Fast & Focused: Micro Learning to Enrich Skills

Micro Learning - Your Time, Your Place, Your Choice

Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears and never regrets.

Leonardo Da Vinci

It’s a fact of life today  – information is rapidly evolving, technology is changing on a dime and most skills are becoming rusty and sometimes outdated.

So, how current are you on the Skills Spectrum?

Professional, employed, a parent, or all of these – for every one of us today,  technology based skills need updating frequently while other job skills may need a periodic refresher. Maybe you have a hobby or passion that you want to take to a professional level. Or the need for life coaching to get back into the groove. And very often, there are those of us seeking professional credentials, to make us more marketable in the workspace.

Easier than ever before with Micro Learning

Do you have limitations of time or resources for a full degree or are you just hesitant because you simply fear that learning is harder with age. Then why not consider smaller learning portions as an alternative?

E-learning defines Microlearning as a way of teaching and delivering content to learners in small, very specific bursts. The learners are in control of what and when they’re learning.

 

Choices Unlimited

Today, learning is at your fingertips and you can choose from short term courses, projects, workshops, certifications, TED talks, Podcasts, Free Live Stream Discussions and even guidebooks.  Plus the flexibility to learn on mobile devices, engage with communities and sometimes even find jobs. And then there is a fair number of classroom courses too. Video or interactive, project or quiz based, they are all designed to make learning easier and effective in a rapid burst. 

Flexible Time

The time commitment that you need to make for studying can be as little as 15 minutes a day to several hours a week, depending on your comfort level. The best part – you can take courses that don’t cost you a thing or opt for free trials while you make up your mind. Even if you’re considering going back to school full time, why not take a course or two to whet your learning appetite.

 

You can try out a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) offered by top universities including schools like MIT, Princeton and UPenn, plus numerous state and private schools offer education globally (but no college credits). Or there are numerous private institutions that have video based classes and micro lectures through their websites or YouTube. Local community colleges offer plenty of short courses too. 

How do you Choose ?

Assuming, you want to do this online, there is still plenty to choose from – both the portals as well as their course content. All of that can be overwhelming, so you need to pare down your choices first. If you’re refreshing your skills in a particular field, opting for intermediate or advanced courses helps. But if you are a newbie, get some beginner skills under your belt first.Finding out the kind of job or business opportunities available in your area is equally important. A simple task of looking at hopeful /similar job profiles can help you ascertain what you need to update.If you are stuck between choices, a tabulated comparison chart, in terms of desire, time, financial obligation and the bigger picture might help finalize your selection/prioritize your choices.

To get started, compare the features of a few online learning portals that offer short term courses and certifications with varying content, costs and time commitments, and details after that.

 

Feature Comparison of Online Learning Portals

Fast & Focused: Micro learning to Enrich Your Skills

 

Udemy

With over 40,000 courses ranging from business to personal development as well as functional skills like technology, wellness, photography etc, Udemy’s choices are extensive. Their website claims 11 million users from across 190 countries and uses a video based lecture format. Udemy has an easy sign-up process and an intuitive interface.

Costs: The fee for taking a course typically ranges from free to $50.

 

eDX

eDX offers what they call Credit Eligible Courses from major Universities. You can choose from 950+ online courses towards completing a high school diploma or for undergraduate course credits. The course topics are mostly on academic disciplines like Architecture, Chemistry, Philosophy, languages, Social Sciences – many are free with a fee for a signed and verified certificate by major partner schools. Courses might be self paced or start and end on specific dates.

Costs: While the cost of a course runs in the ballpark of $100 or above, a Certificate from the School signed by the Instructors can be a valuable credential in a job interview or the workplace.

 

Coursera

Similar to eDX, courses at Coursera are syndicated from top educational institutions worldwide and are taught by official university professors.  For most courses, you can choose to take them for free, or pay to take them and receive a certificate of achievement.  Some of these certificates can even count as credits in academic programs or technical training courses, but check the specs carefully beforehand if a college credit is what you require. Again, you can pick self paced, though most courses have specific start dates.

