Each year along comes a new recruitment drive, for people to take up courses and enrol in universities and colleges around the world. However with the ever spiralling costs of traditional learning institutions the question that many people are now asking is ‘is there a better way to acquire skills?’ A way that is not just more cost effective but practical as well.
Online training courses are on the increase, with the total market for global e-learning estimated at $107 billion.
The top three countries that are seeing the biggest growth in e-learning take ups are India, China and Malaysia illustrating how e-learning platforms really do now have a global reach.
This article focuses on an e-learning programme on digital marketing skills, through an online university called Wealthy Affiliate. I have mentioned their name before in association with web hosting for this site, but as an organisation they are also pushing into the education arena as well, so I was interested to know what exactly can you learn here and what are the advantages and disadvantages over a traditional university course.
Wealthy Affiliate University
Traditional university courses have really tried to meet the demands of their working students by providing module based courses, and home based learning programmes that students can access from all over the globe. But even these programmes have a limit to there flexibility, for example the following comparison is based on generic requirements across different advertised courses.
Traditional online course
Most traditional courses are still overseen by a tutor who manages assignments and provides feedback on the training. In order for this to work effectively most universities and colleges online have developed a standardised system which consists of the following.
- There has to be a specific start date and end date to the module.
- A certain number of participants are required in order to enable classroom chat situations.
- Assignments have to be submitted within set timescales.
- The work is often based on simulated projects, not real life businesses.
- Costs are usually paid up front for the whole module.
Now image a situation where there was complete flexibility in learning. A university programme that worked with you and your business, rather than you trying to complete a set programme regardless of your own ability and current situation.
Wealthy Affiliate University courses
- Anyone can start at any time there is an automated lesson system that logs tasks and records which classroom you are part of.
- You work completely at your own pace but you can access peer support from people at your level and also with 3-4 years experience or even longer.
- There are no assignments but you work on tasks
- The tasks are on your own real business web site and blog
- Costs can be paid monthly and for as long as you wish to partake in the university training.
So What Can I Expect when I Join?
Wealthy affiliate is a practical learning course and is designed for people who are looking to set up their own website or online business. The course is designed to take you through the process and you are expected to implement everything learnt onto your own site. There are no assessments to be completed, instead you work at your own pace and slowly build up your own site following the tutorials provided. The walk through tutorials follow the progress of setting up an affiliate marketing site from scratch.
Feedback and comments on your site can be provided by the general community at WA, through specific forums if you so request. You can also view many of the sites of other and more established members to see how they are developed.
Most of the members of the university are seeking to make money from their websites and so a significant proportion of the course is geared towards creating quality content, and understanding how to get traffic to your site. However other people have also developed hobby sites with an aim to network and meet others with a similar interest.
The WA Programme Content
The main affiliate marketing course is comprised of five levels, each level containing 10 sessions of learning broken down further into tasks.
For example the first level (1) is a foundation or introduction level and consists of the following 10 lessons or modules. At the end of this module you will have built your own website and started to create content, linked to keywords and have a basic understanding of SEO.
Each lesson usually consists of a video tutorial providing an explanatory walkthrough of the lesson’s tasks. This information is also written out below the video and a set of tasks accompany the session. You simply toggle the box when each task has been completed and you move onto the next lesson. You can also manually move onto the next lesson if you choose to.
For example in the diagram below you can see that one of the tasks in lesson one is to watch the walkthrough video. (To get a sense of the programme you can click the video and the link will take you to that page to watch it)
All members are also encouraged to write reviews of the programme, although it is often the more established members who go back and write the reviews, because at the time there is so much to learn. A sample review demonstrates how highly the programme is viewed by even the longer standing members of the community.
Each lesson format follows the same design so slotting into and out of modules becomes relatively easy to do, especially if you need to return and revisit certain topics as you progress.
Additional Learning Opportunities
Each week a live webinar is offered on a topic relevant to current digital marketing and affiliate marketing fields. This webinar can also be viewed in your own time after the event, sample themes include using Google + as shown in the screenshot below.
All members who have been involved in WA university for three months, can start to produce their own training materials to be shared amongst the community. This helps to ensure that the training material is always fresh and current and covers both geographical and niche related areas.
It is also helpful because members tend to create training on issues that they found difficult to understand, so this helps to develop a more in-depth training resource and expand the knowledge base. Here is an example of training that I developed on managing challenging comments on your website.
Tools and Resources
The university programme is a practical course and offer a number of free access tools to support your work.
One of the key tools that any content marketer needs is an easy to use keyword tool. Wealthy Affiliate offers two options, the first is a free WA keyword tool which I have mentioned in previous articles. The other option is 30 free searches on a paid keyword tool known as Jaaxy.
Wealthy Affiliate also own siterubix.com which is a web hosting platform that members can access and use to build their own websites on. This means that the university effectively manages and can offer everything you need in house, in order to develop your own business. It also means that you are not constantly moving between different companies for the various tools, and you can ask within the community for help on anyone of them, because everyone is using or familiar with the WA university tools.
Support at Wealthy Affiliate
Since WA University is a community learning platform it is not dependent on the tutors to provide feedback and support. In fact the owners Kyle and Carson who developed much of the training material are often around, but many other members have also expanded the training materials and are also available to answer queries and questions.
In fact all the members of the platform are working on their own digital products and websites so you are in fact surrounded by mentors at different stages of their development.
This differs from traditional university settings where most of the peer support available is often at the same novice level as yourself. Or where the expert advice is given by academics of the subject rather than practitioners in digital marketing businesses.
Support can be accessed in a number of ways, there is a live chat stream, there is the opportunity to post questions to the direct feed of members often at the bottom of the lesson, or you can private message your own mentor or key people that seem to be experts on the site. Members are encouraged to network and build up a list of followers so that you can ask questions, receive help and help others.
There are obviously some disadvantages to such a system the main being that currently there is no accreditation for the training. The question though is does that matter if you are self employed and are seeking training in order to manage the digital marketing side of your business?
Give it a Try
One of the advantages of the WA university is that you can actually try out the resources and training for free before making any decisions. There is a 7 day free trial at premium level, so you can access all the supports and training available to the paid members. You then have the option to upgrade for a reduced monthly rate ($19) for your first month or stay on the free membership programme, but without the premium level access.
There are only two levels which are free and premium, so there are no additional upsells or any other costs to worry about once you do join. The coupon below enables you to have direct access to the programme, so why not give it a try and make up your own mind?
If you are interested in reading more about the course there is another article recently written on this site Raising the Bar in Digital Marketing Training.
Setting up a website is really very easy, especially when you receive support from organisations such as WA. Here are some other articles on these topics that may also be of interest.