8 Online Learning Sites: Pros & Cons

8 Online Learning Sites: Pros & Cons

Whether you are looking to advance your career or just a productive way to spend your time during quarantine, taking online courses can make you a more well-rounded person. They give you a chance to take classes that you are interested in but are not necessarily able to fit into your school schedule. Thanks to technology, there are a wide variety of websites that offer these classes. This fact can also make it seem daunting to figure out which website and class is right for you and your interest. Weighing the pros and cons of these sites is a crucial way of deciding what works best for you and your budget and schedule.

1. Google Partners

Google is known as a leading search engine, but it has grown to have more services such as email, a web browser, and even electronic devices. Most companies and organizations deal with Google when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), which helps them get higher search engine results, thus leading to more site traffic. This leads to more customers — whatever a “customer” is to that organization. These organizations may opt to purchase digital ads through Google, which helps them get traffic. This is the basis for Google Partners, a learning platform that teaches people how to handle digital ads and AdWords.

PROS:

The courses are free and you will receive a certificate at the end of each course. These courses can help give you the knowledge you need to pursue a new career. At the end of the courses, you have the opportunity to take an exam to become a Google Partner, which allows you to add a special logo to your resume and business cards. This is a great way for you to learn about a possible new career while getting acknowledgment from a highly esteemed company.

CONS:

These courses are made only for companies that work to sell and manage their client’s ads. Individuals are not eligible for these courses, according to the site’s terms and conditions, unless they want to have their own business that deals with managing ads. For individuals wanting to learn about these kinds of things without being affiliated with a company, Skillshop is best. However, even with Skillshop, you will have to renew your certification each year.

2. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn is the leading social media site for making professional connections. Even if you opt to not use the courses, you should definitely make a LinkedIn account to help further your career and meet those in your field. LinkedIn Learning, which was once Lynda Learning, is a platform that offers courses on a variety of subjects related to skills you may need.

PROS:

LinkedIn Learning offers a wide variety of courses on a bunch of different topics. These courses can be useful for the workplace, whether you want to improve your skills in communication or in specific software. After completing a course, you will receive an acknowledgment of completing the course on your LinkedIn profile and will receive a certificate. That way, you can show your current and/or future employers that you are passionate about learning new things and display what you know.

CONS:

If your company or university does not cover your LinkedIn Learning costs, you will have to pay for the service. If you have to pay out of pocket for it, the cost is $25 a month. However, you can check with your school to see if they cover alumni. If you are working, see if your company would consider reimbursing you at least partially, or see if your local library offers a way to access the courses.

3. Khan Academy

You might already be thinking about your schedule for next semester. If you are taking upper-level classes in science, math, or even the humanities, you may be worried that you are unprepared, especially if you struggled with a lower level in the subject. You may also be thinking about taking a grad school entrance exam and are looking for some assistance. Luckily, Khan Academy has tools and resources for these kinds of things and more.

PROS:

Khan Academy is a non-profit that seeks to give students a free, world-class education no matter where they are. All aspects of Khan Academy are free, no catches. The courses are designed to help you learn and fill in any gaps you may have that are preventing you from succeeding in higher levels in the subject or go over things you may have missed early on in the semester. The site also has a variety of practice resources for a few of the most common grad school entrance exams.

CONS:

While anyone can join Khan Academy and take the courses, most of these courses are geared towards grade school students. This may make the courses seem like they are talking down to your intelligence if you are an older student. Also, while you receive badges, you do not receive certificates for completing the course.

4. Facebook Blueprint

Many people use Facebook solely as a social media platform to help you connect with friends and loved ones, even if you are far away from each other. However, businesses and organizations use Facebook to reach potential customers and donors to help them grow their business and get their message to more people. Since the site is constantly changing, it can be tough to keep up with the changes. Companies may decide to hire someone with knowledge, and that is where Facebook Blueprint comes in.

PROS:

Facebook Blueprint is a platform that has courses about utilizing Facebook ads and other tools on Facebook to help reach a larger audience. The courses are offered on a variety of topics within Facebook ads and marketing using Facebook and range from beginner to advanced. Those who complete courses receive certificates for courses they finish. The courses are relatively short, usually averaging about a half an hour, depending on how fast you read.

