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    Top 10 Online Learning Platforms

    By Cait Williams

    Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: June 4th, 2024
    Top 10 Online Learning Platforms

    Online learning platforms 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 becoming increasingly popular. 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 even 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 200,000 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: Monthly subscriptions available starting around $20 and going up from there. Group subscriptions are also available 
    • Certificates: Some certificates are available, but only through paid approved courses
    • Best Uses: Single class use at a time for individuals, or for teams

    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 $13.49
    • 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 200+ courses taught by experts in their fields. If you’re just looking to brush up on your cooking knowledge, or explore a new topic quickly to see if it interests you, this site is for you! 

    • 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 those who just want to have fun or learn more about a specific topic. They focus on teaching classes that are less based in academics and more centered on personal development and interests

    5. Khan Academy

    Khan Academy acts like a tutor to help you through classes you’re already in. Rather than studying brand new topics, you’ll likely use this site to help you through courses you’re already in. They offer resources for those from kindergarten to college. This platform is definitely geared more towards school related topics like math, science, and language arts, as well as AP topics!

    • Price: The best part of this platform is that it’s entirely free
    • Certifications: Certificates are not really a part of Khan Academy’s platform
    • Best Uses: Khan academy is best used by students in kindergarten through high school who need extra support with their coursework

    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. What sets this platform apart though, is how their plans work. Linked in offers plans for 2-20 users, or 21+ users, making this a great platform for companies or groups of individuals looking to kickstart their learning together!

    • Price: 2-20 person plans are around $379 per person, 21+ groups must contact them for pricing
    • 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, and are working to learn with a group of people, rather than as an individual

    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. They also offer great options for those who would like to learn in teams!

    • Price: They offer a free trial membership and monthly or yearly memberships after that. Prices have varied, so check their website for the most accurate information
    • 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 starting at no cost!

    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 for up to five weeks.
    • 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. Udacity

    Udacity is an online learning website that focuses on tech-related subjects to help users get employed or promoted in the industry. The site was founded by two Harvard instructors who decided to provide their “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course online for free. The course had over 160,000 students around the world enroll, and Udacity was born from there. 

    • Price: A one month Udacity subscription costs $249.00, but students can save 15% by paying for a four-month subscription in advance for $846. The annual subscription costs $2,390 and includes a seven-day free trial.
    • Certifications: All graduates of any paid content on Udacity receive a certificate. Free Udacity courses do not offer a certificate. Free courses are available for students to learn or study on their own, but are not a complete program.
    • Best Uses: Participating in a paid program or nanodegree on Udacity earn students a certificate that they can use to verify their skills and knowledge. This could give them an advantage in the job search. The free courses on the platform allow students to study and learn new skills on their own. This can benefit users’ professional life by giving them more knowledge of the industry or sharpening the skills they already have.

    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. 

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

    Also see: Top scholarships for nontraditional students

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    Frequently asked questions about online learning platforms

    What is the biggest problem with online learning?

    Online learning isn’t for everyone, which means for some people, no matter how great the platform is, it may not work for some students. Aside from that though, the downfalls of online learning can often be the extra level of dedication they require and the lack of hands-on learning. For some classes hands on learning won’t be something that’s needed, but for others it may be a key component that doesn’t transfer well to an online platform. With these things in mind though, don’t write off online classes and learning platforms until you’ve given them a fair shot. They certainly can be a fantastic resource!

    What is the best app for online learning?

    Most, but not all, of the platforms we mentioned in this article have an app. If being able to learn from your phone is an important factor to you, we suggest you look into each platform’s app before making any sort of monthly or yearly subscription commitment. Some apps may be more developed than others, so it may be a good thing to consider when choosing which one you’d like to start learning from.

    What is the role of an online learning platform?

    Online learning platforms serve many roles. Some are there to help you expand your resume, others are designed for larger groups such as companies to provide education to employees, and some are just there to help you have fun and grow in your hobbies! There are lots of options out there, so you can decide how much you want to spend and what your goals are and then find a platform that fits your needs!

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