Masterclass.com is an online learning site with a difference. There are dozens of online learning sites out there - some are niche - such as sport focused sites like Marcelo Garcia in Action, which focuses on the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Codecademy, which focuses on computer programming. Some are general - such as Udemy, which has a huge number of premium courses aimed at everything from music to marketing
Masterclass.com takes that general approach - but unlike Udemy, where you could be learning from anyone who is willing to make and market a course (although there is quality control), with Masterclass.com you will be learning from some true big-name experts. The Masterclass team have managed to get some best-in-class people involved with creating courses. This is your chance to have Judy Blume teach you about writing, Gordon Ramsay teach cooking, Ron Howard talk about directing, and Garry Kasparov teach chess.
Masterclass aims to be a high-end version of the online learning system, and it succeeds - with top quality video production qualities, and great content too. The lecturers are people who know what they are talking about, and who are able to talk eloquently and explain things clearly. Take the Deadmau5 music production course and you'll get six hours worth of video content, divided into 23 lessons.
If you're not sure whether the lessons will be for you, then you can watch a trailer to get an idea of what is in the course, or look at the lesson plan. This will give you an idea of what you can expect. If you buy the course and don't like it, there is a money back guarantee.
The online learning platform gives you the chance to learn flexibly at your own pace - and once you've bought a course you can access it for as long as you like. If you buy an 'all access' pass, that gets you access to every course on the site - but the pass is only valid for one year.
The pricing structure is quite transparent - buy a pass for one course for $90 - a slightly hefty fee compared to the offerings on Udemy, but far from unfair given the quality of the content on offer. Or, alternatively, pay $180 to get access to all of the content on the website for a year. Considering the range of content, this is a good deal - especially if you're a musician - since there's a lot of music-related content on there right now.
It's unclear how much content will be added to the platform over the next year, but it does seem like it has a lot of traction and backing, so it's worth considering if you're interested in any of the courses that are available now. The developers say that they'll be adding new courses monthly, so it will be interesting to see who else comes on board and what their offerings are.
The only area where Masterclass.com really falls down is searchability. Perhaps it's because there is not a lot of courses on there at the moment, but having to click through the scroller one by one to see what offerings are on the site was a little slow and cumbersome. It's likely, however, that as more courses become available they'll consider offering better ways to find them.
Everything else about the site is easy to use. They say that the courses are intended to be followed in short chunks. Serena Williams, for example, teaches tennis in ten minutes per day, offering drills to help people improve their game. You can watch them on a desktop PC, a phone or a tablet PC - it's an any browser, on-demand thing.
Some classes offer value-adds, such as downloadable ebooks, or the option to submit videos of yourself, or other work, and then get feedback from fellow students as well as from the course tutors. This could be a chance to get help from one of the top players in the field in question.
If you like the look of the courses that are on there already - the content is strong, the site is stable and the production value on the videos is second to none. It's a big leap to pay up front for a year, but I think the content makes it worth the price, and they are always adding more!