Recommendations that Rock!

Online Learning

Online Learning

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How to Use Online Learning Websites

Online learning can be a fantastic way to acquire new skills on your time and at your leisure. Some of the best aspects of online learning is the ability to go back and re-watch areas you have forgotten about, or the ability to bookmark especially useful parts of the class which you can’t do in real life classroom scenarios. Depending on your preferences and what you are wanting to learn, there are TONS of options out there these days for professional classes that will teach you just about any hobby, trade or skill. Many people are surprised by how much you can actually learn this way and how fun it is to do. A favorite aspect of online learning is that you can skip past things you just don’t care about since you are in control. Online learning is centered around making the most of your own personal growth the way you want to.

5 steps to make the most of your online classes:

Step 1: Decide if you want a membership vs. an individual class only. Both have their pros and cons. Memberships are usually monthly or yearly and are great because they typically give you access to all the classes on the site, however once you cancel your membership you will no longer have any access to those classes. Individually purchased classes typically have the benefit of being available forever (or for however long the company is in business). Our advice is to gauge which one is right for you by understanding how many of the classes you might be interested in (from that site), how LONG you plan on using these for, and which pricing model will be best. Obviously, it is typically cheaper just to purchase a class for the one-time fee if you will only be using that one class. I have done both styles but prefer to pay for classes on an as-needed basis, as sometimes it will take me a few months to even start a class.
 
Step 2: Determine if there are any prerequisites necessary. This includes any knowledge you should already have going into the class as well as any materials or product requirements you need to have. Most websites are very thorough about describing what you will need skills-wise and material-wise. If the class is for programming on a MAC, the requirements will list needing to have a MAC in order to participate. Some classes will actually mail you items to go along with what you will be learning.
 
Step 3: Take a class that matches your current skill level. If you have no experience with the subject and sign up for an advanced class you will inevitably be lost and probably find the class to be a waste of money.
 
Step 4: Read reviews to get a feel for what is good or bad about the teacher. Just like a real classroom situation, how much you learn relies on your ability to connect with their specific teaching style. I personally prefer teachers who are quick to get to the point without a lot of backstory but some people may learn better with the exact opposite. Usually there is a small bio with a video or a snippet from the class which you should watch prior to purchasing the class to make sure the teacher won’t irritate the heck out of you.
 
Step 5: If you love a class and the option is available, buy the DVD version or get a downloadable version to keep. If the class’s website is down, if your internet goes out, or if the company goes out of business you will no longer have access to your class, so it’s great to have a physical version you can keep as well.
 

Crafts & Artwork

Craftsy

Craftsy offers online classes for crafting subjects (like cooking, art, photography, sewing, etc.), as well as material and kits. You may choose to buy individual classes or sign up for their “Unlimited” (billed monthly or yearly) account where you will have access to all classes as well as additional free patterns and classes only available to Unlimited Members. Craftsy is a top-rated and highly customer focused website with easy to navigate options on top of providing outstanding customer service.

Technology/Coding & Other Classes

Pluralsight

Pluralsight utilizes a monthly/yearly payment model, which is different from a site like Udemy.com where you pay by the class. Once you have started your membership you can take anything you want. As with most of the online classroom websites available, you will pick classes based on interest and then assess if the skill level, subject matter, and review comments/score meets your needs. We love this site for its wide range of classes and how many you can take at one time to see if you like the class.

Udemy

Udemy is a technology-focused learning site where you can take a hands on approach to coding with an expert instructor. This instructor is available via a community Q&A board to answer questions or help you to troubleshoot when you run into issues. Udemy uses a pay-per-class model meaning you can purchase a class for a one time fee and have access to it forever, or as long as the class remains available. Udemy has impressed us with their instructors’ abilities to teach very relevant and applicable real-world technologies in a practical and easy to consume manner.

 

Our Picks

These are sites that we love for online learning. These are sites we have used or still use, or they have been recommended to us by trusted sources.

Tips & Tricks

  • There are plenty of sites which offer free classes that can be great as well. We found you do get what you pay for when it comes to quality content though, for the most part. There are free mini-classes on sites like Craftsy that will get you started with understanding the format, we recommend taking a few of these first before investing in the pay classes just to know what to expect.