The Best eLearning Platforms: Explained and Ranked

It’s a great time to develop your skillset for work and home life with the help of online course platforms. It’s as convenient as having access to university classes or a personal tutor right in the comfort of your home.

The workflow in these platforms is usually self-paced. You can take quizzes on a PC or a phone through a mobile app, and you can decide the best time to take a lesson. The platforms themselves are designed to be easy-to-use and convenient.

After completing courses on online platforms, you may even earn a certificate of completion and credits to go into your actual university. If managed correctly, an online education can provide you the new skills to dash past your degree programs, acquire valuable learning experience, and enrich your personhood.

Let’s say you want to learn a new skill. Every online learning platform is bound to be offering a course on your skill, but the level of quality, cost, availability, and utility can vary wildly. You need to make sure that the course you’re entering is worth the investment.

Many online courses don’t put in the effort to be worthwhile; you deserve help in finding the courses that impart meaningful lessons and knowledge to their students.

In this article, we’ll home in on 5 of the best online learning platforms to fit your schedule, budget, pricing plans, online degree goals, and interests perfectly. We’ll help you save time on researching, so you can spend more time studying.

#5: Khan Academy

The non-profit group, Khan Academy, is one of the best online learning platforms to date. All of its content is offered for free. The platform aims to grant students around the world access to subjects taught in schools and help them improve their grasp of topics in mathematics, science, and arts, among others. Khan Academy is also well-known among universities as an excellent platforms to take test preps.

Courses

Khan Academy’s online courses are designed to cover a student’s standard curriculum, which is most visible with its extensive math library, covering the early math of Preschool and Elementary to advanced calculus and statistics in high school and college.

The platform also excels in teaching the following categories:

  • Arts & Humanities
  • Computing
  • Economics & Finance
  • Science & Engineering

Many topics are also available at an AP level, such as Physics, Biology, US Government and Politics, and Computer Science Principles.

Instruction

Each topic in the platform is primarily explained through video lessons which are available on YouTube for free. The videos, which have a consistently high level of quality, are usually produced by the platform in collaboration with other learning channels, such as the Museum of Modern Art and Crash Course. Students can log into Khan Academy’s website to track their progress and take assessments.

Pricing

Khan Academy is completely free-to-use. There are no hidden costs when you enroll in one of its many free courses. The platform is largely supported by donations.

Credits

Although Khan Academy does not provide credits nor official certificates for completing a course, it can be an unparalleled tool for becoming better at academia. Its test prep courses are also essential to getting higher scores in the SAT, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and many more. Some universities have even partnered with Khan Academy as their official test prep platform, which is notable among online platforms as a symbol of its sterling reputation.

Best Feature

Without a doubt, Khan Academy’s best feature is that its high-quality video courses and learning materials are available for free. With its videos also accessible through Youtube, instructional tools like quizzes and readings, as well as a mobile app, you will definitely have an easy time progressing through lessons in Khan Academy.

#4: Udemy

Udemy is a bit of an outsider when it comes to how it offers its online courses. It’s an online learning platform with a marketplace model. To access the contents of individual courses, you have to purchase them. Once you do, everything in those courses is yours forever.

On Udemy, one can create, upload and sell their own courses. Even one may earn you hundreds of dollars in revenue if you have something valuable to teach and put in the effort of producing a quality course. What’s better is that creators have all rights reserved for their classes.

Courses

Every course you can think of is on Udemy; it’s one of the largest online learning platforms due to a business model that incentivizes sharing one’s knowledge and uploading quality material. Individual courses are taught for an incredibly wide range of topics, like:

  • Graphic design,
  • Data science,
  • Programming,
  • Computer science,
  • Web development,
  • Foreign languages, and
  • Biology.

If you stick to the top results and the main suggestions, you’ll find nothing but the best of Udemy’s offerings for a particular topic. Terrible courses exist, but they are fated to be buried by superior courses with better ratings and reviews, so you’ll quickly know where to look.

Instruction

Udemy requires every course to include video lectures as the primary means of instruction. Depending on your course, your professor may actively be entertaining any questions and address concerns, although don’t expect live support as a regular part of your Udemy experience. As you unlock all contents of a class upon a purchase, you generally receive the full package of enough course materials and assessments to increase your skills.

