The 10 Best (Must-Know) Online Learning Platforms of 2020

Online learning platforms

Due to the rise of online learning, online education is slowly becoming the new norm.

Online learning is available to anyone with a working internet connection. E-learning allows you to learn whenever you want, and normally it costs a lot less than traditional learning. Most importantly, online learning is becoming more and more convenient, especially in light of recent events of this year.

If you’re looking to get into the world of online education, you’re at the right place! Regardless of your specific needs, you will always need a good online learning platform. I spent weeks doing the research so that you don’t have to, and now I’ve come up with a definitive list of the best online learning platforms of 2020.

I made sure to thoroughly research all of the important aspects of each learning platform to include only the very best ones on my list. Your preferred choice will depend on your own specific learning needs. Some platforms are especially well suited for business individuals or businesses, others for students and individuals, coders, and so on. You’ll learn where each platform excels, what the key features are, the pricing plans, and so much more.

So, let’s not waste time and get into my ultimate list of the top online learning platforms.

RECOMMENDED
udemy logo Udemy – a lot of free, diverse and affordable content. Visit
Udemy
Thinkific logo Thinkific – create and sell your courses easily. Visit
Thinkific
Codecademy logo Codecademy – the best system for learning to code. Visit
Codecademy

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Table of content

The following is a list of the most popular and, according to my research, the best online learning platforms in 2020. Each platform has its own benefits for a specific type of person or business. It all depends on your learning needs, what and how you want to learn.

Without further ado, here’s my list of the top 10 most popular online learning platforms:

  1. Skillshare — Unleash your inner artist
  2. Coursera — Enrol in classes for free
  3. Udemy — Learn skills from video courses
  4. Codecademy — Learn coding basics for free
  5. Thinkific — Sell your courses easily
  6. Pluralsight — Learn technology skills from experts
  7. LinkedIn Learning — Advance professionally directly on LinkedIn
  8. Udacity — Get highly-valued tech degrees
  9. Futurelearn — Finish accredited certification courses
  10. Edx — Study high-quality academic content



1. Skillshare — Unleash your inner artist

Skillshare homepage

Skillshare is a massive online learning community with more than 27,000 classes on a wide variety of subjects.

It’s perfect for artists and creative types, but with such a huge database of classes, most people and businesses can also find Skillshare incredibly useful. The great thing about Skillshare is that it’s a massive community, and new classes are being added all the time. You pay one monthly subscription, and you receive access to everything the site offers.

All of the classes on Skillshare are divided into four broad categories: Business, Technology, Creative, and Lifestyle. None of the classes are accredited, so there are no certificates to earn. However, Skillshare is not about getting certified, but rather about gaining practical knowledge that you can later use professionally.

Skillshare is a community, so classes are largely made by its members, which can be both a good and a bad thing. I believe that it’s mostly good, as I’ve used it for a long time, and with such a large pool of classes to choose from, it’s hard not to find a class that’s incredibly useful for you.

Despite a large number of classes, all are designed in a similar format. Every class lasts from about 30 minutes to an hour, and they are broken into logical portions for easier perusal and use. You can start a class and stop and continue it whenever it suits you. Also, you can try the things you have learned right after participating in a specific part of the class.

Being a community, you can also connect with other members on the site and get help or advice when you need it.

Key features

  • Unlimited access to classes — once you join the platform, you receive unlimited access to more than 27,000 classes on lifestyle, photo and film, design, animation, writing, illustration, and so much more.
  • Original classes designed by professionals — many classes are created by known and talented professionals in their respective fields, so you get the chance to learn from the best.
  • Support from other members — as a member, you can discuss things with other members of Skillshare all of the time, so that you can get tips on how to get the most out of the platform.
  • Workshops — besides original classes, Skillshare also offers workshops, where you participate according to a predesigned schedule and where you learn from a teacher together with other members.
  • Live sessions — a more traditional form of classes where everything is done in real-time. It’s perfect for students who are used to this education method.
  • Optimized for mobile — Skillshare is made to be accessible and easy to use on all devices, so you can even learn on the go if that’s what you want to do.

Plans and pricing

Skillshare is free to register, and it offers some classes for free as well. However, you still have to pay a monthly subscription fee if you want to receive unlimited access to everything the platform has, as well as to avoid ads.

Free plan
Free of charge.

All you need to do is register to gain access to some Skillshare classes in all four main categories. The only thing you need is a connection and an email address to join. Once you’ve registered, you can browse the platform and join hundreds of free online courses.

