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Online learning has become increasingly popular with individuals of all ages and backgrounds. It offers the ability to grow new skills, build new interests and even advance careers without leaving home.

Online learning has revolutionized education, breaking down barriers that once prevented many individuals from pursuing higher education. Whether you’re looking to explore new creative pursuits such as photography or writing or more career-oriented topics such as data sciences and graphic design, online learning has become a powerful tool for both personal and professional growth.

What makes online learning so appealing?

1. Flexibility and convenience

Online learning allows individuals to access course materials on their schedule and at a pace that’s convenient for them. This is especially beneficial for those who are working or balancing family and other life commitments. Courses can be accessed from home, removing travel costs and time barriers often experienced with traditional learning.

2. A Range of course options

The number of online learning platforms available today, combined with the variety of subjects each platform offers, allows individuals to choose from a buffet of academic options. Courses can help propel individuals forward in their personal and professional growth, vocational training and academic pursuits.

3. Affordability

Online learning can be significantly less expensive than traditional in-person education. Through online learning, several costs are reduced or eliminated; course tuition costs, books, moving/accommodation and transportation costs can be significantly less, making online learning a more budget-friendly option.

4. Access to expert instructors

Many of today’s online learning platforms offer courses taught by notable professors who are experts in their field. Having the ability to take courses from professors and academic institutions that individuals may otherwise not have access to is just another barrier eliminated by online learning.

5. Global reach

Online learning platforms offer a safe environment where individuals can learn, have access to instructors, and connect with classmates from all over the world. Individuals from different backgrounds and geographies can foster a more diverse learning environment.

If you are interested in exploring the world of online learning but don’t know where to start, below are a few of the more popular platforms:

  1. Coursera: With professors from more than 180 different universities offering over 7000 courses, there is truly something for everyone. Courses can be accessed for free or upgraded for a low fee, which enables learners to receive a certificate upon completion. Want to explore arts and humanities, like the fundamentals of music or writing your first novel? Or are you looking for something more data-driven, like business analytics or introduction to statistics? Coursera has incredible options to check out.
  2. Udemy: Whether you want to expand your creative capabilities, learn to code or complete a Python boot camp, Udemy offers various topics at different skill levels. Launched in 2010, Udemy offers over 200,000 online video courses through its learning platform.
  3. LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning allows individuals to grow in-demand skills through access to over 16,000 online video courses taught by real-world professors. Topics range from creative skills to leadership, business and technology.
  4. edX: Created by MIT and Harvard University, edX offers more than 4200 university courses online across various topics, designed to help propel your career — or personal growth. With courses like the study Science of Happiness from The University of California, Berkley, or Business Analytics from Boston University, there’s something for everyone.

Online learning continues to expand the ability to learn and grow, removing many traditional barriers to entry. If you’re academically inclined or simply looking to learn more about a topic, online learning provides individuals with convenience, access and various topics to expand their knowledge, skills and interests.

If you want to expand your financial knowledge and insights, check out the free online McGill Personal Finance Essentials course, taught by business professors at McGill’s Desautel’s Faculty of Management.