Course Platforms / PluralSight
Pluralsight was founded in 2004. It began life as an offline training company, providing courses to executives in a traditional classroom style setting.
By 2007 they had seen the light and shifted their focus to online classes. By 2011 they were gaining traction in the world of online learning.
In 2019 they still offer in-person training but they have some very interesting things to offer the world of online learning.
Pluralsight offers 6000+ courses delivered by over 1300 industry professionals. You can take an individual class or group classes together to form a longer "path".
Who is PluralSight for
Pluralsight is one of the more business-focused online course providers that we have reviewed. It is perfect for anyone with a company learning and development budget behind them.
Back when Pluralsight was a purely business-focused training company their courses were purchased by HR departments and team leads for their teams.
The site still caters well for "enterprise" clients looking to train their teams.
Nowadays, Pluralsight is also offering more reasonable prices and shorter courses for "individual" learners.
Pluralsight courses are perfect for anyone who is
Looking to apply their new found skills to in a business setting
Will pay a little more for a more rounded service
Looking to learn to code and or learn wider IT skills
In recent years Pluralsight has begun to expand the types of courses they offer. But be careful as they do not have the small consistent quality as the core IT, Tech and Development courses.
Role IQ & Skill IQ
Two great features of PluralSight are Role IQ and Skill IQ.
These 'IQ' tests are designed to quickly establish your skill level and suitability for a given career. This can be the job you currently have or a field you are looking to break into.
Once you have completed a quick test questionnaire, you receive a Proficiency score and breakdown of your strengths & weaknesses. Another great feature is that it will provide recommended courses to help you hit your learning goals.
The list of Roles that you can measure yourself is currently quite limited and tool focused but the list is growing by the day.
Classes and courses
PluralSight categorises their courses into around 10 main sections.
• IT Ops
• Software Development
• Information & Cybersecurity
• Data Science
• Creative skills
• Architecture skills
• Design skills
• Finally general Business Skills
Each area has a large number of courses. Some are very generic, offering a broad introduction to the discipline whilst others focus on helping you learn a specific skill.
As you can see PluralSight is one of the most in-depth course providers out there at the moment.
One of Pluralsight's biggest strengths as an online course provider is in its humble beginnings as an offline course provider.
Because it started life being paid based on whether or not students learnt anything, the team at Pluralsight takes each topic very seriously and covers it in depth.
This means that you can dig far deeper into a topic than would be possible with other providers like Udemy, CreativeLive or Coursera.
Pluralsight has hundreds of classes and paths for all the topics above.
They have categorised them into subcategories to help you find what you are looking for. You also get a certificate for each course that you take. However, be warned that most courses are not accredited by any governing body or higher education institution.
One fairly large limitation with finding a course on Pluralsight is that they do not offer any way to filter the courses.
If you are looking for a free course, short course or accredited course then you will have to do it manually. This can take some time so hopefully, Pluralsight adds filters soon.
The lack of Accreditation signifier is the most annoying as you should always make sure you check if a course is accredited before taking the plunge if your goal is to use the certificate for a job or governing body.
Always check if courses are officially accredited before enrolling
PluralSight classes vs paths
If you are looking to learn a specific skill then you can take a single class that will last around 1-5 hours.
PluralSight classes are great if you know exactly what you want to learn and have something to apply your new-found skills to once you have finished the class.
As with most practical learning such a learning a foreign language or coding language, if you do not practise and use your new-found knowledge you will quickly find it fading from your repertoire.
If you want to develop a whole new skill-set like learning to code python from scratch then you should think about taking a "Path".
PluralSight Paths are formed from a collection of courses. They have been curated and designed by the Pluralsight team.
This means that you can follow along with the courses as they improve your skills step by step. Paths also have a strong focus on bedding in your new learning. There is a heavy emphasis on exams and passing tests to progress to the next level. Don't be too concerned you can retake the tests until your pass.
Paths generally require around 25-90 hours depending on the breadth and depth covered.
PluralSight course menu
A picture is worth a thousand words so here is a snapshot of the courses menu. The Software Development category has been expanded for anyone who wants to learn to code.
Here you can see the difference between how you can explore Classes within the Courses overview sections or take a Path which bundles up classes in a package.
Inline with PluralSight's strong focus on teaching you skills it is important to be aware of the assessments that go along with a course.
The coding focused classes and course have a very strong assessment basis. You will need to pass exams and based on what you learn before progressing.
Like most MOOCs and online course providers you can take exams several times but it is important to remember that when you take a course you should take one at the right skill level.
