The online distance course I took part of was free since it was part of a public Swedish University in Gotland (it might be available for people outside sweden as well! http://www.hgo.se/adm/eng.nsf/%28$all%29/DB52D035D82A2107C1256E2900471081?OpenDocument ). Most public classes and courses on basic education-level are free in Sweden so I didn’t have to worry about expenses like that. :) So I tried it out with an open mind.
I wouldn’t say that I got what I was looking for, but it was a fun class and I got to draw and design things, people and environments I wouldn’t normally try out. There were one or two experienced tutors there (from game and film industry). I also got really helpful PDF’s on perspective, light/shadow + exercises. Also got feedback on some of the assignments - but I think the feedback was a bit too soft. It wasn’t a strict course, it was easy to pass the class, few checkups and it didn’t have any live sessions like a lot of paid online courses have. So all in all, way better than I had expected of a free class (experienced tutors is rare! Usually in free classes there is some random dude who takes everything from a book) - but if I had paid for it I would’ve at least expected more thorough feedback, webcam/skype calls and live sessions.
I also attended to an evening online class in Flash Animation at the same University later that summer. It wasn’t half as good as the concept art one, mainly because there was only one tutor and she was more experienced in basic advertising than making graphics for games or web sites.
I have been interested in trying Animation Mentor for a long long time, though! I have heard people recommending it. But it’s also so expensive… I think, if you want the real deal, you’ll have too attend to one of the paid ones. But I have heard people not being as lucky with them as well. :S I think if you find a course you are interested in, try to find people who took that particular course or had those particular teachers and tutors and ask about them. In the end it’s a lot about the tutors, I think!
If you decide to attend to a course some day, let me know what you think about it! I want to know too ! :)
I hope my answer was helpful. :D
I am a bit clueless though, but there you have my opinions about it all!
You are welcome, sweetie! <3