Online Learning Platforms
Are you looking for the best online learning platforms to improve your knowledge and skills? If so, you are at the right place! This guide was created with a specific goal in mind – to help you choose an online learning platform that fits both – your needs and your budget. Our dedicated team provides expert reviews on online learning platforms to make the selection process easy for you.
Why should you look into online learning platforms in the first place? The truth is, online learning is an excellent option for students (and whoever wants to improve themselves) and a really effective way to learn. In general, students opt for online learning because of the numerous benefits it offers, including: added flexibility and safe-paced learning, accessibility of time and place, affordability, different learning styles, a large variety of courses, career advancement opportunities, and easy access to course materials.
As distance learning is quite different from face-to-face learning, you have to be well prepared and understand the concept of online learning. According to research, students who understand the meaning of online learning, how their chosen online learning platform works, and are well prepared in advance, do better in their classes when compared to students who have just selected a random platform and started their online experience without getting the information needed.
For that reason, you’d better continue reading below if you don’t want to waste your time and money. We are here to help you make an informed decision!
Online learning platforms are information systems that provide safe learning environments where students can take online courses. They are also referred to as ‘online course marketplaces’ as they provide learners the opportunity to search for and pay for online courses online.
Online Learning Platforms Origins
Once you begin exploring this marketplace, you’ll inevitably come across the term MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). As the name itself suggests, MOOCs are online courses created to be undertaken by a massive number of students, either on a set schedule in a class or at students’ own pace.
This form of free online course resource became available in 2012 through Udacity, a for-profit institution, which is now one of the best online learning platforms worldwide. MIT and Harvard followed with MOOC platform edX.
Yet, over the last decade, online learning platforms have shown significant growth. By combining the internet and education, people are provided with limitless opportunities to brush up on already acquired skills and gain entirely new ones. Therefore, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, what was once considered an alternative way of learning, has become the new ‘normal’ and more centric in people’s lives.
The online learning platforms market was estimated to be worth $350 billion by 2025, even before the coronavirus outbreak. So, we may conclude that with the acceleration in the use of online learning platforms due to social distancing, the numbers might be updated and increased.
Are Online Learning Platforms Worth It?
Based on the idea that anyone can learn, from wherever they choose and whenever they want – online learning platforms aid users in their academic and professional growth. They do so by offering college-level and general interest courses, as well as specialized instruction for students or workers in specific fields.
So, for example, while Coursera is mostly academic with access to university courses, SkillShare is mostly for creatives looking for courses on photography and animation. In other words, there’s something for everyone, and you just have to find the right online learning platform according to your interests.
In addition, the educational experience you get is exceptional. The best online learning platforms offer both synchronous (classes that happen in real-time) and asynchronous (activities that take place at times convenient to students) learning options.
As long as you communicate with your peers and teachers, you’ll get the feeling of taking face-to-face classes but from the comfort of your home. At first, you may find adjusting to an online format challenging, but as soon as you adapt to the new model, there are plenty of benefits to enjoy.
However, pursuing online education can help prepare you for career advancement and demonstrate critical skills to potential employers. It’s no wonder that about 6.3 million students from the US are currently enrolled in at least one online course. Therefore, don’t hesitate to find the right online course that suits your needs and begin your online learning experience – online learning platforms are convenient to use and worth the time and investment.
Best Online Learning Platforms in 2022
Firstly, let’s have a closer look at the best online learning platforms. Below you will find a brief overview of the ten most popular platforms for online learning, including mobile app and download availability, pricing, pros and cons, and who they are most suitable for. Read on to find out the details:
With more than 4 million students and 24,000 lessons made out of a series of small videos and class projects, Skillshare is one of the most popular online learning platforms. In addition, it also has discussion forums that stimulate interaction to build a strong student community. Plus, there’s a mobile app available, and students can download video lessons on their devices.
The platform hosts a great variety of classes divided into four main categories, including creative arts, technology, business, and lifestyle. In other words, Skillshare makes sure that almost all interests are covered and is best suitable for students looking for classes in the categories mentioned above.
- Offers about 10% of its classes for free, meaning over 2,000 courses can be accessed at no cost.
- Students can currently get a 1-month free trial on the premium paid membership that allows access to the entire library of its classes.
- Has a highly engaged community which makes classes interactive and fun.
