Shaw Academy is based out of Dublin and was founded in 2013 by Adrian Murphy and James Egan. The goal of the academy is to bring low-cost education to everyone around the world. Its courses are interactive, an area where many of its competitors are lacking. In 2016, Shaw Academy had more than 1.84 million students, and it is still growing quickly. It has also formed partnerships with prestigious companies such as Adobe, GoDaddy, Vodafone and Naukri.com.

How Does Shaw Academy Work?

To access courses through Shaw Academy, you need to either sign up for the free 30-day trial or purchase a membership for $49.95 per month. Since taking advantage of the free trial is the smarter option before getting out your credit card, we recommend starting there.

To sign up for the free trial, click on the “Start Your Free Trial” button located in the center of Shaw Academy’s home page. From here, you will be asked what you want to learn today. When you click on a category that you’re interested in, the available courses will appear. Not every course qualifies under the free trial offer, so you may need to shop around a bit before you find one that is free and that you want to take.

Once you’ve completed the sign-up process for the risk-free trial, you will have access to the class you’ve chosen for the next 30 days. If you like what Shaw Academy has to offer, you can then become a member and access all of its courses.

What Makes Shaw Academy Stand Out?

Unlike other online learning portals where courses are prearranged and video lectures are always prerecorded, Shaw Academy’s courses are all held live. If you’re worried about flexibility, don’t be. The courses are held on multiple days of the week and at multiple times throughout the day. Also, the lectures are recorded, so you can always go back and watch them. The other area where Shaw Academy stands out is its fostering of interaction among teachers and students.

Common Reviews of Shaw Academy

To be fair, Shaw Academy is fairly new and hasn’t stacked up as many reviews as some of its competitors. On TrustPilot.com, there were only five reviews with a combined score of 2 out of 5 stars or 4.9 out of 10. Either way you look at it, Shaw Academy received a poor score on this particular website. Overall, the complaints seem to center around extra or hidden costs and lots of upselling on the part of Shaw Academy.

One customer complained about everything having to cost extra. He said, “… the worst thing is everything is extra. If you want notes it’s extra, if you want your final assignment checked its extra and if you want a certificate it’s extra. Last thing is their phone calls. They will keep texting and calling you to get you joined in their yearly pass. Their tutorials and presentation are great. I would have joined if these extras didn’t exist.”

Another customer said, “Their basic discounted courses are just there to generate leads to up sell their monthly membership program rather than being of any real value. Some basic google searching on the subject matter will provide more information than what you are going to get in return for your $10 Groupon intro course.”

On the other hand, there were some positive reviews as well. One customer said, “For me, it was clear that the course is aimed at people that are just beginning to learn about nutrition. It covers the basics really well and the concepts taught are easy to understand for someone just getting started.

That said, I still learned quite a lot. Even if you are a whiz at nutrition, I can guarantee that you’ll still get some solid value out of the course. Just like I did.

The teacher, Michelle, was truly brilliant. Her nice British accent is easy on the ears (but also means that the live lessons are in the middle of the night, Australian time) and she has a great way of explaining things and getting you to take action to improve your nutrition. Because that’s what we’re here for, right?”

Is Shaw Academy for Me?

If the idea of taking one or more courses a month excites you, then Shaw Academy may be for you for the simple fact that it offers access to thousands of courses for one monthly membership price. This can turn out to be a huge money saver if you’ve been paying for each course you take on a competitor’s site.

Another reason to consider Shaw Academy is if you are looking for more contact with your instructor. Students tend to feel more connected to the lecturer due to Shaw Academy’s distinct method of offering live lectures. In fact, the courses are designed to foster interaction between students and educators, student and tutors, and students and students.

For people who are busy, Shaw Academy allows all of its courses to be completed at the student’s discretion. You don’t always have to be available for the live sessions, making it easy to complete the courses on your own time. Having access to the educational portal 24/7 is also convenient for busy students of Shaw Academy. You can take exams and quizzes as well as review materials and replay videos any time of day.

If English is not your first language, you can take advantage of courses offered in different languages.

