It’s the 21st century, and learning happens in more than brick-and-mortar settings. At our fingertips anywhere in the world, we have unlimited access to a treasure cove of knowledge and skills. Out of all online learning platforms available, it can be challenging to choose the perfect one.
The issues of cost, ease of use, certification options, credibility, and quality of instructors all factor into the selection process. Education is now accessible to all, and we are more connected all thanks to the internet. We at The Career Project can help you find the best online learning platform for you.
What Are Online Learning Platforms?
Online learning platforms are massive databases of courses, lessons, and study material catered to students so they can learn virtually. Peer-to-peer as well as student-teacher interactions make the process more similar to real-world learning.
Many online learning platforms (aka e-Learning platforms) even have internal forums where students can ask questions pertaining to the course material. Some even make use of a virtual community, such as Google Classrooms.
In this post, we’ll do a deep dive into:
- LinkedIn Learning
Let’s get started on our guide to the best online learning platforms.
Are you a creative and want to take your artistry to the next level? Skillshare boasts an impressive array of courses ranging from calligraphy to graphic design to photography. Its membership includes a range of discounts on creative platforms like Adobe Creative Cloud. Many companies use Skillshare’s team plans to train large groups and enjoy massive savings.
- Cost: $165/year.
- Usability: Easy to navigate, with readable fonts and useful menus and closed captioning so students can take great notes.
- Pros: Free 30-day trial for Skillshare Premium.
- Cons: There’s a lack of instructor-student interaction that may deter learners who prefer a more communicative approach to learning.
The Verdict: Creatives can definitely benefit from trying Skillshare.
With 204,000+ courses to choose from, Udemy has just about everything under the sun for the curious learner. From game development to business analytics to emotional intelligence, there’s truly something for everyone. There’s an app to learn on the go, and ways to invite friends and enjoy mutual savings.
- Cost: $11.99 – $199.99 per course. Personal and Pro monthly plans vary ($20 – $30).
- Usability: Easy to navigate, clean layout throughout the site.
- Pros: Many online course sales such as a Black Friday flash event.
- Cons: No individual subscription model is available yet, and the costs for each individual class can add up.
The Verdict: Professionals and students who are willing to pay and invest a little more for professional-grade courses can give Udemy a try. The prices are quite steep for hobbyists and beginners.
The job hunting platform, with 18000+ courses, has so much more than recruiter messages and professional updates. There’s a treasure cove of learning opportunities to be found under LinkedIn Learning. Choose a course from Excel shortcuts to storytelling—professionals from LinkedIn will carefully review any courses before they’re posted to the platform.
- Cost: $21.90/month for an annual plan, $47.61/month for a monthly plan.
- Usability: It can be challenging to find certain videos as the user experience can be confusing at times. Some icons are small and text difficult to read when searching.
- Pros: Free trial month, and you’ll be reminded 7 days before it ends. Lots of industry-specific information catered to a professional audience. LinkedIn Premium is included with subscription to further elevate your career.
- Cons: The certificates earned view LinkedIn Learning are not accredited and may not be what prospective employers are looking for in a candidate.
The Verdict: Students who are interested in business and technology in particular should give LinkedIn Learning a shot. It’s an online learning platform catered towards budding professionals, mostly early career.
With 275+ universities and companies collaborating with Coursera (such as IBM, Google, and Stanford University), there are over 5200 courses, professional certificates, and degrees the platform has to offer. Learn about the humanities, languages, and even personal development under one digital roof.
- Cost: Guided projects start at $9.99/month, courses are free, specializations and professional certificates start at $39/month, MasterTrack® certificates start at $2000, and degrees start at $9000. Coursera Plus Monthly costs $59/month and Coursera Plus Annual costs $399/year.
- Usability: Very easy to use and find lessons. User-friendly search bar included.
- Pros: Offline learning option to download course material, perfect for learners on the go. All courses are free.
- Cons: A wide variety of subscription options may be overwhelming for new learners who want to choose a path.
The Verdict: Students and industry professionals should go for it! With both breadth and depth, as well as an affordable pricing structure, Coursera offers top-notch learning for everyone.
Love Youtube and want to learn a new skill from exceptional (and sometimes celebrity) instructors? Look no further than MasterClass, with a video-first learning structure. Most classes contain approximately 20 video lessons that are around 10 minutes long. That’s 200 minutes or just over 3 hours to complete a class!
- Cost: $20/month.
- Usability: Very sleek look of website and menus.
- Pros: Affordable and digestible information. Especially good for a motivational kick with a breadth of subjects.
- Cons: No free trial, all videos are paywalled. Lessons cannot be downloaded to watch offline.
The Verdict: Everyone who wants to dabble in a new hobby or learn about a new subject should check out MasterClass. Compared to other online learning platforms, it’s affordable and engaging.
Want to learn from Harvard professors? What about world-class MIT lecturers? edX offers fully-remote Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. There’s also a new Executive Education section to learn about the world of business.
- Cost: Varies by course and degree program. Fees for verified track typically range between $50 – $300. Some specialized courses have higher prices.
- Usability: Easy to navigate, with complete video transcripts.
- Pros: Financial assistance program for learners who demonstrate financial need for 90% off upgrade fee to earn verified certificates.
- Cons: The humanities and soft skills are more limited in terms of content.
The Verdict: Students interested in STEM subjects (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) should definitely give edX a go!
As a practical and social learning environment established in Australia, OpenLearning has a ton to offer students, with 3M+ learners, 200+ institutions, 300+ public courses, and 4250+ private courses.
You can choose between short courses, OpenCreds, and licensed Qualifications. The most unique feature of OpenLearning is the emphasis on group activities, which aims to mimic on-the-job activities.
