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Ask HN: Best paid courses you've taken?
195 points by selleck on Feb 12, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 77 comments
For 2020 I've decided to focus on taking online courses to further my education. With that, I have a rough budget of $50/month to spend. Looking for suggestions on paid or free courses you may have taken that you found beneficial.

edit: 2020, not 2019

I haven't taken any paid online courses that fit within your budget, but there are plenty of high quality free courses. Depending on your experience, I'd recommend the following:

- Coursera Learning How To Learn: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

- Harvard's Online CS50: https://cs50.harvard.edu/college/2020/spring/

- MIT's Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python: https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-to-computer-science-...

- MIT's algorithms course: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-compu...

- MIT's distributed systems course (going on now): https://pdos.csail.mit.edu/6.824/

All of the above have high quality video lectures and assignments to work on to get some practice with the concepts.

Highly unpopular opinion, I know, but I didn't find learning how to learn very useful. It might as well have been a 30-minute video, and it wouldn't lose much of its content. A lot of the content seems to be rather inspirational than educational.

Kind of like any book or course like that, I found that the magic wasn't in watching the lectures or reading the book but in deliberately applying some of the strategies to my own learning process.

It was easy to watch and think "OK that makes sense". It was much harder but much more worthwhile to deliberately set aside time for diffuse mode, practice spaced repetition, and quiz myself as I worked through a reading.

I actually felt the same. I forced myself to take it after seeing the hype, and it really fell flat for me.

Is there a CliffsNotes version of the content?

Are you saying you’ve bought more expensive courses? If so, which ones?

I took one class (computer architecture & assembly language) through Oregon State University's online CS program as a soft-requirement for some in-person classes I'm currently taking. They have the full post-bacc program (http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/academic/online-cs-postbacc), and they also do allow you to take one-off classes. Officially it says you can only take the intro classes, but I just signed up for this class anyways.

It was quite a bit more than OP's budget (total cost came to $1,200 or so), but that ended up being much cheaper than having to take the class at my current program. My employer also helped with 2/3 of the cost.

Are there videos for MIT's distributed systems course ? Can't seem to locate it in the site.

As vikram360 pointed out, they're on the schedule page (https://pdos.csail.mit.edu/6.824/schedule.html). Since this is the class going on right now (Spring 2020), only a couple that have already happened have been posted so far, but I'd bet they're uploaded pretty soon after their date.

You can also find the Youtube playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_7WrbZTCODu1o_kfUMq88g

It's on the 'schedule' page: https://pdos.csail.mit.edu/6.824/schedule.html

Depends on what your interests are. If I had exactly $50.00 /month to spend on online education, I'd consider spending it on either a Coursera subscription or a Linux Academy subscription. The latter is especially valuable if you're interested more in "infrastructure" kind of stuff, and IT industry certifications around things like Docker, Kubernetes, Linux, AWS, GCP, Azure, etc. The former includes more of what you might call "theoretical" material and has more focus on Data Science, Computer Science, Mathematics, etc. (among many other subjects).

FWIW, I actually do maintain subscriptions to both Coursera and Linux Academy and have found both valuable. On Coursera I have found value in Andrew Ng's ML stuff, the Johns Hopkins sequence on Data Science, and the Duke sequence on Statistics with R. I used Linux Academy to prep for my AWS Certified Solution Architect certification, and am currently working on the Docker Certified Associate and Certified Kubernetes Administrator certs.

I self fund Linux Academy because the hands on labs make it much more useful than many of the other options. While I do have my own home lab and cloud accounts the LA setup makes it easy to pickup a course when I'm on the road with just my work laptop.

I had pluralsight too but stopped when I realised I'd watched lots of videos but not done many labs.

There are a few courses on Edx (that I think) are worth paying for (under the new scheme, where you can audit courses for free, but lose access to videos, homework etc once the course is over). But, for such courses, edx also requires uploading of a government issued photo id, which I have no intention of doing.

If anyone at edx is reading this, I'll be glad to pay for retaining videos beyond the course period, and the ability to do assignments, but I don't want "verified certificates" (which presumably requires photo id etc). Right now there is no way I can pay for the former without also asking for the latter.

Why are you against uploading your ID?

Not OP, but I don't trust startups to responsibly handle my PII. It's not a good gamble, based on incentives, and also based on recorded history. They usually don't encrypt it, they usually don't understand their own backup system, they usually have employees who copy it as "sample data" or "seed data" to developer laptops which are then stolen with some probability greater than 1%, they usually don't delete data on a reasonable timeframe, etc etc etc.

