Most people have never heard of the Shaw Academy Free online courses before so it came to me as a surprise when it showed up on the first page of Google while I was searching for something related to blogging. If you are searching for some online courses to improve your skill sets, this program might be something you want to check out.
We shall look at what the platform has to offer, some of its downsides and whether it’s worth signing up or not.
Shaw Academy at a Glance
Founded by James Egan in 2012, this Dublin based online education site offers internationally recognized courses in the following categories;
- Photography (6 courses) – photography, photoshop, video, smartphone photography, Adobe Lightroom, wedding photography
- Finance (3 courses) – financial trading & investment, traders programme, cryptocurrency
- Health and Wellness (3 courses) – nutrition, sports & exercise nutrition. health & fitness,
- Marketing (4 courses) – digital marketing, social media marketing, blogging & content marketing, viral marketing.
- Technology (7 courses) – photoshop, web development, mobile app development, cryptocurrency, web design, graphic design.
- Design (4 courses) – photoshop, web design, graphic design, illustrator.
- Beauty (1 course) – personal beauty
- Music (2 courses) – guitar basics, music
- Business (1 course) – leadership & management
- Language (1 course) – English for beginners
Anyone who is looking to enter a new industry, grow a business or even turn a hobby into a business can benefit from these knowledge specific topics. The learning format is on-demand and comes with weekly assignments.
With the diploma based courses, there is only one module comprising of 8 lessons (1 month). In the professional diploma, courses are divided into 4 modules (4 months) and a certificate will be awarded upon completion. Inside the courses, you will also get assignments and resources.
What Is Actually Free?
By taking advantage of the free trial, you get to use the program for 30 days without any cost commitment. That means you can enroll in any diploma or the introductory phase of a professional diploma for free.
During that period, you can also sign up for multiple courses. After the trial, you have the option to upgrade to either one of the three membership plans.
- 3-month access = $14 per month
- 6-month access = $12 per month
- 12-month access = $9 per month
Signing up is pretty straightforward but they do ask for your credit card details in advance, just so you know.
What I Like About Shaw Academy
The program has most of the qualities you would expect from a legitimate education platform and here are some of the features I like after taking one of the courses.
- The video-based training is professionally done with clean powerpoint slides and clear audio from the tutor. All recordings last for about an hour and are made available every time you complete a lesson.
- Most courses have good ratings between 4 to 5 stars and you can read those positive reviews on the course page itself before enrolling.
- Weekly assignments will be made available every time you complete two sets of lessons. They consist of simple questions and do help in revising what you’ve learned so far.
- The certificate you are getting for the professional diploma courses are EQF (European Qualifications Framework) Level 5 accredited and it not just some fancy titles – it’s a valid qualification equivalent to the educational standards in the USA, Canada, and Australia. For those who are looking for career advancement, this is something nice to add to your CVs/resumes.
- Having the 30 days free trial is a good amount of time to ‘test the water’ so to speak and see if this program is something worth spending on a monthly basis. Most online education platforms don’t really offer such a long trial duration.
- If you are in the e-learning niche, it’s worth noting that Shaw Academy has an affiliate program that lets you earn sales commissions from membership referrals. You can sign up via the ShareASale network to apply.
- It’s easy to cancel the free trial if you don’t think Shaw Academy is the right platform for you. There’s no need to send in any support ticket as the process can be easily managed through your user account.
What I Dislike
As legit as it looks, the ‘professionalism’ of such a platform can be somewhat rigid and that is one of the reasons why I don’t like subscribing for the long term.
- The learning process is typically one way. There’s a chatbot that will pop up once in a while to check on your progress but if you are looking for human interaction, there’s no presence of a community and no dedicated member’s area for further discussion with the tutor. Since the videos are prerecorded, you can’t ask any questions either unless you email the tutor directly.
- For each course enrolled, you can only select two lessons at a specific time and date to attend in a week. There’s no way to speed up the learning process, say you want to skip the introductory part and just dive into the core topics. And then while watching the lessons, you can’t even pause or rewind the video because there’s no option to do so. These features are all so inconvenient!
- What seems rather annoying is also the frequency of the course notifications. You’d get a reminder through SMS AND email 12 hours and 1 hour before the lesson starts. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, but since I already wrote the event into my planner, the number of notifications seems exaggerated.
- Given the affordability, I wish there are more choices in the courses to make the subscription worthwhile. Look at the subject of marketing for example – there are so many new things to learn every day and yet, there are only have 4 courses under that topic. With other education platforms, you would certainly get more selection.
- On the course page, it says you can download a Starter Kit to get the lesson materials (slides, notes, and extra videos) in advance but there’s a caveat. You need to pay for that and it costs about $9 per kit, per course. That’s not a big deal, but I had the impression it was an all-access pass when I signed up though.
- Update – It seems like the learning system has got a mind of its own. Due to traveling, I wasn’t able to attend any classes in week 2 and week 3. Yet, when checked today, I’ve apparently ‘completed’ those lessons. It’s not a bad thing either since I get to watch the recordings, but it just feels like everything is quite automated with very little control on your end.
Frankly, the courses aren’t that bad, but they aren’t really the best either. I like the long free trial plan (gives you plenty of time to go through things) and the fact that you can mix and match things up, but there just aren’t enough varieties and flexibilities to move around or move forward.
Here are other programs to compare with if you are looking for a more enriching and diverse learning experience.
- Lynda – Offers courses for business, higher education, and government. Comes with a 1-month free trial, costs $29.99 per month or $19.99 per month (for the annual plan).
- Coursera – Offers degree courses in multiple specializations. Comes with a 7-day free trial, costs between $39 to 79 per month.
- Udemy – Offers various courses for business and hobbies. Not a membership site and no free trial. It can cost anything between $10 to $200 per course during the non-promotional season.
- Skillshare – Offers more than 20,000 classes catered for businesses and hobbies. Comes with a 1-month free trial, costs $15 per month or $8 per month (for the annual plan).
- Khan Academy (NGO) – Specializes in the subject of Math, Science & Engineering, Computing, Economics and more. All courses are FREE for all ages. If you are feeling generous, donate to support their philanthropic mission.
- Wealthy Affiliate – Specialized in affiliate marketing training for beginners to advanced level. Offers tutorials, webinars, keyword tool, WordPress hosting and a robust community of online entrepreneurs. Free trial for 7 days, cost $49 per month or $359 for the annual plan.
Well, I hope this review about the Shaw Academy free online courses have shed light on what it can (and can’t) offer you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the space down below and I’ll get back to you.