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How To Choose The Best Online Course For Your Needs

how to choose the best online course training for your needs step-by-step guide

Whether you’re looking to take a course in digital marketing, plc programming, or stock trading, there’s a huge challenge you’ll face. There are hundreds of online education platforms, coaches, online courses. How do you make a choice? How do you ensure that you don’t waste your money on something you don’t like, understand or need?

CourseKillers team has passed dozens of online courses, training and certifications. Before writing this article, we gathered 23 online course experts in the room and asked them to share how they choose the right online course whenever they want to upgrade their knowledge.

It turns out, they are asking some particular questions and follow pretty much the same procedure. In this post get some tips and tricks for choosing the right online course for you.

1. Setting a Goal

Whatever domain you choose, there are thousands of courses and instructors. Let’s see how to choose the best online course for your needs.

The first step is deciding what you want from a course and why you need it. Do you want a course to improve your skills for work and you want to develop a specific skill? Or a course that is endorsed/recorded by a celebrity? Or maybe a course just to kill some time? Maybe you know which topic you want to study, or maybe you don’t.

It’s time to be honest with yourself. Why do you want to take a course? What are you expecting in terms of knowledge and result? Before you start looking for a course, try to establish exactly what you want or need from it. Try answering these questions:

  • Do you expect career growth and salary increase or do you want to learn something because it’s fun and interesting?
  • In which way your life will be different after the course?
  • Are you willing to take a shorter online course (several hours) or an in-depth course (several months)?
  • Do you want to learn from someone in particular or do you want to learn the domain in general?
  • How much are you willing to spend on an online course?

A special question to ask is whether whatever you want to learn is a hard skill or a soft skill. Do you want to learn how to launch a campaign on Instagram (hard skill) or do you want to become an excellent negotiator?

Is Online Course An Option?

Once the COVID19 pandemic hit the world, everything moved towards online. You can learn anything online. Most probably, if you want to learn something, you’ll be mostly exploring online education.

Some people claim online courses are effective for anything. We at Course Killers after completing over 50 courses both online and offline believe that for most skills online education is a great idea. Here’s why.

Whether it’s building your home, investing in the stock market, master affiliate marketing or learn PLC programming, taking an online course will improve your understanding of the topic and will create a solid foundation for researching the topic even more.

However, there are still some occasions when an online course might not be a good fit. This holds true if you need to develop a certain social skill for working with people such as public speaking, negotiations or teamwork. If this skill is associated with communication, you’ll probably have a hard time master it alone even if there are course instructors to check your hometask.

We believe that the first question that might help is asking yourself: is an online course an option? Will I master the skill I need using all the online materials and techniques?

If the answer is yes, let’s explore the next step.

2. Price: How Much Are You Willing to Pay?

Apparently, the price of one of the most important decision-making factors. In any domain, you can find options pretty much from $10 to $1,000. The question is: what’s the difference and will a $1,000 course make you a better professional than a $10 course?

Paid Courses: How Much Does It Take To Master a Skill?

Normally, a course under $50 is an on-demand video course that’ll give you some basic understanding of the topic. It doesn’t include any content-related support, moderators or home tasks. There are a lot of such courses on Coursera, Udemy, SkillShare and many other online education platforms.

If the price is over $100, there’s normally support or at least a commitment to reply to all questions.

If the course is several hundred dollars, then it most often suggests there’s a whole team to support you and the instructor is ready to reply to all your questions.

Free: Are Free Online Courses Worth It?

In every domain there are free courses. Is it worth to spend money on a course when you can find a free training?

No one wants to work for free. Generally, if a product is free, then it’s probably promoting another product, which is a paid one. Let me put this more clearly. The thing is if you give out all the information in the free course, you won’t be buying a paid one. That’s why most free courses contain only basic information.

Thus, if your goal is to get a basic understanding of the topic, then you might want to start with a free course but be ready that a tutor will be upgrading you to a paid product throughout the course.

3. Create a list of courses and make the comparison

Depending on what you want to learn, there are several resources you might check. We recommend checking Udemy, Coursera, Masterclass and Skillshare as these are the largest platforms that definitely have something to offer.