Premium membership
$15 a month or $99 a year.

Premium membership costs $15 a month or $8.25 per month if you decide to pay an annual fee of $99. Also, you can test the paid version for free for a total of 7 days. You’ll gain unlimited access to all classes Skillshare offers, you’ll have no ads, and you’ll be admitted to live sessions as well.

2. Coursera — Enrol in classes for free

Coursera homepage

Coursera is a free online learning platform with more than 3,900 courses and specializations made in collaboration with 200+ universities and companies.

Depending on what you need, you can choose between three options in the right upper part of the homepage for Coursera: For Enterprise, For Students, and Join for free, which is for individuals.

Coursera is in many ways like most other learning platforms, but with the key difference that the courses you complete here will earn you approved degrees and certificates (not in the free version). So, a course library size of 3,900+ is truly a massive one when you realize it leads to official certificates. People see the benefit of this, which is why Coursera now has more than 60 million users!

Renowned universities like Stanford, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Imperial College London, and companies like IBM and Google, all have approved courses on this platform. This makes Coursera perfect for both students and professionals, including full companies. You can work toward more than 13 professional certificates here, as well as over 20 degrees and MasterTrack certificates.

Coursera offers five distinct distance learning options: individual courses, specializations, MasterTrack certificates, professional certificates, and degrees. Each option is different and varies in difficulty, length, and cost. In essence, Coursera is free, as many courses can be used by registered members, but the better the options are, the more they cost.

Key features

  • Library size — more than 3,900 courses, 1,000+ specializations, 15 MasterTrack certificates, 13+ professional certificates, 14 master’s degrees, and 2 bachelor’s degrees, all of which are provided by as many as 1,900 enterprise customers.
  • Teaches you skills — with such a wide variety of options, you can learn a lot of skills at Coursera, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a student, young professional, or company looking to improve the knowledge of its employees.
  • Preparation for a full career — as Coursera offers full certificates and degrees, you can prepare yourself for a career just with this site.
  • Approved certificates and degrees — all professional certificates and degrees come from notable universities and companies, making them truly worthwhile.
  • A massive community of learners — with over 60 million registered users, you can get advice and tips from people who have used the platform extensively.

Plans and Pricing

Coursera is free to join, and many courses on the site are free as well. However, depending on which of the five learning options you choose and which specific course or specialization you want, the price will vary. Also, subscription rates vary depending on whether you’re a student or a professional.

Individual courses
Free of charge for students, some vary in price from $29 to $99 per course.

With a verified university email, you can access almost all classes for free. Without it, you will have to pay for each one and the price varies from course to course.

Specializations and professional certificates
From $39 to $89 per month, per specialization or certificate.

Each specialization or professional certificate is unique and has a specific monthly payment model. You’ll be charged every month for as long as you’re enrolled.

MasterTrack certificates
From $2,000 to $4,500 per certificate.

Universities offer MasterTrack certificates, so the price is higher than for regular courses. Naturally, these certificates take several months to complete but are definitely worth it.

Degrees
From $15,000 to $42,000 per degree.

Universities prepare online degrees at Coursera and they are practically the same as enrolling physically at each of these universities. However, it’s significantly cheaper and more flexible.

Coursera Plus
$399 per year.

Coursera Plus is a newer addition to the platform through which you gain access to more than 3,000 courses, projects, specializations, and professional certificates for $399 a year. If you’re not a student and you find that the free courses are not enough, this is probably the best option for you, as long as you’re looking to do more than one course or specialization.

3. Udemy — Learn skills from video courses

Udemy homepage

Udemy is a massive online learning platform with over 150,000 online video courses for as little as $25 per course.

Udemy has the most extensive collection of individual courses out of all of the online learning platforms. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all of them would be useful for you specifically, but there are plenty of options. This platform is all about enabling people to learn new skills easily and quickly, which is precisely why they use a video format for the courses.

Many courses are free, but most of the specialized ones are paid. The price varies from course to course, and the course creator decides whether it’s free or paid.

Each course comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can obtain a refund if you’re not satisfied. On top of that, each course is rated by the users, so you know exactly how popular and worthwhile it is. You receive a Udemy certificate for completing the course, but not one that’s officially accepted by employers, so the platform is more about gaining practical experience, much like Skillshare.

