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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Are Those Cheap Online Classes Really Worth the Time?


In 2018, there seemed to be an abundance of web ads for online continuing education classes for a number of subjects.  The majority of these are for career training in coding, graphic design, and a number of professions like project management.  When I clicked the ad for these (I believe I first noticed on Facebook), I couldn't get over the price.

Like anything else, once I took the time to look around and see their generous offerings (I even found interior decor, photography, and some subjects pertaining to freelancers), I still couldn't believe these were offered anywhere from free to no more than $75.  Why is this so cheap?  What is the real cost?

As I look around (or better, someone is following me around), I notice that some reputable brands are offering classes of this kind or somewhat similar.  I also got answers to my questions about the third (or fourth + party).  The middleman is determining the price to move product quickly because when you visit the actual vendor site, it is much higher.  But is it worth the price?

In 2018, I bought a few communication and writing classes as well as a couple of personal development courses.  It's not that I can't stop shopping but one "deal" came in a bundle of 4-5 classes for less than $10 (even though the original price is about $25, you can get a coupon for 15-25% off for signing up plus receive purchase credits).  However, I realized there was another factor.

My copywriting bundle had presentations from about four different instructors.  While the first was boring, he did offer a nice e-book that will come in handy. The second was a little more to the point but there were no other tangibles.  No interaction or anyone to answer my questions directly.  Still working through the remainder but truthfully, it's a gamble like those General Assembly workshops.

I'm not confusing these with MOOCs (even though I had a similar experience with EDX last year), if these even fall under the category.  However, I have a little bit of advice for anyone who is curious but not sure if they should part with the $, or ¢¢.

Just visit your local library's online site.

If you live in a small town see if you can join one in the next major city.  I live near Long Beach but I belong to the city of L.A., L.A. County, and my city's library system.  All three systems offer free courses with Universal Class, Ed2Go, and Lynda.com.

What I like about Universal Class is that there's some interaction with an instructor.  Some are looking to pass the time but overall, I can stand behind this institution as a place to learn career fundamentals.  Last year, I noticed that some newer classes were not part of the free format but still has a nice curriculum for less than $55 (no certificate).

Ed2Go is okay.  Their offerings may be more or less than UC but my complaint is their testing, as some of the wording isn't always similar to what's included with the lessons.  Also, some of the curricula are dated, although some instructors do update regularly.  The great thing is that all classes offer a Certificate of Completion without an additional charge.

Lynda.com has a partnership with LinkedIn and if a person were to go directly to the site, they would be charged (free or basic account) for each online class.  If a person generates leads from LinkedIn, this would be a worthy investment.  However, depending on your personal career goals there's a big payoff from taking this route.  Lynda.com offers preparation for Google Analytics certification, AMA Digital Marketing, and a few other large employers/associations.





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