The internet continues to offer new and expanded opportunities for people all over the world.
Over the past decade, there have been many advances that allow us to use the internet to become better educated.
There are a number a platforms, often referred to as massive open online courses, that allow users to learn new things, without the typical time restraints or cost of more traditional educational options. Users can often access the course materials any time of the day and night.
The prices vary on these sites, but some of them are actually free.
As you might have guessed, many of these online training services offer personal finance education too. A wide variety of topics can be discovered including budgeting, debt reduction, investing, small business and much more.
Here are 5 online training sites you might consider:
1. 360 Training
The 360 Training e-learning platform focuses on industry-related training. The company started by providing online traffic school courses in 1997. Today, 360 Training provides courses on topics including workplace safety, food and beverage service, IT and software skills, HR and compliance work, business skills, and real estate education.
Cons: There are very few free courses (at this moment only 34). Some of the courses cost several hundred dollars. You are supposed to be able to print out most course completion certificates for free, but there is a $15 fee for certificates for other courses.
Get Started with 360 Training!
The Udemy platform is one of the most well-known sources of education via the internet. It’s been around since 2010, when it offered approximately 100 courses. Udemy now boasts more than 40,000 options for online training. After choosing a course, you watch videos and/or presentations, have access to reading materials and/or discussion boards, and may then be tested through quizzes.
Pros: There is an enormous variety of material available on Udemy. Approximately one third of the courses are free. The platform features a sidebar notepad for use while viewing lectures or presentations. All of the courses come with a complementary certificate of completion.
Cons: As almost anyone can be an instructor on Udemy, some of the courses are somewhat lacking in real substance. Of course, there are user reviews for each course, so those should provide some guidance. Although there are many free courses, users are often encouraged to upgrade or continue their lessons for a price.
Get Started with Udemy!
3. Khan Academy
Khan Academy was built with the intent to provide totally free education to everyone in the world. The platform focuses on training through short YouTube videos, but there are also machine-graded assessments and comment threads. There a a wide variety of courses, which tend to focus on academic subjects (ex. mathematics, history, physics, and biology).
Pros: It’s totally free! You don’t need an account to use this learning platform. There is a free Khan Academy app that you can access on Apple and Android devices. The main language of the site is English, but much of the material is available in different languages.
Cons: You can only use the Khan Academy apps to watch videos (the other materials are available on your computer). The main limitation of the courses on Khan Academy is that they are not moderated by an instructor, so you cannot get feedback on your progress from a vetted professional.
Get Started with Khan Academy!
Two professors from Stanford University founded the Coursera learning platform in 2012. The website boasts that each course “is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes, and projects.” You can choose whether to sign up for on-demand courses or ones with set schedules that range from four to twelve weeks. This platform also offers specializations which are based on a sequence of courses with a final project. It is aimed towards adult learning.
Pros: Coursera provides a wide variety of learning options, from computer science to humanities classes. Completion certificates can be posted to your LinkedIn account. The traditional, timed courses enable engaging interaction with other students. The instructors tend to be fairly well-vetted and are often actual professors from accredited universities. You are supposed to be able to audit courses (just view the materials, with no testing or certificate) for free.
Cons: You have to pay a fee for your completion certificates (ex. $50 for a verified certificate when you use your webcam to provide pictures of yourself and your driver’s license during the course). The assessments for on-demand courses are easy and don’t provide you with feedback. There are very few quizzes on outside reading assignments and the multiple choice tests can be taken over and over again, until you hit the right answer.
Get Started with Coursera!
Lynda provides users with unlimited access to its library of courses, for a monthly fee (basic plan is $19.99, premium plan is $29.99). The material is taught with video-based courses, and some additional materials like worksheets or templates.
Pros: They offer a free ten day trial program, so you can try it out without spending any money (you will have to enter credit card information to gain access). You can watch the videos on your computer, phone, tablet or television (with the premium plan). They currently have 5,181 courses! Lynda provides complementary completion certificates.
Cons: You can find most of the same material for free through other learning platforms (although it may take longer to identify which courses are of comparable quality). This learning platform concentrates on teaching technical skills, like coding, video editing, photography or animation. While they have an impressive number of courses, they don’t cover the same variety of topics as found on other platforms.
Get Started with Lynda!
Times certainly have changed from when the only option for affordable continuing education was to sign up for a course at your local college. As online learning sites become more popular, the number of providers and available courses continue to increase. It just becomes a question of deciding where to start with expanding your knowledge and skills.
Have you ever used online classes or checked out one of these online learning sites? If so, which site did you use and what did you like or dislike about it?