With the world pivoting towards a life that can be increasingly managed online, there is no shortage of online learning platforms to choose from. According to eLearning Industry, the online learning market is going to reach a crazy $325 billion by 2025.
The perks are obvious and even needed in some cases. You can get the best education possible for reasonable prices, be able to learn from literally anywhere, and have multiple options to choose from.
Whether you want to get a new certification in a field you have already dived deep into or want to learn a totally new skill, online learning is the affordable answer.
eLearning is also considered the second most important training method for organizations since it makes more sense economically and offers far more material to choose from.
This article is going to go through some of the best online learning platforms out there, the pros and cons of each of them, and what is going to suit you the best.
- What Are The Best Online Learning Platforms?
- #1 Skillshare
- #2 Coursera
- #3 Udemy
- #4 LinkedIn Learning
- #5 Udacity
- #6 FutureLearn
- #7 Codecademy
- #8 Pluralsight
- #9 edX
- #10 Treehouse
- What Are The Best Online Course Platforms?
- #11 Thinkific
- #12 Teachable
- #13 Kajabi
- #14 Podia
- #15 LearnWorlds
- 15 Additional, Great But Less Known Online Learning Sites
- What Are The Most Valuable Skills To Learn In 2022?
What Are The Best Online Learning Platforms?
There are a couple of key features you should keep an eye out for when you are narrowing down on an online learning platform. Here are some of the most important:
- The Medium of Learning – Some platforms will have a more text-based approach while some will rely on live video software that will allow you to connect with your instructor directly. What you choose obviously depends on preference but this is something worth looking into before you narrow down on a platform.
- Define Your Goals – What do you want to learn through this online platform? Make sure your goals align with what is on offer so you can be satisfied at the end of the day.
- Mobile-Friendly – Make sure the platform you are using is mobile friendly. There is a good chance you will using it on your way to work, on the bus, or while you are in a car so having a mobile-friendly platform is imperative. You do not want to be restricted to your desktop.
Here are some of the best online learning platforms and what makes them awesome:
SkillShare launched in 2012 with just 25 courses on their platform and have grown to be one of the most well-known learning platforms available. You can learn new skills or upgrade your current abilities by taking any one of the numbers of courses they have on their platform.
- 2000+ free classes: Other than their paid options, there are more than 2000 free classes that you can choose from. These classes are available to anyone who wants to take them and they are completely free.
- Affordable membership-based payment- Instead of having to pay for every class like some other platforms, you can get a membership for $15 per month or $99 per year if you pay for the whole year altogether.
- Group Classes- You can participate in group classes for certain subjects which allows you to connect to not only the instructor but fellow students as well.
- Offline viewing for premium students- If you decide to go premium, you can also access the platform when you are offline by downloading classes.
Pros and Cons
|High-quality classes||You do not receive a certificate at the end of any courses|
|Affordable Pricing||After your free trial, you will immediately be charged the premium fee if you do not cancel your subscription in the payments section.|
|Group classes allow students to participate in discussions.||Some of the courses may no longer be relevant if they were made a long time ago. Make sure you check out reviews and the date they were added.|
|Workshops are available to all premium students.|
Best suited for
SkillShare has something for everybody whether you want to learn a new language or design a website. They have classes suitable for beginners, intermediates, and advanced. Some of their most popular categories are design, animation, photography, and illustration.
Coursera is our second option on the list and one of SkillShare’s toughest competition. Coursera’s collaborated with universities like Stanford and IBM to create some of the most thorough and intense academic courses available online.
- You can earn a certificate- Coursera allows you to earn certificates and degrees after completion of some of the courses. You can earn these certifications from well-known universities that have tied up with Coursera.
- Benefits your career- The great part about these certifications is they can benefit your career in the long-run since you will be learning tons of new actionable skills.
- Courses are updated constantly- The courses on the platform are rarely outdated since the people behind Coursera are constantly making sure that courses stay up to date.
- Instructors are certified professionals- Most of the instructors on the platform are certified teachers from well-known universities and institutions around the world.
