Personal development

How We Cover Education and Personal Development Products in Insider Reviews

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A relatively new section of insider reviews, the Education & Personal Development vertical began covering online courses in the spring of 2020 and has since branched out to look at online programs, books, apps, and even products that facilitate online or in-person learning.

What products and services we cover:

Online courses and e-learning platforms: We review and collect free online courses (often led by top universities and organizations) from popular MOOC platforms like edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn. We also review paid courses in popular online course subscriptions such as MasterClass, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Skillshare.

The courses we cover cover topics ranging from psychology and medicine to developing professional skills like coding or writing. We also cover classes that are purely fun to take, including those taught by celebrities.

Online certificate and degree programs: We also cover longer online programs, from popular exam prep websites to programs like edX MicroMasters, Coursera MasterTracks, and Harvard Extension School Certificates that can be more affordable and flexible alternatives to traditional college.

Plus, we write about free study materials, program discounts, and scholarship opportunities to help ease the financial burden of continuing education.

Books: We cover book summaries around specific genres and authors, such as the best thrillers or the best Stephen King books. We also personally recommend some of our staff’s favorite books and review books that are particularly popular or offer helpful advice. Where appropriate, we consult with experts, such as professional bakers, journalism professors or climatologists, to recommend the best books to read.

Apps and other products that promote learning or growth: We like to think outside the box when it comes to education, so our coverage includes library apps, resources to learn more about a specific topic, and even products that make it easier to balance work and school. .

"How to cook everything" review

Senior reporter Mara Leighton tries Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Anything.”

Mara Leighton / Insider

How we test or decide which education and personal development products to cover:

If we review the products ourselves, we’ll allow plenty of time to complete an online course, test an app, or finish a book. During the review, we will focus on factors such as cost, flexibility, time commitment, comprehensiveness and overall retention (do the lessons learned in the book or course seem easy to integrate in your daily life?). For career-focused products (such as courses to help you get promoted), we’ll also consider factors like in-demand skills and top-rated careers.

When we’re covering something we haven’t personally used (like a scholarship, degree program, or a longer roundup of books), we’ll look at user reviews and ratings, course popularity or book and, if applicable, the legitimacy and good reputation of the company offering the product itself.

Meet our team of experts:

Check out our other product coverage areas: