There has been a DIY learning explosion on the internet over recent years. Never has it been easier to learn a new subject or develop a new skill than it is right now. These opportunities for continuous learning and up-skilling resonate with today’s multi-skilled work environment, where personal development is placed at a premium.
This article will introduce you to some of the best up-skilling and continuous learning websites out there. But before beginning your up-skilling journey, there are some things worth thinking about.
What is your goal? Is it to learn a new skill to help you tackle a new role at work, or change careers?
Or do you want to become better at your current skill?
Do you just want to learn for the sake of learning?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but when choosing an up-skilling platform, make sure you know what you want to get out of it, because this will help you make an informed decision. Also, it’s important that you do your own independent research to select the online courses that fit your goals, your staff’s goals and your / their specific learning style.
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve used Lynda.com to learn PPC and SEO strategies. Part of its appeal is that it plugs into LinkedIn (they bought it), meaning that all their certificates can be added to your profile. It’s a great way to get to grips with essential work skills from mastering Excel spreadsheets, to using image editor Photoshop and programming software Unity.
Udemy offers a range of video courses from web development to graphic design and mathematics. Although not free, courses can often be found for around £10 thanks to regular discounts of up to 95%.
The platform is an online marketplace, so there are lots of high quality courses, and some low quality or even pirated ones. However, like with most online marketplaces, you can use reviews left by students to help make an informed choice. The company has attracted a lot of funding so it will probably only grow more influential as time goes on.
Codecademy is a fantastic beginner-friendly entry route to learning to code. Unlike many online courses, it doesn’t have any video content, but its text-only learning is backed up by live help and tuition if you sign up to the pro version for around £14 per month .
Coursera offers courses on everything from computer science to art history. It is a form of learning known as a MOOC, or “massive open online course”.
With nearly 1000 courses, Coursera is the biggest MOOC, and features courses from leading universities like Yale and Stanford. It’s worth noting that although Coursera offers certificates that can be listed on LinkedIn, they aren’t official certifications recognised by the universities themselves.
Primarily focussed around the sciences, the site offers A-Grade university teaching outside the confines of the privileged few who frequent such institutions. Students can access the courses for free but have to pay to get personalised credits.
Language learning with Duolingo and Babbel
In today’s interconnected work environment, learning a new language is an excellent way to re-skill. Duolingo is the world’s most popular language learning app. It is highly gamified, which can be motivational but has its limitations, and focusses on teaching vocab and sentence structure rather than conversational skills.
Babbel, by contrast, focusses on conversational skills, but unlike Duolingo it isn’t free (though it only costs around £9 per month, so is pretty cheap). Each language learning platform has it’s own teaching approach, and you should do research to find ones that best fit your learning style, be it gamification (Duolingo), conversation (Babbel), or total immersion (Rosetta Stone).
Digital marketing upskilling
Many freelancers lack the marketing know-how needed to put themselves out there properly. It’s also a much sought-after skill to learn. Fortunately, there are a range of sites that can teach you essential marketing skills.
If you’re a university student, you can apply to participate in Google’s Online Marketing Challenge, where you are given $250 of AdWords credit to promote a business or non-profit organisation and get an accreditation at the end. It’s an excellent way to gain real world digital marketing experience.
Alternatively, PPC University is a completely free course in PPC advertising and digital marketing courtesy of WordStream, that anyone can sign up to.
3 rules of up-skilling and continuous learning
To make the most of your upskilling journey, try and apply the following 3 rules to your self directed learning efforts:
Rather than endlessly surfing ‘good to know’ content on YouTube, pick a specific skill you want to learn and complete an introductory course in it. The more focussed your course of learning, the more concrete your knowledge base will be as a result of it.
2: Promote your achievements
Some learning sites give you certificates and badges you can display on your social media accounts or list on your CV. Even if you have no ‘official’ accreditation from a course, included it anyway. It shows people that you take personal development seriously and are self-motivated and proactive.
3: Apply your new skills to a project
It’s all well and good to know lots of stuff, but employers and clients are going to want to see evidence that you can apply those skills to everyday tasks. This is far more valuable than a thousand certificates.