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Online courses – are they worth it?

According to the various researches about the adaptability, agility and re-skilling will be crucial to deal on the labour market in the next several years.  More and more people work on the distance-based positions straight from their homes. Although popularity of the remote work is not limited to the professional field, it also applies to the educational sector.

The availability of knowledge is easier than ever. We are basically attacked with online courses offers. These frequently offers a new job skills, developing your hobby or learn a new language. Since I’m an educational psychologist I’ve decided to take a closer look at the topic of online courses (MOOC’s – massive open online courses). I will try to answer some very significant questions:

  • Is it worth to pay and more important – spend a lot of time on a online course?
  • What are the most important factors when choosing a course?
  • What are other alternative methods of education?


When choosing a online course make sure that you are not overpaying for this service. You can find a lot of very pricey courses with questionable content. But is it worth to pay for a course at all?
Several of distance learning services allow to attending online courses for free. Udemy, Coursera and Codecademy are among them. Usually, you can get access to the content for free but you have to pay for the shareable certificate or course materials.

Actionable advice: Try a free trial before paying for the whole course and make sure that profits offered for the price are worth it.


Depends on the type of the course there can be many materials such as downloadable tables, exercises or videos offered. Remember that courses with additional materials are often better prepared (more complex). But don’t be fooled by the extras – course publishers often offers tons of useless rubbish as bonus materials.

Actionable advice: Carefully check what is added to the course.

Length of the course

Read the course syllabus in details. You don’t want to spend a hundred dollars for a course, only to find out that it lasts ten hours and it’s only an introduction to the topic. Unless you’re looking for a short course. It’s very important to know what you want in the course and to what extend you can commit yourself to this topic. Make sure that the service has an online app that allows you to learn on the go (for example in the public transport or on the toilet).

Actionable advice: Plan your attendance and estimate how much time you have to spend on the course.

Other forms of learning
Online courses are not the only form of gaing new knowledge. However, they have some perks that make them a bit superior than others (e.g. your book won’t send you a notification with reminder to read it). But it is worth saying that sometimes the better choice will be the learning app, a book or the post-graduate studies. These other forms are something that will be covered on this page in the future.

Actionable advice: Don’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Find a right way to learn what you need.

Real value
Think about the real value that comes with the course and the changes it can bring. I’m sure that after all, you can find really interesting and valuable content that will be the pebble in the water that set your sea in motion (figuratively speaking). If you don’t know how to find something for yourself, follow my site, get familiar my posts – especially the one about finding an ideal course.

Online course can be the great way to learn a new skill. But it’s important to choose one carefully and with attention to detail. If the text is too long and you don’t want to read it, scan it for actionable advices.
What do you think about online courses – are they a effective way of distance learning? Do you use it or prefer some other form? If so, what are your preferable form of learning?


Published in Learning