Choosing an online learning platform to improve your digital skills

We have the special privilege of learning new skills, improving what we already know or even moving into a different profession without the help of tertiary institutions.

Posted in: Career, Studying on August 17, 2016

Choosing an online learning platform to improve your digital skills

We live in an exceptional time; every year information becomes easier to access and the list of available resources just keeps growing. As a result, we have the special privilege of learning new skills, improving what we already know or even moving into a different profession without the help of tertiary institutions. This is especially true when it comes to very competitive digital industries like computer sciences, print and digital design and web development.

Although having a diploma or degree counts in your favour when stepping into an interview; it is definitely not the deciding factor. Having a unique (and often hard to find) skill can mean a lot more to an employer than your degree. eLearning also enables you to create a unique combination of skills for example web design and front-end development – this makes you very valuable to an employer and opens up multiple career opportunities.

Picking the right platform can be a daunting task, especially when considering that some of them are expensive or not freely accessible. The last thing you want to do is sign up for a year subscription only to find that the material does not meet your requirements.

The aim of this article is to help you make an informed decision by comparing some of the more popular platforms for learning digital skills, as well as some tips on how to access some of the material for free.

1. Lynda.com

Lynda.com has been around for ages and has been the go-to platform for learning digital skills for more than a decade. With over 5000 courses in several industries it is not hard to see why. Courses are led by industry professionals in the business, creative and technology sectors with new courses being added regularly. Plans start from $34.99 (about R470 at time of writing this article) a month and gives you access to their entire course catalogue. A free 10-day trial is also available to those who are looking for a free eLearning, which can be extended to 21 days for users with LinkedIn, or 30 days for users with LinkedIn premium. This gives you ample time to learn something new before needing to pay a cent.

2. Udemy

Udemy is one of the larger online learning platforms in the world. Udemy’s business model is slightly different in that their catalogue of 40 000 courses can only be access by paying per course. The courses cover topics from running a business to using Excel, making Udemy the go-to choice for anyone needing to learn a skill quickly without the hassle of paying for a month-to-month subscription. Free courses are also offered for those willing to traverse their catalogue – just search within a category of your choice or alternatively get into touch with someone who would be willing to offer you a coupon.

3. Team Treehouse

Treehouse have been growing rapidly in the last couple of years to keep up with the growing demand for skilled digital professionals. Their 1000 hours plus of video content focusses on building digital projects from design to development, whether you are interested in building an app or a designing a website. They offer a free 7-day trial with their monthly plan starting at $25.00 (about R336 at the time of writing this article). Signing up is easy but will require you to enter your credit card details.

4. Code Academy

Code Academy focusses solely on learning to code (hence the name) across 12 programming languages including Python, Java, PHP and more. The courses are written by members of the Code Academy community and has fun, reachable and interactive goals. The best part is that Code Academy is completely free, with the option of getting additional support, projects, quizzes and more for only $19.99 a month.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when diving into the world of online learning. There are hundreds of websites that offer tutorials, courses and more. Whether you are looking for a paid solution or something free, consider that you often pay for quality. Adobe for example offers a lot of free up to date tutorials, from leading industry experts, on all their software. There is truly no excuse (other than the lack of an Internet connection) for not learning the skills necessary to land your dream job; all you have to do is put on some headphones and get cracking!

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