Trying to learn online for free? Make sure you have these 3 things

The hidden costs of free learning

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

The free conundrum

Students who paid for their online courses were 11 times more likely to complete them.

Organization: The secret sauce

There’s a quote that I heard about using Tableau (the program I wanted to learn) that I didn’t discover until I had invested hours into a useless dataset:

“Find data that’s like the type of data you work with on a regular basis to start with…”

Something as simple as that, a throwaway line that you would have found in a course, was something that would’ve helped me immensely. Which is indicative of the larger problem.

Structured challenges

One of the secondary effects of taking an organized course is that the assignments that you undertake have been thought out to be beginner-friendly.


Online learning is about transformation

Lastly, even if I had been able to figure out the problems that I was trying to solve, I’m not sure it would have had the impact that I had wanted to have.

So should I always pay for courses?

The studies that companies such as eDX, Coursera, and MIT Openware show that people are more likely to complete the courses if they pay for certification.

Top writer in UX Design. UX, Data Visualization and Data Science. Author of Data Persuasion: Substack:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store