At Course Killers, we often create a list of all the courses on the subject that seem to be of interest. After that, we create a criteria for exclusion. Your criteria can be

  • experience level (beginner/advanced)
  • price (low-high)
  • feedback (only the courses with rating over 4.5)

After you have an extended list of education options, narrow down your choices using your criteria. After you’re familiar with what the courses cover and who they’re for, you need to check them against the criteria you set out in step one. Which course best meets your needs?

If you find several courses that meet your criteria, don’t worry. Open up each course page, read the course description(s) thoroughly. Though this step seems to be evident, it’s actually one of the most important steps that is often skipped. Take some time to read all course descriptions thoroughly, making sure you know exactly what to expect. As you’ve done some courses in the past, make sure you know how this course is different from what you already know, what kind of support is there, what you will learn.

Should You Trust Feedback?

It’s hard to be objective when it comes to online courses because our criteria set is very different. As we review a lot of online courses and read course feedback thoroughly, we can guarantee there’s no popular course that doesn’t have at least one 1-star review.

‘The instructor speaks too slow’, ‘I can’t understand what he was saying cause it was too fast’. These are reviews from the same course on Udemy. It’s impossible to be great for everyone.

It’s worth checking reviews just to see if there’s something important from your criteria was mentioned. Overall, we’d recommends to go with your gut and not the reviews, especially if there are less than 1,000 reviews left for the course you’re interested in.

4. Choose Your Instructor

It’s very hard to pick up an online course based on the course instructor’s regalia. It turns out even the brightest mind can be a dull fish when it comes to an online course.

So what do you do? A course typically has a preview. Watch all previews to define if you like the instructor’s tone. Check out his/her YouTube, see if he/she’s the person you trust has all it takes to lead you to your goal. Most often, if you trust the person and his/her expertise, that’s enough to enroll in the course.

5. Make your choice and start learning

You’ve browsed, you’ve read the small print, you’ve checked the criteria and, if it’s all gone to plan, you should have a course lined up. The only thing left to do is get started!

If the course doesn’t start for a little while, add a reminder to your calendar or make a note in your diary, so you’re ready when it does start.

Conclusion

In this article we’ve looked at some ways on how to choose the best online course for your needs. Remember that even if the course is online, 80% of the result you get depends on the amount of work you’ve done and questions you’ve asked so be prepared to invest your energy and time and you’ll do great.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Course Killers updates. We review courses from different domains to help you pick the best options for your needs.

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Skillshare review. Honestly, Is it worth it?

There was a time, not so long ago in fact, that to take any sort of study involved treks to the local college to enroll in night classes. Or maybe a correspondence course that was at the whim of the postal service. Not any longer, since the advent of the Internet, online learning has become a huge business. While many are thinking which learning platform is the best, we decided to do a Skillshare review.

Skillshare is an e-learning platform that can teach you a huge variety of skills, simply by watching a series of video lectures on your chosen subject. Of course, as with all good classes, many of the courses involve other learning materials, like worksheets for instance.

Naturally, as with all students, there has to be some social interaction, and in these days of Covid-19, it is nice that Skillshare has ‘interactive community spaces’ where students can discuss the coursework and exchange ideas.

Skillshare has been around since 2010 and was founded in New York by the unpronounceable Michael Kanjanaprakorn and the more benignly named Malcolm Ong. Since its inception the platform has steadily grown into what it has become today.

Skillshare operates both a free version and a premium version, which this article will cover in due course. So, if you’re in a mood to learn and want to see if Skillshare is the platform for you, then let us step inside and see what’s on offer.

What is Skillshare? And what does it have to offer?

We’ve touched briefly on these topics in the introduction, now it’s time to look in a bit more detail.

‘Skillshare offers classes for the masses’

In a nutshell, Skillshare is an online learning resource that offers classes to the masses.

