1. Prices start at $19.99/ month or $99 annually
2. Thousands of courses available
3. Majority of classes teach creative skills
Online learning has been on an upward trajectory for the past decade or so, but over the last year it’s really taken off, with one platform reporting a 15-fold growth in new registrations since April 2020, according to figures from CNBC.
Skillshare is one such platform, focused on the creative industries, which features video lessons made by actual working professionals in their field. There are thousands of classes available, from purely creative to the more technical, and from the business-oriented to lifestyle and productivity. If it’s not fine art you’re after, then maybe SEO, languages or cooking classes will pique your interest.
We found the platform a lot of fun to use, with a big range of creative classes. It's a great digital classroom if you want to learn art-based subjects, but it's not got a lot of very technical or scientific content to get your teeth into. Also, while most lessons are clear and engaging, we came across a few that feel like they've been abandoned by the original creator.
Skillshare can't guarantee that your course teacher will be able to give you any direct feedback, which is one of the few drawbacks of the platform. If this is a deal-breaker for you, we recommend you look through our list of the best online tutoring services instead. Likewise, if you're set on learning a language, you can get direct feedback and live tutoring through the best language-learning platforms like Rosetta Stone.
Skillshare review: Teaching format
Skillshare’s lessons are presented as a series of video lectures. They tend to be a mix of talking heads and screen captures, and your level of engagement depends on your personal interest in the subject and the charisma of the presenter. Below each video is a description of what the class teaches, plus biographies of the teachers including their qualifications.
There are also reviews of the series by students, and a Discussions tab that houses debate about its contents. Extra useful are the Projects & Resources tab, under which you’ll find further reading, downloads and the like, and the Transcripts tab, which is home to text versions of the videos so you can read along with them, or on a quiet night, just read. The transcripts are excellent for catching up on bits of the video you might not have heard properly, for enriching your notes, or for copying down a recipe – it’s a great feature to have.
A particular favourite of ours is Baking With Kids, presented by a former Great British Bake Off contestant. It’s fairly representative of the quality you’ll find across the site, as it comes with a 45-page PDF to accompany the four hours of video tutorials split across 30 lessons. Some courses set assignments, and students can share what they’ve done with other students or the class teacher; others seem long abandoned, with the teacher having moved on to something else.
Skillshare review: Course quality
The content is all very arty. Don’t come here to learn physics or math – though there is some light content about gravitational fields, the laws of motion, basic algebra and calculus for engineers. The word ‘mindfulness’ comes up a lot, and you’ll be encouraged to do things ‘like a pro’, but there’s also a lot of content ‘for beginners’.
In general, we found that the courses are very focused, and they’re clearly titled so you know what you’re getting. One of the great pleasures of being subscribed to Skillshare is that everything is included, so you can dip in and out of things you’ve not tried before, perhaps discovering a new interest, or at least learning something new along the way.
But on the flip side of that, a lot of the content can be superficial, and courses only go into great depth if a creator has been motivated to create such a video. It feels like the platform needs a little more quality control, as some courses aren't well-maintained and updated, too.
You don’t get a certificate, either real or virtual, for completing a course on Skillshare. In fact, you can mark courses as complete without having actually completed them from the My Classes menu.
Skillshare review: Should I get a subscription?
If you have a thirst for knowledge, then a subscription to Skillshare will make you very happy. If you’ve ever wondered about the night sky, using formulae in Excel, or wanted to learn about AI for beginners, then there’s something here for you. And that’s true of almost every subject. It scratches the surface, and answers your questions, but isn’t the same as taking a dedicated course in the subject.
This isn’t really a criticism – you’re not signing up for college, after all – and there is so much content on offer it’s hard to imagine being without something to watch, as you skip from a course on the night sky to one about moles, and those moles turning out to have more to do with chemistry than lawn care.
If you want to improve your creative skills, say in Photoshop or video editing or watercolor painting, then there’s a lot to be learned from Skillshare. It’s also great for anyone looking to take up a new hobby, as you’ll find plenty of enthusiasm and tips for anything you care to put in the search box.
For those looking for depth, especially in the less artistic disciplines, or for people who want to pick up something concrete they can put on their resumé, there are other places to try first. Try looking through our Linkedin Learning review, to see if it's a better fit for your learning needs.