com also offers a 10-day free trial with unlimited access to any course you wish to experiment with. It’s a good deal if you’re looking to make your resume more robust or want to catch up with the latest certification but have limited time available.
I took a few courses at Lynda.com, including a WordPress tutorial that helped me to set up my blog. If you are looking to update your resume, and invest in cost‑effective professional development, Lynda.com is well worth the investment.
If you are looking for higher education courses at a big-name university such as Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, and plenty others, Coursera is the platform to be on.
The company partners with 133 universities in 26 countries to offer more than 1,400 courses in a variety of areas including mathematics, physics, biology, social science, business, engineering and computer science—and the list goes on.
Courses are offered for free. However, there is a fee if you need to get a verified certificate. Also, the specialization courses are fee-based. But with the myriad of options, it doesn’t hurt to check it out.
If you want to create your own online course and learn to monetize, you may want to check out the second part of this post here.
What are your experiences with eLearning? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. And don’t forget, the conversation continues in the next post, where I talk about online course creation.