All in all, Udemy is quite useful for a wide variety of people, and you can enroll in many courses at ridiculously low prices, so you can always check one out to see how good the platform is. It’s one of the top online learning platforms for students as that’s the main demographic that it targets.

Key features

  • The biggest collection of online courses — thanks to Udemy’s online learning platform that deals with all kinds of courses with people constantly adding new ones every month, you have access to the largest library of online classes ever.
  • Personal learning recommendations — if you answer a couple of questions about your learning interests, the platform will suggest the best courses that suit your needs.
  • Udemy for business — more than 5,000 courses from more than 1,500 experts are designed for companies and teams, and you can contact Udemy to get a demo of this feature.
  • Downloadable content — you can download content from any class you join at Udemy and watch it without an Internet connection because each paid class is yours forever.

Plans and pricing

Udemy, as a website, is free to use as it hosts video courses that are paid for individually. However, many courses are also free to use, while the most specialized courses are paid, and each has its own price. The good news is, even the paid ones will go on sale at some point, so each one can be purchased at a very affordable price.

Free courses
Free of charge.

A wide variety of courses are completely free, and all you need to do to access them is register at Udemy and choose one.

Paid courses
The price per course varies. Many courses can sometimes go on sale with as much as a 90% off discount.

Once you choose a paid course, all you need to do is pay for it, and you receive lifetime access to its content, which you can then watch at any time. As the classes are often on sale, it’s best to buy the ones you’re interested in while they’re on sale, and then use them whenever you want.

4. Codecademy — Learn coding basics for free

Codecademy homepage

Codecademy is one of the best online learning platforms for coders with free access to more than a hundred classes for all programming languages.

Codecademy is a platform for people who want to learn to code online for free. It’s been on the scene for more than seven years and has over 45 million users. It’s designed for beginners who want to learn both frontend and backend languages like CSS, HTML, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Sass, React.js, SQL, and many others.

As most languages, especially backend ones, are extremely complicated for beginners, I just love how Codecademy has made learning them quite easy and intuitive. Even though the basic classes are entirely free, they are very detailed and easy to follow.

Codecademy also has other users and teachers you can contact to get advice and feedback. It’s perfect for beginners, but also for more advanced users, as long as you’re willing to pay for the more advanced features.

Key features

  • Learn most programming languages — you can learn the basics of almost all coding languages for free, but the platform also offers more advanced lessons for paid members. There are courses in Java, JavaScript, HTML, Python, C++, SQL, CSS, C#, R, Swift, PHP, React.js, Ruby, Kotlin, and more.
  • Learn by writing code — you won’t only learn how to code, but actively use it while learning.
  • Apply your knowledge in projects and quizzes — Codecademy also offers specific quizzes and real-life projects where you can put your newly-gained knowledge into practice.
  • Instant feedback — while you’re learning, you can submit and have your code tested immediately. Then you’ll receive feedback to see if you’re on the right track.

Plans and pricing

Codecademy offers both paid and free online classes on coding. Most basic courses are free, but you can also pay a monthly subscription to get more features if you want to master a specific language.

Basic
Free of charge.

The plan covers a wide variety of interactive and daily practice lessons from basic courses.

Pro
$35.99 a month, or $17.99 a month if you pay annually.

The Pro version has everything that the Basic version offers but also gives you access to unlimited mobile practice, content for members, certificates for completed courses, real-life projects, peer support, and instant feedback.

Teams
You need to ask for a custom quote.

This plan is designed for business, whether they are small teams or enterprises. It offers everything companies need for their teams to master a language.

5. Thinkific — Sell your courses easily

Thinkific homepage

Thinkific is an online learning platform where you can easily create and sell courses, no matter if you’re trying to reach a few students or millions of them.

Unlike most other platforms on this list, Thinkific is more oriented towards those looking to teach, not to learn. The platform gives anyone the chance to create, market, and sell their online courses to millions of users. Their website states that over 64 million courses have been taken on the site and more than $340 million has been earned by course creators.

Thinkific is perfect for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs who want to teach others. The free plan is more than enough as it offers a wide range of features, and you are unlikely to need anything else. However, if you want to sell at a higher level or have a larger business, the more advanced plans are likely to work better for you. Whatever you end up using, bear in mind that Thinkific makes online learning quite easy, so you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Thinkific allows you to create simple presentations for your course and add additional content like video, quizzes, multimedia lessons, surveys, PDFs, audio, and even full exams. Basically, all that you need to create a powerful course is available to you.

