Being an investor takes a lot of work and know-how. You don’t necessarily have to gain that know-how by going to Harvard Business School though, there are a lot of ways to come by it. If you did happen to go to Harvard Business School, more power to you, but the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of successful investors out there who have a lot of “street smarts” but little else in the way of formal education.

Education in general is changing, and busy professionals sometimes have no time for classroom education. Fortunately, technology has given us an answer, and today we have things like online classes, virtual classrooms, CD-ROM tutorials and Internet learning centers. There are even fully accredited four-year colleges that have on-line classes, and it is possible to earn a full degree without ever setting foot in a physical classroom.

Early on, these classes were clunky, and consisted of little more than text on a screen, but today, they are highly interactive, and frequently can be held live. Students are able to interact with live instructors and even with other students, as they take classes that occur online, in real time. This is an excellent and very legitimate way to learn about investing and stock trading.

There are two basic types of online investment tutorials: a study at your own pace variety, and a real-time virtual classroom. There are advantages to both. A set of CD-ROMs and some books allows you to move at your own pace, studying material as you have time, which can be a big advantage to somebody with time constraints. It’s also usually a lot cheaper. However, it lacks the real interactivity and feedback you get from directly working with an instructor.

Online classes also vary, but generally you will work online, directly with an instructor, expert, or “investment guru” of some sort who will give you a lot more hand-holding. A program where the instructor is virtually at your side (through the Internet, at least), giving you advice along the way as you make trades based on the course material, will give you a lot more confidence and direct experience. These are usually a lot more expensive however, and have the drawback of having to conform to the timeframe of the instructor.

As with any other type of investment advice, check out the courseware, the instructor, “guru,” or promoter thoroughly before buying. Beware of outrageous claims and testimonials. A good tutorial will be designed to educate you in investing methodologies, but won’t promise to make you rich overnight.