The internet continues to offer new and expanded opportunities for people all over the world. There are a number of 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 at any time of the day and night.
Online training sites, such as Khan Academy and Skillshare, are wonderful places to learn a variety of new skills. You can participate on your own time and at your own pace. And best of all, the prices are usually quite reasonable and sometimes even free.
As you might have guessed, many of these online training services offer personal finance education too. Discover a wide variety of topics including budgeting, debt reduction, investing, small business and much more.
Here are seven online training sites you might consider:
The Udemy online course 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 complimentary 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, Udemy often encourages users to upgrade or continue their lessons for a price.
Get Started with Udemy.com!
EdX is a non-profit, open-source learning platform that was founded by Harvard and MIT, with the mission of delivering quality higher education to anyone who wants it. Hosted by top universities, such as Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, University of Texas, and Arizona State, edX has over 20 million learners. There is a range of courses and topics you can study, from computer science to humanities, architecture to languages, and all are free.
EdX has developed new MicroBachelors programs as well. This allows you to gain credentials along to the pathway to a Bachelors Degree. Meaning you can find better work faster as you progress towards your degree. Currently, MicroBachelors is only offered in IT and computer science. These are great opportunities for those who need to work but want more employable skills. They also offer MicroMasters and Online degree programs.
Pros: These courses are offered by highly regarded universities, with quality instructors, over a range of topics. Their platform is easy to use and accessible. Many of the programs have ongoing start dates. Were you to complete the courses, they would make a typical resume stand out and likely help with job prospects.
Cons: While the courses are free, if you want a verified certificate of completion, you need to buy one. Prices range from $50-$150.
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 continues to increase. It just becomes a question of deciding where to start with expanding your knowledge and skills.
Get Started with EdX!
3. 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.
Pros: The programs available through 360 Training are great for refreshing skills or learning about new areas specific to your occupation. They offer a few subscriptions with packages perfect for developing discrete skill sets. For example, there is an IT skills associate subscription that gives you access to 418 courses for $24.99 per month. Many of the courses come with official certifications such as the OSHA 10 or 30 hour training.
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!
4. 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 Khan Academy also offers machine-graded assessments and comment threads. There are 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 can’t 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. Coursera says 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 that are based on a sequence of courses with a final project. It aims its courses toward adult learning.
Pros: Coursera provides a wide variety of learning options, from computer science to humanities classes. Post your completion certificates to your LinkedIn account if you’d like. The traditional, timed courses enable engaging interaction with other students. Coursera vets their teachers well. They’re usually actual professors from accredited universities. And you can 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 you can take the multiple-choice tests over and over again until you hit the right answer.
Get Started with Coursera!
6. Lynda from LinkedIn Learning
Lynda was an online platform that focused on topics like software and web development, design, and business. But now 100% of Lynda’s instructors and courses have moved to the LinkedIn Learning platform.
Lynda from LinkedIn Learning provides users with unlimited access to its library of courses for a monthly fee (yearly rate is $19.99.month, the monthly plan is $29.99/month.) Course teachers use video-based courses and some additional materials like worksheets or templates. And you can try LinkedIn Learning out for a full month for free.
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.) Where Lynda from LinkedIn really shines is in its courses that show you how to grow your business through LinkedIn. There’s tons of content that will help you build your profile and generate leads. And they have plenty of other content too. They currently have 13,000+ courses in total! Finally, Lynda from LinkedIn Learning provides complimentary completion certificates when you finish courses.
Cons: You can find a lot 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 really 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 from LinkedIn Learning!
Skillshare provides a broad spectrum of course material ranging from fine art to web development to entrepreneurship. There is free access to over 2,000 classes, and with a paid membership of fewer than ten dollars a month, there is access to over 25,000 courses.
Pros: One of Skillshare’s best features is that classes are all project-based, meaning that completion of a course includes deliverables you can add to your personal portfolio! Skillshare also offers a one month free trial for premium membership benefits. Teachers from their respective industries teach the courses. Courses involve a good amount of interaction with other students on forums. And you can apply for free course content through their scholarship program.
Cons: Unlike other online course providers, Skillshare does not have accreditation or certificates for completing courses. Your work and the pure learning aspect are what you get!
Not sure which online training service to choose? Why not start with the ones that offer free content or free trials? Using the online training services from this list, you can learn a ton of new skills without spending a dime. And if you fall in love with a certain skill, you can always go deeper by purchasing a paid course.
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?