Key features

  • Run the entire course — the main attraction of Thinkific is the fact that you have a customizable system that lets you run the entirety of your course, from its inception to the selling.
  • No coding — you don’t have to know anything about coding to create your course, you only need to navigate the easy-to-use system Thinkific has.
  • Control over the course — you get complete control over your course once you create it on Thinkific, including the content and the pricing model.
  • Near-complete automation — with Thinkific, you get automatic onboarding of students, messaging, completion certificates, and more.
  • Integration with 1000+ tools — if you use tools in your line of business, you can integrate most of them into your course on Thinkific.
  • Site builder — if you don’t have a place to host your course, Thinkific has a great site builder tool where you can create an entire site for the course.

Plans and pricing

Thinkific is free to use, but it also has several plans, each of which offers more and more advanced features that will do wonders for more advanced teachers and larger businesses.

Free
Free of charge.

The free plan is filled with all of the core features Thinkific offers for complete course creation, marketing, and selling, but you can create a maximum of three courses.

Basic
$49 per month or $39 per month if you pay annually.

You receive all of the basic features and tools you need to create a great course, plus unlimited course creation and things like coupons, email integration, affiliate reporting, and more.

Pro
$99 per month or $79 per month if you pay annually.

The pro plan offers everything the basic plan does, plus more advanced features like private courses, 2 site admin accounts, advanced pricing options, memberships, bundles, certificates, assignments, and more.

Premier
$499 per month or $399 per month if you pay annually.

The premier course is perfect for those looking to create an entire education empire. It offers everything the previous plans do, but it’s designed to allow you to scale easily. What’s more, for a flat fee, you receive an unlimited growth package.

6. Pluralsight — Learn technology skills from experts

Pluralsight homepage

Pluralsight is one of the best online platforms for people looking to acquire technology skills, as it offers complete courses made by industry experts.

At Pluralsight, more than 1,500 industry experts have created thousands of courses that have been used by both professionals and large enterprises. As much as 70% of Fortune 500 companies trust the platform, as over 17,700 business people have created accounts at Pluralsight to study and learn the skills they need to succeed.

There are plenty of topics to choose from on Pluralsight, but the platform is mostly concentrated on providing courses in the IT/tech sector, making it quite similar to Codecademy. By studying on Pluralsight, you can start a whole career in cybersecurity, IT networking, coding, software development, web development, and more. The courses are well structured and packed with relevant, high-quality content. On top of that, you also receive a certificate upon completion of each course.

If that weren’t enough, you also benefit from the fact that Pluralsight is associated with world-class companies like Google, Unity, Oracle, Adobe, and Microsoft.

None of this comes cheap though, but it ends up being more than worth it as each course is incredibly detailed. If you are interested in the IT/tech sector, Pluralsight is perfect for you and, in some cases, better than Codecademy.

Key features

  • Paths — the learning paths at Pluralsight make the learning process straightforward and easy to follow from start to finish.
  • Channels — align the learning experience with your goals to make the whole process more convenient.
  • Skill and role IQ — use the platform to assess your skill level and how proficient you are in a specific role.
  • Offline use — every course can be taken offline as well, as Pluralsight allows downloads.

Plans and pricing

Pluralsight divides all of its plans into two main types, the Skill and the Flow plan. The skills plans are best used by individuals and teams, while the flow packages are made for enterprise and large organizations. Within the Skill plan, you can choose between three Personal plans (Monthly, Annual, and Premium) and two Team (Professional and Enterprise) plans. In Flow, you can choose between Standard, Plus, and Enterprise plans.

Skills plan – Monthly
$26 per month.

Grants access to a library with more than 7,500 courses and allows for the use of most Pluralsight features.

Skills plan – Annual
$275 per year.

The annual plan is the same as the monthly, but it’s 33% cheaper, and you pay for it annually.

Skills plan – Premium
$159 per year.

The premium plan offers everything the previous two do, but it also has projects, interactive courses, and even certification practice exams.

Skills plan – Professional
$579 per user per year.

The professional plan is made for teams, so it offers the added advantage of analytics and a few integrations.

Skills Plan – Enterprise
$779 per user per year.

The enterprise plan is an advanced version of the professional plan, made for larger corporations looking for advanced analytics and more.

Standard flow plan
Starting at $499 per contributor per year.

The standard and the next two flow plans are made specifically for startups and enterprises.

Plus flow plan
Starting at $599 per contributor per year.

