Online courses are, without a doubt, provides a great opportunity to learn anything, anywhere & anytime. There are plenty of course providers like Udemy, edX, Coursera, Udacity, Linux Foundation, FutureLearn, Skillshare, etc… As the number of these provider grow, so is confusion on which one to choose, here is a simple guide on how to choose online courses.
It is not feasible for everyone to join a top university like Harvard, MIT, IIT’s, Stanford etc. in terms of both economically & physically. Online courses make it possible. Quality courses to everyone at fraction of the actual cost with certification.
Most of the online course providers can be categorized into three different types.
- By Universities or organizations on platforms like NPTEL, edX, Coursera, Udacity & FutureLearn by Harvard, MIT, Stanford University, Michigan university, IIT’s, IIM’s and organizations like Facebook, Google & Microsoft.
- By training companies or individual trainers on platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, Plural insight, Masterclass etc…
- By training companies like intellipaat, simplilearn, edureka, TreeHousee tc..
Coursera, edX, Udacity and FutureLearn:
Whereas courses on edX, Coursera, FutureLearn are developed by various universities like Harvard, Stanford and Big corporate giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
These courses are delivered by university professors, who usually teaches in-depth basics to build a solid foundation towards research & development and less of job oriented. Course contains recorded video tutorials to watch & learn at your speed.
Though most of the course material is free to access, you are asked to pay some fee to gain access to exercises, practice quizzes & for certifications; Paid Students are given access to discussion forum to discussion with other students.
Across the globe many companies started recognizing these certifications. You can add these certifications in your LinkedIn profile as well.
Few universities are accepting these courses are part of their regular college courses for credits as well. Ex: American Public university gives credits to students who takes the below coursera or Udacity courses.
Trainers on these websites are individuals who mastered a skill or an art, providing lessons on how they mastered it & how you can apply the same tips, techniques.
Udemy is one of the oldest of these, providing lot of quality courses at really low-cost. Cost that is less than a meal, no matter which part of the world you are from these courses are affordable !!
These courses are more of getting you ready for the job. Making you from beginners to Advanced what you need to know, understand & teach & start working, nothing more.
These providers will have forums where learners can post a doubts/queries to trainers and to discuss among themselves. You will not have immediate access to trainer.
Courses contains pre-recorded video lectures/tutorials to learn at your own pace & convenient time.
intellipaat, simplilearn, edureka:
These are privately owned organizations/companies, who choose few trainers and offer courses. They offer both LIVE classes & self-paced courses.
Courses are little expensive compared to other course providers but few of them organizations provide Job guarantee, virtual lab access, 24×7 support, lot of mock interview practice sessions etc..
Most of the courses offered by these organisations are completely job oriented programs, which helps you get a job quicker, perform better at your current job.
Live Vs Recorded (Self-Paced ) Courses:
Great advantage with most of the online courses (Self-paced) is opportunity to learn anywhere & any time. The main disadvantage is lack of immediate access to instructor/trainer to get your doubts clarified. This can be surmounted by joining LIVE training courses, where instructor teaches courses live, you can immediately ask a doubt.
With self-paced courses there is always a chance of procrastination to learn but this is not possible with LIVE courses. LIVE courses pushes you to take courses on time every session as per the planned scheduled time, helps you stick to your learning goals.
Assuming you have chosen one of the course provider with the information above. Now lets look into how to identify a suitable course for you.
The first thing you need to look at is what are the topics covered in that particular course. Course description & table of contents give you complete idea of what is going to be covered.
Ratings & Reviews
Ratings are something we always looks for while purchasing something online, online courses are no exception. But how reliable are these ratings ??
I request you to choose online courses with more numbers enrollment and ratings. Also read couple of reviews of previous students. This give you a lot of information.
Quality (Money back Guarantee )/Trial periods
Next thing you need to check is if the course provider offers any trial period or money back guarantee !! This is extremely important because if the course doesn’t add any value to you, you can ask for refund !!
- Udemy offers 30-day money back guarantee ! No matter the reason
- Coursera offers 7-day free trial
- SkillShare offers 30-day free trial
- TreeHouse offers 14-day trail period.
Some other course providers offer partial payment back. You can check it while enrolling !!
Cost: Free Vs Paid courses
With so many FREE courses available, why should someone join a PAID course?
Free courses are usually mainly targeted for beginners, who would like to know what is this topic is all about. With free courses, students would not have access to quizzes, assignments, discussion forums or any other technical support.
Free Courses do not help intermediate or Advanced learners who knows basics of the topic & looking to go next level. You might find few new concepts, they are not really worth your time.
So if you are a beginner go for FREE courses else go for PAID courses.
Certification Vs No certification
On your resume, certification conveys a little more information than your knowledge.
Certification not only indicates about new skills you learned, it also tells your commitment I completing a course in-time i.e. sticking to the course deadlines to complete assignments for the entire course duration & getting enough marks to get a grade or certification.
Mere joining a course and going through course material is not enough to master a skill or to crack an interview. I always recommend you to go for certification. Most of these are really low-cost.
Things to Remember:
Finally, please keep these two points in mind before you commit to a course.
Time Vs Money :
It is not money that you would lose, you will lose time if the course is not opt for you. If you are in Intermediate or Advanced stage learner, joining FREE courses might result in losing your valuable time. Time wise be-wise.
Do NOT join same course across multiple platforms. It would only waste your time.
You need a Mentor :
Every champion or every great leader had a mentor at some point of time in their life. Mentor-ship speeds up your learning, helps you in making fewer mistakes, keeps you stay focused & on your track. Learning on your own is also a good way, but that takes a lot of time.
Video tutorial on Tips to choose online courses
if we miss any points please feel free to drop a comment below.
Hope this guide helps you !