Basically, the Skillshare courses are split into three distinct groups. It may not seem obvious at first how many courses are within those categories, but looks can be deceiving, as of March 2019, Skillshare offers over 27,000 premium classes and more than 2,000 free classes. All of which are somehow stored away in these innocent looking categories.

  • Create
  • Build
  • Thrive

Create is obvious, it is in this category that you will find all classes for the creative people amongst us. If you are looking to learn about subjects such as animation, creative writing, filmmaking, art graphic design, web design. I’m sure you get the picture, if your bent is towards creativity and the arts then this is the section for you.

Moving onto the Build category, it is in here that you will sub-topics that are mainly geared towards business. Included under this slightly misleading heading are sub-topics that include freelancing, leadership skills, marketing, analytics and management.

Thrive is the last in the list, at the time of writing there are only two subclasses in this category, lifestyle and productivity. I confess that initially I wondered whether a subject called Productivity wouldn’t be better placed within the build category.

There is a lot more than might be initially obvious on Skillshare, luckily there is a search bar and a quick search in any given subject will throw a huge range of available classes your way. But what are they like?

Skillshare Review: What Are Classes Like?

This is where Skillshare differs from a lot of online learning sites. There is no hard and fast format to Skillshare classes. Whilst some might only have a few videos for a total class content of under a quarter of an hour. Others might have fifty or so videos, with each one often many minutes long.

Other classes will come with downloadable class content. Usually in the form of PDF worksheets, whilst others are purely whatever the video content is.

As you will be able to tell, there is huge variety of difference class structures and lengths and, honestly, quality as well.

‘Not all classes are equal’

Skillshare is a marketplace, and as such you are better shopping around until you find what you’re looking for. Not all classes are equal.

The creators of the videos, effectively the teachers, are as varied a bunch as the videos and classes they present. Whilst some obviously still have a strong presence and are available to help students, others are nowhere to be seen.

We will delve a bit deeper into the class types later in the article, but for now, we will break the classes available down into two distinct types.

  • Skillshare originals. These are classes that are produced by Skillshare themselves. Often, these courses are produced in conjunction with partners like Mailchimp or Patreon. Others may have celebrity presenters. These are of guaranteed high quality and are almost always made up of several videos of ten minutes or so. These can be watched and resumed as required so all these classes are self-paced courses.
  • User-created content. This is where the real ‘market’ side of Skillshare is. It is as obvious as it sounds, these videos are ‘user’ created. And not all are created equal.

In saying that, there are two points that should be pointed out here.

First, many user-created videos are of incredibly high quality. In my humble opinion, it often outshines the Skillshare originals. The majority of users strive to produce high-quality videos.

Secondly, Skillshare are now auditing user-created videos and dropping whichever ones don’t meet their standards, a commendable policy and one which is required for the long-term standing of the platform.

Naturally, have a look at the reviews of previous students to get a feel for how good a particular class is.

What are the most popular classes on Skillshare?

It is an everchanging list, and of course if your particular passion is for ‘lizard keeping’ or some other obscure subject then it is unlikely that your choice of course will appear on such a list, but a typical list at any given time would look something like this.

The following list is courtesy of Skillshare’s own blog.

Obviously, this is a miniscule fraction of what is available, but as its Skillshare’s own list it can surely be considered as representative of the product.

Celebrities on Skillshare

A growing number of celebrities now have their own classes on Skillshare, mostly in conjunction with Skillshare originals.

This is a clever tactic by Skillshare, not only by getting celebrities like James Franco and Sophia Chang onboard help with the platform’s credibility, but it also has the obvious attraction of generating huge amounts of free publicity.

skillshare review is it worth it

But are the celebrity courses any good?  In my opinion, they are. It wouldn’t make any sense for Skillshare to allow them to go live if they weren’t. Celebrities are a draw. But a draw is no use if it draws you into a product that is sub-par.

Getting Started and using Skillshare

Obviously, you will need an account first. Once you have created this, Skillshare will ask you to fill in a few areas of interest. From this list the platform will be able to determine which classes to suggest for you.