The plan allows for an unlimited number of reports and advanced features like reports.

Enterprise flow plan
Starting at $699 per contributor per year.

The enterprise flow plan is the ultimate plan for enterprises and larger teams that can be completely customized according to the organization’s needs.

7. LinkedIn Learning — Advance professionally directly on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Learning homepage

LinkedIn Learning is LinkedIn’s educational platform with more than 16,000 free and paid courses in business, technology, and creative niches.

The main benefit of LinkedIn Learning is the fact that it’s operated by LinkedIn, the world’s largest social platform for professionals. As expected, LinkedIn Learning focuses on professional development. If you’re willing to pay for some of the courses, then LinkedIn Learning is one of the best online learning platforms for business.

LinkedIn Learning is great as it allows you to learn on your own time by watching bite-sized videos or taking more advanced courses with additional content. You also get the chance to receive a certificate that’s added to your LinkedIn profile, making you more valuable in the eyes of potential employers.

Key features

  • Course recommendations — LinkedIn Learning recommends courses based on your interests from your LinkedIn profile and how you use LinkedIn Learning.
  • Learning paths — you can always use specific courses to learn and improve a specific skill or learn how to use a specific type of software, but with Learning Paths, you can choose an entire field, and LinkedIn Learning will prepare specific courses for you.
  • Certificates — the courses you complete award you with certificates that go directly on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Courses created by industry experts — most courses on LinkedIn Learning are created by industry experts, making them highly valuable for all professionals.

Plans and pricing

LinkedIn Learning offers plenty of free courses, but if you want high-quality ones and advanced features like Learning Paths, you will have to pay a subscription fee. The premium version of the plan can be paid for either on a monthly or yearly basis, but you can always get a 1-month free trial.

Monthly plan
$29.99 per month.

The premium plan gives you complete access to all courses and gives you a bunch of advanced features like exercise files, quizzes, downloadable content, personal recommendations, and more.

Annual plan
$19.99 per month, but paid annually.

The annual plan is the same as the monthly plan, only 33% cheaper as you pay for it annually.

8. Udacity — Get highly-valued tech degrees

Udacity homepage

Udacity is an online learning platform that focuses on providing people with the best ways to master the exact skills today’s tech companies want in their employees.

The very name of the platform evokes audaciousness, and that’s precisely what it wants for people using the platform. The company behind Udacity was audacious on its own and the very first class it launched back in 2011 was extremely successful. The platform advanced quickly after that, and today it’s one of the biggest online learning platforms in the tech niche.

Udacity doesn’t offer accredited courses, but they do partner with leading tech companies and offer full courses that last for several months. They award you certificates that are valued by most tech corporations.

The platform has around 200+ free courses and Nanodegrees. The latter is more complex and offer complete programs that will enable you to master a specific skill. Each of these Nanodegrees has its own cost, which you can pay for immediately or in monthly installments.

Key features

  • High-quality curriculum — the courses, especially the Nanodegrees offered at Udacity, are full courses that will grant you diplomas valued by the leading tech companies.
  • Constant feedback — you can get feedback from mentors 24/7 on how you’re advancing or ask questions on how to improve or learn something new.
  • Active learning — courses are designed in a way that promotes active learning, which means that you get hands-on experience in real-world projects.
  • Customizable schedule — even though Udacity offers complete courses that last around 10 hours per week, you are still able to learn whenever it suits you.

Plans and pricing

Udacity operates on a model where each course is unique with its own pricing requirement. However, registration on the site is entirely free. The site offers programs for both individuals and enterprises.

Free courses
Free of charge.

Some courses at Udacity are entirely free of charge, but they do not offer a certificate like the paid ones.

Nanodegrees
Usually $399 per month.

Each Nanodegree has its own pricing that ranges anywhere from $700 to over $2,000 for the entire course. You can also pay the fees in monthly installments.

9. FutureLearn — Finish accredited certification courses

FutureLearn homepage

FutureLearn enables you to learn new skills through courses made by the top educators in their fields.

FutureLearn excels in just how many high quality online degrees it offers and more importantly, how many free certification courses it hosts. The platform has more than 2,400 courses in total, and all of them are highly detailed and worthwhile.

FutureLearn only offers fully-accredited courses, degrees, and mico-credential programs. At the moment, they partner with more than 170 top institutions and have over 10 million learners.