- Does not offer a certificate of completion
- Lessons don’t have standardized length and can vary from 20 to 60 minutes
- $19 a month
- $99 a year
Udemy is the right online learning platform for just about every student as it offers courses in almost every discipline. This platform has more than 50 million students and over 50,000 instructors. What’s more, it provides a great range of learning materials such as PowerPoint presentations, video content, PDF documents, text, etc. Students can download resources for offline use, and get the Udemy mobile app for iOS and Android when learning on the go.
- Aimed for self-paced learning and video courses
- Doesn’t require expert technical knowledge
- Offers about 600 courses for free on different topics
- Grants lifetime access to purchased courses
- Provides a certificate of completion for paid courses
- Limited communication and interaction
- Certificates aren’t officially accredited
- $19.99 to $199.99 a course
Next on the list of the best online learning platforms is Coursera, with over 100 million users. This platform is widely praised for offering high-quality courses worldwide while partnering with 200 + top universities (like Stanford) and businesses. That said, Coursera allows students to receive certifications from world-class higher education institutions.
In addition, Coursera does not only offer specialized courses but also individual courses and degree programs that require homework exercises, peer-review assignments, on-demand video lectures, and community discussion forums. So, it is for anyone who wants to learn from a prestigious institution.
- Offers a great range of learning activities and options
- Students may get different types of certificates or degrees
- Offers about 2,000 courses for free
- The mobile app allows students to download materials when offline
- Some of the courses (very few) have some old information (more than two years)
- The peer grading system is said to produce plagiarism and valueless feedback
- A course ($29 to $99)
- Specialist Program ($10,000 to $25,000)
LinkedIn Learning (Lynda)
LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda, is mainly suited for students looking for professional courses in the business, technology, and creative field and companies looking to upskill their employees. This online learning platform is actually a premium service available for LinkedIn users.
It has a growing community of 700+ million users and offers over 16,000 courses in various languages in the format of video lessons. And, it also has an app developed for iOS and Android devices.
- Highly valued in the B2B community
- Provides a one-month free trial
- Gives personalized course recommendations
- Provides a certificate of completion
- Uses quizzes to assess progress
- Has offline learning access
- Has an over-cluttered interface which makes it hard to use it effectively
- The certificates aren’t officially accredited
- Individual courses ($20 to $50)
- $39.99 a month
- $24.99 a month billed annually
In general, Udacity is very similar to Coursera as both of these online learning platforms have an equally impressive lineup of courses. However, Udacity aims towards partnering with industry giants like Google, Facebook, Georgia Tech, Amazon, AT&T, Github, Salesforce, Twitter, etc.
Hence, if your wish is to find a job in the tech industry, Udacity is the right online learning platform for you, as its primary goal is to teach skills that are in demand. But, that’s not all! Udacity offers their Nanodegree Plus program that guarantees users a job within six months after graduation.
- Develops top-quality content
- Its backend is easy to follow
- Offers over 200 courses for free
- Provides a certificate upon completion of Nanodegree programs
- Students are unable to learn on the go as there isn’t a mobile app available
- Covers only a limited number of non-technical niches
- Nanodegrees ($700 to $2,000 per program)
Here’s yet another top online learning platform providing students and businesses with courses in the technology, design, and business field. Pluralsight has a remarkable library of over 7000+ courses taught by its 1,500+ expert instructors. And, as it is a leading tech platform, there’s also a mobile app available, of course.
Pluralsight experts ensure that everyone gains remarkable insight into the subject chosen. Thus, it is best suited for those looking to keep abreast of the latest technologies or acquire an entirely new skill.
- A great range of learning options
- Provides in-depth quality content
- Offers a 10-day or 200 minutes free trial
- There’s 24/7 support available
- Students can test retention by taking short self-paced quizzes
- Has offline and mobile downloads option
- Doesn’t provide a broader range of topics
- Doesn’t offer free courses
- Slightly costlier when compared to other platforms
- Standard account ($29 monthly, $299 yearly)
- Premium account ($45 monthly, $499 yearly)
If you are searching for courses on programming and development, then Treehouse is the perfect online learning platform for you. It specializes in content based on imparting knowledge related to these fields. Like Pluralsight, Treehouse provides courses specifically designed to ensure that every student gains quality knowledge and learning experience.
