Over the years, there have been plenty of e-learning platforms popping up, and I have tried a few of them. How they compare is really a combination of factors and personal preferences. Sure, there is plenty of freely available resources, and we all find tons of tutorials on YouTube, but most often the best instruction will be found by spending a few bucks. It's mostly in the building up of fundamentals and reinforcing your learning along the way with actual projects that is worth so much more than the multitude of tutorials out there. And that's where I found myself going wrong by bouncing around from tutorial to tutorial for so long.
So, last year I stumbled onto Udemy, an e-learning platform that has been around awhile, and I saw some bright, shiny courses I just had to go after. However, timing isn't always on my side, and I found myself working many more hours at my regular job in healthcare. But, today I can say I've now put in a couple hours a night with a few courses in tandem for a couple weeks, and can tell you a few things specifically about Udemy, in case you are considering it.
First of all, I do like the platform and the way it's set up, though it's not vastly different from others. One thing that was new to me was the Q&A tab below the course you are viewing. This is where you can ask questions at a certain point in the course and get answers from the instructor, or fellow students, which works really well. The video controls are great. You can slow down videos, bookmark a spot, add notes, and even view a transcript. And most courses on Udemy will provide downloadable resources, like project files and additional materials where applicable. Also, some courses will have Facebook groups for sharing work and getting additional feedback. It's close enough to real classroom work, if you actually take it step by step and put in the work.
There are tons of courses presently available on Udemy in a huge variety of fields. And finding the course that's right for you could, and should, take you some time in research. As I did, you'll want to look at course previews to see if the content and the instructor will be a right fit for you (we've all had those teachers we just couldn't learn from, am I right?). The courses all have a few preview videos to offer a decent glimpse into the content. And there is a 30 day money back guarantee if a course isn't working for you, provided you haven't viewed a major portion of the course.
But, let me mention a few of the courses I am presently taking, in no particular order:
The Ultimate Digital Painting Course - Beginner to Advanced. This one is a monster - 126 lectures and 27 total hours of video instruction! The instructors, Jaysen Batchelor and Austin Batchelor, walk you step by step through learning to draw and paint digitally. This course covers everything from drawing fundamentals, to color theory, and even creating characters. It's a pretty intense course, and Jaysen and Austin are great teachers. You can find this course, and others in this field by looking under Graphic Design and Illustration. I didn't want to forever suck at drawing, and this course, so far, is giving me some confidence that I actually can get better.
Another course I'm taking is Affinity Designer: The Complete Guide to Affinity Designer, and this one is under the Design Tools category. I've loved and played around in Affinity programs for awhile, but I really wanted to deepen my skills and learn more of Affinity Designer, specifically. And this course, taught by Jeremy Hazel, is excellent, and includes 12 hours of on-demand video throughout 9 sections, with some good projects along the way.
Then, there is another course I grabbed during a sale, as I wanted to deepen my skills and understanding of Adobe After Effects. This one is Adobe After Effects CC: Complete After Effects Course, taught by Louay Zambarakji. I especially love this guy. He speaks a little fast, but really does a great job of explaining things and concepts in After Effects that I hadn't completely grasped before, and his excitement is evident in his instruction. This is a massive course, too, with over 34 hours of on-demand video across 50 sections. Though I've been using After Effects for years, and so far what I've gotten through in this course is known to me, there are essential things I'm still picking up. This course and others can be found under 3D and Animation courses.
From my experience taking these Udemy courses so far, I really love the format, the structure, and the assignments, as well as the instructors. If you're going to spend any time really learning something, I believe it is best to go elearning over searching endless tutorials on the internet. Take a look around Udemy and see if you can find something for yourself. Take the time to preview the courses and instructors first before spending the cash. If you set up an account, you can wishlist courses and be notified of sales. A wait might pay off, as there are always sales going on at Udemy.