Thanks to significant growth in the e-learning industry over the past decade, it's now possible to learn almost anything online. As an avid consumer of online courses for business and pleasure, I wanted to share some of my favourite resources for studying remotely. But first, let's look at five practical reasons why you should consider taking online courses.
1. Convenience: Studying online is often less expensive than taking night courses at a community centre or local college. It's also more flexible; many online courses and programs are self-paced, so you can work on them whenever you have time – even if you're in school full-time and work a part-time job in the evenings (and if you travel, you can take your studies with you).
2. Professional development: If you currently work a part-time job, taking an online course related to your job can make you more valuable to your current employer, increasing your job security and making you eligible for promotions.
3. Improved job prospects: Maybe you're trying to land your dream job, but you don't have any suitable experience. By taking one or more relevant online courses, you can quickly fill up some white space on your resume or LinkedIn profile.
4. Long-term career planning: If you're unsure about the type of career you want to pursue, taking a few online courses in areas that interest you can help narrow down your options. With a bit of experimentation, you can identify your personal strengths and discover what you want (or don't want) in a career.
5. Finally, an often-overlooked benefit: Learning more about something you're interested in is just plain fun – and an infinitely more rewarding use of your time than binging Netflix!
Now that we've covered some of the main benefits of taking online courses, here are five online learning platforms that can help you achieve your personal, professional, and academic goals.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are free university-level online courses that are open to everyone, no application necessary. They cover a wide range of study areas, including math and science, humanities, education, business, computer science, healthcare, and engineering. Many MOOCs are offered by top educational institutions, such as York University or King’s College, London. Many American universities such as Yale or Harvard offer them as well. Two of the top MOOC providers are Coursera and EdX.
The courses are self-paced and typically include a mix of video tutorials and lectures, online reading material, homework assignments, quizzes, and exams. Most MOOCs also include an online discussion forum where you can communicate with your instructor and classmates.
If you're in high school, taking a MOOC can be a low-stakes way to try out a challenging course. For example, maybe you're interested in pursuing a degree in computer science, but you're not sure if you'll enjoy it. If you enrol in a computer science MOOC and decide to drop out later, there are no consequences to your academic record and no damage done to your wallet.
Many MOOCs offer a certificate, available for a fee, as proof that you completed the course successfully. Although they aren't the same as academic credit, certificates can be useful when applying to a college. (That said, some MOOCs are credit-eligible through partner institutions. Check the MOOC provider's help documentation to learn more.)
Classcentral.com is a handy search tool for finding MOOCs that interest you.
2. LinkedIn Learning
Formerly Lynda.com, LinkedIn Learning is a library of video courses that cover technology, business, and creative skills. If you're interested in taking courses for professional development, LinkedIn Learning is a great place to start.
Courses on LinkedIn offer a diverse mix of hard and soft skills – for instance, you could learn how to professionally edit photos in Photoshop or appear more confident in professional situations. The curriculum is designed by recognized experts, and the production quality of the videos is very good.
Most courses are eligible for a Certificate of Completion, which you can download at no extra cost. You can also display your completed courses under the Licenses & Certifications section of your LinkedIn profile as proof of successful completion.
A subscription to LinkedIn Learning costs £14.99 an annual plan, and offers a one month free trial. Many courses are also available for individual purchase, giving you lifetime access to the material.
Treehouse offers comprehensive courses in tech skills like web development, computer programming, and design – perfect for students who want to prepare for university courses or an entry-level job in tech.
Courses on Treehouse are self-paced and consist mainly of video tutorials, with some interactive quizzes and code challenges. They also have an online community where you can ask questions if you get stuck.
One of my favourite things about Treehouse is its well-structured learning paths, called Tracks, which are designed to teach you a specific set of skills. Some popular Tracks include Learn to Code for Beginners, Front End Web Development, and Beginning Python.
Although regular courses on Treehouse don't issue certificates of completion, the company runs a bootcamp-type program called Techdegree that offers certification as well as a series real-world projects to build your portfolio.
Treehouse costs £20 a month for access to its video courses and online community. They currently give a seven-day free trial.
The name is misleading – this site isn't just for Mac users! MacProVideo has a huge catalogue of video courses catering to tech-savvy creatives. You can learn graphic design, audio and video editing, music production, game development, photography, web development, and computer programming. The site is also great for learning the ins and outs of complex software programs like Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, and Logic Pro.
MacProVideo costs £18 a month, or £9 a month for an annual subscription. You can also purchase the courses one-off, which gives you offline and lifetime access to the material.
Last but not least, Udemy is my favourite e-learning platform both for professional development and leisure learning. The site has over 183,000 courses in almost every topic you can think of: You can improve your health and fitness, learn K-pop moves, try your hand at animation, get started in real estate investing, become a better writer, and much more.
Courses on Udemy are mainly video based, ranging from an hour to many hours in length. Some instructors supplement the video content with text material. There is a Q&A forum for each course where you can ask questions of your instructor and other students in the class.
Anyone can submit a course to Udemy, although every course must pass a quality review. Students are prompted to leave ratings and reviews, so it's easy to filter for the highest-quality courses.
Unlike most of the other sites listed here, Udemy doesn't operate on a subscription model. Instead, you can purchase courses individually for lifetime access. Courses vary widely in price; however, note that Udemy runs flash sales every few days where almost all their courses cost around £9.50 each. Additionally, many courses on Udemy are free.
When you complete a premium course, you receive a certificate of completion that you can download as a PDF or JPEG file and share with current or prospective employers. You can also share your certificate on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn directly from Udemy.
We're fortunate to live in a time and place where online education is both diverse and accessible. No matter your goals or interests, you can find an online course that helps you get where you want to go. So have a look around – and have fun!
Chloe Brittain is a passionate lifelong learner and student. She is currently studying Irish flute and guitar online and blogs about music e-learning at Just Music Stuff, which keeps a running list of online schools for music production.
This section will not be visible in live published website. Below are your current settings:
Current Number Of Columns are = 1
Expand Posts Area =
Gap/Space Between Posts = 15px
Blog Post Style = card
Use of custom card colors instead of default colors =
Blog Post Card Background Color = current color
Blog Post Card Shadow Color = current color
Blog Post Card Border Color = current color
Publish the website and visit your blog page to see the results
We're always interested to hear from talented young writers, so if you'd like to feature as a guest author then hit us up for more details.