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Here Are TOP 7 Online Learning Platforms In 2022

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Whether you want to learn new business skills or just want to explore a topic, online learning platforms are a great way to learn on your own schedule. You can also complete courses quickly and save money by choosing virtual classes over face-to-face classes. In fact, people learn 40% faster on digital platforms than face-to-face learning.

Some online learning platforms provide certifications, while others are simply designed to grow your skills in your personal and professional life. Including Masterclass and Coursera, here are our recommendations for the best online learning platforms you can sign up for today.

BEST OVERALL

1- Coursera

Key Specifications

  • Courses: 3,000+
  • Price: Guided projects start at $9.99 per course, professional certificate courses start at $39 per month, and university-issued higher certificates start at $2,000 per course.
  • Certificate: Yes
  • Accredited Institution: Yes

Why we chose it

Coursera has partnered with more than 200 leading universities and companies to create courses that complement your education and advance your career.

Advantages and Disadvantages

PROS

  • Accredited and employer-recognized certificates
  • In-depth courses created by universities and organizations
  • Offers over 1,500 free courses
  • Classes available in multiple languages
  • Easy-to-use website

CONS

  • Some courses have strict deadlines
  • Degree programs require additional applications
  • No certification with free courses

Coursera isn’t just a place to take classes that are like college courses – it actually offers real academic courses from real professors and universities at a fraction of the cost of earning a degree online.

The platform partners with more than 200 universities and companies to offer real learning experiences that can connect to real-world benefits. In some cases, you can even earn certifications or degrees entirely through Coursera, which can then potentially lead to career benefits like raises, promotions, and more. Even if you’re not looking for professional development reasons, Coursera offers challenging and interesting classes on a lot of topics, so you can explore interests you may not have had before.

The platform allows multimedia courses, so professors can create lectures, upload videos, assign and grade tests and homework assignments, and other elements that would be present in a “real” online college class.

Each course is individually priced (the cheapest courses cost between $30 and $40 and going up), although there are some cases where you can purchase a package of courses at once (and sometimes at a discount) as a “course” or a certificate/diploma program. You can also get unlimited access to more than 3,000 courses with Coursera Plus for $399 per year. It’s the closest thing to the online college experience without having to enroll in college.

BEST FOR NICHE TOPICS

Udemy

Key Specifications

  • Courses: 183,000+
  • Price: Individual courses range from $11 to $200+.
  • Certificate: Yes, but not all
  • Accredited Institution: No

Why we chose it

Udemy has by far the most courses available compared to other online learning platforms, offering 183,000 classes. With over 65,000 instructors, you’ll find an expert teaching a course in every niche.

Advantages and disadvantages

PROS

  • 183,000+ courses for professional skills and hobbies
  • Multimedia classes that incorporate lectures and quizzes
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Courses available in 65 languages
  • No deadlines

CONS

  • Not an accredited institution
  • Courses can be posted by instructors without reviewing materials
  • Instructors are not as engaging in the Q&A section

If you want to learn something, it’s probably on Udemy. The site is not so much a unified “platform” as it is a portal or repository where students can access over 100,000 courses on every topic imaginable.

Language, art, music and fitness courses can be found alongside programming and computer classes, business skills, teaching, productivity and more. There are also categories for personal development and lifestyle, covering life skills and other techniques that aren’t necessarily the kind of things you’d get in an academic setting.

There’s no standard format for a Udemy course: the platform allows instructors to design multimedia lessons with audio, video and text elements, plus readings, quizzes and other activities. Udemy allows students to preview the lessons they’re interested in and offers a 30-day refund if you’re not satisfied.

Because each lesson is created and taught individually, prices also vary: lifetime access to a single course can range from inexpensive ($11-15) to expensive ($200 or more).

BEST FOR CREATIVE FIELDS

Skillshare (Get 1 free month Now)

Key Specifications

Courses: 35,000+
Price: $14 per month, equivalent to $168 per year
Certificate: No
Accredited Institution: No

Why we chose it

Skillshare is a subscription-based online learning platform that offers nearly 70 different creative subjects for members to learn, including creative writing, graphic design, and photography.