A great feature of these exams and progress reviews is that PluralSight will provide you with a Skill IQ so you can gauge your progress against yourself and industry standards.
The Assessment feature is a great benefit to HR departments and Managers who can see if the learner has actually made any progress during the course.
Pluralsight works on a subscription basis which means you get all the courses you want for $35 a month or $299 if you sign up for a year. The annual subscription is a substantial saving and if you are really committed to learning it comes with a lot of benefits to help you learn.
To help you decide Pluralsight offer a 10-day free trial. 10 days isn´t as long as some of the other online course providers so make sure you a ready to commit to a course when you sign up.
PluralSight premium tier
PluralSight recently released a "Premium tier" for anyone, or more likely any business, looking to take their elearning to the next level. The PluralSight Premium Tier costs $449 a year.
This tier is much more focused on more intensive, long-form projects and classes that result in an examination. If you are lucky enough to work at a company that prioritises training and development you could ask them to sponsor you on your chosen path for a year.
Don't forget the free courses on PluralSight
As part of their commitment to helping everyone learn more about programming and technology Pluralsight offer free weekly courses.
These are generally short courses that introduce you to a subject. Since they change regularly and cover a wide variety of topics it is a great way to broaden your knowledge. You can find out more here.
VIP learners get free learning
If you have a specialist skill then PluralSight will give you 1-year free access to their platform. The list is fairly selective but you can check it out here.
Free Microsoft Azure courses
If your business has a Microsoft Azure account or you are a student with Azure access you can get free access to Azure focused courses on PluralSight.
How to take a course
Pluralsight class types are some of the most standardised that we have seen from an online course provider. They are all given by industry professionals and all follow the same format. You will have a series of videos to watch and then some form of assignment.
There is not as strong a peer support community that we have seen in other platforms such as SkillShare or Coursera but the instructors are very helpful and offer a lot of high-quality support.
Pluralsight is a very useful place to start your elearning journey because they provide tools to help you identify where you are strong and areas where you can improve.
As I wrote about above, they have Skill IQ which an online test to see your skill set mapped out for a specific area like Wireframe designing. They also have Role IQ which will let you see "if you have the skills you need to succeed at your job, and what you need to work on to get to the next level".
These two tools are very helpful if you are looking to break into an industry or get promoted in your current role. Since you can take multiple courses at the same time you can make very quick progress providing that you are willing to put in the work and hours required to learn a new skill.
As with any online course and online course provider they can only do so much. The tests and assignments are tough and technology skills have a steep learning curve you will need to stay motivated to finish a course and get your certificate.
The best way to get promoted is to bring your skills to the next level
As with all online courses our advice is always to start off slow with a short course or class near to your current level then build up to longer more challenging paths.
Remember any courses or class you take will require a lot of time and energy. They require time spent watching the videos and reading the documentation followed by homework each week.
Navigating the site
The Pluralsight Course Overviews have a lot of information to help you decide whether or not to take a class. However, the information is not laid out as clearly as some of the other online course providers.
This means you will have to read large chunks of text to get the information you require. Make sure to commit the time and research each course as they can vary widely in what they cover and the titles can be misleading at times.
Despite the fact that Pluralsight curated the courses carefully there is still some overlap on topics. Where multiple courses will seem to offer the same thing so as always do your research before jumping into a course.
Look at the length of time required, are there assessments and the course video syllabus on the right-hand side of the page to gain more insight into the course.
There are also course ratings and reviews that you can use to see what your fellow elearners have to say.
Below is an example of a Course Overview page for those who are looking to start learning about Big Data basics.
Below you can see what a Course Page looks like once you are logged-in to the platform.
As you can see there is a lot of information about the course on the page. There are also a lot of filters and options to save the course, make notes or check out the Path/ Paths in which it sits.
One of the best aspects of Pluralsight is skill grading. The technology behind Role IQ can help you decide if a course is the right level for you.
Before taking a class you can take some practise questions. There are around 10 questions per course. Depending on your score you can see if a class is right for you.
Pluralsight is still fairly specific in the online courses and classes it offers.
It has stuck to technology and business-focused requirements. If you are looking for more personal or "hobby" training like photography or crafts then Udemy or Skillshare is a better bet.
If you are looking for something quite niche then PluralSight is probably the platform for you as it goes very deep within a topic.
As PluralSight began life as a fully fledged training company and retained a strong focused on in house learning their Paths feature is very well maintained. If you are looking to train yourself on a certain topic this is probably the way to go.
Paths combined with the Role & Skill IQ is a great way to develop in your career. You can then take a break and go with some lighter courses from some other providers then come back a few months or a year later to take the next step in your skill level.