Pros and Cons
|A lot of the courses on the platform are available for free.||A lot of the courses are only suitable for beginners and do not take on higher levels.|
|The certificates and degrees come at affordable prices.||The instructors are not as accessible as they are on SkillShare since most of the courses are pre-recorded.|
|The courses are perfect for people who have limited time since you can take as long as you need to finish.||The courses are mostly academically focused. It is not suitable for someone who wants to learn a skill as a hobby.|
|Professionals in the field will be your instructors and you will be getting the best bang for your buck.|
Best suited for
Coursera is best suited for people who want to improve on their qualifications and are strapped for time. You can improve your CV or learn new skills to benefit your career at really affordable prices.
Udemy is an online platform that sells video-based courses on everything from a Java Tutorial for Beginners to a web developer Bootcamp. You can even take more personal courses like ones that focus on confidence-building or improving your memory. In short, Udemy is the sweet spot between SkillShare’s more casual courses and Coursera’s more business-focused courses.
- Excellent Content- Udemy has some amazing content to choose from and thousands of options.
- Over 100,000 courses- There are currently over 100,000 courses available on the platform with some focusing on academics and other being more hobby focused.
- Not limited to any field– Unlike some other learning platforms, Udemy is not limited to a certain field or industry, you can find courses for anything from design to gardening.
- Q&A section underneath the course- Underneath each video of each course, there is a Q&A section that allows you to answer questions that will get answered by either the instructor or fellow students.
Pros and Cons
|Each course comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.||Some of the courses on the platform seem outdated since they came out years ago and have not been updated since.|
|There is a wide variety of courses up for grabs instead of the whole platform just being focused on one industry.||The payment options are restricted- you can either pay per course or try Udemy for business which is more suitable for companies.|
|There are frequent discounts available on most courses so there is a good possibility you will get something at a crazy 80% sale.||Anyone can publish a course which means some courses are just bad and no one is taking them down.|
|The software quality is great and it is easy to hear and see the instructor at work.|
Best suited for
Even though Udemy does offer a certificate at the end of courses, they do not hold much weight and are definitely not going to convince anybody to hire you. On the other hand, the sheer volume of courses available on the platform makes it a great place to go if you want to improve your abilities in a certain skill or field.
No matter what industry it is, there is a good chance you will find something worthwhile.
Chances are you already have a LinkedIn profile or at least definitely know what it is all about. Recently the platform has taken a more educational route and introduced LinkedIn Learning. These courses are geared towards professionals who want to update their skills and abilities.
- Professional Development- The courses can be a step in the right direction for your career since they focus on your field and aim on bettering your skills. All of the courses available on the platform are focused on professionals.
- Free Month- If you want to try the LinkedIn Learning service for free, you can get a one month trial. After this, it costs $29.99 per month $24.99 per month if you pay annually.
- Offline viewing- The cost of the services includes offline viewing that allows you to watch stuff on the go from anywhere with no connection needed.
- User-friendly- The platform is super user-friendly and extremely easy to navigate.
Pros and Cons
|The LinkedIn Learning package includes other features as well such as salary insights, content for job preparation, the feature ‘who has viewed your profile’, and more. A common misconception is that this price is only for the LinkedIn Learning service but it actually includes tons of other LinkedIn features as well.||It is a little more pricey compared to its competitors like Udemy or SkillShare.|
|LinkedIn allows you to set weekly goals to keep yourself on track.||A lot of the courses are not accredited which is something you may be looking for from online learning. LinkedIn Learning focuses more on gaining skills than it does on certification.|
|The interface shows you how much of a course you have left and how much you have completed. This makes it easy to pick up where you left off.||There is a lack of advanced content in some of the categories so you may be better off going for an alternative software if this does not suit your needs.|
|For every video, there is a full transcript available for people who might have hearing problems or are just not comfortable in the language of the instructor.|
Best suited for
LinkedIn is best suited for professionals who already use LinkedIn and want to up their professional game. A lot of the features that come with the premium cost are exclusive to the LinkedIn platform. Along with the LinkedIn Learning feature, you also get tons of other features on your account and it would be wise to use them.
Udacity is a computer science focused learning platform that allows people from around the world to access their courses at an affordable cost. You will get access to projects with each course, career coaching sessions, interview prep tips, and tons of other stuff. This option really dives deep into the world of computer science and is full of extras along with each course.
- Mentor Support- Each course you enroll for comes with a mentorship option that makes things really easy. You get tech support and have someone to turn to if you have any questions.
- Extremely Thorough- Most reviews point out that the courses available are thorough and cover every aspect of the topic.
- Simple Design- The platform’s simple design makes it easy to navigate.