Advantages and disadvantages

PROS

  • Wide range of course topics
  • Most of the instructors are experienced, including celebrities
  • Covers almost every creative field
  • Offers team plans for groups of 20+ people
  • Free seven-day trial for subscriptions

CONS

  • Limited free courses
  • Courses are only available in English
  • Ad-free only with a premium subscription

While many online platforms basically offer college-style classes, Skillshare is less formal and more focused on improving creative skills.

There are business and marketing classes on the platform, but most are courses in creative fields, taught by experts active in those fields: photography, film, animation, visual arts, writing, interior design and more. The focus is on teaching practical skills that students can use to create their own projects. Most courses include a series of video lectures, combined with assignments for students to practice their skills.

Skillshare has a subscription model, rather than a pay-per-course plan, so students who sign up can take as many or as few courses as they want, as long as they are enrolled. The current price is $168 per year (which equates to about $14 per month).

That said, the platform also offers a number of free classes, from short 20-minute videos to longer tutorials of an hour or more. They’re not as in-depth, but they’re a good way to try out potentially interesting topics.

BEST FOR CELEBRITY LESSONS

MasterClass

Key Specifications

Courses: 100+
Price: From $15 per month and up to $23 per month for annual memberships
Certificate: No
Accredited Institution: No

Why we chose it

MasterClass courses leverage the knowledge and experience of celebrities, such as the culinary talents of Gordon Ramsey and the leadership skills of Anna Wintour, to offer in-depth courses on a wide range of topics.

Advantages and Disadvantages

PROS

  • World-class instructors
  • Memberships provide unlimited access to all classes
  • High-quality video production
  • Courses have a comprehensive curriculum
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Courses have a consistent level of quality

CONS

  • No free or trial courses
  • No certification
  • Fewer courses than competitors
  • Only annual subscription available

Although MasterClass offers more than just creative courses, its most notable offerings are those that put actors, writers, artists, musicians, and others in the teacher’s seat.

And these aren’t just single “lecture”-style classes: most courses consist of about 20 lectures, just like traditional courses, so you can delve deeper into your chosen topic. If you want to learn about these often opaque professions, there’s no better way than hearing directly from people who have already been successful.

These courses are video-based, with practical advice and demonstrations mixed with direct lectures, workbooks, and class discussions. You can get advice from Shonda Rhimes on how to write for TV, learn to cook with Gordon Ramsay, take a film class with Martin Scorsese or explore creative leadership with Anna Wintour.

Because MasterClass is a subscription-based platform, you can take as many sessions as you want within a monthly subscription. The price is about $15 per month for unlimited access, but students must sign up for one year at a time.

BEST FOR STEM

EdX

Key Specifications

  • Courses: 200+
  • Price: From $399 per month and up to $1,995 for four months of access to some courses
  • Certificate: Yes
  • Accredited Institution: No

Why we chose it

Udacity offers courses that the company calls “nanodegrees” that take, on average, four months to complete. Enrolling in these programs gives you full access to real consultants who work with you on your resume and work samples.

Advantages and Disadvantages

PROS

  • Offers intensive programs consisting of multiple classes
  • Offers resume and portfolio review support
  • Receive personalized feedback on projects
  • Several scholarship programs are available
  • Seven-day refund policy after purchase

CONS

  • More expensive option
  • Enrollment deadlines
  • Longer time commitment

Technology skills are among the most marketable classes you can take on your own time, and Udacity has courses in all of the most in-demand fields.

The platform is designed as a variation of the “coding bootcamp” style of learning, with programs focused on web development, programming, cloud computing, and data science. Whether you’re a total novice looking to develop a new skill, or you’re looking to expand your knowledge on a certain topic, there’s probably a course at the right level for you.

Each program includes hands-on practice, real-world applications and examples, individual code reviews, and real professional instructors and coaches who can meet your individual needs.

Udacity’s platform is a bit different from others on the market. Rather than focusing on one-on-one classes, its main offering is a “nanodegree,” a bootcamp-like program that includes multiple lectures, projects, custom reviews, class discussions, and one-on-one technical mentoring from experts. Most programs require one to five months of part-time study, depending on the topic.

However, all of these features come at a price: it’s about $399 per month, or about $597 for students who purchase the full four months at once.

