I am really interested in online learning, but there are so many places to go online and different platforms to choose from that I find it a bit overwhelming. I’d like to learn some things for professional development, like data science and others just for the fun of it, like some cooking or wellness classes. Also, I’m really hoping to find something interactive. Since Covid-19 hit, I’ve silently stared at screens enough! Do you have tips for finding an online class?

Thank you,

Rosie A.


Hi Rosie,

Thanks for writing in. You’re right: online learning is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean it is simple to find the right online learning experience for you. The models are as different as the messaging: online, a la carte, subscription, on demand, on a schedule, hybrids of online and in person(someday) and more. Every education platform is a bit different.

First things first, there is more than one way to “take a class online.” Here are the basic options:

  • Instructor-led one-on-one and live: More personal, flexible and generally more expensive. 
  • Instructor-led group and live: Usually in a “virtual classroom,” on a schedule.
  • Instructor-led group and on demand: You make your own schedule, but it isn’t live.
  • No instructor and on demand: Read, watch videos and do exercises on your own.

Most of these options have ways to communicate offline; chat rooms, email access to instructors and such. But for many of these classes to stay on schedule so that participants get what they paid for, that’s the extent of the interaction. You might unmute to ask or answer a question quickly in a live situation, but it isn’t typically going to be a lively group discussion. 

Given that, we recommend that you consider a program like this one for data science, because you can receive a certificate and join a group of other people looking to upskill similarly. As for your other interests, since you are looking for interactivity and perhaps may be less concerned about furthering your career, it makes sense to find a platform that brings people together for friendly conversations about areas of interest. If you need help finding one, give us a holler!


Team Amava

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