Skillshare is a portal to a wide range of online classes with courses available in a range of disciplines.
- An open marketplace approach to online learning
- Ability to sort course results according to name, instructor, or a variety of tags
- Generous try before you buy approach to classes
- A less expensive alternative to other popular MOOCs
- Allows practically any skilled creator to market their classes to students
- A wide range of different learning disciplines available
- The open-ended hiring policy of Skillshare means the expertise of instructors can be hard to identify
- Non-creative courses are severely limited
The egalitarian nature of the online experience has created a new landscape for how people throughout the world learn valuable skills and improve their professional cache. Massive open online courses have been a popular phenomenon for some years now, and proponents of the model argue that it democratizes the learning process. The crowdsourced nature of courses means that a larger amount of students can be taught at lower cost, and students can learn at their own pace without having to go through the challenges of visiting a physical location at a specific date and time. Skillshare offers both of these advantages, but it also emphasizes some of the strengths of online learning platforms that are often neglected. What Skillshare gets right is the fact that many of their prospective students are looking for something more casual than the rigorous and structured courses offered at other online schools. While rigid learning paths and linearly advancing curriculum plays to the advantage of liberal arts schools and technical colleges that seek a route from novice to employable, Skillshare promotes a system that allows users of various proficiency levels and interests to hop in on the programs that interest them. By delineating their curriculum into classes, projects, and workshops, they allow their students to pick the style and rigor of learning that matches their needs. Skillshare makes an emphasis to promote "creators", so you'll find much less in the way of traditional academic exercises here. Still, the breadth of courses offered is pretty wide. A number of traditional artistic forms are covered as are fundamentals of programming languages and business leadership seminars. The community altogether resembles the sorts of professionals you'd regularly find speaking at TED Talks. Skillshare is also largely unique in how it approaches the recruitment of teachers. Rather than taking a topdown approach where teachers are direct employees of the program, Skillshare allows anyone with the required expertise to create and publish courses. The result is a platform that more represents an open market than a traditional school, and teachers are paid regularly according to the amount of time students spend watching their videos. It's a model that emphasizes results and pushes teachers to create more effective curriculum, but it can create a bit of a learning curve for new teachers trying to find an audience in an already crowded learning discipline. Given the crowdsourced nature of the teaching and the desire students have to not waste their time on courses that won't pay out, Skillshare employs a fairly reasonable subscription structure. A monthly fee gives you access to everything in the Skillshare database, but the first video in any course can be watched for free. This means you can get a feel for the quality of the instructors without having to invest in the long haul up front.