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To say that we’re in a bit of a sticky situation is a no-brainer. Due to the current pandemic that’s plaguing us, most are in self-isolation, lockdown, or quarantine. It sucks, especially when weather in the UK is getting a hell of a lot nicer recently. Even so, there’s no avoiding the fact that we are indeed stuck indoors for a lot of our time, and some of us have more spare time now than ever.

In which case, a question arises - what can we do with that time? A lot of people have been taking the time to pick up new hobbies and skills, which is what we’ll be talking about today. More specifically, we’ll be talking about what resources there are out there to start picking up web concepts and start learning new languages.

Because of the times, some providers are extending free trials or making other provisions to open the gates to keen people. Let’s take a look at some of those.

Pluralsight - #FreeApril

Pluralsight is a popular service where curated industry professionals produce video courses that allow people to learn a variety of technologies. Anywhere from .NET to React and Vue. They recently announced #FreeApril, in which you can sign up for a free month of courses.

Pluralsight #FreeApril promotion

With over 7,000+ courses to choose from, ranging from beginner courses to catch-up sessions, it’s a great way to build upon your existing experience or start something completely new. In addition, they have this feature known as SkillIQ which is essentially a skill analysis test to help you determine where your strengths and weaknesses are. If you’re more at a beginner level, it’ll suggest some beginner courses to you. If you’re at a more intermediate level, it’ll suggest videos that will help you bridge the gap in parts of your knowledge.

I’ve started using this to help me address areas of improvement, as well as to build on skills I thought I knew - but really didn’t! I’m apparently not a huge JavaScript man - take a look below at my scores for some subjects.

Pluralsight SkillIQ progress

As you can see, I’ve started watching and learning to fill the gaps in my JavaScript knowledge. I’m quite pleased with my expert score in CSS, considering a lot of people find CSS quite tricky.

At this point though, I’ve only spoken about the web skills you can learn from here. You can learn tonnes! Anywhere from software development, to web, to Security and DevOps - they’ve got you. They even allow you to go through certifications that could really give you a leg up for industries like Security.

After the free month, you won’t be charged for any more months - unless you want to continue at $29 (£23.50) per month or $299 a year.

SkillShare - Free trial

Although SkillShare has not made any special arrangements to support learners during the current pandemic, they do offer a 2 month free trial on their premium service when you sign up with them (You may be required to enter your payemnt details). You often see SkillShare being shilled by YouTube influencers, with some actually using the service to learn some new skills along the way.

The many subject areas you can learn on SkillShare

The huge benefit with SkillShare is that you get access to learning just about anything, from mostly professionals. Want to learn graphic design? You’ve got it. Want a career switch to become a film-maker? Sorted.

Now notice before when I said “mostly” professionals? Yeah, just about anyone can become a course leader on SkillShare if they want to. Meaning there are a lot of courses that may not either be taught well, or taught by a professional in the field.

You can own an account for free, but you’ll only have access to the free courses (which probably aren’t overly good), and the two months of premium you get gives you access to all the 20,000+ courses. In terms of pricing, the service can be used at premium level for $15 a month (£12) or $99 a year (£80).

Udemy - per-course basis

Udemy has been around as a contender for ages. It offers courses for technology related sectors, such as software, marketing, design and photography. Udemy usually has courses on sale, with a few exceptions. Typically, a course costs around £10-£20 when they’re on sale. If not, prices can vary heavily.

Udemy's course selection

The one drawback of Udemy is that you pay per course. Whereas the other platforms mentioned have you pay to let the floodgates of courses open, on Udemy you have to pay for each course you want to learn. There’s no subscription based service avaliable yet for Udemy, which does impact it’s suggestability as a source. Still, there are lots of courses and professionals on the platform, which make it a good source for learning.

Egghead.io - Developer heaven

Egghead.io is a service that allows you to learn from professionals about different web and software technologies. For developers especially, this is a huge one.

Some creators on that platform have started to offer their courses freely, such as Kent C. Dodds, with his ”beginners guide to React” course. Kent is quite the top dog when it comes to Web development, and I’ve been following him for a little while (you can follow me too whilst you’re at it ;> )

Of course, other courses are locked behind a paywall, and quite the paywall at that. If you want to get a premium subscription, it’ll cost $40 a month (£32) or $350 a year (£280). It’s not exactly an option then for someone like me, who works a part time job whilst building up skills in their spare time. However if you can afford it, it might be the option for you.

Rounding up

We’ve taken a look at a couple of services that can be utilised at the moment to help build up your skills. What would I recommend then? Well, I’d recommend a little bit of everything. Take full advantage of PluaralSight’s #FreeApril promotion whilst you can. Sign up for a 2 month trial of SkillShare to gain access to thousands of courses. If you want to hone a specific skill or area, invest in a Udemy course that suits your needs - there’s a lot to choose from. If the creators have made the courses free, or perhaps you have the funds to dive deep in, definetly give Egghead.io a go.

Since some of us now have time on our hands to, let’s take advantage of the times by utilising the resources that are avaliable to us!

Written by Anthony Ingall who makes stuff in Peterborough. You should follow him on Twitter or GitHub.