You can also use their browse and search functions to find other courses that may be of interest. You can search the entire Skillshare catalog, but course availability will be limited by your account type. Of course, there are search filters to allow you to narrow your search as some searches can return thousands of hits.

Examples of filters that can be applied are: –

  • Course length. You would never guess what this filter does. Well, you probably have, obviously this is where you can adjust the preferred length of course you are searching for.
  • How recently was the course published. No point in taking a course on the new features available in the spanking new version of Windows 7. This option allows you to get the most recent courses available on whatever terms you’re searching for.
  • Account Type. With this filter, you can select whether you want to see all courses for a search or just the free or premium courses.

There are other options for searching for the right course, including checking out the recommended or trending options. If you see a course you feel you might like to have another look at sometime in the future, you can always add it to your favourites bar.

When you find a course that tickles your fancy, you can click on it to enter the course itself. There will be a video player in the centre of the screen and to the right of that will be a list of all the videos for that course.

You will also be able to see how many students have taken that course in the past, a description of the class and a bio of the teacher. Skillshare members who have previously taken the course will have hopefully left reviews to further guide your choice.

Now you have made your choice let’s have a look at another factor.

Course Interaction and Community Features

Not all courses call for any interaction, but those that do that can often be accessed from the discussion area below the video. Look out for instructions about what to share, perhaps it could be a photoshop project or pictures of a clay jug you made. It all depends on the course.

Once you have posted these, other students can comment on your work and you can comment on theirs. A certain level of politeness seems to the order of the day here. I found it to be generally incredibly supportive, even disasters that were posted and only greeted with friendly advice on how to improve.

What Are ‘Skillshare Workshops’?

If you wanted more interaction within your classes then you should look at the Skillshare workshops. These are more structured than the self-paced courses. Normally, these Workshops have set dates and timelines for students to follow.

You may be asked to have a project in by a certain deadline or to have done certain classes by a particular date.

Naturally, certain class types are more likely to have student participation, for instance you may be asked to provide a sunshine shot for your photography class, but you’re unlikely to be asked to post in a wall that you’ve just laid as part of a bricklayer class.

Back to our Skillshare review: Is Skillshare worth it? And is premium worth paying for?

Let us start the concluding part of this article by asking and almost answering a question I’m sure you’ve all been asking.

Is Skillshare Premium Worth It?

That really depends what you’re after from it. Before you decide, consider the following factors.

  • Are you likely to use it enough
  • Are you happy with the free version
  • Actually, I quite like seeing ads
  • You find the choice of course restrictive
  • Remember you are paying for ‘informal learning’ you will not be issued with any certificates on Skillshare.

If you think that Skillshare premium is for you then the next thing to look at is the cost of the premium package.

Currently the premium offers the first two months for the meagre sum of $1.00 per month. After that it rises to $19.00 per month. If you think you’re there for the long-haul, then an annual membership comes in at $99, which is equivalent of $8.25 per month.

Conclusion

I will conclude this Skillshare review by offering my own thoughts on the platform. It isn’t perfect, but I tell you what it isn’t far off. If you can’t find a course on Skillshare that will interest you then there is no hope for you.

As for the paid v premium, that is very much a matter of personal choice. It would be sensible to have a play about with the free version before making that choice.

Things have come a long way since I set off on that trip to the night-school. Now, I just need to wait for the technology to allow me to share that twenty foot wall I just built.

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Types of E-Learning & Online Education: What You Need to Know

types of elearning and online education

What Is E-Learning? E-learning is the use of technology to be taught skills and gain knowledge. There are many different types of e-learning that can be utilized, and there many advantages and advantages that come with the use of e-learning to teach.

This article will discuss the different types of e-learning and the advantages and disadvantages that are associated with this method of learning. E-learning is usually classified in various ways, this article will attempt to keep the classifications of each type as simple as possible.

In summary, the different e-learning types can be seen listed below.

Synchronous Online Learning

This type of learning occurs in real-time. This means that all students and the teacher will interact with each other at the same time in the same virtual room. Examples of this type of learning include live-streamed lectures and video conferences that people need to attend at a predefined time.