Costs: Range from $45-$99 per course.

 

Lynda.com

Lynda.com (recently acquired by LinkedIn) is another educational website, with 2200 courses and 4 million students, which focusses mainly on employability skills for today’s digital workplaces, such as computer programming, audio engineering, graphic design, videography, office software proficiency, and meeting/presentation management.  The courses are mainly video-based, and has features like the ability to search video transcripts for something specific that you want to learn about, or add specific videos to your own custom playlists.  It also has a program that makes it available for a reduced cost through libraries or other educational institutions.

Costs: Lynda.com has a Basic ($19.99) and Premium ($29.99) monthly subscription model and it offers a free trial period that users can use to evaluate the course content.

 

Udacity

Udacity offers fewer (with paid-for “Nanodegree” course packages that can count as technical training program credits).  What stands out about Udacity, though, is that its courses are built in partnership with leading technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Salesforce.  The beginner level courses require little knowledge about technology, and then a student can move on to more complex technical applications as you gain confidence.

Costs: You can try out the free courses or check out  the career track Nanodegree courses which run $199/ month. Or if you’re looking for a specific role in a particular field, look at the the Nanodegree Plus Courses offered at $299/month which come with a Job Guarantee.

 

Skillshare

Skillshare promotes itself as a place to learn creative skills and boasts 1.8 million students to date. Courses are available in Culinary, Design, Art, Photography and Writing.  Many of the courses are taught by professionals in their fields who make a living from the subject matter that they teach.  Notable Skillshare instructors have included real estate entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran, fashion designer Marc Ecko, and social media consultant Gary Vaynerchuk. They use a project based learning format, with video, projects and interactive teaching, plus a weekly newsletter with details of new classes.

Costs:  Offers free membership (access to about 600 courses) or a premium one for $8/ month which lets you pick from 5600+ choices.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of other online and classroom venues that offer job based or personal value skills.

 

Tips

Once you start a course, take notes during the lectures and to keep reviewing old material. Make use of all the aids the portal offers – most come with a structured format, open resources and a forum discussion page where you can ask questions and create study groups to review and learn.

Feeling hesitant to start? It’s like that getting on a bike again – once the wheels start turning, the exhilaration of accomplishment will keep you in motion. The best part – you can learn from the comfort of your home, with a laptop on your kitchen island, even while you cook dinner. If you still can’t go at it alone, convince a girlfriend to join you in a GNL – Girls Night (of) Learning.

So go ahead, find a course that appeals. The only downside is a short commitment of time and cost, but if you like what you learn, think of the possibilities – endless!

***

Note: While the information above is believed to be accurate and recent, readers are advised to do their own fact finding before making any decisions. Maroon Oak does not endorse or recommend any specific learning institution, nor has the Company been compensated in any way for listing the names above.

Did you go back to school or tried any form of learning? Do share your online learning experiences and tips in the Comments section below.

 

Pooja Krishna

Luck often happens by design, so don’t give up!

Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Consultant and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years. A co-founder of Maroon Oak, she’s also founded Win Thinks, a small business consulting company, and Trading Paces, which educates and mentors amateur and pro stock traders. 

A trivia buff, travel lover and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, Pooja loves spending time with her family cooking, playing board games and watching documentaries.

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If you agree with our Author, liked what you read or have insights of your own, do leave a Comment below in the Comments section.

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4 Comments
  1. Maria Estevaz
    Maria Estevaz 1 year ago

    Love the flexibility some of these courses offer. Managing full time school can be a challenge. And the cost!

  2. Julia Hale
    Julia Hale 1 year ago

    I tried out Lynda.com – you need to fork up for the subscription but it’s worth the spend. And you can stop anytime so that was good.

  3. Joanne Hicks
    Joanne Hicks 1 year ago

    Great article. I will totally check out some of these courses!

    • Joanne Hicks
      Joanne Hicks 10 months ago

      Did a course at Udemy recently. Some nice stuff if you can pcik smartly.

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