It offers 300+ online courses and nearly 300 workshops in tech-related subjects like web design, web development, mobile development, and more, and currently has more than 50 thousand users.
- Offers a one-week free trial with full access to its courses and resources
- Its courses are based on real-life projects and created by in-house experts
- Give students a chance to start a new career by acquiring new skills
- All of the learning programs at Treehouse are self-paced
- Credit card info requirements when signing up for a free trial (even though you won’t be charged until the trial ends)
- Offers limited number of courses, only 300+
- Its learning programs aren’t accredited
- $25 a month
EdX was founded by Harvard University and MIT experts in 2012. They had a specific goal in mind – to provide university-level education on the Internet accessible to students across the world. Since then, edX has become one of the most popular online learning platforms on the course marketplace, especially among those looking to master a specific subject or skill.
EdX hosts over 8,000 online courses from one hundred prestigious universities and businesses in numerous disciplines. Yet, they mainly specialize in the science field, offering engineering, data science, computer science, math, business, management, and humanities courses. And, it also has an app for iOS and Android devices.
- Provides accredited certificates of completion
- Has partnered with high-class institutions
- The majority of courses are self-paced
- Offers interactive online classes
- Offers MicroMasters programs (graduate-level education) completely free
- Offers a limited range of topics
- Outdated discussion forums
- No consistent course structure
- ‘the Verified track’ (between $50 to $300)
- Full Master’s degree ($10,000 to $25,000)
This San Francisco-based online learning platform was founded in 2014, and it currently has 100+ courses across 10 different categories. The courses consist of 20 video lessons which typically last about 10 minutes each. In other words, students don’t have to invest lots of time. So, why all the hype?
The truth is, MasterClass is quite different from the other online learning platforms as it is celebrity-powered. This means that students can learn cooking from Gordon Ramsey, writing from Neil Gaiman, acting from Helen Mirren, film-making from James Cameron, songwriting from Alicia Keys, basketball from Stephen Curry, etc. The list gets bigger every month. Moreover, the video classes are Hollywood-level production quality, and you can enjoy them on your desktop and Apple or Android mobile devices, which is mind-blowing.
- Offers fun and entertaining classes
- Courses are completely go-at-your-own-pace
- The videos are well-produced
- Students learn from top names in the business
- Has a 30-days refund policy
- Cheaper than other online learning platforms
- There aren’t any free courses
- Offers a limited number of courses
- There isn’t that much educational value
- $15 a month (billed annually)
Finally, if you are looking for the right online learning platform to learn web development skills and pursue a career in technology, DataCamp has you covered. Like Pluralsight and Udacity, as they all target the same audience, DataCamp offers education on programming languages and data analysis.
It hosts about 350 courses taught by one of the 250+ in-house or experts from world-class institutions like Duke University. Moreover, it offers a SkillTracks program in which students can learn about a skill from scratch and provides a certificate upon completion. Also, many companies use the platform to upskill employees, including Uber, Intel, PayPal, and Google. And, of course, there’s a DataCamp mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.
- Interactive and engaging lessons
- Courses are taught by experienced experts
- Has a transparent pricing plan page
- Caters to both beginners and advanced learners
- Offers some free courses
- Doesn’t offer an accredited certificate
- Some video lessons lack details
- Free (specific courses)
- Standard monthly account ($12.42)
- Premium monthly account ($33.25)
*accounts are billed annually
Best Online Learning Platforms by Purpose
Here is an overview of the the best online learning platforms by different purposes.
Online learning platforms that offer university courses.
Online learning platforms that mainly offer courses which will help you improve your creative skills.
Online learning platforms that offer courses on variety of topics.
Online learning platforms that offer courses dedicated to build and improve your coding and developing skills.