Pros and Cons
|The general quality of the content is considered to be good and can be compared to the information you will find at a university level.||The certificate you receive will not really help in the professional world and it is more about the skills you acquire.|
|You can enroll in Java Developer courses, UX Developer courses, and others that normally have far higher price tags in the real world.||The courses are far more expensive than some of the other options on the market with a lot of reviews pointing out that it is not worth it. It is normal to find a course that costs more than $1000 on the platform.|
|You can get a custom learning plan to suit your needs and schedule. This ‘tailored for you’ option is great if you struggle with time management.||Some reviews point out that the course is disorganized and contains a lot of information that can only be described as ‘fluff’.|
|Udacity offers what they call a ‘nanodegree’ where you make payments every month and study a certain subject for 6-12 months in detail. This is a feature that is exclusive to Udacity|
Best suited for
Udacity is best suited for people who want to improve their computer science skills while keeping affordability in mind. These are employable skills that will benefit your career in the long run through courses that you can access from anywhere.
FutureLearn partners with the Brtish Council, the University of Michigan, John Hopkins University, and others to create courses that you can take from anywhere to develop a new skill or learn a new hobby. They even have online programs and degrees available.
- Professional and Academic Accreditation- There are tons of courses available that are accredited by established and well-known universities.
- Online Degrees- A great selection of online degrees is available from recognized universities with excellent content.
- Discussion Forums- There are student discussion forums that allow you to connect to instructors and fellow students if you have any questions.
- Easy to navigate syllabuses- The content is well-formatted and easy to navigate. A lot of online platforms tend to have content that is full of fluff and hard to digest but the content on Future Learn is known to be easily understandable.
Pros and Cons
|There are a number of certification courses that are completely free.||There is no app available for FutureLearn so you are normally confined to a desktop.|
|There are tons of courses to choose from. Whether you want to learn a language as a hobby or take a business degree online, there is something available for everyone.||There are not as many courses for technical subjects like programming or WordPress for example.|
|The videos are easy and interesting to follow with a lot of graphics in most of them which makes the learning process fun.||Some reviews point out that the course is disorganized and contains a lot of information that can only be described as ‘fluff’.|
|The discussion forums are very active and you can always depend on them if you want to clear up a doubt you have or connect with other students.|
Best suited for
According to Simon Nelson, the CEO of Future Learn, 22% of all their students complete all the steps and assessments in a course which is two to three times better than other learning platforms.
This is proof enough that the platform is full of great courses that can really help your career no matter what field you are in.
Codecademy is an online learning platform that helps people learn how to do everything from analyzing data to building a website- the choice is yours. The great part about this platform is that they cater to every experience level. Whether you are just starting out or want to take on something more advanced, there are tons of options.
- Real-world projects- Courses include exercises like building real websites and testing your own code so you know you are on the right track.
- Active forums for each class- Each course has an active discussion forum that you can use to connect with students and instructors or to clear doubts and get questions answered.
- Competitive Pricing- The pricing is pretty affordable at $19.99 per month for the premium plan.
- Free Content- Even if you choose to not spend money, there are tons of courses that are free to take.
Pros and Cons
|Most of their students have zero experience when they start out so this is a great platform for beginners as well.||It is completely text-based and there is no video content.|
|Each course has real-world exercises included in the syllabus which helps you check your own code and get first-hand experience.||There is not much tech support if any. You are mostly on your own even though the course content is very good.|
|If you have recently paid for a pro plan, you can take advantage of the 14-day money-back guarantee.||None of the courses have any accreditation or certificate attached to them. You are only gaining knowledge through these courses.|
|Codecademy covers a range of coding languages and topics.|
Best suited for
Codecademy has a plethora of coding topics to choose from and easy to understand content to help you meet your coding goals. If you are looking for applicable coding knowledge that can help you build a website or simply up your coding game, they are a good bet.
Pluralsight is 100% tech-focused and they include some of the biggest names in tech to deliver courses that cover everything from Java to C++. More than 70% of Fortune 500 companies have been trained on this platform and they have over 1500 experts who create course material around the clock.
- Free Trial- You get a 10-day free trial to test their services before you have to pay. This gives you the time to decide whether you like what you see.
- Offline Learning- Their offline learning feature is great and allows you to download content to watch later.
- Use of Paths- Paths (a set of courses that form a formation) can be found in each category allow beginners to have a sort of roadmap to get started.
