Best Online Learning Platforms to Learn Skills Employers Need
Based on the idea that anyone can learn, from wherever they choose, whenever they want – online learning platforms assist users in their academic or professional endeavors without charging an arm and a leg for imparting education and/or training.
However, the number of platforms offering these services has skyrocketed, making the process of selecting a particular provider, a tedious one. Thus, here is a list of 25 of the best online learning platforms to help make your decision both easier and well-informed.
Best Online Learning Platforms 2021 – Top Picks
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Hosting one of the largest collections of online courses on the internet, Udemy has topics ranging from software development, finance to business and even health, art or personal development.
Since the content on Udemy can be created by anyone who is willing to put in the effort of preparing the material, the quality does tend to vary with each class. However, the website features a full virtual classroom system design, making it very easy for students to interact with their instructor and other students and get any assistance they may require.
This is one of the best online learning platforms for business, general skill development or to test eLearning at all. You can enroll in individual classes starting from $11.99. No subscription is needed. There are also free tutorials available.
Udacity offers a wide variety of classes to choose from but maintains a focus on development, artificial intelligence and programming courses above all else. It is a unique online learning platform based on their belief that classes should be created by the people who are offering jobs to candidates with that skillset.
Hence, every bit of knowledge imparted at Udacity is supported and provided by collaborations between industry giants such as Google or Uber. Udacity courses are structured into programs called nanodegrees and require a monthly subscription fee to gain unfettered access to all the course material.
Additionally, such is their confidence in these learning methods that they offer a premium plan that guarantees a job in your chosen field within 6 months of completion, failing which you can claim a full refund. They are one of the best online learning platforms for business and technology skills development and offer online degrees that are widely recognized.
Relying on the community to contribute to both the learning and teaching aspects of education, Skillshare is a unique online learning platform compared to its peers.
Since they host a variety of classes, ranging from cooking, creativity and design to web development and business, Skillshare makes sure that almost all passions are covered.
One of the best features of this online learning platform is the fact that all material is structured into bite-sized content, which somewhat alleviates the common problem of monotony that students enrolled in classes tend to complain about.
Again this is an all-in-one service, however, the annual fee is very affordable starting from $99/year. If you aim to develop your creative skillset, this is one of the best online learning platforms out there. A free trial is available to test it out.
MasterClass is one of the best online learning platforms for those who wish to tap into the knowledge, mindset, and wisdom of the people that belong to the best in their fields or have achieved impressive results in their area of expertise. If you love reading biographies, then MasterClass offers the visual equivalent to it.
Launched in 2015, MasterClass now hosts 100+ instructors covering a wide range of subjects from business, science, and entertainment, to food, arts, sports, and design. Want to learn cooking with Gordon Ramsay, filmmaking with James Cameron, or photography with Annie Leibovitz? That’s all possible. There is an excellent selection of some of the world’s most influential thinkers and voices available on the platform.
Membership starts from $15/month and gives learners unlimited access to all 100+ classes. New courses are added every month. If you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, and motivation to unlock and develop your potential, this is one of the best online learning platforms worth considering.
5. LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning takes a different approach to self-paced learning, preferring to allow industry professionals to conduct courses on their platform. Moreover, they are relatively shorter courses and are aimed at students who want to gain quick working knowledge of a particular skill.
They house a wide variety of classes in several fields, specifically – web development, programming, business, photography and design. Those interested in switching or starting careers can also sign up for learning paths that consist of several classes and programs.
This platform works on a subscription-based model starting at $17.99/month. Watch as many classes as you want. It is possible to purchase individual courses though it would be more expensive when planning to take more than just one class.
Domestika is among the fastest-growing online learning platforms for building creative skills. Each course is curated with recognized experts in the creative industry, teaching what they do best with clear guidelines, genuine passion, and professional insight in every lesson.