- Cost: $900/year, $90/month.
- Usability: At times, text and/or videos will run slowly on the website, it could be more optimized.
- Pros: Many free courses are available to try out before subscribing to OpenLearning.
- Cons: Lessons run on the cloud, so there are no options to download course material for offline viewing.
The Verdict: Over 1 million students are on OpenLearning, and it’s easy to see why that number’s growing by the day. It’s sought out highly by Australian employers, so for people who’ve lived there and people looking to make a move—this is the perfect opportunity!
Looking to become a tech wizard? Udacity is simply the place to go. The IDC recognizes Udacity for delivering business outcomes, with proven results and case studies. Trusted by companies like Shell and Accenture, Udacity is a popular online learning platform that has the statistics to back it up as a front-runner in the tech industry.
- Cost: Many basic courses are free to try (200+). More in-depth nanodegrees cost $399 per month for completion, which normally takes between 2-6 months for learners.
- Usability: Option to change the order of lectures and learn at your own pace. Easy to navigate and complete with ease.
- Pros: Certificates are valued and highly sought after from tech corporations. There are career helping resources (i.e. “How to Use GitHub”) and courses taught by industry experts. Udacity offers financial support for qualifying students.
- Cons: Prices for nanodegrees have increased significantly by the year. A nanodegree course costs $200/month, and depending on how quickly you finish the entire program, can easily run over $2000 in total.
The Verdict: Anyone looking to make a serious bridge into the tech space with domains such as cybersecurity and data science should consider Udacity. Their nanodegree options are thorough and highly vetted by experts.
Edureka is an online learning platform that offers courses to those in the information technology (IT) field. It offers courses from the world’s best universities, colleges, and industry-leading companies. Better yet, each course is taught by highly qualified experts.
- Cost: Courses range from $200 to $1000, depending on depth, content, and length.
- Usability: Interactive and clean layout of website and app. Organized drop-down menus and labels for easy navigation.
- Pros: The highly functional Edureka app and 24/7 customer support bodes well for the online learning platform. Most notably, students get lifetime access to their course materials.
- Cons: Only certain courses have certification options, and the prices for individual courses can really rack up for learners.
The Verdict: Anyone interested in IT can give Edureka a go! From software testing to digital marketing, there’s a slew of excellent courses to learn the ins and outs of an IT branch.
Register in community college courses at your fingertips with Unmudl. Powered by America’s Community Colleges, it offers courses from community colleges and entrusted employers which are designed to give you the skills you need to get into the workplace.
- Cost: Varies depending on content, length, skill, and college. Ranges from $3 to $10,000.
- Usability: Fast loading website with easy-to-find labels. The spacing of Unmudl is excellent and there’s a large search bar on the landing page (you can’t miss it!).
- Pros: Huge variety of courses with excellent employment opportunities. All courses are taught by real college professors. 24/7 live customer support for learners.
- Cons: Since Unmudl is still relatively new compared to other online learning platforms, there’s a glaring lack of reviews on the internet. With time, we’ll be able to see a more well-rounded picture.
The Verdict: Unmudl is for anyone looking to learn something new with the end goal of getting a job. It’s for those looking to advance their current career with new skills, and for those wanting to pivot into a new career path.
As much more than just an online learning platform, Thinkific has a marketplace to create and sell courses, as well as monetize memberships. It’s easy to get started for free and start creating or learning with various pricing plans. Thinkific members enjoy many benefits such as stellar customer service and sales pages creation.
- Cost: Monthly options range from Free ($0), Start ($99/month), Grow ($199/month), and Expand ($499/month).
- Annual plans range from Free ($0), Start ($74/month), Grow ($149/month), and Expand ($374/month). Save 25% with this option!
- Usability: Tons of options to fully customize courses. Great layout of site, everything is easy to find.
- Pros: Support for multiple payment options (Stripe, Zapier, Paypal). A comprehensive help centre that answers questions thoroughly. Great customer service team.
- Cons: The lack of a built-in email marketing platform can deter people from using Thinkific. It only supports third-party sales funnels at the moment.
The Verdict: Thinkific is perfect for entrepreneurs with plenty to teach an audience. The customization options are spectacular, and subscription prices are reasonable, too.
Calling all aspiring computer programmers and coders! Codecademy is a fun and rigorous way to work on technical skills that are crucial to the world of tech.
- Cost: Basic plan (free), Pro Lite ($17.49/mo on an annual plan, $34.99/mo on a monthly plan), Pro ($24.99/mo on an annual plan, $49.99/mo on a monthly plan). Students get a special 50% off the regular subscription price, totally to $149.99 a year.
- Usability: Clean layout, and catalogs (as well as course pages) are easy to navigate.
- Pros: Up-to-date information and guides to all programming languages. Many free courses to try out before purchasing a subscription. Personal and real-world projects.
- Cons: Some courses have a history of crashing occasionally. Certain instructors are less communicative and understanding in terms of deadlines.
The Verdict: Codecademy is a must try for any prospective coder! With an impressive database of information and lessons, students can learn at their own pace and be confident in mastering a programming language (or two!).
Final Thoughts on Online Learning Platforms
Employers are becoming more open to alternative learning methods as online certifications continue to grow in popularity. They can help you get your foot in the door in your career change or help take your skills to the next level for an internal promotion.
You can create communities, promote your brand, learn new skills, and market your courses on online learning platforms. The possibilities for growth are truly endless with the software available on the web.
We at the Career Project hope our online learning platforms guide helped make your decision that much easier! Check out our career guides and job profiles for even more information to help you on your career journey.