Pricing

When it comes to great bargains, Udemy reigns supreme. Many premium, high-quality classes are on sale every day, with their prices slashed by 50% or more. In general, Udemy online classes cost from $19.99 to $199.99 at regular price. With the frequent discounts, you can buy several nice classes for the price of one. And don’t forget, each purchase grants you a lifetime of access to the course’s offerings.

Credits

Udemy’s model allows users to host their classes on their marketplace. They aren’t connected to any educational institution and provide no certificate opportunities. However, some courses may give you certificates of completion which are still good to mention for a resume or job opportunity, if not just as proof of your expanded skillset.

Best Feature

The best feature Udemy has among other platforms is clearly its marketplace, as well as the quite large selection of courses that it offers for no cost at all. You can’t run out of options in what to learn with Udemy.

#3: Skillshare

Skillshare is the best online learning platform for developing a vocation. Its courses are designed for painters, musicians, photographers, designers and all sorts of artists and craftsmen to share their knowledge and expertise on creative subjects through making their own classes. Instructors also have all rights reserved to their classes.

Many content creators on Youtube and other social media make use of Skillshare to update their skills, and you’ve probably seen tons of Skillshare-sponsored videos on the site. If you’re looking to use this site, you can try to get a referral from your favorite Youtubers for discounts.

Courses

The online courses on Skillshare are predominantly focused on teaching creative skills. Its most popular courses tackle the philosophies, techniques and resources used in skills such as:

  • Web design,
  • Illustration and graphics design,
  • Creative writing,
  • Film and video production,
  • Animation,
  • Basket weaving, and
  • Handicrafts.

Lessons are also available for public speaking, lifestyle and personal development, and entrepreneurship. About 30 000 courses are available in Skillshare’s library.

Instruction

Skillshare courses make good use of video lectures to teach students, as many fields, such as illustration, design and handicrafts, require visual input to be properly understood and replicated. Courses on the learning platform also task the learner to create their own output based on the skills learned as a final requirement. Overall, Skillshare is deeply concerned with assessing that one’s skills have properly developed through their courses.

Pricing

Skillshare’s subscription plans offer students full access to the entirety of its library. The basic subscription costs $15 per month, and opens the user up to enrolling in as many well-made courses on the platform as they want. If you don’t like to pay per month, there’s a cheaper subscription rate around $99 per year as well. You can also try their two-month free trial promo before buying a plan.

Skillshare also has free courses that provide users with limited access to its materials. In most cases, a subscription is require to access a course’s graded assessments and receive certification.

Credits

As it has a business model similar to Udemy, wherein Skillshare simply hosts the courses of its users on its site, it is not affiliated with any accrediting organization. Skillshare does not provide certificates that are valid for university or academic use.

Best Feature

What makes Skillshare such a standout among other popular online learning platforms is its tight-knit community of fellow artists, as well as the depth and level of detail of the classes they create. Many of the people who produce their own content on Skillshare are professionals in their fields, such as illustrators and designers in animation studios, band members, and film creators.

#2: edX

EdX is another non-profit MOOC (massive open online course) provider, although students can pay to get an upgrade version of their course that provides credits, or enroll in an online degree program. The online learning platform is endorsed by 140+ universities, which create and upload their own classes. Topic coverage in the platform is fairly wide, with a strong emphasis on academic subjects and getting credits through its classes.

Courses

EdX’s video-based course content is generally structured around the coursework of its sponsoring universities. Many classes deal with academic subject matter, such as:

  • Mathematics,
  • Arts and humanities,
  • Information technology, and
  • Science.

You can find balanced coverage of all these courses. You’ll receive world-standard learning resources, crafted by professors from Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and more.

Instruction

With a lively discussion forum and regular feedback from instructors, edX is the textbook example of a virtual classroom. You’d like edX if you enjoy the social part of education, as the platform encourages collaboration among the students in each course for certain activities.

Pricing

You can enjoy much of the content on edX through the Audit track, which makes the learning materials free of charge. The platform offers a paid option in the form of Verified and Pro tracks, which grant you credits and certificates of completion. A Verified online course can cost somewhere from $50 to $300. Furthermore, teachers can get a 30-day free trial of the learning software technology used by the platform.

Credits

Among all other online learning platforms, it’s edX that offers you a lot of options for receiving credit and certification to further your academic progress. If you upgrade to the Verified track of a course, you get to receive credits recognized by your course’s partnering institution. Completing an online course will get you an accredited certificate. Full certificates, however, are unavailable.

