The e-learning industry has been flourishing amid the pandemic. We see how the number of e-learning and online course platforms continues to skyrocket – Global Industry Analysts Inc.’s study (the global online learning market) is projected to reach $457.8 billion by 2026—nearly twice as high as $250 billion in 2020.
While face-to-face learning remains relevant, classes are mostly conducted through digital channels. This way, it’s way manageable for businesses, educators, and students to offer services, teach, and learn, respectively.
Whether you’re a course seller or taker, a freelancer, or a business, we’ve got you! To help you easily select the right one, below are the top online course platforms you can choose from.
Let’s dive right in!
How to choose the right platform
It’s vital to know what you need before you decide what the best online course platform is for you. Ask these:
- Goals: What do you want to accomplish with your course? Do you aim to build leads?
- Budget or pricing: How much is your budget for learning? How much do you intend to offer your courses?
- Audience: (for sellers) Do you aim to build an audience base? Or do you prefer to offer your content to your existing customers?
- Functionality: What kind of functionality do you need? Do you have existing licenses for CMS, CRM, or marketing software? How much freedom (and work) do you want for customization? Would a WordPress plugin serve you and your audience better?
- Content: What kind of content (video, written, or mixed) do you plan on creating?
- Duration and pacing: How long will it take to finish your online course? Do you want it self-paced or time-bound?
Ultimate guide: online course platforms
With so many online course platforms available, how do you know which one to choose? To help you answer this, we’ve collated the top e-learning platforms. Let’s read on!
1. Thinkific (best all-around platform for creators)
– Basic plan costs $39 per month
– Pro plan costs $79 per month
– Premier plan costs $399 per month
Thinkific is a one-stop online course creation platform that allows businesses and entrepreneurs to create, market, and offer their own online courses. Students can also purchase and enroll in courses using their accounts.
Supporting over 30 different languages, the platform offers basic, pro, and premier plans, while the basic plan includes custom domains, unlimited courses, and more. Higher plans, meanwhile, provide you access to additional admin accounts, memberships, private courses, bundles, among others. (You can also score a 20 percent discount if you pay annually!)
Thinkific also has a 30-day free trial so you can give it a test drive. If you want a platform pre-loaded with customizable features and tools you need to deliver future-ready learning, opt for Thinkific.
2. Udemy (best for the average learners)
– $11.99 to $199.99 per course (course-based pricing model)
Udemy is known as an enormous repository of online courses: with over 183,000 courses taught in more than 65 languages, it takes pride in its extensive range of topics. Topics include business, finance, information technology (IT), development, design, marketing, music, academics, and beyond.
The format and feel of Udemy’s courses vary since each class is created and priced individually. For students, it’s also possible to preview courses, get certificates of completion, and request a full refund within the first 30 days upon purchase if dissatisfied.
Udemy can be accessed via the web or its mobile app, so it’s a super versatile choice, no matter your technology type. Now, if you’re interested in mastering specific skills rather than delving into diverse fields, Udemy is the better option.
3. Coursera (best for academics)
– Individual courses range from $29 to $99 per month
– Specializations range from $39 to $79 per month
– Coursera Plus Subscription costs $399 per year
Want to access academic courses at a budget-friendly price and get industry-recognized credentials? Try Coursera—another online course platform.
Coursera gives students access to over 4,000 academic courses from over 200 universities and companies (including Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and Google). It offers a wide array of subjects including arts and humanities, languages, mathematics, IT, and beyond.
Coursera is ideal for both students and professionals. It offers programs such as regular courses, specializations, professional certificates, master track certificates, and online degrees from universities. Note that the cost and time required to complete a course or program vary.
4. EdX.org (best pedigree)
– Verified track courses range from $50 to $300 each
EdX was founded by Harvard and MIT—but one that has an accessible system. Possessing a high-end pedigree, it offers over 3,000 courses from prestigious schools such as Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, Boston University, among others. These courses range from math to physics to humanities and social sciences.
With EdX, you can also get accredited professional certificates and even online master’s degrees from top universities in the U.S.
The majority of EdX’s courses are free. But here’s the catch: The free version works well if you’re simply taking a class for your own learning experience. However, should you opt for formal learning, it’s best to go with the paid “verified certificate” option.
5. Skillshare (best for creatives)
– Skillshare premium costs $19 per month
– Annual subscription costs $99
Seeking to harness your creative skills while on a mobile-friendly platform? Skillshare may be the right one for you!
