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App of the Week: Simplilearn

Sometimes, a simple approach and adequate learning materials is all you need to learn a new skill

Thanks to the internet today, there’s no dearth of sources for one to learn a skill. There are entire websites dedicated to teaching you how to do things, putting actions in an instructable form for you to follow. Then there’s YouTube, the video library that never disappoints when it comes to learning something new (or watching an unhealthy amount of cat videos). However, in all of these, it is arguably difficult to learn a skill in a structured manner, something that a lot of skillsets require. In fact, most technical skill sets, after an amateur level, require a professional approach that is vastly different from the lackadaisical style of finding and doing things purely by yourself. Also, quite often, even when you’ve put in hours and gained a particular skill, you don’t have anything to show for it.

Which brings us to online certification platforms. These platforms provide you with an organised course with a set curriculum that has to be completed within a particular amount of time. Simplilearn is one such platform and we got a chance to try it out for a review.

Signing up is the standard process that you follow for most apps today – either pick your Google or Facebook sign-ins or create your own account. Once you’ve signed in, since you do not have any courses assigned to you, you’ll be taken to the Explore Courses screen. We had the Digital Marketing Certified Associate (DMCA) course assigned to us, so the app took us directly to the My Courses section.

The Explore Courses section is quite simple and straightforward – which is a good thing from an app trying to be useful and approachable. You get a wide variety of software, development, management, information technology and other technical courses to pick from, along with their average rating, price, and the number of learners displayed. Picking a particular course will show you more information about it, as well as its compatibility with your platform. You also get to see reviews from previous learners who have taken the same course so that you can make an informed decision before spending your money.

Once you’ve picked a course, you’re taken to the payment section. Course prices range from anywhere between Rs. 999 to Rs. 47999, with average pricing in the Rs. 10000 zone. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pick anything other than credit card here. It would be good to have other modes like UPI, debit card or even net banking available on the app.

Heading to the My Courses section, you’ll have a simple listed view of the courses that you’ve availed and are currently running. Tapping on a particular course takes you to the latest video that you’re on, which is played on a tabbed interface. The first tab is the Syllabus, which is essentially the list of chapters, with each chapter containing a list of downloadable videos and a quiz at the end.

The next tab shows you a schedule of live classes for the course you’re taking. You can register for a particular date from a list of options. You can even avail project mentoring for your project related queries. The next tab is Notes, where you can keep topic specific notes that you might need to recall at a later time. The forum tab is where other learners also post doubts, discussions and solve queries. The certificate section is where your certificate will appear, unlocked after you complete the objectives listed there. Lastly, the downloads are where additional course material is available for downloading.

The approach to the course being undertaken here is quite standard, with a few differentiating points. Showing the learner the exact objectives that need to be fulfilled to unlock the certificate, which is the target for most people undertaking such a course, helps gamify the learning process. The videos available for the course that we undertook were clean, well made, and to the point. You’re introduced to the basics by well-informed instructors. We didn’t face any issues or failures in the app while we undertook the course.

Another helpful thing is the customisable study plan. In the My Courses section, on the top right, you can set a number of hours that you can put in per week. According to your choice, you will get notifications about the progress you’re making and if you’re not on track to complete the course by the target time. You also get broad resources like webinars and blogs based on any topic available on the app in the resources section.

While there’s nothing technically notable with the Simplilearn platform, it does what it does quite well. There are no glitches or pain points, each section of the learning process leads smoothly to the next, the quizzes and tests are smooth as well, and there’s plenty of additional material and engagement areas to expand your learning beyond watching a series of videos. Except for the limited payment options that we experienced on the Android app, there’s nearly no reason to not recommend Simplilearn if you want to undertake a certified course for a particular technical skill.

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.