BEST FOR CAREER BUILDING

Udacity

Key Specifications

  • Courses: 7,500+
  • Price: Plans cost between $229 and $449 per year
  • Certificate: Yes
  • Accredited Institution: No

Why we chose it

Pluralsight is designed for working professionals looking to expand their data skills. The company offers mini degree programs for both individuals and teams.

Advantages and disadvantages

PROS

  • Organized in three tiers for easy course selection
  • Unlimited access to classes with subscriptions
  • Affordable price for intensive courses

CONS

  • No refunds
  • Focus on intermediate and advanced users

Designed with working professionals in mind, Pluralsight offers courses in topics such as software development, data science, information and cybersecurity, and more.

Students can take individual courses, but Pluralsight encourages you to take one of its “pathways.” These programs are like mini-degrees: a series of related courses in a specific area of expertise, such as individual programming languages, security certifications, creative skills in a particular software, and so on. These preset courses take the guesswork out of learning, and a quick pre-test can be taken to establish skill level, adding further customization.

The course library includes over 7,500 one-on-one classes on hundreds of pathways, and even if you’re not ready to tackle a full package, you can dive into one-on-one courses that only last a couple of hours.

Regardless of how many classes (or pathways) you want to take, the price is the same: $29 per month for a personal plan (or about $299 for a full year with a slight discount). There’s also a premium option, for about $449 per year, which includes all the usual features and courses, plus additional interactive courses and industry-standard practice exams for various professional certifications.

Final Verdict

Regardless of what stage of life you’re in, online learning platforms offer you a convenient way to grow in your career or start something completely new.

Overall, Coursera is our first choice for an online learning platform because of its variety of courses and official accreditation. Its partnerships with leading universities and companies ensure that course curricula are academically complete and meet industry standards for career growth.

Whether you’re looking for a very specific topic or an unconventional one, Udemy will likely offer a course on it. It’s a great option for those who have a small budget and are looking to feed their brains with something new.

Udacity is a great option for professionals looking to advance their career or change industries. The company’s intensive “nanodegree” programs give you full access to real consultants who work with you to build your resume and portfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is an e-learning platform?

An online learning platform is a website and/or application that allows students to study certain subjects of interest entirely online and at a distance. They usually cater to adult professionals who have already completed their traditional education, and while some offer full certification or even degree programs, most focus on delivering individual courses.

How much do e-learning platforms cost?

Online learning platforms come in a wide range of prices, but in general, the one thing they have in common is that they tend to be cheaper than similar courses at traditional universities.

There are two main types of platforms: per-course platforms, where you pay per class or package of courses, or subscription platforms, where you pay a fixed fee (usually monthly or yearly) to access an unlimited number of individual courses in a given time.

What kind of features do e-learning platforms have?


Like any other type of classroom, each online learning platform will structure its courses slightly differently, but there are a few things they tend to have in common.

Online platforms are usually somewhat video-based, with audio and video lectures forming the backbone of the lessons. For classes that teach hands-on subjects, such as creativity or computer courses, the best platforms often have a built-in way for students to practice their new skills and receive feedback from the instructor.

Other features that can be found are discussion boards, supplemental readings, and even quizzes or exams. Most courses on these platforms are self-paced, in part or entirely, so there won’t be as much concurrent work with other students as in a typical class, and you probably won’t have to tune in to live lectures or meetings, although some platforms offer one-on-one tutoring or coaching for some courses. The key is to find a platform whose style suits you based on your independence as a student and what you hope to get out of a given class.

How we choose the best online learning platforms

There are more online learning platforms than ever before, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. We’ve selected the categories that we think will be most useful for adult and vocational learners, rather than children or teens (college students may find these selections useful, but they may already have access to similar resources through their schools).

This means that the platforms selected here appeal primarily to adults looking to explore a personal interest or gain quantifiable skills for career advancement; that’s why we focused on creative and technology platforms as the “specialty” presented here among platforms with broader offerings.

Coursera earned the title of best overall for its variety of accredited options, while Masterclass was our first choice for the best celebrity classes, as classes from a range of directors, writers, and actors are available.

Because online learning is often a very personal experience, we’ve presented several platforms that allow for self-paced learning, interactivity, and/or learning tailored to a particular skill level. We’ve mixed in some informal options with more traditional academic-style courses, but all of the platforms recommended here have top-notch instructors who are experts in their fields, regardless of the structure of the courses themselves.