I wouldn't compare a forum to an organized course.
Some people have the money and time to benefit from an online course and their questions could possibly be answered by Maryann Frazier. On a forum there's no telling who's responding to ones questions. Having read two or three books would help someone to muck out the good answers on a forum. My first beekeeping book was the one used in the University of Delaware's credited beekeeping course and their online course, Dewey Caron's "Beekeeping and Honey Bee Biology".
BOOKS are important in my opinion.
Attending a class in person is not an option for many so an online course is an affordable (with two f's) option.