While it’s no secret that I love taking online classes at my college, I’ve also been taking some informal creative classes on the Skillshare platform for the last several months so I could learn more about different topics that intersect with my research interests. One of my friends was recently asking me about Skillshare accessibility for visual impairment and how I use the app with assistive technology, so today I will be sharing a review of the Skillshare app and how to get started with using Skillshare to learn about a variety of different topics.
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is a subscription-based online learning community that allows users to learn from educational videos, with the primary goal being to complete a project. While these classes are not accredited, they do cover a large variety of creative and professional disciplines and are great for exploring different topics or learning a new art style. Skillshare courses can be accessed online and through the free Skillshare apps for iOS/iPad OS and Android.
Skillshare cost and Skillshare Premium
Free trial of Skillshare Premium
Users can access thousands of free classes on Skillshare after creating an account. Right now, Skillshare is also currently offering a 3 month free trial of Skillshare Premium through the link below, which gives new users unlimited access to the full library of Skillshare classes, as well as the ability to download videos for offline viewing.
After their free trial is over, users can get access to Skillshare Premium for $15 a month or a discounted price of $99 a year, though users can also apply for a scholarship to get a free or discounted Premium membership (I was able to get 50% off a membership since I am a college student, though I had to apply for a scholarship first).
After logging in, Skillshare users are taken to a home screen with classes they’ve recently accessed, saved classes, and personalized recommendations for classes that are currently trending. Users can also directly access their classes on the “My Classes” tab, which gives them access to their class history and workshop history.
If users want to find a class to take, they can browse a topic or use the search bar to search for keywords (i.e interior design) and browse classes with those terms or tags. I tend to use this option the most often, as I often open the Skillshare app with the goal of learning more about a specific skill.
What are Skillshare classes like?
Skillshare classes are pre-recorded videos that can be played at any time that often revolve around a finished project that can be added to a portfolio, though these are not graded. Each Skillshare lesson is broken up into several smaller videos so users can easily explore a class or jump to topics that interest them. The length of each Skillshare lesson varies, but there is a large selection of classes that are less than an hour long.
Examples of classes
General topics that are offered on Skillshare include:
- Business Analytics
- Creative Writing
- Film & Video
- Fine Art
- Freelance & Entrepreneurship
- Graphic Design
- Leadership & Management
- UI/UX Design
- Web Development
Skillshare accessibility for large print/screen magnification
While the Skillshare iOS app does not have large enough text for me to be able to read, I did not have this problem when using the Android app, though it’s worth noting that I use a third-party app for large text on my phone and also had to use Select-to-speak to read some of the longer course titles that were cut off. I had no issues using the Skillshare website with the ctrl-+ keyboard shortcut either.
When I use the Skillshare app on my iPad, I prefer to have the Zoom lens view enabled so that I can see course titles and examples of lessons. Since the courses auto-play, I don’t have to worry about clicking on lessons, and I can also enable the ability to play videos in the background when the Skillshare app is closed within the Settings menu.
For users that prefer to watch videos on a larger display, Skillshare supports the ability to cast videos to a Chromecast or Apple TV so that they can be viewed on a larger screen. I have broadcast a few Skillshare classes to my Chromecast with awesome results, though I typically prefer to just position my device somewhat close to my face instead of watching on a larger screen.
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Skillshare accessibility for screen readers
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Skillshare app can be used independently with screen readers, though I found that it was easier to open saved classes on the “My Classes” tab than it was to open them on the home screen. I recommend that screen reader users take advantage of the search feature for exploring available classes and tags- for example, I explored tags with VoiceOver by typing a random letter in the search bar and then tapping slightly underneath the search bar to browse through the list of tags available.
One question that people who use screen readers may have is if the classes are easy to follow along with audio alone. While I cannot speak for the accessibility of all of the classes on Skillshare, I have found that many of the instructors are awesome about explaining visuals on the screen, and many tutorials can be understood fairly easily, even without visuals.
What I’ve used it for
Some examples of topics I have personally studied on Skillshare include:
- Interior Design
- Graphic design
- User Experience/Interaction Design
- Project Management
- Social Media and SEO
- Digital art classes
- Storytelling/Digital storytelling
Why I studied these topics
I chose to take Skillshare classes on these topics because they are not classes that I would traditionally take as a college student studying data science or assistive technology, but they have applications in my field of interest. For example, knowing about interior design and graphic design can help me to better understand lighting and creating accessible documents/environments for people with low vision, while understanding user experience can help me better understand usability studies and help me better understand project management skills. In addition, knowing how to add CSS/HTML to my website is a valuable skill, as is knowing how to use social media and SEO.
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I’ve had a lot of fun exploring different topics on Skillshare that I traditionally wouldn’t learn about in college, and I love being able to adapt classes on my own so I can participate in them with low vision. I’m glad that Skillshare can be used with assistive technology settings as well, and highly recommend trying out a few different Skillshare classes to learn more about different topics.