Skillshare provides video-based courses in subjects like design, illustration, animation, photography, writing, film, among others. Courses are designed and taught by prominent artists and creatives. These courses include short video lessons, exercises and prompts, and assignments for holistic learning.
Online platforms typically provide college-style classes. But with Skillshare, you’ll go outside the box with its less formal learning style and one that’s focused more on sharpening practical creative skills.
Skillshare has a subscription model. While subscribed, students can take as many courses as they want.
6. MasterClass (best for celebrity-taught classes)
– Monthly subscription costs $15 per month
– Annual subscription costs $180
Are you interested to learn from a celebrity-level expert? MasterClass is the way to go!
MasterClass is one of the subscription-based online course platforms that offers over 100 best-in-class courses from seasoned professionals. They come from fields like music, cooking, acting, photography, filmmaking, among others. These A-list actors and other experts have spent decades honing their craft. Now, they’re sharing their expertise through MasterClass.
Rather than a one-shot “talk” style, most of the platform’s courses have around 20 lessons to give you comprehensive learning. These courses have video-based lectures, with illustrations and practical advice. For effective learning, you can try to outline notes too.
What better way to learn more about your craft than hear it straight from successful experts?
7. Udacity (best for tech-driven students)
– Nanodegree programs start at $399 per month
Udacity is an innovative e-learning platform notable for its Nanodegree (skill and project-based) programs. It offers over 200 courses and more than 40 programs. Udacity specializes in innovative topics such as artificial intelligence, data science, cloud computing, programming, robotics, among others.
Should you want to be trained in the careers of the future, try Udacity. It offers one-on-one technical mentorship, classes, and even student forums for enrolled students. The platform also aims to help people like you learn the latest and in-demand tech skills to thrive in the digital world.
8. CreativeBug (best for artsy-craftsy people)
– Unlimited plan costs $7.95 per month
– Unlimited Plus costs $9.95 per month
Are you an artsy-craftsy soul wanting to take your art and sewing skills up a notch? CreativeBug may be your best choice!
CreativeBug fuses affordability and quality. This online course platform offers low-cost creative courses taught by some of your favorite personalities. Its main categories include art and design, sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, and more.
Class topics are mostly focused on art and sewing. If you’re interested in these, you’ll surely enjoy them! Additionally, class duration typically ranges from less than 30 minutes to several hours. So, if you want to squeeze in a few minutes of your day to learn, opt for 30-minute classes.
Overall, CreativeBug is a perfect match for beginners and hobbyists who do not need certificates or accreditations.
9. FutureLearn (best for globally recognized education)
– Unlimited course plan costs $279.99 per year
– Premium courses range from $75 to $400 each
FutureLearn is an online education platform offering over 2,400 special courses from the world’s fore universities. Many courses can be audited for free. However, if you want to access course tests and certificates, upgrading to paid courses is needed.
FutureLearn delivers holistic learning. The majority of courses include video, audio, and readable content; short quizzes and tests; discussion time with teachers and fellow students; and assignments.
If you want to advance in your field, FutureLearn also offers paid premium courses. These include courses on IT and digital skills, business and management, teaching, and healthcare.
Aiming to earn academic credit and upskill yourself? The platform also offers 21 fully accredited micro-credentials. These typically require 100-150 study hours over 10 to 12 weeks.
10. Teachable (best for course creation with advanced marketing)
– Basic plan costs $29 per month
– Pro plan costs $99 per month
– Business plan costs $249 per month
Teachable is a modern-day online platform that allows savvy course creators to create and sell courses. This platform offers seamless service as it handles tasks from web hosting to payment processing. Likewise, course creators have complete control over policies such as data, pricing, and refund.
Teachable is simple and easy to use. It comes with built-in eCommerce features, marketing, and sales tools, limited customization options, and blogging capabilities. This is a great option for new course creators, coaches, and solopreneurs.
Remember, the best online course platforms are the ones that are right for you.
What’s right for you will mostly depend on your budget, preferred content, hosting needs, and target audience. Once you’ve identified these, start selecting the platform that suits you best. This then can allow you to achieve your (educational and professional) goals twice as better and faster.
Ready to get hired? At Twine, we have dozens of top-quality jobs being posted each and every day. From design to marketing, development to copywriting – there’s a job ready for your skills. Join the marketplace of diverse creative talent here.