Online learning platforms that offer courses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Best Online Learning Platforms Apps
In addition to provide users with the ultimate learning experience, the best online learning platforms have designed their own mobile apps. So, if you have a busy schedule, the following mobile apps may be the right option for you:
Udemy Online Video Courses
The Udemy app offers an expansive library of 3,400+ topics with high-end online video courses in Coding, Python, Java, Development, Marketing, Business, SEO, Design, Photography, Drawing, etc. Therefore, it allows users to learn from real-world experts in more than 65 languages. With the Udemy mobile app, users can:
- Download courses and learn offline
- Watch lessons with AirPlay and Chromecast
- Build learning routine with customized push notifications
- Take notes and add bookmarks
- Take in-course quizzes to check their learning
- Ask instructors questions to reinforce knowledge
- Watch courses and practice skills simultaneously
- Take courses on their schedule
App Store Ranking: 72.5K ratings, 4.8 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV
Udemy Business, one of the best online learning platforms for business, helps companies stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing workplace. It hosts more than 6,000 top-rated and business-relevant courses (anything from software development, IT, design, to communication skills) that allow users to learn new skills anytime, anywhere. With the Udemy Business app, users can:
- Stream course videos
- Listen to audio lectures
- Easily search for the relevant content
- View archived courses with just a few taps
- Download lessons and learn offline
- Learn at their own pace
- Interact with instructors
App Store Ranking: 5.7K ratings, 4.8 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Chromecast or Apple TV device, or an AirPlay 2 compatible smart TV.
Coursera: Learn New Skills
Being one of the top online learning platforms, Coursera has created an app that allows users to build skills with flexible and affordable options. It features courses on business, computer science, data science, art, personal development, sciences, and hundreds more. With the Coursera app, users can:
- Learn from experts at world-class universities like Duke or Yale and industry leaders like Google, Facebook, and IBM.
- Enrol in free courses
- Gain certificates
- Earn a university degree
- Learn on their schedule
- Download videos for offline viewing
App Store Ranking: 91.6K ratings, 4.8 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV
Skillshare – Creative Classes
The Skillshare app allows users to access thousands of inspiring classes on numerous topics such as calligraphy, hand lettering, drawing, photography, graphic design, icon design, etc., by using popular tools like Fresco, Illustrator, Procreate, and Photoshop. Or, users can also learn entrepreneurship, marketing, productivity, and many more. With this app, users can:
- Watch classes designed for real life
- Watch hundreds of free classes
- Download classes to watch offline (only with a premium membership)
App Store Ranking: 14.1K ratings, 4.8 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV
Pluralsight: Learn Tech Skills
If you want to build in-demand tech skills, then Pluralsight is the ideal app for you. It provides access to 7000+ video courses led by experts in software development, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, information security, cybersecurity, data, IT ops, and many more. With the Pluralsight app, users can:
- Learn anytime, anywhere
- Download courses and view them offline
- Bookmark courses and come back to them later
- Check skill development progress
- Get access to tech conferences
- Prepare for and pass IT certification exams
App Store Ranking: 79 ratings, 4.6 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV
EdX: Courses by Harvard and MIT
EdX is an online learning platform that brings courses from the world’s best universities and industry-leading companies to your mobile device. It offers courses on 30+ subjects, including computer science, business & management, mathematics, science & engineering, language, art, law, politics, history, etc. With the EdX app, users can:
- Learn on their own schedule
- Stream online classes
- Download courses to watch anytime
- Test knowledge with quizzes and exams
- Use the advanced search to look for courses in any subject
- Get a degree from a prestigious university
App Store Ranking: 5.6K ratings, 4.7 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac,
DataCamp: Learn Data Science
The easiest way to gain or improve data science skills is DataCamp for Mobile – designed for all skill levels. It offers the most in-depth content to learn to code with Python, SQL, and R programming language. With the DataCamp app, users can:
- Practice coding on mobile devices
- Master data science and analytics
- Keep skills sharp when learning on their own
- Get instant personalized feedback
- Reinforce skills through short practice sessions
App Store Ranking: 2.3K ratings, 4.8 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac,
MasterClass: Learn New Skills
Last but not least, the MasterClass app is built with a single principle in mind – there’s nothing more inspiring than watching the most significant living artists, creators, sportspeople, etc., share the secrets of their skills and knowledge. You can learn anything from arts & entertainment, writing, food, home & lifestyle, business, music, sports, etc. With the MasterClass app, users can:
- Learn from the best in the field/ industry
- Get unlimited access with annual membership
- Stream anytime, anywhere
- Learn at their own pace
- Download classes to watch offline with iOS
App Store Ranking: 96.2K ratings, 4.9 stars
Other Devices Support: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV
Types of Online Courses
Secondly, now that you know everything needed about the top online learning platforms, let’s have a closer look at the types of online courses they offer.
