How we cover education and personal development products on insider reviews

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A relatively new section of Insider Reviews, the Education and Personal Development vertical began covering online courses in spring 2020 and has since branched out to review 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 run by top universities and organizations) from popular MOOC platforms such as edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn. We’re also looking at paid courses in popular online course subscriptions like MasterClass, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Skillshare.

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

Online certificate and diploma programs: We also cover longer online programs, popular program exam preparation websites such as edX MicroMasters, Coursera MasterTracks, and Harvard Extension School Certificates which may be more affordable and flexible alternatives to traditional colleges.

Additionally, 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 Top Thrillers or Stephen King’s Best Books. We also personally recommend some of our staff’s favorite books and book reviews that are particularly popular or offer helpful advice. Where appropriate, we consult with experts, such as professional bakers, journalism professors, or climate scientists, to recommend the best books to read.

Applications and other products that promote learning or growth: We like to think outside the box when it comes to education, which is why 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 tests Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything”.

Mara Leighton / Insider


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

If we review the products ourselves, we will allow sufficient time to take an online course, test an application, or complete a book. During the review, we will focus on factors such as cost, flexibility, time commitment, completeness, and overall retention (are the lessons learned in the book or course easy to incorporate into your everyday life ?). For career-focused products (such as courses to help you get promoted), we’ll also take into account factors such as skills in demand and top-rated careers.

When we cover something that we have not personally used (such as a scholarship, degree program, or longer list of books), we will look at user reviews and ratings, popularity of the course or book. and, where applicable, the legitimacy and good reputation of the company offering the product itself.

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