And it's one thing to have my email address, my phone number, etc. And if it was just MINE, shrug. But if you're asking for mine, you're asking for that of many people. And that means that criminals looking for PII for identity theft will know to target you. Or hackers who accidentally steal my data will be able to sell it as part of a bundle. Or it'll happen with your servers, at auction, when you go under. Etc.

So if a service that I very much want to pay for requires me to scan and upload ID, I dunno, maybe it's still worth it to me, but it just makes me so uneasy that I just procrastinate until I forget. This has happened a number of times.

If you're not the government, I want my business with you to be as anonymous as possible, because frankly you're probably not a very good steward of my privacy.

(Actually, I'm even more afraid of government IT, and I know my personal data has been stolen from my federal government at least once, but I've got no options on this one.)

> I don't trust startups to responsibly handle my PII.

Smart, but:

Any web developer knows most uploads go to a folder on disk ... likely readable by the web server process.

Harvest away!

That's a "but"? That sounds like you're agreeing!

I recently became interested in ML and started with THE course for having a good intro into ML (Coursera's ML by Andrew Ng). That one is offered for free on Coursera and you only pay if you really want to have the certificate once you are done.

That course was so interesting to me and the way Andrew Ng explains - his enthusiasm, his sincerity, the way he talks, his authority on the field mixed with his unbelievable modesty - it is all a mix of things I love in a teacher. He is so inspiring. So I continued.

I am about to finish the Deep Learning Specialization that has 5 courses and my next one will be Tensorflow in Oractice.

I pay for a Coursera subscription (44 EUR/MO) and I am very very happy with the quality of the courses I mentioned above.

When I was studying in depth regarding database development and performance optimization (MSSQL mostly) I really really liked the courses on Pluralsight.

I am doing the ML course on Coursera as well, and it is clearly a must have if you want to understand Machine Learning.

Just registered, thank you!

I think O'reilly has one of the biggest catalogs for that budget: https://learning.oreilly.com/signup/

You have access to hundreds of good quality books, learning courses, conferences, etc.

Now, I've seen that for the best courses fos something in particular, you'll find material from different sites, and buy them individually can get much more expensive. I've seen good courses for specific topics from Linkedin learning, others very good from educative.io and even others from packtpub so it's a big decision just to go with one.

I utilize this as well, have had a membership for almost a decade now. Great resource!

i strongly second this.

I took "Become a Product Manager" (https://www.udemy.com/course/become-a-product-manager-learn-...) and was quite happy with it. The title is a bit tacky - it is not instantly going to turn you into a product manager. But it is a nice overview of the field.

I paid about 10 bucks during one of the countless sales. Never pay the full price at Udemy. Their pricing policy is ridiculous. I feel like you only have to wait a few days for the next 90%-off-discount to come along. I counted three times during the past few weeks.

I paid about 10 bucks during one of the countless sales. Never pay the full price at Udemy. Their pricing policy is ridiculous. I feel like you only have to wait a few days for the next 90%-off-discount to come along. I counted three times during the past few weeks.

Second this. If you want to take a Udemy course and the listed price is more than about $12.00, just wait. It'll be on sale for $9.99, $10.99, $11.99 or something like that, within a couple of weeks. They're almost always running various sales and promotions... just be patient.

Kubernetes - Ansible: https://kodekloud.com

Linux - DevOps: https://training.linuxfoundation.org

AWS - DevOps: https://acloud.guru

Personally wanted to be able to generate ideas / prototypes quickly. Focusing on learning Vue.js best decision I have so far made in 2020. Good learning material is


Udemy was instrumental to helping me learn modern web development and switch from backend to full-stack development. In particular, I liked Andrew Mead's JS, React, GraphQL and Node courses.

https://learn.tylermcginnis.com/ for JavaScript. Pure gold. :)

Currently paying C$30 per month to a Quebecois private French video tutor. And it's literally the best thing ever. Unfortuneately I can't recomennd, it's a personal connection. But I would try and find a mentor relationship in sinmilar vein. We chat almost everyday. Enough to praticer mon francais bien tot. Montreal is a hub of AI

Also current YC SUS Winter 2020 cohort. YC is magical. Its not just they revolutionized seed stage in founders favor. Or give you the blueprint for startup creation. It's the people YC attracts. The rational elite. Who don't belong anyplace else

    praticer mon francais bien tot
*pratiquer mon français bientôt

you are learning french to study AI in Montreal??

First try to read a book and if you find interesting only then spend money on online courses. Most of the online courses are very basic and you won't learn anything.

Piano lesson, for £25 pounds for 1-1.5hrs some stoner dude comes over to my house usually once a week. He's a really good teacher and piano player!

I want to do this. Do you have a legit piano or keyboard?

I would recommend:

- Pluralsight for dev-focused courses

- Linux Academy for DevOps-focused courses

Also, save up for certs and do some certs. Kubernetes certs (CKA, CKD) seem to be popular and difficult (which is great!), or there were some new-ish NodeJS certs. I find certs really force me to learn something and not just scratch the surface.

Just a suggestion. You can use Pluralsight and LinuxAcademy without the intention to pass certs as well.

I have both and I can't count how many times I need to understand something in some detail and put on a course. I learned Jenkins from LinuxAcademy and Devops principles, went on to build our jenkins server with all the jobs for our builds/automated testing.

Splunk University. Happens once a year in Oct.

In 3 days you learn to build scalable business applications to work with any data. Gold.

And tons more.

I really like Wes Bos' courses, they cover full stack Javascript and some other FE stuff if you're interested in that. https://wesbos.com/courses/ is his list of courses.

Go suscribe to linkedin learning, I used to be on it before it was called that, but it's worth every bit of that price. There are basically 10 courses for everything you want to learn (until intermediate level, by which point you probably should be learning by yourself while implementing). It's where I started python.

Alternatively, you can just start implementing stuff in a language of choice, if you have programming background this might be a much better way to learn, not suggested for beginners to the entire concept of programming though.

Taken few courses related to AWS on AcloudGuru and Udemy.

For a crash course like ML, Photography, JS etc; Udemy is a great bargain for $9.99

Tried pluralsight couple of years ago. I found content to be bit old and not updated reqularly.

I have bookmarked below url containing list of courses offered by different universities worldwide.


Shameless plug (the ongoing content project in my profile): a tenner gets you a kindle booklet with a summary of the most recent academic and industrial trends for one of a number of general or applied subjects in the 2020s, each booklet also with an executive summary to get up to date in half an hour plus 105 free internet references, explicitly linked for your own consultation, in the case you want to go deeper.

Penetration Testing With Kali Linux by OffSec.com. Along with 90 days of lab.

Relatively cheap and a really deep, wide-ranging curriculum. And fun, to boot.

Check out LinkedIn Learning, we've got technical courses at all levels, and a bunch of other topics like creative stuff and professional skills as well. All available as part of a monthly membership that's within your $50/mo budget ($29.99/mo or $19.99/mo depending on duration). Disclaimer: I work there, creating some of the technical content.

Why is this downvoted? Linkedin learning is a rebrand of Lynda.com after Linkedin bought it. Lynda.com was probably the first online course website ever and has a lot of good material.

Have been looking through the course catalogue just a few days ago (corporate subscription) and everything looks only very basic and selection does not seem large/varied. Really disappointing and definitely not what Lynda used to offer

LinkedIn learning is sh!t. I don't know what kind of population they target? You need to be really dumb to learn from any of those courses. They have programming course targeting people who never program in life, ridiculous.

My company provides free access and I was left entirely unimpressed.

I'd say you don't have to spend any money for some of the best classes, but it matters what you're interested in / specialty. Check out OSSU on GitHub for a lot of really good free courses. Only time I'd recommend spending money is if there a specific course within a specialization

Linux academy for cloud was great. Frontend masters is really good for web stuff. Pluralsight for c#/.net

OSU series of permaculture courses will change your view of the world. start with the free intro https://open.oregonstate.edu/courses/permaculture/

Spend $15 of it on Laracasts.

I don't even use PHP and it's still one of the highest ROI purchases I've made. The videos on editors, tooling, Vue, and the ideas I can take from the Laravel world into my Phoenix/Elixir world are well worth it.

Jeffrey Way is an incredible teacher!

Data Structures and Algorithms from UCSD on Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/data-structures-alg...

Salesforce and for free. I can even give you an online free course. Learn Salesforce on trailhead.com. It gave me the opportunity to work on awesome projects. Besides, this tech is so hyped on the market. Jump in the bandwagon!