CONS:

Facebook Blueprint is solely focused on Facebook marketing, so the things that are taught are not necessarily applicable to any other social media site. Along these lines, this platform is geared towards those who are wanting to learn about marketing and ads, so all of the courses are focused on those areas. This means that those wanting a diversity of subjects will be disappointed with this platform. If you are interested in getting a Facebook Blueprint Certification in any of the available subjects, the exam costs $150.

5. Coursera 

Coursera is an online learning platform that gives anyone the chance to take classes online from colleges and universities around the world. It also gives students the option to receive a certificate for completed courses and a specialization in a chosen topic. This can help you receive a deeper knowledge for things you may have covered briefly in class or give you an edge in your career.

PROS:

Coursera’s courses are put up by universities and colleges worldwide, so you know that the courses and the teachers are full of the knowledge of the subject. You can audit the courses for free, so if you are simply interested in learning more, you can opt to take the course for free. You may also decide to take the course to get a certificate. If you are unable to pay the fee, financial aid is available.

CONS:

Students can opt to audit the courses for free, but those seeking a certificate or degree need to pay for the class.  For some of the classes, specifically those focusing on certain software, you may need to have access to the software, which may be an added cost to the course. While financial aid is available, it can take up to 15 days to process the financial aid application, which delays your learning, especially if you want the certificate.

6. Udemy

Udemy is an online learning platform that offers courses on a large variety of subjects, from web design to personal development. While some of the courses are more expensive, many cost as little as $20. The courses use resources such as PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations, videos, and more to teach students.

PROS:

On Udemy, you can check out the course information and structure before committing to taking it. You can see what other students who took this class thought and use this to make your decision about taking the class. While some of the courses are paid, there are a variety of free classes available. If you want to try a paid course, you have 30 days to try it and if you decide that it is not for you, you can get your money back. Also, there are frequent sales on paid courses, so classes you need to pay for are reduced.

CONS:

While there are some free courses, some of the higher-quality courses come with a fee. Anybody can create a course on Udemy, so be careful about who the teacher is and look them up to check their credentials on a subject. The free courses do not have a certificate attached to them. Only the paid courses have access to discussions with the instructor and the ability to message the instructor. Udemy instructors know very little about their students, so it is hard to tailor the course messages to them and their interests.

7. Codeacademy

In today’s growing digital world, knowing how to code can give you a boost when it comes to standing out amongst your peers, even if coding is not directly related to your job. Knowing how to code can help you set up a professional portfolio to show employers what you can do and what you have done throughout your career. If you have been wanting to learn, Codeacademy is a great place to start.

PROS:

If you are brand new to coding and are wondering if it is something you should spend your valuable time learning, you can take a quiz to figure out where your interests and goals are. Codeacademy will suggest a learning path to fit your interests. You also have the option to browse the catalog, even after you take the quiz and receive a recommendation. The basic plan is free, so you can access some of the material for free before deciding if you want to code or not.

CONS:

Like some other online learning platforms, the only way to receive the certificate of completion for courses is to pay for Codeacademy Pro, which is $20 a month at the moment. Also, it may be obvious, but this site is solely for those wanting to learn about the various aspects of coding, while other sites have more variety.

8. Edx

Like Coursera, Edx is a learning platform where users can take a variety of classes from colleges and universities worldwide. There are courses within a large range of subjects, from science to art. The site also offers professional certificate programs and “micro” degrees.

PROS:

The course content is free to view, and you can purchase a verified certificate once you complete the course with a passing grade. While the courses have specific lengths and start dates, the content is self-paced and you can work ahead if you want. You can choose from a variety of courses in any subject that interests you or that you want to gain more skills in. While the bulk of the platform is made of courses from colleges and universities, this site also has courses for high school students to help them prepare for college-level classes and college entrance exams.

CONS:

Like many of the previous platforms, the content is free, but you need to pay for the certificate of completion for the courses. If you opt for the certificate, you need to pass the quizzes and assignments in order to receive the certificate, which may be added stress, especially if you are not someone who is good at taking tests.

Using your time wisely, especially when you have some time to spare, is crucial and shows that you have initiative. Finding the platform or platforms that are right for you can take some thinking, but ultimately, this work will help you find the classes and certificates you need to achieve your goals and stand out in your career.

By Ashley Paskill. From Uloop.com, Online Marketplace for College Life.

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