- Knowledgeable Instructors- Most reviews repeatedly mention that the instructors are knowledgeable and well-spoken. Content is easy to digest and understand.
Pros and Cons
|The content is video-based which makes it more interesting to consume.||The pricing structure is a monthly subscription and there is no option to pay per course so that can be quite limiting.|
|The courses are well-organized and informative. It is easy to move from one topic to another.||There is no real value in the certificates from Pluralsight. Even though the content is good, there is no way it can benefit your CV.|
|It is a mobile-friendly platform and can be used from anywhere.||The content is sometimes outdated and lacks current knowledge.|
|Reporting and user analytics for teams allows people on the same team to check what stage other people are at and allows them to stay tuned in with each other’s work.|
Best suited for
Pluralsight is great for beginners or even advanced developers who want to jog their memory on a certain tech subject. The content is well-formatted and easy to understand so it suits pretty much any level of knowledge.
edX includes free courses from places like Harvard, Boston University, and MIT. They cover a wide range of topics like Computer Science, Language, Humanities, Data Science, and more. A lot of the courses on the platform are free and the content is almost always good.
- Most of the courses are available for free- Since edX is considered to be a not for profit, a lot of the courses are available for free. So, for example, you could take a course for free without a certificate or pay to get a certificate. The verified certificate is normally around $100 charge.
- High-quality universities- Well-known universities often post various courses on the platform along with certificates and exams. This gives people around the world the ability to take advantage of Ivy League education at affordable costs.
- Video Lectures- The video lectures are frequently available on YouTube and can also be downloaded for offline learning.
- Manual Exam Evaluation- Some courses even have exams at the end of the course period that are manually evaluated which makes the course more legit in the eyes of an employer.
Pros and Cons
|Tons of pricing options allow most people to access edX. They have a lot of courses available for free with the option to pay for a certificate. Recently though, they do have a couple of ‘verified courses’ that cost between $50 to $300.||Certificates can take a long time to receive for some courses. It is not surprising for a certificate to come in after a few weeks of waiting.|
|It is a well-established and recognized learning platform so the certificates are worth more than they would be elsewhere.||The website can be a bit difficult to navigate at first but it is only a matter of getting used to it.|
|The courses come from well-known universities and carry weight in the real world.||Some courses get archived which means you can still take it for free but exams and certificates are no longer on offer|
|Quizzes, exams, and worksheets make the courses more immersive for students.||Negative customer service experience is a common complaint in the review section.|
Best suited for
edX is great for anyone who is looking to increase their knowledge in their field of choice through a well-known university. A lot of their courses are geared towards computer science and data science so there is definitely more on offer for people from those fields.
Treehouse is not as well-known as some of its competitors and does not have as many courses on offer but what they do have is considered to be of great quality. The platform is focused solely on coding with flexible and interactive course options.
- Courses include interactive code challenges- All of the courses include code challenges that give students real-world experience.
- Online Community- Their online community full of students make online learning a little less lonely with constant discussions.
- Multiple payment plans- Monthly plans and multiple payment options make it a more affordable option than most.
- Techdegree- The tech degrees available are perfect for beginners and well-formatted so that you can get great information at half the cost.
Pros and Cons
|You can get a free 7-day trial before you decide to pay for the service.||If you are looking for more advanced courses, Treehouse can fall short at times.|
|The three payment options (basic, pro, and techdegree) offer a variety of affordable options to suit different people, needs, and situations.|
|The team training option allows companies to train multiple members at a time.|
Best suited for
Treehouse is best suited for people who want to work on their coding skills while not giving up their flexible schedules or too much of their money. The affordable payment options and good content make it a great place to start coding.
What Are The Best Online Course Platforms?
Online course platforms and online learning platforms are frequently thrown around like synonyms but they are not! Learning platforms connect people from around the world with courses from universities or courses created by the platform itself.
Course platforms, on the other hand, are more targeted towards hosting a course of your own. You pay a fee per month that allows you to host your own course on their platform which will include features like building a website for your course, having a payment gateway, creating sales pages, etc.
Course platforms are frequently used by bloggers or companies who want to create courses and are looking for software to make that possible.
Thinkific has quickly become one of the most well-known course platforms out there and a fan favorite. You can start using it for free with limited features or go for one of the paid plans that start at $39 a month.