It’s important to note that every course on FutureLearn is made by universities, not individual teachers, which means that these courses are of the highest quality. Plus, it makes them valuable if you want to prove your worth to potential employers.

Key features

  • Flexible online courses made by universities — the main thing that separates FutureLearn from many other platforms is the fact that their online courses are only made by top universities and educators.
  • Accredited certifications — as the courses are made by universities, all of them award you with accredited certifications upon course completion.
  • Both short courses and online degrees available — even though the platform focuses on offering accredited programs and courses, it still has many short courses that can help you to develop skills quickly.

Plans and pricing

FutureLearn has a mixture of plans and pricing based on a course by course basis. You can choose courses in Healthcare & Medicine, History, Law, Business and Management, Teaching, and more. You can also use FutureLearn as a Learner or as an Employer.

Free courses
Free of charge.

Almost all courses at FutureLearn can be audited for free, but you can’t receive certifications.

Paid courses
From $39 to $400, depending on the course.

Regular courses and subsequent certificates for completion cost from $39 to $99, but the premium courses cost between $100 and $400. The price depends largely on the difficulty and length of the course.

Microcredential programs
Starting from $600 per program.

FutureLearn offers a total of 32 micro-credential programs, all of which are a lot more complex than regular courses, and lead to valuable certifications.

Online degrees
Each program costs a few thousand dollars per year.

You can also enroll in full programs at FutureLearn and earn online degrees and BAs just as you would in a real-world university. All programs are accredited.

Unlimited plan
$259.99 per year.

The unlimited plan unlocks all online short courses FutureLearn has in its library. However, the plan doesn’t include premium courses, micro-credentials, and online degrees.

10. edX — Study high-quality academic content

edX homepage

edX is an open-source platform with a massive portfolio of over 3,200 high education courses and full programs in numerous sciences.

What makes edX stand out is the fact that they are a non-profit that uses an open-source platform to enable developers to create and test their modules. On top of that, it was created by faculty from MIT and Harvard, which is precisely why it excels at academics.

You can choose from numerous courses in the science field as this is the niche edX mostly focuses on. However, language, humanities, engineering, and business management are also available at edX.

The courses at edX are all at the university level, made by top educators, and they all offer a valuable certificate upon completion. All of this makes the platform perfect for students looking to jump-start their professional careers.

Key features

  • Video lecturing via YouTube — the platform enables you to learn through videos that are also available for download.
  • Master’s Degree and MicroMasters program — the two options allow students to get real academic credit at a wide variety of U.S universities.
  • Exclusive MIT courses — you won’t be able to find the MIT classes on edX anywhere else, so it’s a must for anyone interested in MIT programs.
  • Accredited courses from 140 institutions — some leading institutions like Berkeley, Boston University, Harvard, and MIT all have courses at edX.

Plans and pricing

edX is a platform that hosts courses from universities, so every program has its own pricing depending on its complexity and length.

Free courses
Free of charge.

edX offers one of the largest catalogs of free courses that you can use completely for free. In essence, every course can be taken for free, but you can’t get a certificate unless you pay. To take a course for free, you need to select Audit This Course.

Paid courses
The price depends on the course and ranges between $50 and $300.

The contents of the paid and free courses are essentially the same, the only difference being that when you pay for the course, you receive unlimited access and a certificate if you pass the exam.

Master’s Degrees
The price depends on the program and ranges between $9,000 and $26,000.

Master’s degrees are online equivalents of real-world Master’s degrees and carry the same value. You can choose from a total of 13 Masters programs.

How to choose the right online learning platform

Having plenty of choices can be both a good and a bad thing. With so many good platforms to choose from, the type of online learning platform that’s best for you ultimately depends on what you expect from your online program. To help you make up your mind, here are a few points worth considering:

Know your needs and goals

The first thing you need to determine is what you want to achieve by attending a course. Do you want to become a Google certified expert? Are you just trying to give yourself that professional boost you need, without investing too much time or money? Perhaps you just want to learn a new skill, like sewing or origami? Whatever it is, first you need to determine your exact goals, and only then can you choose the platform that’s best for you.

Consider your budget

As you’ve probably noticed by now, most learning platforms offer a wide variety of pricing plans, some of which can be quite high for some people. That’s why you must consider what kind of budget you’re willing to spend on online education, and then go from there in selecting the option that’s best for you.

Determine your schedule

Just like any other education, online learning requires time and dedication. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy or quick. While it does save you quite a lot of time that you would have otherwise spent commuting, you still have to invest time and energy. Some courses take a few hours to complete, while others last for months. Make sure you plan your schedule accordingly and set aside enough time for learning.

