Time to study! Part 2: Beyond MOOCs

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Learning session. By Per Gosche @Flickr
Learning session. By Per Gosche @Flickr

In my previous post “Time to study! Part 1: MOOCs & Certificates“, I covered MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). I presented just 3 major providers: EdX, Coursera and Udacity although there are many more out there, simply because in my humble (totally subjective opinion) these 3 provide an excellent user experience and offer a really massive course catalog from some of the best universities worldwide.

You can find extensive lists of many more providers in aggregation web sites like mooc-list.com or a much more well designed Class Central. By their definition: “it is an aggregator of MOOC course listings and continually looks for and bring you high-quality MOOCs from reputable providers (and not just from the major providers)”.

But the Internet has a lot more to offer, if you really want to learn, that is. So we continue the journey to knowledge, this time with online courses much less formal but no less useful.

1. Udemy is an online learning marketplace offering classes for subjects ranging from Yoga to SAP ABAP Objects. You can find courses for business, IT, marketing, design but even lifestyle, photography, health and many more. Courses are offered in the form of video lectures which can also be viewed offline from the mobile app. Courses include perks like quizzes, notes, presentation slides and by completing the course you get a certificate. The drawback is that not all courses are free but very often Udemy makes really extreme offers and usually you’ll find the subject you are interested in,for under 50 €.

2. lynda.com recently acquired by Linkedin, for a considerable $1.5 billion, also offers courses ranging from SW development to photography, design and education. As in most of the platforms, video is the dominating means of knowledge delivery. Courses last from a few minutes to hours but are structured in small junks (lasting minutes) that you can watch quite easily without committing yourself to long hours of continuous watching. Lynda is not free though. It will cost you a little less than 20€/month to keep it running (for the basic option).

Study. Courtesy of Andrew Eason. Flickr
Study. Courtesy of Andrew Eason. Flickr

3. Skillshare is based on a similar subscription model as Lynda. It “breathes” a more informal and social air though with classes for culinary, crafts and DIY along with business and technology. If you want to learn how to make pickles like a pro and then build an online shop to sell them this is your pick.

Both Udemy and Skillshare offer a pretty concise roadmap to unravel your teaching skills and amaze the world. So if you believe that you are an excellent instructor but you lack the audience to appreciate it, this is your chance to stand out. Maybe your kids will be more willing to watch you explain something in video than in real life.

4. I have to admit that Khanacademy.com is my favourite. Not only because Salman Khan is both an amazing innovator and educator, but because of its simplicity. Blackboard and colour pencils that explain the basics in plain English (subtitled in more and more languages every day). It is free, it is fun and it is addictive. Moreover, you can create a parent account and add your children in the system to help them in the process (ok it needs some “persuasion”).

The Future of Education at TED2011. By Steve Jurvetson @Flickr
The Future of Education at TED2011. By Steve Jurvetson @Flickr

By now it should be clear to you that the more you dig into online education world, the more you discover. The available content is so abundant that it becomes quite difficult to identify quality material in an ocean of videos, web pages, transcripts, documents, blogs, structured and unstructured data with limited value on their own.

I attempted to cover MOOCs & Certificates in my previous post and less formal choices in this one. In following posts I’ll present vendor specific training ecosystems, like the ones Microsoft, CISCO or ORACLE have in place for many years and I’ll attempt to find some really innovative startups in the education/training sector.

Stay tuned!

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