Online teaching to the masses has been a market segment that has always seemed like it would have huge potential but over 10 years after the first Mook setup, it’s never quite caught on. The advantages are obvious – one trainer can talk to as many people as needed and unlike pre-recorded videos the trainer can react to comments, answer questions and tailor the presentation to the audience. I attended a month-long Photoshop course and was impressed both by the material which was well written and by the trainer who was approachable and knowledgeable.
Retailer: Shaw Academy +
Price: ± £ From £1 to £437 depending on how you book.
Paid extras: Diploma £16, Bonus videos and notes £16
About Shaw Academy
Shaw Academy is a Dublin-based online training service. Their diploma courses are accredited by the NCFE Diploma level 4 (Higher Apprenticeship) which is equivalent to a module of degree-level study. They’re recognised (and potentially transferable) in Ireland and the UK with no issues and somewhat recognizable around the rest of the world.
My course ran every month and a half or so for an hour on Monday and Wednesday evenings. You’re encouraged to attend live but if you can’t the recordings are up within about a day and you can re-watch as often as you like. The trainer spent a few minutes on the first evening to explain what would be covered in each session and then dived right in. They use GoToWebinar with only the trainer’s microphone active.
If you’ve feedback or a question you can add it to the chat which only the trainer and her assistant can see and she may respond and the trainer spent about 15 minutes after the lesson covering specific Q and A’s. After each lesson, a short 10 point test opens up on the website which is designed to test your comprehension of the lesson. My course ran for eight lessons and at the end, there was a 100 point test and a short assignment which I needed to complete to get the diploma. The recording and extras stay available to students for around a month after the course is over and there is no way to download them for later reference.
Shaw Academy has an interesting but complicated business model that seems to go in multiple directions. They offer a subscription unlimited service for dedicated learners or individual courses at relatively high prices and then offer discounts on those high prices and finally round it off with add-ons to help with the courses and charge for the accreditation.
To take my specific course it’s available for a list price of £395. You can get an instant discount of 42% via Topcashback and I was able to get it for the price of £1 via GoGroopie. Once you’re attending the course you can get a course toolkit that includes a starter pack, copies of the slides, summary notes and bonus videos for £16 and the diploma at the end costs £16.
The unlimited subscription service is available from £29 a month.
In short, depending on how you do it I could have spent anywhere from £1 to £427 and the most likely cost would be two months of unlimited membership at £58 and a the diploma at £16 for a cost of £74. For an accredited course that’s a good value even before you consider that you could do multiple courses at once for a very similar cost.
Course length: 8 Hours over 4 weeks
Software: GotoWebinar which has Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows Phone clients
As a course on Photoshop, it was highly recommended that I had access to Photoshop. The trainer spent some time detailing how to get trial versions which would cover you for the course time so if you’re not looking to invest in it is possible to get by without it. A reasonable internet connection is needed to be able to stream the training although if you’re right on the border of whats possible I found the recording buffered somewhat on a slower connection allowing more flexibility.
Shaw Academy’s courses are an interesting mix between ‘traditional’ online video and a classroom course. It gives you the chance to learn at home and yet to get a certain amount of feedback from an experienced trainer. The course itself was well written and the trainer both knowledgeable in her subject and personable and approachable – a difficult combination to pull off! Shaw’s pricing system is overly complicated and expensive if you go with the list price but a little attention can reduce the price very significantly to more sensible levels and the fact that the courses are accredited is a significant plus.
Overall education remains one of those things where you get out as much as you put in. If you’re looking for an online but accredited course and are willing to put in a little time to find the right deal then Shaw Academy is a good choice. Recommended.
The review is based on attendance of the Diploma in Photoshop course in August and September 2016. Read more about Ergohacks’ eco and access icons used in reviews. This article was first published on 20th September 2016.