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Top 10 Online Learning Platforms

Online learning platforms are something that you may or may not be familiar with at this point. They are a great way to incorporate your education flexibly into your life, as they are not bound by the same location or schedule constraints as in-person learning. If you aren’t familiar with them, allow us to introduce you. If you are familiar with them, but don’t know how to pick the right one for you, let us help you with that too! 

How they work

Most students, from kindergarten through college, have some experience with online learning by now. Whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or just the nature of online college degrees becoming more common, online learning is common. Even before the pandemic, companies were on to the appeal of online, self-paced learning. 

Breaking it down

The platforms we will discuss in this article include some of the most commonly known online platforms as well as a few lesser known ones. Typically, these websites require you to subscribe to a monthly plan or by individual classes. You then are able to complete them at your pace. Depending on which platform you choose, you might receive an official certificate of completion which can be added to a resume. 

Each individual platform works slightly differently. We’ve laid out some of the major details of each ahead to help you choose what is best for you!

Also see: Top scholarships for online students

Top 10 online learning platforms

1. Coursera

Coursera was founded by two professors whose goal was to provide quality classes where people can learn from qualified instructors. Whether you’re looking to work towards an accredited degree, or just want to take one class for the fun of it, Coursera has you covered!

  • Price: Varies. Some classes are made available for free, paid courses are also available, along with paid certificate programs. Free seven day trial offered with subscription
  • Certifications: Yes, Coursera offers you the ability to receive certifications for completed courses
  • Best Uses: Coursera is a great option for anyone looking to dip their toe back in the learning pond! They have a variety of stand-alone courses and certificate programs to browse

Further reading: Guide to coursera scholarships & financial aid

2. Udemy

For the widest range of course options, from sports to IT, Udemy is the place to go! With over 183,000 courses, everyone is sure to find something that interests them. Because Udemy has over 65,000 instructors, each course will be slightly different than the next. In addition, they also offer courses in various languages.

  • Price: Each course has its own price, starting at $14.99 and going up from there 
  • Certificates: Some certificates are available, but will vary by course
  • Best Uses: Single class use at a time

3. Brilliant.org

For those who are looking for a learning platform that specializes in STEM topics, look no further! Brilliant.org is dedicated to helping people of any age learn all levels of math and science. But that’s not where it stops, as they also offer courses in coding, engineering, software development, and logic.

  • Price: monthly subscription starting at $12.49
  • Certifications: Unfortunately certifications are not available
  • Best Uses: Beginner through advanced math and science related courses

4. Masterclass

Masterclass has certainly become one of the more well-known learning platforms over the past several years. They offer over 80 courses taught by experts in their fields.. You can learn about songwriting with John Legend or learn to cook with Gordon Ramsay! Choose from any of their nine categories of classes to start your personal development journey. 

  • Price: Individual monthly subscription starting at $10/month, family and duo options available as well 
  • Certifications: Masterclass does not offer certifications 
  • Best Uses: Masterclass is best for specific topics that you want to learn more about. They focus on teaching classes that are less based in academics and more centered on personal development

5. Udacity

Udacity is a little different than some of the other learning platforms in this article. They focus on teaching web development, programming and data science. What they don’t focus on is teaching it all in one concise class. They offer users the chance to receive what they call “nanodegrees”, with the goal of being able to take the more intensive skills they’ve learned and bring them into the workplace. 

  • Price: single courses are free, nanodegree programs starting at $399/month
  • Certifications: Yes
  • Best Uses: Udacity is a great tool for individuals who are trying to boost their resume, learn something new or break into a new area of work. They’re courses are designed to be taken over the course of several months 

6. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn is more than just an online networking site, they’re also an online learning platform! They offer professionals the opportunity to take field related courses, which can then be added to resumes for prospective employers to view. A one month free trial is available! 

  • Price: $29.99/month or $299.88/year
  • Certifications: Yes, certifications are available upon completion of most courses 
  • Best Uses: LinkedIn Learning is best used for those who already use LinkedIn for networking and professional purposes. Their courses are a great way to make yourself stand out as a job candidate

Further reading: Top LinkedIn profile tips

7. Skillshare

Skillshare isn’t quite like the other online learning platforms in this article. It centers less around formal classes and more around helping you improve specific skills. Classes are broken down into three categories: Thrive, build and create. They are taught by skilled instructors, which includes some celebrities. 

  • Price: They offer free and paid subscriptions, $32/month or $168/yearly
  • Certifications: Skillshare does not offer certifications
  • Best Uses: Skillshare is great for those specific skills that you want to hone in on. Whether you’re looking to improve professionally or personally, they’ve got you covered!

8. EdX

EdX is the real deal. This online learning platform was founded by Harvard and MIT. So, when you take one of their college level courses, you know you’re getting the real thing. Their courses offer you access to full class materials, lecture videos and graded assignments.

  • Price: The best part of it all? You can audit their classes for free! Graded assignments and certificates of completion, however, will only be available through paid courses. Paid courses range in price from $50-$300
  • Certifications: Yes!
  • Best Uses: EdX is a great platform for most everyone to use. With their top tier classes and free audit option, you’re sure to find something you’ll love to study at no cost!

Check out: What is EdX? Everything you need to know

9. FutureLearn

FutureLearn gives you a chance to take courses from the top universities around the world in your living room. They offer courses taught by real teachers that you can ask questions and receive feedback from on assignments. 

  • Price: FutureLearn offers a multilayered pricing structure, so you can upgrade to receive things like completion certificates and what they call microcredentials. However, they do allow people to audit courses for free
  • Certifications: Yes, FutureLearn offers certifications, but not just your typical certificates of completion. They offer what’s called Microcredentials. More information about how they can help boost your resume is on their website
  • Best Uses: FutureLearn is great for a variety of users. Whether you just want to learn, without having to pay all the premium fees or you want to level up your resume, they have something for you!

10. HitRecord

And last but not least, we have HitRecord! You may be unfamiliar with this platform, but that’s okay. It’s not exactly what some would consider an online learning platform in the traditional sense. However, since the editions of what the site calls “class projects” began last year, it certainly has become a place where people can come to learn and build on their creative skills. Their site offers a place for artists to come and share their projects for others to jump in and work on with them!

  • Price: It’s all free, seriously–even their class projects!
  • Certifications: They don’t offer any certifications. Their classes are not based on completing a specific course of work, but more on you learning and growing as an individual. You certainly, however, will build up your portfolio by being a member of the community
  • Best Uses: HitRecord is for the creative side of you. Whether it’s voice acting, painting, writing or animation, they’ve got you covered with projects to jump in on!

Wrapping up

There are certainly many options to choose from when looking for online learning. While the ten online learning platforms talked about in this article certainly hold the lion’s share of the market, they’re not your only options. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of educational institutions, businesses, and gyms learned how to transfer their content online. If you want to work remotely with those who are local to you, be sure to inquire with businesses and institutions around you to see if they may be offering any online courses!

And remember, the quality of classes varies significantly even within each of these online learning platforms. Even once you find the perfect fit for you, make sure to investigate each class and program thoroughly to find the right fit for you. Best of luck!

Also see: Top scholarships for nontraditional students

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