The video series has worked with just about every venerable name in every industry, including Spike Lee. (Image via Instagram)

Why MasterClass Is More Than Worth the Money

From directors and writers to politicians and chefs, the online teaching tool can help anyone hone their passions.

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From directors and writers to politicians and chefs, the online teaching tool can help anyone hone their passions.

No matter what profession someone finds themselves in, most, if not all, people wish they could speak to high-end professionals within their field. Whether they wish to gain new skills while under their tutelage, or to discover a fresh appreciation and perspective on their careers or craft, the wisdom of professionals can inspire others to follow in their footsteps to reach the same level of expertise.

While some might achieve their dream of meeting their role model, many will never get the chance. MasterClass, an online learning program, gives those that have had their fan-mail gone unanswered an opportunity to shed that feeling of hopelessness and not only speak to but to learn from professionals in their field.

MasterClass currently offers over 55 classes (and counting) sorted into the following categories: Film & TV, Music & Entertainment, Culinary Arts, Writing, Design, Photography & Fashion, Sports & Games, Politics & Society, Business, Politics & Society and Science & Technology.

Before a student decides to enroll in a class, they can view short trailers in which the instructors give a brief overview of the topics they will cover and gives a prospective student a chance to see if the class is right for them. The trailers also offer a sense of an instructor’s personality, their methodology and passion for what they do.

Each class consists of an average of 24 lessons with most ranging between 12 – 20 minutes in length. Depending on the type of class, instructors typically give lectures with some form of visual aid and/or animation to better help students understand the content. While most lessons are in a lecture format, there are other classes with more interactive lessons. For example, lessons from the MasterClass taught by chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov involve discussing certain chess strategies, followed by the video pausing to allow students to come to their own conclusions before he explains an answer.

Some students might find the lectures beneficial in having a one-on-one tutoring session rather than the feeling of sitting in a lecture hall. Oftentimes instructors will disclose information either about their personal life or routines/habits pertaining to their profession. An instructor divulging personal aspects serves to create a connection between themselves and their students and offers exclusive insights for MasterClass subscribers.

Along with the lecture videos, MasterClass offers a workbook that acts not only as a guide for the class but also supplements the lectures with assignments and information as to where one can learn more about a particular topic. The first component of a workbook includes a chapter overview/summary accompanying every lecture video, offering key quotes and ideas mentioned in the video, which help students to remember key concepts without having to rewatch the entire lecture, and short exercises, separate from formal assignments, that the instructor may have mentioned in passing.

The scope of assignments the workbook offers differs based on what type of class a student is enrolled in. For example, an assignment from a MasterClass taught by tennis legend Serena Williams comes in the form of practicing certain tennis techniques, such as serving or groundstrokes, asking students to physically go to a tennis court and make several attempts of what’s assigned.

However, assignments for a MasterClass focused on writing, such as one taught by the author Judy Blume, involve tasks such as looking through news articles to find inspiration or reading a couple of chapters from her books to see writing strategies she discusses implemented in her own work.

These workbooks also point students to where they can find more information on a subject on which their instructor might not have gone very in-depth. A couple of examples include one from the author James Patterson’s class; the workbook lists two websites, entitled “Inspiration Finder” and “What-if-inator,” as tools for students to draw from with writing prompts outside their comfort zones. Another example concerns a space exploration class taught by former astronaut Chris Hadfield, whose workbook points students to sources such as NASA that detail the qualities astronaut candidates must have and the training experience they undergo.

Another component of MasterClass revolves around student feedback on individual lessons, instructors and MasterClass itself. Once a student has completed a lesson, they have an opportunity to rate the lesson out of five stars and write in the comment section their questions or concerns. The comment section also allows students to talk with their fellow classmates about class material and clarify subject matter not thoroughly explained by the instructor.

Along with the comment section, MasterClass also offers office hours where students can pose a question in either written form or through a video recording directly to their instructor, who then respond with a video recording of themselves addressing the question, giving valuable feedback that many students may not find elsewhere. Occasionally, instructors might host a live Q&A session where students are able to ask questions in real time.

MasterClass also features a playlist section that serves as a way for students to practice a specific skill or explore similar aspects of different topics. For students wanting to learn more about creativity, a playlist is composed of instructors of varying disciplines such as Usher (the art of performance), Judd Apatow (comedy) and Helen Mirren (acting) as they discuss how creativity applies to their lives and professions. For students interested in the culinary arts, a playlist composed of renowned chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller shows how important certain cooking tools are to their daily lives.

Anyone with an internet connection can enroll in MasterClass and be taught by the best of the best in their chosen field. With prices ranging from $90 for a single class to $180 for full access to all available classes for an entire year, MasterClass students will finally get the chance to learn from true masters anytime and anywhere.

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