Learning Photoshop, Online Courses and Measuring Expanding Time

Have you ever been left waiting for a pick-up at the airport? Maybe your phone ran out of battery or the flight was early, or the person picking you up was late?

Time really ...




Time is a funny thing, especially right now (July 2020) during an ongoing pandemic. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been doing a wonderful Skillshare course titled Adobe Photoshop CC – Essentials Training Course by Daniel Scott (referral link for 2 months free), a fellow kiwi! I started learning design 3 years ago, and my first design program was Sketch (6 months) followed by Figma, which I’ve used since then. It does everything I need, is extremely fast, free, and actively improving and developing. But all the while, imposter syndrome reminded me that in order to be a designer, some competence with the Adobe Creative Cloud suite is probably necessary!

Enter Skillshare.

Now, the rest of this post is going to talk about time, online courses, course completion difficulty, and time tracking. The course describes itself as “… everything you need to know about getting started with Photoshop.

This course is for beginners. You do not need any previous knowledge of Photoshop, photography or design. We will start right at the beginning and work our way through step by step”.

Course length of 87 lessons and a time of 8 hours and 36 minutes

Course Length of 8h 36m, 87 Lessons

As I started, I began with the optimistic of a traveller set off on a brand new journey. Time to learn the basics of Photoshop. This won't take long at all, right? 9-hour course, bound to be about 20 hours of actual learning. Dive straight in.

It has a listed course time of 8 hours and 36 minutes, split over 87 lessons, about ~6 minutes on average. But here’s the kicker — in my experience, online courses almost always take much longer than the sticker on the tin. I’ve experienced this with every online video course I’ve ever properly engaged with, taking notes, following the course instructions, learning keyboard shortcuts and tools, debugging problems, learning stuff. These things take time. And I don’t see many other people talk about it!

I deeply believe online, self-driven courses are a wonderful part of the web, opening access learning opportunities to millions of people. Free resources like YouTube, paid resources like Skillshare, or combination sites like Udemy or Udacity offer a lovely mix of educational resources — not to mention the many niche sites out there.

But as great as those resources are, Online Course Completion Rates are often less than ~10%. In my own personal experience, a big reason for why I have left courses unfinished, abandoned or dropped, it’s due to my own misjudgment of how long those courses will take. But for this project, I had an ace up my sleeve! I’ve been using Toggle to track my workday, attempting to stay focused during the ongoing lockdown.

Toggl Time Tracking, 47 hours and 46 Minutes

Total Hours 47h 46m 41s

As a result of that focused time tracking, I can report that the entire course took me 47 hours, 46 minutes and 41 seconds, with 46 total time entries.


No wonder online courses feel like they take me forever.

That’s almost 6 hours of actual watch time per 1 hour of content. I’m very lucky that I have that time available right now to invest that time — but I’m sure many people don’t. Especially on an ongoing basis, or while working a full-time job or managing children and other pressing responsibilities.

Now that I have a good baseline of how long courses can take, I’m going to re-evaluate any course I take — considering the formula that it can take me up to, ~6 hours per 1 hour of content for deep learning at my own pace. Certainly changes the maths on which courses I want to start.

Online Course Realistic Time Estimate = (Course Length) * 6 Hours

How long do online courses take you? Tweet me @jasontcrabtree and let me know, I’d be interested to see if other people have similar experiences!