Asynchronous Online Learning

This type of learning can be done on your own time. You will be given the necessary resources to complete and study from such as lectures, assignments, and reading materials. You can cover these resources at your own pace and on your own schedule, however, the given deadlines still need to be met. Examples of this type of learning include pre-recorded lectures, lecture notes, and virtual resource libraries.

Fixed e-learning refers to a teaching method that everybody has already experienced in school. It involves content that is not changed and is the same for every student. The learning materials are not specifically chosen to help each student better understand the subject. Examples of this type of learning would be using a published textbook that all students study from.

Adaptive E-Learning

This learning type is as the name suggests, it is ‘adaptive’ as the learning materials and resources can be modified to help individual students improve on the areas, they are weak in. These modifications are made by considering different factors such as the student’s abilities, current performance, and skills. This method of learning is more difficult to implement than what is traditionally used, which is ‘fixed’ learning. However, it has powerful advantages that help students learn more effectively.

Linear E-Learning

This type of learning does not allow for two-way communication between the teacher and students. This can be limiting and make it difficult to properly teach students and answer any questions and concerns they have about the work they need to complete. This type of learning is rare today and hasn’t been used in a long time due to it not being effective or efficient.

Interactive Online Learning

This type of learning involves two-way communication between the teacher and students. This lets the teacher modify the material to better help the students learn, as they can ask the teacher any questions, they have about the learning material. This is the opposite of linear learning where two-way communication is not available, and for that reason, this method is greatly preferred because of the advantages that allow for effective teaching.

Individual Online Learning

As the name suggests, this type of learning involves students learning on their own using the given learning resources. There are set goals which all students need to meet, and then the students are told to work towards achieving them. The only skill this type of learning develops is independent learning and not any other important skills such as working in teams.

Collaborative Online Learning

This learning type involves students working together in groups to complete and achieve the learning goals that have been set by the teacher. This lets students develop important skills such as communication and working together in a team to achieve a shared objective. Students are allowed to communicate with each other and figure out the different strengths and weaknesses that are present within the group and allocate different tasks accordingly.

This method of teaching isn’t used too often within online teaching and mostly within the classroom. However, it is still one of the most effective methods of teaching that has been proven to teach students key skills and better understand the subject being taught.

Computer Managed Learning

This type of learning uses a computer to help students achieve their learning goals, provide learning materials, and assess the student’s performance throughout the teaching process. This method can be used to easily check if the student has fully understood the subject, if not, the necessary learning materials on weaknesses shown by the student can be provided to help the student better understand that area of the subject.

Computer-Assisted Instruction

As the name suggests, this type of learning involves learning using the assistance of computers. Computer-assisted instruction is used in classrooms often, for example, students will use interactive software on computers to learn about different subjects. Teachers can also use interactive software to teach the entire class at the same time. This type of learning is used in unison with traditional teaching methods as it is seen as an effective blend of modern and traditional learning.

Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning

If you’re wondering whether to take an online course/training or face-to-face training, here’s a comparison table for the e-learning as a whole.

E-Learning
AdvantagesDisadvantages
Efficient method of delivering learning materialsLack of face-to-face support
Learning materials are available at any time and anywhereCommunication skills are more difficult to develop
Convenient for learners as many different online learning methods are availableNot effective for all subjects. E.g. those that require hands-on practical experience
Can be personalized for each learner to target the learner’s specific weaknessesTeacher feedback is limited and not as helpful
Saves time and moneyThe quality of teaching and student understanding is not consistent
Resources can be scaled up or down to meet needs.Heavy focus on theory and not practical work
Self-paced learning will help students better understand the learning materials.Assessments are not taken place in a controlled environment, so cheating is easier
Access to metrics which can be used to provide better learning material and teaching approachesTechnological accessibility and problems can disrupt online learning

By combining types of online learning, you can create the best education for your students or pick the best course or training available. Read our other articles and choose the best online stock trading course for beginners or the best PLC programming online course.

We at CourseKillers wish you a pleasant journey in learning more about online education and types of e-leaning!

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