I strongly recommend https://classpert.com (specially if you're on a budget), before you decide in which course you should enroll yourself to

I paid for a year of text-based courses on https://www.educative.io/.

Definitely good value and they're always adding more content.

Bang-for-buck-wise it's an O'Reilly subscription hands down.


You can save a few $$ by signing up for ACM instead.


If I'm understanding this correctly, that's a pretty big savings: $500/yr versus $198/yr.

Can anyone confirm this?

Any subscription will do or do I have to get one with the "digital library"? I think it's $198

You can get the professional subscription for 99 USD.


Do you have a community, where you'd learn together?

I wonder if it weren't more efective to i.e. buy books and organize book-club with your colleagues.

Our manager is running one right now, but he usually proposes books about team-work, e.t.c.

Just finished 'Turning ship around', next on the list is probably 'The phoenix project'

I am considering organizing book-club to go through google's SRE book and workbook.

Web development Bootcamp on udemy by Angela Yu. Only like $10-15 if they are having a sale but it gets a basic understanding of dev in you head.

I took one graduate level Database course almost 20 years ago. Have built my entire career off that one course... and I only got a B.

If I had a $50/month budget, this is how I'd spread it:

  $10 - https://subscription.packtpub.com/
  Are you interested in frontend?
    $40 - https://frontendmasters.com/
    $29 - https://www.pluralsight.com/
    $10 - go for a random course on something I've never done
Courses I've (extra)enjoyed:

  - 60% of Rust courses on Packt
  - https://mastery.games/p/flexbox-zombies
  - https://laracasts.com/series/learn-vue-2-step-by-step
Shoutout to Jeffrey from Laracasts, it's been years since I've taken his Vue class, and I don't use Vue anymore, but the calm, straight-forward way he explains things stuck in the back of my head. When I have to teach something, I try to be Jeffrey.

Packtpub has been the best resource for my area of interest. It should take one a really long time to run out of free resources and into buying subscriptions. There are few good courses, that are not inflated with BS to increase their length.

When I find a course I'm interested in, I pirate it. If I consider it got me enough value to justify the asked price, I'll buy it as well. More than 80% don't.


Some learning resources:

  > These are just a few, trying not to post a wall of text.

  Standard course sites:
   - https://www.packtpub.com/
   - https://www.coursera.org/
   - https://www.pluralsight.com/

   - MIT OCW
    - https://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-tll-005-how-to-speak-january-iap-2018/
    - https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-04-quantum-physics-i-spring-2013/lecture-videos/
   - MITx - https://micromasters.mit.edu/
   - https://www.edx.org/course

   - https://www.mathsisfun.com/
   - https://mathproblems123.wordpress.com/

   - https://frontendmasters.com
   - https://scrimba.com/
   - https://mastery.games/

   - https://www.aws.training/
   - https://linuxacademy.com/
   - http://linux-training.be/
   - http://write.flossmanuals.net/command-line/introduction/
   - https://www.tldp.org/LDP/abs/html/

  Places where you can practice (development):
   - https://projecteuler.net/about
   - https://open.kattis.com/
   - https://www.codewars.com/
   - https://codeforces.com/contests
   - https://codingcompetitions.withgoogle.com/codejam
   - https://www.techgig.com/challenge
   - https://www.hackerrank.com/contests
   - https://app.codility.com/programmers/challenges/

   - https://www.learn-c.org/
   - http://cslibrary.stanford.edu/101/
   - http://2016-aalto-c.mooc.fi/en/Module_1/index.html
   - https://www.guru99.com/c-programming-tutorial.html
   - http://c-faq.com/index.html

Sorry for the bad formatting and the non-clickable links, it's just the way it is on HN.

How do you like Pactkpub? Seems like it's a hit and miss situation. Some contents are good, some are not so good. They churn a lot of books though and some of them are niche (which is good).

I go for video only, maybe that's why my view is skewed. Many of the books are very Udemy-like quality (full of useless fluff), and I generally try to avoid books.

Can someone suggest a Linux basics course?

pluralsight has lots of stuff

I second pluralsight for that budget. I've been a customer for a few years, and I find that I've always gotten the value out of it every year. Some months I won't touch it, other months I'll do course after course integrating the learnings into a side-project. Variety is huge.

sorry didn't read the question properly.


fixed, thanks

no one?

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