I'm taking the Graphic Design: Free Premium Membership 4-week plan. I want to learn how to complete basic graphic design tasks for my personal use. I really have no interest in starting a new career or becoming a freelance graphic designer, so I think that this 4-week module should be enough for me.
Positive: Extremely convenient (especially in times of lockdown). You can schedule your virtual lessons at any time. Shaw Academy sends you constant reminders of your lessons, and if you miss any lesson, you can re-schedule it easily. The instructor in my course is very good. She explains things clearly and in a good pace. I really like the way she has prepared the material. The video and sound quality are also excellent.
Neutral: Their marketing campaign is extremely aggressive. Be prepared to receive several messages per day via email, app notifications, sms and even automated phone calls. Many are to remind you of your lessons, which I'm sure a lot of people might find useful. But there are also many recurrent messages urging to buy their toolkits and certificates or to upgrade to some other benefit. I don't think this is necessarily a negative thing, as I can easily silence my app, close notification pop-ups and filter all of their marketing emails, but I'm sure many people will find this level of marketing extremely annoying or even harassing. All in all, I'd say this is neutral.
It's expensive. The free program I signed up to includes only the video lessons for the first four weeks. Everything else must be paid separately if I understand correctly. And it isn't cheap. Toolkits are about 30 euros each -one per lesson-, on top of the monthly fees and certificates, so you're probably looking at a few thousand euros in total, if you want to complete a full program.
I also don't like the fact that I can't download the videos for offline viewing. I understand why they do it, but I have used other premium online education platforms that do allow in-app downloads for offline usage. Considering that I spend a considerable amount of time on trains and buses, I feel I could benefit from this.
I don't know how prestigious this academy is compared to other online or traditional brick-and-mortar schools. I don't know if their certificates have any sort of recognition. I really don't intend to use this course to boost my CV or to increase my employment opportunities, so these are not elements I have considered.
Conclusion: For the purposes that I signed-up this is great. It's far better than simply watching YouTube tutorials. If your goals match mine as explained above, and you don't mind the aggressive marketing, I would recommend it.