Best Feature

EdX offers a learning experience that combines the convenience of e-learning with the cooperative nature of real-life institutions. It’s certainly among the best online learning platforms for its university-level content and the number of free online courses available to its students.

Honorable Mention – LinkedIn Learning

While other online learning platforms are focused on teaching you academic topics or creative skills, LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda) aims to provide you a few skills to upgrade your resume and make you more marketable.

Courses

LinkedIn Learning is geared to assist LinkedIn users in improving their career opportunities through the development of job-related skills. As such, their online courses are all concerned with providing you the knowledge and technical expertise for in-demand skills, such as business management, information technology, using Photoshop, InDesign, and the rest of the Adobe suite, writing, and mathematics.

Instruction

Like with other course platforms, the site uses video seminars as its medium of instruction. It provides students with a built-in notebook for listing down details, as well as full transcripts of every video.

Pricing

The online course provider offers you access to all of its classes for a subscription fee of $29.99 per month. A discounted option is also available for $239.88 per year. You can get a free trial of the platform for one month.

Credits

The platform is not accredited; it provides no credits. You can display the courses you complete on your LinkedIn profile to illustrate the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired from them.

Best Feature

The platform has a clear goal of teaching valuable skills in the market today, especially in the field of software technology. LinkedIn Learning’s attention to helping you develop skills makes it an appealing choice for professionals compared to other online learning platforms.

#1: Coursera

At the final spot in our list of the best online learning platforms stands Coursera, a prestigious library where you can get over 6, 000 courses produced by Stanford, IBM, Michigan, Duke and other top institutions around the world. It offers a diverse assortment of classes, some of the best online course material out there, and ample opportunities for accreditation.

Courses

Coursera covers a broad range of topics, with many courses engaging in academic content for university students. Popular subjects include:

  • chemistry,
  • data science,
  • physics,
  • math & logic,
  • language learning,
  • music,
  • business, and
  • information technology.

These classes are designed to parallel the learning material in its partnered universities, so you’re likely to be utilizing the same content found in the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford.

Instruction

Coursera is similar to other online course platforms in presenting most of its course contents through instructional videos, as well as downloadable resources. The interface is streamlined and easy-to-use. Like edX, it has a discussion forum and an active community of teachers and your fellow students. You’re unlikely to meet your professor regularly, so Coursera is more like a virtual library, and a haven for introspective learners.

Pricing

Several classes are up for free at this e-learning platform. In terms of paid plans, Coursera offers three main tiers of subscription:

  • Main courses at $29/monthly, lasting 4-6 weeks. Completion rewards you with a digital certificate branded by a partnered university.
  • Specialization courses at $39-79/monthly, designed to supplement one’s knowledge in technical fields, such as engineering and information technology.
  • Online bachelors and masters degree programs at $15,000-$40,000. A full-package course which can last up to four years.

Coursera Plus, its premium service, is available for $399. Once you purchase it, you get full access to Coursera’s entire library for one year.

Credits

Evident from its section on pricing, Coursera is versatile in offering opportunities to get credits and full certificates, which makes a very attractive choice for students trying to finish college quicker. The credits you earn come from renowned universities, and options are available to receive full degrees.

Best Feature

Many course platforms are good at a particular field. Khan Academy has its free courses, Udemy offers a massive range of topics, Skillshare has meticulous coursework, and edX fields a vibrant community and university partnerships. Coursera also excels in many of these regards. It’s an extremely versatile platform with great opportunities for both students and professionals.

Conclusion – Best Online Learning Platforms

There’s never been a better time to reinvent yourself and expand your skillset. Do it from the comfort of your home with these e-learning platforms and you’ll find yourself a more productive person in no time.

Your choice of platform depends on your priorities. Always remember a ton of classes are completely free, provided you also have the time and energy to study.

Generally speaking, Udemy and Khan Academy are great and balanced platforms for all-around learning. If you want accreditation and a sense of learning from real universities, edX and Coursera are the choicest picks. For getting ahead with your promotion or a new job, go with Lynda. And to let your creative juices flow, Skillshare is ready to help you out.

Now that we’ve given you our selection of the best online learning platforms, it’s time for you to choose one and get started with your e-learning experience! Enjoy studying!

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