With production studios dotted across major international cities, they provide students with high-quality courses produced in-house by Domestika. There’s a wide range of subjects like photography, graphic design, marketing, writing, crafts, architecture, and much more.
Contrary to other best online learning platforms, Domestika is not subscription-based. Users pay a one-time fee per course ($11–$19) that includes a signed certificate upon completion. Participation in the community is free, with access to high-quality content on their blog, weekly Lives, and interviews with creative legends in their “Maestros” series.
Level: Beginner, Intermediates, Advanced | Rating: 4.8 ★★★★★
Info: $11-$19 per course. Visit website.
Coursera comprises of a collection of courses that are produced, sponsored, and posted by renowned colleges from all over the world. These classes are aimed at students who wish to gain access to resources and material from universities without having to bear the exorbitant expenses that are usually bundled with a college.
Although this online learning platform is not yet a replacement for college classes, it is an excellent tool for gaining new knowledge or even supplementing your pre-existing knowledge. Coursera offers individual courses and learning paths, whereas students can usually enroll for free. Recognized professional certificates are available for a fee.
Pluralsight provides individuals as well as businesses with courses in technology, design, and business. All their courses are arranged into paths by experts, taking the guesswork out of learning.
This approach ensures that anyone choosing to go down a certain path will gain considerable insight into the subject. It is aimed at both businesses and individuals who want to keep abreast of the latest technologies or learn a completely new skill/technology.
This platform is slightly pricier than other ones with subscriptions starting from $29/month or $299/year. However, many students say it is worth the money due to the in-depth quality of content and learning options.
Brilliant is a popular online learning platform and app that offers STEM-based online courses. The primary learning goal is to build critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills through hands-on puzzles and interactive lessons and exercises.
More than 9 million students have joined Brilliant so far to advance their skills in mathematics, science, computer science, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability, scientific thinking, physics, mechanics, and even artificial neural networks.
Brilliant is certainly one of the best online learning platforms to build STEM and critical thinking skills. The platform’s mission is to encourage learners to experiment and make mistakes and thus understand STEM topics from the bottom up. Premium membership gives you access to 60+ courses.
Level: All. Age 10-100. | Rating: 4.8 ★★★★★
Info: from $12.99/month. Visit website.
GoSkills provides online business training for individuals, freelancers, professionals and corporate employees alike. Similar to other best online learning platforms in this field, GoSkills structures a class using short, catchy and engaging video lectures that deliver relevant skills and knowledge in easy-to-digest chunks. This way students can effectively implement learning into their busy work and project schedules.
What can you learn? The type of skills to gain ranges from Microsoft Office, finance, project management and office productivity skills to design, web development, and soft skills such as writing, public speaking, body language sales and team leadership.
This is a compact online learning platform to learn relevant business skills with in-house certification. Learn at your own pace and access content via desktop or mobile devices. Subscription plans start from $29/month or $199/year. A free trial is available.
Level: Beginners, Intermediates, Advanced | User Rating: 4.8 ★★★★★
Info: Free 7-days trial. Visit website. | Subscriptions: Monthly $29. Annually $199.
EdX was founded by two of the most renowned institutions in the world – Harvard University and MIT, in 2012. All the courses in EdX are highly intuitive and put together by educators with a wealth of experience in their fields as well as teaching.
Moreover, EdX is known for its ‘MicroMasters’ programs that offer graduate-level education to their students. Additionally, you can pay for a certificate that showcases and verifies your knowledge on the successful completion of the class. They offer a great variety, diversity, and skill level. One of the best online learning platforms for advanced learners.
Level: Beginners, Intermediates, Advanced | User Rating: 4.7 ★★★★☆
Learning Resources: Review of Best edX Courses
DataCamp is one of the best online learning platforms if you want to learn web development skills and eye a career in technology. It targets a similar audience as Pluralsight and Udacity by offering education to learn programming languages and data analysis to land a job, for example, in data science or as a business analyst.
