Office 365 and SharePoint Online are very valuable tools that Microsoft offers to both large and small businesses but is affordable enough for a stand-alone IT professionals to utilize to hone their skills or gain a new skillset.
Depending on which level of service you subscribe to, you can take advantage of just basic features, or go into full Enterprise SharePoint, chocked full of features like Managed Metadata, syndicated content types, pretty much everything but Project Server 2010... All without needing your own server hardware or network infrastructure. All you need is a PC with an Internet Explorer browser.
One of the biggest limitations of SharePoint Online in its current form (SharePoint 2010) is the restriction from being able to use true SharePoint functionality on the public-facing site collection offered with the E-level Office 365 subscriptions. Many people would love to use those features on public facing content and are not advised of these limitations before they buy the subscription, so, needless to say, Microsoft has had to deal with a great deal of backlash. But those days will be over soon... Supposedly.
Microsoft has issued news stating that the new 2013 public facing SharePoint sites offered as part of Office 365 will indeed provide the full functionality of SharePoint.
Even though the current SharePoint online fell short of expectations on the public facing website, someone trying to learn SharePoint 2010 can still use it as a learning and test lab for prototyping solutions using the popular collaboration platform, up to the site collection level. I believe it to still be a bargain for this use, all without having to set up your own hardware, hosting, and configuration.
Key Recruiter Takeaway: Learn SharePoint with Office 365 or with your company's existing enterprise SharePoint portal!