Never Stop Learning

October 19, 2020
A hand holds a glowing globe in a graduation cap
Image: Shutterstock

Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 is the year of remote work. This shift marks a major change to digital-first business for many enterprises. Likewise, huge numbers of people have suddenly become remote workers for the first time in their careers. Now that the shock of going remote has worn off some, people are settling into routines in the new normal. As everyone continues to try to make the best of a bad situation, there are some silver linings to be found. For instance, this moment is a perfect time to upskill, as it’s never been easier to learn new things online.

The rapid pace at which technology evolves now means that continuous learning has become a requirement for most tech jobs. Technological progress makes our daily tasks easier, but also means that we have to find new problems to solve each day. To approach new problems, we need new skills. Automation necessitates constant learning, be that bits of programming languages, new software tools, updated business processes or innovative organizational skills.

 

4 Educational Platforms

I’m a huge fan of online education because of its universality and versatility. You can be anywhere on the planet (with Wi-Fi) and start learning on online platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare or edX. Each platform offers unique different advantages for learners and focuses on different skills. Let’s take a look at each site.

  1. Coursera is the most technically oriented of the four, arising as a platform for data science education from well-known universities (Stanford University) and brands (IBM, Google). Right now, you’ll also find business courses here, but its core is still STEM-focused. The platform itself was co-founded by Andrew Ng, a computer scientist and professor at Stanford, who ran its first massive course on machine learning. That course remains popular today, along with several other offerings. The company recently introduced a subscription plan called Coursera Plus. Now, the platform works like Netflix for online education. You can pay a subscription fee and learn as much as they want. Subscription plans start at $39 per month for those seeking to obtain certification in a discipline. If you’re not completing a certificate, however, you can audit courses for free.
     
  2. Udemy, on the other hand, relies on content creators and independent teachers rather than big institutions. Anyone can offer a course on Udemy, though for quality-assurance a verification procedure assures users that the teacher is an expert. Here, you’ll find a plethora of courses on any possible subject, from IT through business to personal development and music. Udemy is great for picking up niche knowledge directly from experts. Courses start from as low as $9, depending on your location.
     
  3. Skillshare focuses more on personal, creative skills that you can acquire quickly. If you’ve always wanted to get into photography, illustration or playing guitar, you’ll find something here. Skillshare’s goal is to spark creativity. The pricing model is subscription-based, starting from $15 per month or $99 annually.
     
  4. edX is a free educational platform with courses from top universities like Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You won’t get a certificate or a personal tutor for most of the courses, but you can watch as many videos and browse as many course materials as you want. The platform offers academic education for free, unless you want to finish with a master’s degree, which is also possible on edX. I’ll discuss that model a bit more below.

Altogether, these platforms are a fantastic way to start learning online. Each has a slightly different focus, so you should browse their offerings to get a feeling for what might suit you the best in terms of offerings and budget. Still, the barrier to learning new things for your growth as a professional and a human has never been lower.

 

Boost Your CV

Coursera and Udemy offer certificates, which can be a great addition to your CV. They show potential employers concrete proof of your hard-earned skills. If you’re looking for certificates, you should also consider Google Certificates and LinkedIn Learning. Google strives to provide complete training for positions like UX designer or data analyst. Similarly, LinkedIn Learning is a platform connected to the professional social media network that consists of more than 10,000 courses with both paid and free options. These offerings are short and can give your CV an immediate boost. Even better, the integration with LinkedIn means that you’ll get personal recommendations right away as you finish courses to endorse your new skills.

You can also consider getting a more traditional education from a university or other institution. Full-fledged master’s programs are available through edX, starting at $9,000. The pandemic might be here to stay a while. Is it worth paying Ivy League tuition if you won’t be able to meet professors and classmates in real life? That’s why, if you’re in the market for a degree, you shouldn’t hesitate to enroll in an online course. It’s a great way to start acquiring new skills and developing your career. You can always learn something new, like adding a programming language to further your business education, or learning data manipulation to boost your entrepreneurial skills. The opportunities are endless.

 

Business or Pleasure?

What’s more important is how to start and what to learn. In order to answer this question, you should first think whether you want to pick new skills for your main job or for your side hustle.

If you want a course fitting your job, reflect on the problems you have now at work and think about what could push you forward. Maybe you’re spending too much time reading spreadsheets, and it’s time to pick up Python to automate some of those processes. Maybe you’re leading a growing team of people and you have difficulties managing them. If so, a leadership course would be perfect.

On the other hand, you might also seize this opportunity to launch the side hustle you’ve been dreaming about. Maybe you need sharper marketing skills to start building your business or better content for your social media presence. Perhaps you want to discover your creative side with a class in illustration, painting, or video editing. Online education offers you the chance to grow as a person while simultaneously working toward personal business goals that you may have been putting off.

After answering these questions, you can pick courses from individual creators on Skillshare or Udemy, or go with big brands on Coursera or edX. Navigating through all these platforms is easy. Once you know what vertical or niche you’re interested in, a simple search will show you which courses are the most popular, which teachers have the best reviews and what to enroll in. Then you’re good to go.

Have fun learning!

Read NextHow to Develop a Clear Data Science Strategy for Your Business

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Przemek Chojecki has a Ph.D. in mathematics and was named on a Forbes 30 under 30 list. He runs Contentyze, a content generation platform.

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