Twenty-twenty was a great year for online learning. So, with no travel plans to disrupt, I went on a big spree to buy online courses. I am sure many people did the same, as content writers, coaches, and nonfiction-writers all show a big spike in their earnings since the pandemic hit last year.
There were many reasons for me to go on this spree. First, I was new to online learning. Second, I wanted to gobble up everything and level up with the established writers as quickly as possible.
I also fell prey to online selling, which has a “buy-now-or-you-will-miss-out” business model.
The result — I have several courses that I haven’t gone through beyond the first few lessons.
With the internet, we have access to thousands of courses, webinars, summits, reports, books at meager prices. Yet, most of us find it hard to gain skills. Often it is not for want of application. Some of us may be easily distracted, but others are dedicated.
Here is what I learned from my course buying spree.
Not all courses are created equal.
Most courses are seminar-style, where the presenter provides the information and doesn’t teach any skill.
Other ones are summit kind where several well-meaning presenters give their views (often contradicting) on the same topic. Of course, not all of the information is relevant to your scenario, but you don’t know that until you listen to it.
Generally, I rate workshops above the seminars and summit. This is because, at workshops, you are putting into practice whatever you are learning immediately. In my mind, it is the best way to learn.
We are all time-poor. And we are bombarded with information. Unless we put the new knowledge into practice straight away, it will be forgotten or, worse still, replaced by thousand other things demanding our attention.
A big price tag doesn’t mean it will be a better course.
I have bought less than $100, and I have bought courses that cost much more than $1000. What I have discovered that ten times more fee doesn’t mean ten times more value.
Many times we pay for the brand name.
Some presenters have built themselves a big following that they can charge whatever they like for the courses. Add to that scarcity factor and spot- specials, and you have a winning formula.
Many Udemy courses have the same information at a fraction of a price. Also, many platforms come with free courses. I was pleasantly surprised when I joined Convertkit. It has a well-structured course and an excellent program to teach all you need to know about online marketing and newsletter building.
Buying a course doesn’t mean you will acquire the skill.
Writing articles, building an audience, marketing on social media are all skills. When we buy a course, we think we are acquiring these skills. Instead, what we get is a load of information.
Acquiring skills needs work on our part. It needs commitment, time, and patience. And it needs practice. When buying a course, you need to make sure you have the time and commitment to practice what the course teaches. Otherwise, you will be buying something that will sit on your computer, and after a few months, you will even forget you bought it.
Don’t get lured by the “special price.” Online course presenters need to sell their courses. So they will be coming with specials all the time. Take your time to buy the course — which is when you are ready to implement it.
Online courses can never replace the face to face courses.
This weekend I attended the first face-to-face workshop since the pandemic hit last year, and boy did I find the difference.
First of all, I got to get out of the home. Getting out of the home meant I got out of the hassles associated with it. I didn’t have to run a load of washing while I was listening to the audios. Neither did I have to worry about cooking lunch or getting the dinner underway. No vacuuming to fit in between breaks and no answering the doorbell or phone calls.
I had the luxury to immerse myself in learning. I could fully engage with the tutor. I could ask questions, and got direct feedback instantly while doing the exercises.
Of course, I could have learned the same thing on YouTube from the convenience of my home. I would have saved the driving time and course fee, but I wouldn’t have learned the skill either. Not as quickly as I did in the workshop. And with much less frustration.
Not to mention learning from the other participants. Each one of us interpreted the instructions differently. Learning from them provided another layer of understanding.
I am not discounting online courses completely. They have their merits, and I envision myself buying many more in the future. But I think both online and live courses are needed.
What I am raising here is our tendency to buy courses as if we are buying commodities. However, just buying courses doesn’t mean we can buy the skill they are promising to teach.
My strategy to go through previous courses (and the future ones).
I have decided not to buy any more online courses this year.
I am going to go through all the previous courses for the remainder of the year.
Some of them are sitting there because I was not ready for the skills they were teaching me when I bought them. Others were too long. One course had 80 hours of videos. Even if I watch for two hours a day, every day, it will take me 40 days to finish it.
But I am going to finish it.
Rather than watching it slowly and taking notes, I will go through them in one go. It is the same strategy I use while reading a book that I want to consume to gain information. Even quick listening helps absorb many facts.
Once I have gone through the course, I will have a good idea, what modules I want to watch again. Now will be the time to make notes. I will also be marking the modules that I should watch again, say in six months.
Going over a course in several iterations has the added benefit of repetition. We don’t learn much the first time we encounter anything. It is by repetition we cement the lessons we learn. Every time we listen to the same information, it presents a different meaning.
To finish my rant
This is my plan to finish the courses I have already bought.
I would like to know what is yours.