Individual Courses on Online Learning Platforms
You can find individual courses at all of the above-mentioned online learning platforms for students. Based on your interests and needs, you just have to select a platform and a topic you want to learn or master. In other words, individual courses focus on a specific subject and provide students the required knowledge.
Briefly put, an individual course may help you:
- Gain new knowledge or improve your skills
- Earn credits to support your professional license application
- Earn credits toward a future program
- Expand professional options and opportunity
Course Bundle on Online Learning Platforms
Next, you can take your online learning experience to the next level by attending bundled courses. If you aren’t familiar with the term, a course bundle is a pack of courses on specific topics. This is convenient if you want to save some money, as packaged courses at the online learning platforms cost less when compared to individual courses.
Furthermore, course bundles are an excellent option if you want to gain greater knowledge on your chosen topic. Thus, you will get the skills needed to excel at your current professional or academic position or start a new career. The top benefits of the course bundle include:
- A cost-effective way to master a subject
- Allow you to study at your own pace
- Ensures training consistency and standardization
- Offers a chance for career advancement or change
Bachelor’s Degree on Online Learning Platforms
Online bachelor’s degrees are becoming extremely popular among students who want to earn undergraduate degrees. These programs meet the needs of those who do not have the time or chance to attend college on campus and full-time.
As a bonus, online bachelor’s degrees are cheaper than on-campus degrees and may be self-paced. So, for example, a bachelor’s degree attained through Coursera or EdX is more affordable than the same degree gained at the same university partnered with this online learning platform.
However, earning an online bachelor’s degree isn’t only cost-effective but offers a variety of advantages, including:
- There’s an online bachelor’s degree program in almost every subject
- Helps professionals advance their careers and increase their earnings
- Opens the door to numerous career opportunities
- Online learning platforms offer flexibility
Master’s Degree on Online Learning Platforms
Similar to a bachelor’s degree, students can also earn a master’s degree on the top online learning platforms. In general, getting a master’s degree from a world-class university was considered an accessible option for wealthy students only. Not anymore.
Thanks to the best online learning platforms, like Coursera, top universities are offering online master’s degrees that also cost cheaper if compared to the price of their on-campus counterparts. Yet, the two options are equally prestigious as knowledge is acquired by the same accredited professors.
The ultimate advantages of receiving an online master’s degree include:
- Online degrees are less expensive than on-campus ones
- May open a path to a career in many fields
- Provides a chance for career advancement or change
- Allows students to study at their own pace
- Enables schedule flexibility
Best Online Learning Platforms by Topic
Check out the best online learning platforms by popular categories for online courses.
Start learning data science with the best data science courses offered online.
Learn and upskill your digital marketing skills with the best digital marketing courses.
Start your journey as a graphic designer and learn everything from the boat online graphic design courses.
See our selection of best photography online courses, and chase your passion.
Take a look at the best web development courses, explore your options and learn on.
The Most Popular Online Learning Platforms
Even though we’ve already provided you with a list of the ten best online learning platforms, it’s time we have a closer look at the three most popular ones based on the number of users, instructors, and ratings. So, let’s see:
With its 77 million users, Coursera is definitely the number one online learning platform on the market. It allows students to enroll in university-level courses, specialize in a field of their choice, and study the subjects that will help them on their career paths, thanks to the accredited certificates they get.
Udemy has over 40 million users and 50 thousand instructors. It offers a massive variety of courses, free certificates of completion, and a 30-day refund policy if it doesn’t meet your needs, which rarely happens. Plus, the online learning platform is really user-friendly as it is easy to navigate and works smoothly.
The last on the list of the most popular learning platforms is edX, with its 24 million users and more than 6 thousand instructors. Similar to Coursera, edX offers university-level courses, so it is suitable for mastering a skill and making career changes. Plus, it provides certificates of completion and a wide range of features to choose from.
Tips to Find the Best Online Learning Platforms for Business
In years past, businesses used to invest lots of money in a third party to train employees. But, nowadays, more and more companies are looking for an online learning platform to help employees get better at whatever they do. The truth is, online business training has never been more popular.
