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Online Learning – Alternatives to YouTube

A combine harvester unloading Sunflower seeds

A combine harvester unloading Sunflower seeds

Between adverts that play too often, videos that encourage people tho shift to the Right side of the political spectrum and sensationalism I decided to stop using YouTube. I have spent two months without YouTube. I use alternative video platforms. I use Udemy, Prime Video, Linkedin Learning, Vimeo and other platforms.

I stopped using YouTube because it went from being a video sharing platform for individuals to being a broadcast platform where algorithms force some types of content rather than others. I saw an increasing amount of sensationalist headlines and video titles and grew tired of them. I was tired of having to filter out the emotional politically slanted content from worthwhile content. I had to spend more time reporting and ignoring content designed to make me angry or emotional. Clickbait was another challenge to overcome.

YouTube, although relied on by plenty of people to share video content, has become toxic. Take a look at video tutorial websites, Vimeo and other video distribution platforms and you will see how stark the contrast is. Add to this the flood of video adverts and you have a service that becomes unusable. Sometimes I had two to five minute videos as pre-roll before a two minute video of content I wanted to watch.

YouTube then asks for 20 CHF or more per month for the same content, without adverts. 240 CHF per year, for user generated content. That is far too expensive, especially when they de-monetised content from normal video content producers with small audiences, and low viewing hours.

Within the last month I did return to YouTube, but between the sensationalist headlines, and the pre-roll adverts I found that the cost of use became too high. They have made it so that you can no longer browse for content without eventually giving up and watching what the algorithms think you should watch. This is unhealthy. This is dangerous because of how it can polarise people who have not made up their minds about moral, or other issues.

I bring this up today because I saw that someone said that YouTube is a great school for developers but I do not believe that it is. I do not believe that it is because it is exploitative of content creators. Content creators need to invest hundreds of hours in creating content, sensationalising it to appeal to the algorithms, and then get thousands of minutes of viewing time before they can monetise it.

I believe that Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and other platforms are more interesting for makers of tutorial and learning videos because you can charge people for content. You can provide them with certificates of completion and you can split courses into units and chapters. You can also include files and test them on what they have learned, and get them to revise, if they fail.

Linkedin Learning

One of the strengths of Linkedin Learning is that it is bound to your company or NGO e-mail account so you can study for free, via the company that you are working for. When you complete courses your skills are highlighted in your Linkedin Profile, as are your certificates. This is useful to show that you are an active learner.

Coursera

I used Coursera for the Google IT Support course, and although the course is 28 USD per month until you complete the course, it is a great learning platform because it integrates with online learning solutions that force you to learn in a practical manner. You have to setup and take down servers, you have to create and remove directories, show that you understand binary, network topologies and more. You also take quizzes and if you fail you need to revise for an hour before you can try again. If you fail again you need to wait 24hours or more before retaking a test. You learn by practicing, and by reviewing. You can give up, but as long as you are motivated you can pass the course. I like their system.

Udemy

Udemy is more like Linkedin Learning except that rather than pay per month or per year, you pay per course. The courses are often 200 or more dollars a piece, but they often have promotions where you can get courses for 12 USD or less. This means that if you’re attentive you can get three or four courses for the price of an Entrecote in a swiss restaurant. There is no time limit on these courses, so you are not forced to do every course within a month or year, of purchasing a course.

And Finally

Learning is a process. Splitting it into manageable pieces is important. Being clear of distractions is also important. To learn we need to be active, through listening to instructions, and then checking that we have understood what we are doing, and then moving on to the next part. With Udemy, Coursera and Linkedin we can do this easily, and at the end of it we have a certificate of completion. In some cases it is automatically added to our Linkedin profile.

With YouTube we are flooded with distractions, we are forced to filter through the irrelevant before we come to the relevant, and in many cases tutorials are several hours long. I prefer to learn via platforms where the instructors are forced to be systematic about the courses they provide. If YouTube wants to be a serious contender in the Online learning environment then it should create a new product, YouTube learning, and provide relevant features, to formalise what, for now is a chaotic system.

I realise that people like to watch five to ten minute videos explaining how to do something specific, via YouTube. For me though, YouTube is too chaotic. I prefer to find a written explanation.

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