5 things you will love (and 3 you might not) about Skillshare as a student

During the last decade, Skillshare has positioned itself as one of the most prominent voices in the online education universe. During this time, they have been sort of a matchmaker between those who have something to teach and those seeking for something to learn. They have notably embraced the format of educational videos organized in logical sequences and the topics of their courses go from Business to Technology, and from Arts to Lifestyle.

Before discussing about the features you will love (and those you might not), here are some basic information about Skillshare.

How much is Skillshare monthly?

Skillshare offers a monthly membership which gives you access to all of their more than 29,000 courses. You can choose to be billed both monthly or annually. As it is customary with many subscription sites, you will be saving a significant amount of money if you go with the annual option (45% to be exact). Here's a chart to help you visualize that difference.

Alternatively, Skillshare claims they will offer volume discounts to organizations when they purchase multiple subscriptions for their teams. You would need to contact their Sales Department for the exact discount amount if this is something you think you might benefit from, as they assess it on a case-by-case basis.

What can I learn on Skillshare?

Skillshare focuses on four main areas of knowledge: Creative, with courses like Animation, Fine Art, Photography and Writing. Business, which includes Entrepreneurship, Freelance, Management and Marketing. Technology, with courses like Web and Mobile Development and lastly Lifestyle, featuring Crafts and Culinary courses. However they do cover significantly more topics outside of these main categories and they are periodically adding new ones.

Can I learn a new language with Skillshare?

Yes. Languages are another topic covered by Skillshare. Numerous tutors and freelancers post video courses periodically about a wide variety of language learning subjects. In fact, the very same course structure that Skillshare offers makes it easy for them to cover subjects as varied as allowed by their ingenuity.

As of this minute, this is the amount of language courses that can be found on Skillshare based on the most popular languages.

English 359

German 137

Spanish 114

French 98

Mandarin 52

Italian 36

Arabic 34

Japanese 33

Portuguese 18

Now that we have covered the basics, it's time to talk about those aspects that I consider could benefit your learning journey, whichever the topic of your interest might be. In order to identify these features I have first looked at the most recurrent needs a student can have and how Skillshare has worked in order to provide a meaningful product to meet those needs.

1. Learn for free

Free is a term that newer generations have come to appreciate and worship especially when it comes to, precisely, education. By doing this, Skillshare is opening their doors to a wider and more varied audience that otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to access such content.

Along with the free classes, you would be able to participate in projects and discussions associated with them.

The best way to find free classes is by performing a search and then adding the Free filter as shown in the image below (15 free Spanish classes is not bad at all!)

Skillshare Search Page with Free filter added

2. Win a scholarship

Besides some classes being already free, Skillshare has a scholarship program accessible to anyone who meets the specific criteria they have defined. This is certainly a distinctive feature not all that common across similar online education platforms. If this is something you might be interested in, keep in mind that purchasing a Premium membership invalidates your eligibility.

They also review all applications on a monthly basis, specifically at the beginning of the month, so you might not get an answer right away depending on when you apply. It's also good to know that due to the high volume of applicants they only notify applicants who were accepted. In that event, they would send a redemption link by email which will automatically give the recipient a Premium Subscription status.

3. Enroll in a workshop

Similar to video classes, workshops are yet another opportunity to learn new concepts but through a slightly different format. They attach to a previously set schedule so that students and teachers can convene and interact live with each other. The good side of this is that you get to socialize, meet new like-minded people and do some networking.

There are also free workshops that you can take advantage of while some others might require an additional signup fee set by the teacher. Workshops also become available as video classes after they end so they can be watched at any time after that.

Here's an example of the projects submitted by participants as part of the Illustration Workshop. Click here to see the full gallery and credits.

4. Don't pay for Premium

Another cool feature that Skillshare has added is that you can get a free full month of Premium Membership when you refer a friend. In addition to that, your friend will also get, not one, but two free months. The good thing about this is that there are no limits as of how many referrals you can make, so if 12 of your friends signed up after you refer them, you can end up having a fool free year of Premium Membership.