Luckily, there are many platforms available today that can help upskilling employees and thus help your business stay competitive in the constantly changing marketplace. And, although it may take you some time and effort to find the right solution to fit your business, you will actually reap plenty of benefits over time once your staff gets trained.
Hence, here’s a brief list of the top online learning platforms that offer great packages for businesses looking for improving employees’ skills:
If you choose LinkedIn Learning as your preferred online learning platform, your business will get access to over 16,000 courses in 7 languages. In addition, with LinkedIn Learning, you will:
- Increase employee engagement
- Meet the needs of modern learners
- Help employees develop relevant skills
- Scale learning programs
Skillshare Teams can train employees at a highly affordable price – $99 a year per user. Plus, your staff will enjoy high-quality courses but only in English. With Skillshare Teams, you will:
- Support your whole team
- Shape a stronger workforce
- Engage employees with ease
Udemy for Business
Here’s the ideal platform if you want your employees to get the most extensive course library – 150,000+ courses. But, for a minimum of 5 users, it will cost you $360 a year per user, which is quite costly. With Udemy for Business, you will:
- Train employees on the latest in-demand skills
- Drive digital transformation and innovation
- Use learning to achieve critical business outcomes
Coursera for Business
Finally, for $400 a year per user, you can enable employees to get access to over 3,000 courses. What’s more, certificates will be provided upon completion. With Coursera for Business, you will:
- Transform your organization with high-impact skill development
- Leverage expert-curated, AI-driven skill development
- enable easy digital transformation
- Develop expertise through flexible, hands-on learning
- Quantify employee progress across technical and human skills
Did you know that 95% of employees say that they are likely to stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development? A whopping percentage, right? So, you’d better have a look at the best online learning platforms for business we’ve recommended. Then, based on the number of employees, your budget, and your needs, choose the right one to upskill staff and grow your business.
Online Learning Platforms Pricing Models in Detail
Without a shadow of a doubt, one can easily get confused with online learning platforms prices since there are various types of courses and different pricing models. For that reason, we’ve also decided to help you understand how all these work. Just read on.
Pay Per Course on Online Learning Platforms
This is probably the most straightforward approach to online learning platforms pricing. It is also the cheapest option if you plan to take a few courses as you only have to pay for the courses you take. The following online learning platforms allow the pay per course pricing model:
- LinkedIn Learning: Of course, there’s an annual subscription available, but LinkedIn Learning also lets you purchase courses separately, starting at $19.99.
- Udemy: For those who prefer the pay-per-course pricing model Udemy is an excellent choice as it allows you to purchase courses individually from $19 to $299.
- Coursera: By purchasing one of Coursera courses, you will get access to graded assignments and a chance to get a certificate of completion. Prices range from $29 to $100 per course.
- edX: Courses at EdX can also be purchased individually, but for a higher price – between $50 and $3000 per course.
Library Course Subscription on Online Learning Platforms
Library course subscription is the most common pricing model which allows you access to all (or most) of the online learning platforms courses. It can cost you from $100 to $400 a year.
Annual price: $99
Monthly price: $15
Number of courses: 35,000+
Annual price: $240
Monthly price: $29.99
Number of courses: 16,000+
Certificates: Yes, but not accredited.
Annual price: /
Monthly price: $59
Number of courses: 3,000+
Annual price: $180
Monthly price: $15 (paid annually)
Number of courses: 100+
Annual price: $299
Monthly price: $29
Number of courses: 6,000
Annual price: $449
Monthly price: /
Number of courses: 6,000
Certificates: Yes, but not accredited.
Annual price: $300
Monthly price: $21.24 (paid annually)
Number of courses: 350+
Certificates: Statements of accomplishment
Annual price: $399
Monthly price: $28.24 (paid annually)
Number of courses: 350+
Certificates: Statements of accomplishment
Course Bundle Subscription
Furthermore, specific online learning platforms offer course bundle subscriptions, i.e., a pack of courses on a particular subject. Here are the most popular ones:
You can take 4 to 10 courses on the same topic at Coursera for $39 to $89 a month. The duration of the specializations depends on the number of courses and your hard work. As soon as you finish all the courses included in the bundle, you will get a certificate.
