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Guide to online guides

india Updated: May 04, 2012 19:07 IST
Amrutha Rao
Amrutha Rao
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

I’ve always wanted to know more about Greek Mythology”, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to speak French”, “I’ve always wanted to play the piano.” All of us have had our own such moments, but we rarely find the time and the resources to pursue them.

But with online tutorials becoming popular, you can learn just about anything — from nail art to speaking Urdu — in the comforts of your room. There are hundreds of websites sprouting up everyday offering courses that will boggle your mind! For instance, did you know that you could take a lesson in Roman Architecture from Diana Kliener, a senior faculty member at Yale University and not pay a penny for it?

Priya Chauhan, a 23-year-old college student, was surfing the net one day, when she chanced upon Chordie, a website that lets you take music lessons. Out of sheer boredom she decided to take a guitar class. “I just gave it a shot and today I can play all my favourite songs! I’m no expert, but learning to play the guitar was something I always wanted. I’m glad I can now,” she says.

A major advantage that online lessons have over traditional classes is that they allow you to learn at your own pace. You also decide what exactly you want to learn, instead of following a standard plan. Mishty Varma, 30, who learnt to converse in Urdu by studying online says, “You can pretty much customise your experience. I can learn to speak without needing to learn the script, whereas in classroom-style teaching, learning a language means learning everything about it.”

Over the years, online tutorials have improved their methods. Initially they were all about reading text-heavy ebooks, but today they have demonstrative videos, interactive programmes and forums where fellow learners can exchange ideas. Kalyan Yashaswi, 22, a professional photographer, says, “About 95 per cent of what I know about photography today is what I learnt from seeing other people’s work on forums and blogs. Photographers like Joey L and Chuck Gardener post tutorials from which you can learn the finer nuances of the art and new techniques that are being used.”

But the truth is that most of us don’t take e-learning courses seriously. We are too used to our traditional sit-in-the-classroom-with-a-finger-on-your-lips form of learning.

On the flipside, you might be free to learn at your own pace online, but it also means you may sign up and never bother to return to that website out of the lack of discipline. “The effectiveness actually depends on you, and not on what the course offers. You have to be persistent. But if you are passionate enough about the subject, you will drive yourself to do it,” says Mishty.

And then there is also the issue of finding the right website to learn from. With so many options available on the Internet, how do you zero in on a particular tutorial? Apparently there’s no tried-and-tested formula. Twenty-two-year-old Sarah Priya (name changed) managed to teach herself how to read tarot cards over the Internet. “Most of the time, it works on a trial-and-error method. I visited many pages to learn more about tarot cards and their interpretations. Some of the websites just beat around the bush and some might just be hoaxes, but if you look well enough, you will always find something that will be extremely resourceful and user-friendly.”

Websits that e-teach
Music:
www.chordie.com
www.guitartricks.com
Languages:
www.livemocha.com
www.openculture.com
History:
oyc.yale.edu
Art:
Expert Village videos on you tube
www.creativespotlite.com
Photography:
www.geofflawrence.com
super.nova.org/PhotoClass,
www.cambridgeincolour.com
Photoshop, Flash:
www.tutorialized.com
www.youtube.com
Nailart:
www.thenaildirectory.com

Users say
1.Read up as much as you can, explore all your options and choose a tutorial that seems easily understandable and clutter-free.
2.Don’t bother with text-heavy documents as you’ll eventually lose interest. Look for interactive functions like videos and quizzes.
3.If you don’t understand a particular topic, don’t wave it off; make sure you find additional information on it.