Before You Pay For Another Online Class...Visit Your Local Library

Us freelancers are always looking for a way to upgrade or keep up with ever-changing technology BUT it seems like everyone and their mom is offering an online course of some kind.  You may have seen some of the steady players like Ed2Go (a.k.a Gale Courses), Universal Class, or Skillshare offer classes at relatively low rates compared to attending college.  But many library systems are offering many of these courses through the same entity for nada.

Now before you rush out to get your first library card since grade school, there are some things to consider.  First is that not all of these places teach at the same capacity.  As a longtime LinkedIn member, I'm always being encouraged to upgrade so I can take free courses.  Well, I can take these same courses for free through my county and city library system.

But I have to be completely honest with you...some of these classes have about as much worth as a two-headed penny.  One of the career paths I'm taking is taught by a series of industry experts.  While I don't doubt their knowledge, one expert looks as if she's reading from a prompter.

Also, I like my takeaways.  Even if I only use it once, having something I can copy or download means something to me.  If you're like me, visuals sink in better than someone simply talking in a constant monotone.

So far, I can access a number of online language tutors, diploma prep sites, and career assessments sites that require payment or enrollment through an accredited college.  These in addition to Universal Class and Ed2Go can make interesting learning.  But let me elaborate on the last two options.

Normally, these classes cost between $50-125 for about six to eight weeks of learning.  Both provide instructor feedback, as well as extensions for completing final assignments and online resources.  However, I've found that not all instructors update their lists or fail to remove those with dead links.  If you were to ask me outright Universal Class offers the better selection but recently, I found there's a catch.

If you want the full Universal Class experience, as in a wider range of affordable continuing ed online courses, they may want a paid account.  Recently, I found that they offer many writing courses (Platinum membership) that aren't available to library patrons.  I guess these older courses are intended to act as loss leaders.

While not all library systems are the same, even in large cities, some will allow users from other cities to become a patron.  Right now, I belong to four library systems and one good thing is that once I learned how to navigate (e.g.get the newer books before they're loaded with dried boogers or the pages have yellowed), it cut my Amazon book spending tremendously.