Online Learning Tools (Part 2)

After I wrote that blog post on Online Learning Tools, I realized that I knew there was a site called Udacity that I had never tried. So, in the interest of being thorough, I went there to check it out. Let me tell you, I’m glad I did!

Now I hesitated to try Udacity since I was already enjoying Udemy and I thought it would just be “more of the same.” They aren’t the same. Udacity has aspects of Udemy, sure; it has online classes at your own pace. But it has them arranged to form “Nanodegrees“: comprehensive sets of courses, developed by a key set of teachers working together. They aren’t random “this class looks interesting” buffets (which is how I am/was treating Udemy).

In Udemy there are sub-sets of classes within the classes, by “teaching group”. Say, you can group classes by “Infinite Skills” brand, and often they will go on sale that way “all Infinite Skills classes are 20% off with coupon AWESOMECOUPON“. But you could also find Infinite Skills classes at proper. Udacity, on the other hand, is very focused in what it offers, and who teaches it. I would say “which gives an overall more consistent learning style” but I haven’t actually enrolled in any courses yet. But I’m so convinced that Udacity is quality stuff, I’m about to enroll in the Front End Web Developer Nanodegree when enrollment begins. Wish me luck!

And Many More
Now there are so many more education options out there that I didn’t mention, like Skilledup and Coursera, edX, who knows how many others. I’m just going to add a link to LifeHack’s list of 25 Killer Sites for Free Online Education.

Online Learning Tools (Part 1)

I’ve been learning some new skills, because I need to stay relevant in this job market. I have been a technical editor/writer for years, but suddenly that isn’t “enough” to keep a job. So, looking into other things that interest me and mesh with those skills, I picked web development.

Right now is a fantastic time to be teaching yourself new skills; there are loads of resources online, and here are a few:

This site has been around since 1999 and is constantly being updated with tutorials about, well, just about everything! I use this resource all the time, it’s like a Wikipedia of computer information. W3Schools is full of interactive tutorials that give you immediate feedback about whether you are putting in a line of code right or wrong.

This site is much newer that W3Schools, though it also has interactive tutorials. Codecademy takes learning to the “Gamified” level, by giving you badges for completing tutorials, logging in on consecutive days, and other things that help give you the push you may need to really complete a course. They even have a space to post and show off your projects. (Something like a tiny version of Github.)

Now this is more of a “Pay to learn” site. I really like this one too. I have invested quite a bit of money — but don’t let the “$199” price tag scare you; these courses are on sale very frequently. And once you sign up they will often give you coupons for items you have wishlisted. This site gives you close to one-on-one dialogue with your instructor, through comments. I can’t say it’s exactly like being in a classroom, but it really has made me work my way through classes and feel like I have accomplished something by looking on the projects. This site offers more than programming courses, everything from “Logo Designing for your Business in an Hour” to “Everyday Mind Mastery” (whatever that is) . Check it out, some classes are free!

A final note: READ THE REVIEWS.
Each of these sites offers classes taught by pretty much anyone who wants to teach you. You can sign up to teach at the same time you sign up to learn. Check to see which class has more star reviews. Read the “This course is using Bootstrap 2 instead of 3 and should be updated” type comments before you invest money. You’ll be glad you did.