If you’re looking to hone your existing skills or gain some new ones, Shaw Academy is also for you. Have you always wanted a diploma in nutrition, or are you interested in learning more about child nutrition? Perhaps you need to hone your household budgeting skills with a fresh course from Shaw Academy. For whatever reason you need to learn a new skill, Shaw Academy can provide the instruction you need for a low monthly price. There is no pressure to complete courses by a certain time, and you can cancel at any time. This is education with no long-term commitment.

EdX was founded by the faculty at MIT and Harvard to offer free, online, quality education by partnering with other colleges and universities. It is considered a collection of MOOCs, which stands for “massive open online courses.” Anyone can take a course on edX as long as they have access to a computer and the internet. Compared to other online portals, the course catalog isn’t exactly “massive,” but the courses are of high quality.

Overall, the courses focus heavily on academics, particularly the sciences, and leave gaps where some other categories are concerned. Currently, several million students are enrolled in edX and using its online learning portal for free or a reduced fee for verification for credit.

How Does EdX Work?

To create an account with edX and start taking advantage of its free courses, you can register on the home page. You’ll fill out a short form that includes your name, email address and the country where you live. You can also answer some optional questions about gender, past schooling and why you are interested in taking courses with edX. At this point, you can start taking courses with some of the world’s most respected professors and connect with other learners from around the world.

What Makes EdX Stand Out?

What makes edX unique is its free access to quality, online courses taught by respected professors from top-notch universities. In this way, edX is similar to Coursera. However, edX’s courses tend to focus on the sciences more than any other learning category, and edX offers both course verification and/or course credit for an affordable fee.

Common Reviews of EdX

Overall, the reviews of edX are favorable. People were pleased with the quality of the courses, especially since they are all free. One customer said: “EdX can open doors for anyone who wants to learn. My dream is to reach a million youth around the world and share with them the advanced learning opportunities edX courses provide. EdX can open doors for anyone who wants to learn, with basic access to the internet.”

Another customer went on to praise his experience taking courses with edX: “I have done 3 courses from edX and the experience has been great. Apart from being free, the courses cover the subject matter thoroughly and provide video lectures delivered by professors from some of the best universities in the world. You also get a certificate of completion at the end (for which you have to pay sometimes but is totally worth it) which can be a decent boost for your resume.”

Students also liked the peer review assessment. They found that it motivated interaction among the students while providing an easy and quick way to get work assessed, although others felt that it was lacking in direction by professors or their teacher assistants at times.

On the other hand, there are some negative reviews. One customer complained that there aren’t enough self-paced courses. Others complained that there wasn’t enough feedback throughout the courses and hoped there would be more interaction with professors or their teacher assistants. Another complaint focused on the individual course dashboard. The customer found having all your past, present and future classes on the same page confusing. The negative reviews were very few compared to the positive reviews about edX.

Is EdX for Me?

When trying to decide which online educational portal is right for you, there are a few questions you can ask yourself, such as:

  • Why do I want to use an online portal? For personal or professional development? Or both?
  • Am I looking for something to replace a traditional college?
  • Am I taking classes just for fun, or do I need verification or college credit?
  • What is my budget for taking online courses?
  • Do I require courses taught by industry experts and/or professors?
  • Am I business owner searching for a free or affordable professional development platform for my employees?

EdX is an online learning portal that can fulfill almost any need. While it cannot replace a traditional university or college, you can get credit for courses, which will give your college application an edge. Here are other reasons edX may be right for you:

  • You run a business or organization that wants to offer continued learning to volunteers and employees without a hefty price tag.
  • You are interested in a new career.
  • You have a burning curiosity to learn about a particular subject.
  • You are trying to decide on a major and want to explore courses to help you get a better understanding of various subject matter.
  • You are an entrepreneur who wants to hone your skills.
  • You are interested in learning about finance and planning for your retirement.
  • You are a college student who needs to supplement a course to better understand it.
  • You want to make your bio and resume more competitive by listing courses you have completed through edX.

If you’re thinking about trying edX out, there is nothing to lose. The courses are free, and there are plenty to choose from, especially in the sciences. If you are more interested in creative courses such as photography or personal development, edX may not be the best choice as it tends to lean toward courses of more traditional academic standing. For this reason, you can expect high quality and high value from every course taken at edX.