In general, the cost for the Udacity bundles ranges from $700 to $2,000 depending on the duration, as you have to pay a subscription for the time it takes you to finish the Nanodegree program.
edX MicroMasters and MicroBachelors
These may be considered to be the micro version of a full Master’s or Bachelor’s degree. You have to pay per credit which costs $166, which means that the entire program can cost between $500 and $2,000.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Some of the top online learning platforms for students have in place Scholarships to help low-income students get into the courses. Typically, you just have to complete a form and provide information about your financial situation as well as say why you deserve the scholarship.
On the other hand, if you don’t get the scholarship, you can apply for a financial aid package to help you afford your course. Most of the best online learning platforms have financial partners who help them achieve this, like PayPal Credit. But, make sure you check the interest rate to see whether it suits you.
Free VS Paid Courses
Finally, if you read our article carefully, you’ve definitely noticed that a significant share of the best online learning platforms provide some courses for free. Yet, they usually don’t include the following:
- Graded assignments
- Instructors’ feedback
So, if you need proof of accomplishment, prefer graded assignments, and want to interact with the instructor whenever you need help, you’d better opt for a paid course.
Tips to Choose Your Online Learning Platform
As you can see, there are dozens of online learning platforms you can choose from. So, how to make the right decision? No worries, we are here to help you make a wise choice. All you need to do is follow these simple tips, i.e., consider the following:
Without a shadow of a doubt, specific online learning platforms offer better courses than others regarding quality. In general, you can find top-notch courses at EdX, Coursera, Skillshare, and LinkedIn Learning. Or, if you are searching for topic-centered courses, opt for Pluralsight or Datacamp, for example.
Language is the next thing to consider when choosing your preferred online learning platform. Indeed, native English speakers don’t have to limit their choices. However, for those who speak and would like to take courses in another language, it can be a bit challenging since only Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer some courses in other languages.
Here’s yet another essential element to think about – your budget. Namely, if you don’t have lots of extra money to invest in your development, choosing Coursera or EdX for their free courses would be a great option. Alternatively, if you want to attend a paid course, consider if you’d rather have a subscription (Skillshare or LinkedIn Learning) or pay per course (Udemy).
Assignments and Quizzes
Next, be aware that not all of the top online learning platforms have the same approach regarding how their courses are followed. In other words, some check your progress and retention with quizzes (LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, Udemy, and EdX), others don’t. Similarly, some offer peer reviews (Coursera), whereas others provide self-graded assignments (Pluralsight). Just ensure you are comfortable with the learning method when making your choice.
As we’ve already mentioned previously, when we’ve discussed all of the best online learning platforms in detail, there are certain differences when it comes to certification. So, the following platforms all provide certificates upon completion, but here’s the difference:
- Udemy provides a certificate of completion for paid courses only that aren’t officially accredited
- Coursera provides an officially accredited certificate of completion for their special programs
- LinkedIn Learning and DataCamp provide certificates that aren’t accredited
- Udacity provides a certificate upon completion of Nanodegree programs
- edX provides accredited certificates of completion
Some online learning platforms focus on a specific topic like technology (PluralSight, Udacity), data science and coding (DataCamp, TreeHouse), business and creative arts (Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning), etc. So, if you are looking for courses exclusively on one topic, then such a specialized learning platform would be a great choice. Otherwise, for courses on versatile topics, opt for Coursera, EdX, or Udemy.
Another aspect that differs among online learning platforms is the learning community. That said, some platforms encourage building strong communities, which is especially true for the specialized platforms we’ve listed above. They all value an engaged community where students can interact with other students and instructors too.
Last but not least, ensure you know whether or not a platform has a mobile app too before you make your final choice. Being able to learn from your mobile is of utmost importance if you have a hectic schedule or a long commute so that you can learn on the go. In the Best Online Learning Platforms Apps section above, you can find details about each app together with its pros and cons, and pricing, of course.
How to Find the Best Online Course for You
Now that you know how to find the right online learning platform for you, it’s time to see how to make your decision when it comes to courses. Since it can be a little overwhelming with the countless course options available out there, we’ve again comprised a list to help you choose the best online course for you. Here’s what you should consider.
One way to make the right decision is using the filter features integrated into all the top online learning platforms. The course filter, specifically, will help you to narrow down your options into specifics you are looking for from your chosen course. For instance, the Udemy filter system includes topic, language, course level, price, ratings, video duration, etc., to aid in the selection process.