Naturally, many courses can be taken whenever it suits you, which is one of the main benefits of online learning. However, many platforms here work on a subscription model, so you still have to finish the courses in due time if you don’t want to spend money on courses you’re barely taking.

Best of the best

All of the learning platforms on my list are worth considering. It all comes down to your specific needs and expectations. With that mind, I’ve chosen the best one for each of the following categories: free, for students, for businesses, and for coding.

Best free online learning platform

Several online learning platforms on my list offer free courses, but we still have to pick the very best free platform. We all love free stuff, especially free courses that provide us with valuable skills, but only one platform truly excels in this respect — Coursera.

Coursera – Free plan

Coursera’s free plan is the best of the best as it essentially offers free access to almost every course. All you need is a verified student email from your university and you can access the whole library for free and enroll in courses for free as well. With more than 3,900 courses to choose from, Coursera is hard to beat.

Best online learning platform for students

In essence, every learning platform is suitable for students. However, many of them don’t offer the real learning experience that you can get at a university. Plus, not every platform provides you with the practical knowledge that employers want from candidates. Out of all of the platforms I’ve reviewed, only one is truly the best online learning platform for students — Udemy.

Udemy – Free/Price starts at $25

Udemy is definitely the platform with the largest library of courses. It has over 150,000 courses on the site, all of which are fairly affordable. Besides the low prices, the courses are very well structured, easy to follow and you can finish them quite quickly, unlike on some other learning platforms. On top of that, the courses cover a massive range of subjects and they can be accessed and used on smartphones, both iOS, and Android.

Best online learning platform for businesses

Businesses often use learning platforms as they are a perfect way to secure joint training on a specific subject for their employees. It’s easy, and often inexpensive, compared to what you’d need in-house to achieve the same effect. A few platforms on my list are perfect for organizations, but only one truly excels — LinkedIn Learning.

LinkedIn Learning – Price starts at $19.99 if you chose the annual plan

LinkedIn is the biggest platform for professionals, one that essentially has a monopoly on this area. Thus, it stands to reason that their education platform would be excellent as well. It truly excels for businesses as you can choose from a wide variety of expert-led courses that are specifically designed for teams and organizations. What’s more, the prices are affordable, which is not always the case with other learning platforms for businesses.

Best online learning platform for coding

One of the most futureproof professions people want to get into today is coding. If you’re proficient in one of the widely used programming languages, it almost goes without saying you will be employable for years to come. However, coding is not easy to learn, no matter the language in question. Only one platform makes coding easy and leads to full careers — Codecademy.

Codecademy – Free/Price starts at $19.99 a month if paid annually

Codecademy is perfect for coders as it covers all programming languages and offers easy-to-follow courses designed by experts. Many courses cover all of the basics which anyone can finish, but it also has advanced programs that enable you to fully master a language.

On top of that, if you opt for a paid membership, you can get accredited certificates, constant feedback from experts, participation in real-life projects where you can test your newly-acquired knowledge, and more.

FAQs

What is an online learning platform?

An online learning platform is an online portal packed with educational content for learners and trainers. An online learning platform can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to achieve your professional or personal goals.

What are the advantages of learning online?

The main advantages of online learning are flexibility, self-paced learning, communication with educators, improved time management, affordability, and access to some of the best courses in the world from the comfort of your home.

Which is the most popular online learning platform?

It’s not easy to determine which is the single most popular learning platform in the world, as there are a few that are massively popular, all of which are on my list. The ones I would single out are Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning.

What is the refund policy of an online learning platform?

This completely depends on the platform. A few don’t offer refund policies, but most have a cancellation period of 14 days or more.

What kind of internet connection do you need to learn online?

Most online learning platforms require you to have the basic DSL or cellular connection that’s as low as 1.5 Mbps. Naturally, the experience will be much better if your connection is faster than that, especially for video courses.

Conclusion

As Isaac Asimov once famously put it: “Education isn’t something you can finish.”

Learning is necessary if you want to have a successful future career, are looking to advance your existing one, or simply want to learn a new skill. My list includes the best platforms to achieve precisely that, as well as websites that offer you quick courses that can teach you a specific skill you might feel is lacking in your life.

I made sure to cover everyone’s needs and to include only the very best online learning platforms in the world. Pick one and start learning!

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