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How To Identify An Appropriate Online Course

Google an online course and you are bombarded with pages and pages of options.  What should you choose? How do you know that’s the best class for you?  Here are 4 tips to help you narrow down your options:

1. Identify What You Want To Learn & Why. 

The subjects are endless, so sit back and reflect on what is driving your curiosity, otherwise you will be overwhelmed.  What skill or subject are you looking to build on? For example:

  • How to build a website?
  • How to start my own business?
  • How to improve my sketching skills?
  • How to improve my Spanish?
  • What are genetics and evolution all about?
  • What is positive psychology?

The more specific you are about your interest(s), the easier it will be for you to narrow down options.

2. Explore Your Options.

Once you have an idea about the topic(s) you would like to build on, the next step is to visit pertinent online learning sites, and start searching for what’s available. As there are innumerable websites with great content, here are some options to start with:

  • Coursera
  • EdX
  • Khan Academy
  • Udemy

Note down what is catching your eye and on what platform.  Once you have a list of appropriate options (ideally 3-8), we can work towards identifying the most favorable course.

3. Determine Fit.

A few online courses have peaked your interest, so which one should you go with.  Here are some parameters that could help you further narrow your choices.

  • Curriculum: What is the objective and what will you be covering on a week to week basis? Are there exams / quizzes? When do I need to submit them?
  • Pre-requisites: Is it apt for a beginner or do I need to be proficient in certain concepts?
  • Pricing: Is it free or will you have to pay? Is the payment amount reasonable for you?
  • Duration: How long is the course? If it extends beyond your preferred timing, can you work at an accelerated pace and complete it earlier?
  • Timings: Is it self-paced or do you need to come online at a particular time? Are the timings realistic for you?
  • Flexibility: What happens if I don’t submit an assignment or miss a podcast? What is the attendance and make-up policy?
  • Credibility: Who is teaching this course? What is their background?


4. Get Started & Stay Committed.

Now that you found a course that matches your interest and needs, get going! Don’t over think this.  This is one course and if it doesn’t match all your expectations, that’s fine. Complete the modules and be better prepared for when you choose the next one.


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