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Upskilling in 2019: 5 great e-learning platforms

  • Whether you are just starting your technological career or you’ve been working in tech for a while now, the constant need to address skill gaps and upskill is so vital. Even if you’re not currently in a technological role, gaining knowledge and fundamental tech skills will enable you to have your job for longer.

    Here are the top 5 platforms to use right now:

    1: EDX

    Do you want to drive your career forward with a top data science program? EDX is the perfect programme for you as the programme not only enables you to learn about the newest and most cutting-edge theories, but it allows you to select a course from 60 different schools, with 1200+ courses currently available. These courses are free, making them extremely accessible, and technologists and engineers are able to build new learning tools and features for the platform.

    The main goal of EDX is to build a thriving working community of both educators and technologists that shares its knowledge to benefit people all over the world.

    EDX has the functionality for institutions and educators to build tools that specifically meet their needs and educators to run classes of their choice. As a student, you are also able to select courses that are specific to your learning needs. The students currently enrolled in EDX come from every country in the world and are studying a large variety of courses from languages, science, and engineering to marketing and biology.

    This platform specialises in providing students with the skills they need to advance their careers. In an ever-evolving industry, it is essential to continually be learning in order to keep up with technologies, and the more developed your skill set is, the more roles you will be able to apply for.

    2: Envato Tuts+

    This is a great resource with a multitude of free and paid tutorials. There are over 570 video courses that are instructed by professionals and include all topics, not just those related to computers. Envato Tuts+ courses help you learn a skill from start to finish, with expert instructors and a practical style: 1,180+ courses each typically include 2—3 hours of video, organized into chapters and bite-size lessons. The lessons provided are broken down into a step-by-step process and screenshots additionally are provided for visual learners.

    The goal at the heart of Envato Tuts+ is to observe how people transform not only their skillset but their lives by learning creative skills and earning money selling their creations across the world. The ethos of Tuts+ very much encapsulates the power of applying creative skills and practically investing in your future.

    Envato Tuts+ isn’t like school and you'll never be rewarded with badges or gold stars: Gimmick-free learning is key at Tuts+. The organisation recognises how busy individuals are and addresses the need to continually refresh skills while under time pressure. The organisation recognises that the desire for lifelong learning comes from within.

    With Tuts+ you have the option to develop coding skills, learn how to design and illustrate, try photography, explore game development, or work on crafts: The list is extensive. Envato Tuts+ suits the vast majority of learners as there is no single ‘correct’ path to take as you embark on your learning career. Whether you opt to focus on one topic or multiple topics across a range of areas, Tuts+ is there to support you as you shape your career.

    3: Free Code Camp

    The main purpose of Free Code Camp is to teach code to those who wish to help non-profits. Students will receive real-time help from the community chat rooms while being able to meet up with other coders in their city. The courses are delivered not only through assignment but through interactive learning: There is flexibility surrounding the pace you wish to acquire the skills and -- best of all -- it is free to make a start.

    Free Code Camp offers courses across HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Node.js and React.js. Whether you want to join a supportive community of millions of coders, build projects and earn free certifications, or get experience by coding for non-profit organisations, Free Code Camp has the opportunity for you to do so.

    With Free Code Camp, an active forum is available for all users. This forum allows questions to be asked but also is a source of support for individuals who may be starting the programmes. There is also the ability to upload projects that you are working on and ask for feedback. This forum creates a community with a broad range of users and is a supportive network for individuals beginning their coding journey.

    Free Code Camp are very clear about the fact that pursuing one of the many courses provided isn’t a substitute for a four-year degree, the organisation is passionate about the fact that you don’t need a university degree to become a software developer, but it helps. Pursuing one of the courses provided by Free Code Camp will take no more than 300 hours of dedication, the courses are self-paced with no time restriction placed upon completion. Flexibility exists throughout the whole organisation, Free Code Camp offer well thought out courses, with suitable linkages between different components, however, you are free to move around as you please. It is your course and your time.

    4: Coursera

    This platform provides technical courses from top universities which enables individuals to study a multitude of in-demand technology skills. The platform partners with top universities to provide one online learning environment packed with academically strong course options. Upskilling and reskilling prove to companies that you are willing to change as the industry evolves, and Coursera is a fantastic place to start.

    Every course available onsite is taught by high-calibre instructors from the world’s best universities. Upon completing courses, you will complete peer-reviewed assessments, be subject to auto-grading, and participate in community discussion forums. Upon completion, an e-certificate is available to collect. Learning a new skill with Coursera should take around 4-6 weeks, with costs ranging from $29-$99, and courses are open to anyone wishing to apply. Coursera recognise the importance of specialisation and provides several rigorous, specially made courses for this purpose: At the end of these courses, a specialism certificate can be achieved to share with co-workers and professional connections. Specialisation courses tend to take longer, with the estimated time for completion being between 4 and 6 months, though mastering a specific skill will put you in a good position for that dream role.

    With over 35 million learners, 2,700 courses and 350+ specialisations, there is something for everyone, no matter what level you are currently at.

    5: Udacity

    Udacity is highly affordable, accessible, effective, and engaging. Educational resources have long since passed passive listening and morphed into active doing, and Udacity leads the way in this regard with its interactive programs. It aims to hone skills that are needed by industry leaders today, delivers credentials that are endorsed by employers, and give valuable education to all at just a fraction of the cost that is asked by traditional schools. The platform works closely with industry leaders, including Facebook, Bertelsmann, Google, Amazon, Mercedes Benz, and IBM.

    The learning process at Udacity is self-managed with hands-on learning, interactive content, and measurable progress. You will have the opportunity to work on real-world projects with actionable feedback and portfolio-ready results. With Udacity, there is also the option to study courses of different levels, from beginner to nanodegree level, so it works for people of all backgrounds and ability levels. Courses last for between a day and several months, and within a standard course, you may be offered rich learning content, interactive quizzes, self-paced learning, student support community, and teaching from industry professionals.

    Great strides have been made at Udacity in terms of engaging top global businesses: Scholarship pathways for Data Science and Pytorch, supported by Bertelsmann and Google respectively, alongside country-specific scholarship initiatives, are paving people's path to industry without cost to them.

    Udacity also offers a service for transforming your business. By undertaking courses, you can benefit your business significantly by getting ahead of digital disruption, addressing the talent gap, and nurturing in-demand technology talent. The competitive advantage any business that utilises Udacity Enterprise possesses is the ability to build a workforce that demonstrates future-facing skills and fluency.

    About the author

    Jamie is a Sync NI marketing intern with a keen interest in students, start-ups, and digital marketing. To connect with Jamie, feel free to send him an email or follow him on LinkedIn.

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