The internet is a revolutionary tool for spreading knowledge, but it's become clearer in recent years that not everything you read online is reliable or accurate. That means that learning online requires some caution and careful thought. Before you get started, it's important to know what your goals are and to understand whether you can trust your source.
Free Online Learning: Pros and Cons
Free e-learning offers some obvious benefits. You can get self-study courses online free of charge, and that's great if you have a limited budget or aren't sure whether you're ready to make a leap in a new direction. Plus, if you're studying something out of curiosity and don't intend to make an investment for career purposes, paying for knowledge might seem unnecessary. Free e-learning software, videos, and articles have a democratizing effect on the world. You don't have to be rich to learn, and that's a great thing.
However, there are often some quality concerns associated with free online learning. If you go to YouTube and type a random subject, like "history of the United States," into the search bar, chances are you're going to get some results that aren't so much concerned with facts as they are with pushing an agenda or getting views. That's not as much of a concern for tech topics because there are hard, objective truths that are difficult to obscure. But the quality of the instructional content, the expertise level of the teacher, and the amount you actually take away are mostly a shot in the dark with free resources. Who has time to put out free content, and why are they doing it? These are valid questions to ask when it comes to learning online.
The Benefits of Paid Online Learning
When you pay for classes online, you make more of a commitment. That can be a good thing. Getting your money's worth can help ensure you fully follow through on your educational plans. Beyond that, though, paid classes, like those in aUdacity Nanodegree program, offer a tested curriculum taught by proven experts who are there to help you when you need it. Learning for free means relying on online communities that may or may not actually give you helpful answers. This can work for very basic tech topics like HTML, but when you're talking about something potentially career-defining, likeDeep Learning classes, having an expert on hand to walk you through complex topics can make a world of difference.
Ultimately, the choice is yours when it comes to learning online. There are multiple ways to do it, and they can all get you where you want to go. Browse the Udacity Catalog to discover just how extensive your options are for online learning and career advancement.