Type of Courses
The focus for learning on each of the platforms differs from one to another. Hence, if you’ve chosen Udemy as your preferred online learning platform, you definitely know that it offers courses on numerous topics, from cake decorating to accounting. On the other hand, EdX focuses mainly on formal education, providing more than three thousand accredited courses taught by experts from prestigious institutions. Then, Masterclass offers courses that share the wisdom of celebrities. The bottom line, choose whatever suits your needs.
Reviews on Online Learning Platforms
When choosing the best course for you, it’s crucial that you read reviews. Namely, most platforms have made reviews and ratings from students easily accessible. Coursera and EdX, for example, have pretty visual and user-friendly review systems. This allows you to learn about past students’ experiences of taking a specific course. In other words, you will get first-hand feedback that gives a detailed overview of the selected course.
Course Information on Online Learning Platforms
Another helpful thing to read is the course information provided which typically includes the syllabus, quizzes, course duration, course materials, etc. Make sure you carefully go through everything needed before deciding on your preferred course. But, not all online learning platforms have equally comprehensive course information. For example, Udacity is one platform that provides detailed information by allowing you access to the entire syllabus.
Free Trials and Refunds on Online Learning Platforms
In general, online learning platforms offer free trials when users sign up for the first time. You can use this opportunity to understand the platform better and gain full access to their course library. Yet, their generosity differs. So, Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning offer a one-month free trial, Pluralsight offers a 10-day or 200-minutes free trial, whereas Treehouse has a one-week free trial offer.
You may have noticed so far that course prices vary a lot, i.e., they have a broad range depending on the platform and type of course chosen. That said, you can find individual courses that are $19.99 or $25,000 (for a degree program). The higher the price, the greater your commitment to a course would be. Alternatively, you can always go for some free courses as many platforms offer a bunch of them.
Instructors on Online Learning Platforms
Finally, instructors play a considerable role in the learning experience you get. Therefore, make sure you find out who teaches your selected course and all the information needed about them. The critical thing is to find details about their knowledge, experience, and credentials so that you can ensure an expert in the field teaches your course. Also, learn about their teaching approach and ensure it matches your learning style.
Can Online Learning Platforms Help Your Career
Even though it may sound surprising, the truth is that the average person of the 21st century changes 5-7 careers during their working life. Luckily, online learning platforms can help your career. Here’s how:
Develop Skills for Free on Some Online Learning Platforms
If you don’t have the budget or feel hesitant to make a significant financial commitment to a course, the platforms that offer courses for free would be the right choice for you. In other words, they generously allow skill development for free. As a result, you can either improve your current or learn completely new skills which will help you progress your career.
Another great advantage of taking courses at some of the best online learning platforms on the market is flexibility. Flexibility is probably the most valuable advantage as we all have hectic lives and are always short on time. Thanks to online learning, we have the convenience of studying whenever and wherever we like. Not to mention the best apps which allow you to download course videos and view them offline.
As the world is constantly changing, the marketplaces and career paths are also evolving and developing. Therefore, online learning platforms have focused on offering updated courses for improving or gaining in-demand job skills. What’s more, they regularly renew old courses and add new ones to ensure there’s something for everyone.
Taking online courses is an excellent alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar colleges and universities. Thanks to the partnership between top online learning platforms and prestigious universities, students can now pursue a verified certification or earn a degree entirely online. Once you add it to your resume, the certificate will improve your job prospects for sure.
Whether you’ve chosen an individual course or a degree program at some of the best online learning platforms, there’s no doubt that it is cheaper than their counterparts at traditional schools. In addition, as you know so far, some platforms are partnered with world-class institutions, like Harvard, MIT, or Berkley, and thus offer university-quality courses and degrees.
Finally, some online learning platforms offer career advice services and help you get a job upon completing a course. For example, Udacity provides a service where you can get help with creating your CV or have a personal conversation with a career advisor who will offer professional recommendations and help you develop a career path.
The bottom line, there are many options available, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. While you may worry about the time and effort it will take you to go through every detail that describes each platform and course, doing research will help you find the ideal solution for you and make an informed decision.
In the end, this detailed guide on online learning platforms provides you with all the information needed. Just ensure you consider everything and follow our useful tips. Hope it helps you make a wise selection that accommodates your needs and works well with your budget.