If you want to go for their pro plan, you can get a one-month free trial to get started. Their plans include all the features you would need to create your own course including pricing options, landing pages, certificates, and marketing tools.
Teachable is easily considered Thinkific main competitor. It offers very similar features to Thinkific and it mostly comes down to preference when you are picking between these two. You can get started using their ‘basic’ plan at $29 a month that includes any feature you would need as a beginner.
This option is more expensive than most so it normally ranks lower. It has a crazy number of features but the plans start at $119 (with annual discount) a month making it more of a premium option that established businesses tend to go for.
The $119 plan gives you everything you need to create your course with a cap of 10,000 contacts. More expensive plans add features and the number of contacts you can add.
Podia allows users to create and host courses on their platform starting at $39 a month. You can take advantage of their 14-day trial to get started.
The platform allows you to sell courses, webinars, downloads, and memberships with no tech knowledge needed.
LearnWorlds starts the process off by asking you to create the landing pages and sales pages you need to host your course. They have tons of templates to help you finish this in seconds. You then add your content that will make up your course which can include text, images, video, and more.
You get a free 30-day trial if you are just getting started. After this, you can pick one of their pricing options that range from $29 a month to $299 a month.
15 Additional, Great But Less Known Online Learning Sites
Dave Conservatoire is a free online music school which you can use to learn pitch, harmony, key, modes, and more.
Big Data (now cognitive class.ai) is full of computer science data science courses that have been created by teachers and instructors. There are free and paid options available.
#17 Better Explained
Better Explained is the go-to resource for math courses with content that covers everything from basic algebra to University Level theorems.
#18 Hack Design
This is a great resource for easy design courses you can take to brush up on your skills or learn new lessons. It includes design puzzles and games along with the lessons to make it a more interactive experience.
#19 HTML Dog
SkillCrush offers online design courses that allow students interested in design to learn new skills with easy to digest module-based learning.
This option covers elementary school subjects like Math, Science, English, and other general subjects that allow your kid to learn from home.
GCF offers various courses online for free that allows people around the world to develop new skills. This includes courses in tech, core skills, reading and math, etc.
Howcast has plenty of video tutorials on hobby subjects like cooking, gardening, crafts, and entertainment.
HippoCampus has over 7000 free videos in 13 different subject areas including algebra, geometry, sociology, economics, and more. The site has content on various subjects that help students all the way from middle school right up to college.
Memrise is focused on languages and learning how to speak like a local by learning important concepts repeatedly until you are fluent.
#26 Do It Yourself
Do It Yourself if full of DIY videos to help you take on basic home decor tasks with the occasional crafts video thrown in.
Instructables is full of video or text-based content that teaches users how to DIY projects or tasks they may need to complete in their day-to-day. There are categories like crafts, circuits, cooking, living, and more.
#28 Stanford Online
Stanford online is a great resource for free courses that can work for anyone anywhere no matter what topic they want to take on. Some of the fields they cover extensively include Engineering, Arts & Humanities, and Math.
#29 Canvas Network
Canvas Network offers various online courses from tons of Universities with most of the courses being free. You can also gain a certificate at the end of some of the courses.
CodeHS offers video-based software lessons that teach beginners how to code from the comfort of their own home. They also have a ton of tools that help teachers teach kids how to code in high school.
What Are The Most Valuable Skills To Learn In 2022?
With online learning platforms becoming the norm and tons of new options propping up almost every day, it is important to know what skills you should be working on and which ones are considered the most valuable from an employer’s perspective.
Here are some of the most needed skills in 2022:
- Artificial Intelligence – Machine learning is slowly becoming more and more important as companies transition to automating a lot of their work such as chatboxes or customer support systems.
- User Experience Design- UX focuses on making products and services more engaging for the customer. UX designers try to understand as much as they can about the end customer to make the design as enjoyable as possible.
- Creativity – Creativity can rarely be learned or bought which is probably why it is one of the most sought after soft skills of 2022. Most companies rank it as extremely important in the list of characteristics they wish to see in potential employees.
As the world gets more competitive, it is important that you have something to distinguish yourself from the next guy in line. Whether that is gaining more knowledge on a topic you already know a lot about or developing an entirely new skill, it is important that you constantly keep learning.
This list of the best online learning platforms out there makes it easier, more affordable, and more realistic to work on your skills and continue to advance your career.