In fact, there are so many online options to improve programming skills — for beginners and skilled pros — that it may be difficult to wade through the options and choose just one resource. There are courses that provide an instructor-led environment, while others feature a do-it-on-your-own-schedule, self-paced structure.
eClasses.org offers more than 50 online instructor-led courses in web design, web programming and ecommerce. Richard Brinegar, executive director at eClasses.org, says the site has around 10,000 students each year. Instructors for each class, at a minimum, are required to have a bachelor’s degree in information technology or a related field and a minimum of three years recent work experience in IT or a related field.
Brinegar says the fact that the average student at eClasses.org takes 2.5 classes is an indication professionals find the classes worthwhile.
“We have expanded our web business classes to target beginning online entrepreneurs or small business owners who want to take it upon themselves to understand more about the web, gain some more technical skills or learn about what their webmaster is doing,” Brinegar said.
The fee for courses at eClasses.org generally ranges from $180 to $250 each, but Brinegar said students get a $60-$100 discount on each course if the student is a member of organizations such as the International Webmasters Assoc., Women in Technology International or the HTML Writers Guild.
All courses are completed online, and students can attend classes at anytime and from anywhere. Generally speaking, the “classroom” is a web forum where the instructor posts the weekly assignments and, during that week, students can ask the instructor questions about the assignments. The course is instructor-led, but students can work on the material at any time of the day.
eClasses.org also provides certificates of completion for each course based on a pass/fail grading system — there is no conventional A, B, C, D or F grades. In addition, eClasses.org offers a more comprehensive “web study certificate.” Individuals participating in that program must complete a series of required and elective courses in a web development topic through the eClasses curriculum.
For those interested in a self-paced environment without an instructor, one option is available at Teachmeit.com, which offers more than 280 courses in a variety of topics like “Fundamentals of Active Server Pages 3.0,” “Dynamic HTML,” “Programming in PERL 5,” “Advanced Features Of Microsoft Excel 2007” and “Preventive Maintenance of a PC.”
“We have categorized our courses into basic, intermediate and advanced levels,” Rinkesh Sharm, owner and general manager of TeachMeIT, said. “We have designed the courses in such a way that we have a rich pool of subject matter explored in an environment that is not only content-rich, but it is also instructionally sound. When learners go through any of these titles, they actually go through the education starting right from the very basic level to each incremental step towards intermediate and advanced levels.”
Sharm says more than 25,000 people have taken courses at Teachmeit.com. For those who don’t want to work in the web-based environment, TeachMeIT sells a CD version of each course. Web-based courses range from $19-$149 each and require about one to five hours to complete.
Even with the self-paced environment, there are tests along the way to ensure the student is understanding the material. At the successful completion of each course, students are able to claim a instructionally course-completion certificate.