Recently I have been helping out at a Saturday photography class conducted by the KPS camera club. This is the first time I ever sat in on a photography course. I am impressed by the amount of information and help you can get by attending a class like this. I am convinced that if you are interested to learn more about photography beyond casual shooting, this course is the best investment you can make to improve your photos before you think of upgrading your camera or expanding your gear.
What do you get from the course? First of all, you get all the basics nailed down. You are exposed to a broad overview of all the different types of shots photographers normally take (portraits, macro, sports, etc), and how to use the camera settings. While in class, you get to ask all the questions you ever had in your mind. For example, it had taken me a long time to figure out by myself what "stopping down" means. In the class, if you are a keen learner, you will become conversant with all the technical words in no time. Want to expand your gear? No problem; people are passionate to fill you with all the recommendations you ever need. You will no longer look at equipment from Harvey Norman and JB HiFi, but visit pro shops for your needs. Finally, at the end of the course, you are not left on your own. You are signed up for one year of free membership at the club. This is the perfect way to keep your interest continuously stimulated.
In addition to just taking pictures, there's also an introduction to the photo editing process using Photoshop. There's also an introduction to slideshow-making using ProShow. Photoshop is the digital darkroom of the modern age, while a slideshow is one of the best tools for showing off your photos with loved ones near or far (e.g. through YouTube).
I would highly recommend any budding photographer to go for a course like this. You don't need to have prior skills. Just bring along a camera and a strong passion for photography; then start your journey from there.