The process to do this is very clear and straightforward. There's a section inside your account called Refer a Friend. From there you would be able to email your friends directly or get a personalized link that you would be able to share on social media, through text, email or even a website. After your friend has completed their first two months, and made their first payment, Skillshare will apply the free month to your membership.

5. Win Prizes

Maybe a lesser known feature is that Skillshare also organizes contests where students (and sometimes even teachers) can take part and obviously win prizes. Everytime a contest becomes available the specifics are posted inside each qualifying class. They can also be found inside the Promotions & Contests section in their Help Center. Often, you can participate by just submitting a class project following certain guidelines. The prizes are varied and can go from a few hundred to thousands of dollars or even free Premium memberships for a full year and so on. Definitely a fun and productive way to learn and be rewarded!

Now for the potential downside

As we know, when it comes to products or services, there's always something that might just not work for us while many others can actually benefit from it. It's totally up to you to analyze the facts and assess whether such factors can actually be a problem or not. For that very same reason, it's only fair to mention some aspects that, again, while not necessarily a hindrance, might just not work as well for you.

1. The thing about subscriptions

Just like with a gym membership or even Netflix, paying for a recurrent subscription has the inherent and almost unavoidable risk of totally forgetting to cancel when you no longer need their products or services. Your bank account gets drained month after month, while you ingenuously continue with your day to day life.

If you see yourself using Skillshare for a prolonged period of time or accessing more than one topic consistently, then this will certainly not be an issue for you. At least during the time you are an active learner. However, it would be a good idea to set a cancellation reminder, (and then actually cancel it) if you are only using their services for a short period of time and for just one or a few classes.

2. It's all about access

Unlike numerous other learning platforms, when you submit a payment to Skillshare you are actually not paying for the product you are interested in, but for the possibility to access it. This means that in reality, you are never the owner of the course per se, just like you would if you bought a book or a CD.

However, this is not totally a bad thing. At least most of the time. Buying a book or a CD and bringing it home means that yes, you own that product and the content in it, but that's not a guarantee that its value is never going to change. Especially when it comes to learning a new skill, ideas and concepts evolve and what was relevant yesterday can easily become irrelevant the next day. And that's when paying for access becomes meaningful, as you will always be one click away from fresh and up to date content.

Bottom line: if you are learning concepts that might not change quickly from year to year, like say maths, cooking specific recipes, etc. paying for a recurrent subscription might not be the best way to go as you would be better off making a one time payment to own the content. On the other hand, if you are interested in learning a concept that evolves quickly with time, like Photoshop or SEO Principles, paying for a subscription will guarantee that you always have unlimited access to fresh and readily available content.

3. Prove you do what you claim

Because going around doing visual demonstrations of what you can do and how well you can do it would be seen as flat-out insane and impractical, certificates and diplomas are the most effective way to convince the world of what you are capable of doing, professionally. They are certainly not the only way, but one of the most effective ones.

So if you need to demonstrate that you have acquired a specific knowledge and developed a specific skill, you might not be able to do it, at least in a conventional way. Skillshare allows you to see your personal curriculum of completed classes and this is definitely shareable but no diplomas or certificates are issued.

Now, this becomes an irrelevant fact simply if you don't need to validate your expertise and are only looking to improve or develop a specific skill for a work you currently have, as an example. If you already are a professional photographer and want to stay in touch with recent techniques and new ways to approach lighting, for instance, then you might be at the right place.

In conclusion

Skillshare is one of the most inclusive and accessible learning platforms available today. Like with many other providers in the specific industry of online learning through video courses, it is your own circumstance and your own personal needs what makes a resource suitable. We hope we gave you enough facts to allow you to identify the essential aspects that can work for you or not.

Feel free to share it, comment and make suggestions. Happy learning!

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