The catalog offers hundreds of courses that can be taken individually. However, students get the biggest benefits from enrolling in so-called SkillTracks that will teach a skill from A to Z and issue a certificate that is likely to be recognized by potential employers.
Many companies are signed up with this platform to educate further their employees such as Google, Uber, Intel or PayPal to name a few. The instructors are all experts from many fields in technology, data science, business, and academia which builds the trust many have in this online learning platform.
Level: Beginners to Advanced | User Rating: 4.8 ★★★★★
Read more: Review of Best DataCamp Courses.
TreeHouse specializes in content based on imparting knowledge related to programming and development. Each course in their library is carefully curated with the aim of assuring every student a quality learning experience.
Moreover, these classes are created by in-house experts that are hired specifically for this task, alleviating the overall quality of these courses compared to the ones on online learning platforms that encourage everyone to become instructors and impart knowledge. In addition to this, these classes feature frequent quizzes and tests that allow you to keep track of your learning progress.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate | Rating: 4.6 ★★★★☆
14. Khan Academy
Although it started out as a platform for students to study subjects such as Mathematics and Science for school, they have recently branched out into more advanced and college-level topics. They excel in teaching science, mathematics, and computer science as each of their courses are taught by subject experts, vetted and hired by them after careful consideration.
Moreover, this MOOC platform is completely free-to-use and thousands of students who cannot afford to pay other platforms have flocked here to receive training and education in various fields. It is one of the best online learning platforms to receive free education.
Level: Beginner to Advanced | Rating: 4.7 ★★★★☆
Reading: Best Khan Academy Courses
However, the absence of any guidance on what course to take might hinder your learning experience as all the content is available for free and can be taken at will. However, having prior basic knowledge about the subject in question will make your time as a student on SitePoint more fruitful.
Level: Intermediate to Advanced | Rating: 4.5 ★★★★☆
Featuring basic to advanced level web technologies, Thinkful guarantees that you’ll be offered a job after completing their unique 1-on-1 mentorship program. Although this is one of the priciest online learning platforms on the market, their methods have been proven to work with countless raving reviews by former students. The mentorship style of teaching ensures that each student is able to keep abreast of the teaching material with the ability to clear doubts and get tips from people who have been in the field for years.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate | Rating: 4.5 ★★★★☆
17. General Assembly
General Assembly offers courses online and in-person in 15 locations across the world. Their classes are, as past students say, highly intuitive. Course topics include web development, mobile development, product management and data sciences. Moreover, they boast of partnerships with several well-known companies, which help students in landing new job opportunities. Even though their focus remains on individuals and college students, General Assembly also provides a corporate training scheme for businesses that want to conduct in-depth training for their staff and employees.
Level: Beginner to Advanced | Rating: 4.5 ★★★★☆
Another novel idea in the online learning market, FutureLearn offers students to choose from a variety of courses provided by renowned universities around the world. Students can take their time and study the subject of their choice at their own pace.
Additionally, a certificate of completion is available for purchase after finishing the course material. FutureLearn aims to emulate an open university that provides access to online classes in various fields ranging from Business Management to Literature. It is one of the most recognized and top-rated online learning platforms in the UK.
Level: Intermediate to Advanced | Rating: 4.5 ★★★★☆
Info: Best FutureLearn courses.
Featuring one of the largest varieties of courses on the internet, Alison encourages established publishers to produce free content for courses on their website. Popular fields of study on Alison include programming, career development and engineering. Moreover, they also offer diploma programs that offer detailed instruction and training in professional subjects such as project management, entrepreneurship, web design, etc.
Level: Beginner to Advanced | Rating: 4.6 ★★★★☆
Info: Best Alison courses.
OpenLearning is an online learning platform offering educational and developmental courses to individuals as well as corporations. Featuring subjects as basic as ‘How to set up an online course of your own’ to advanced computing topics such as Big Data and Cyber Security, OpenLearning caters to individuals and corporations of any skill level. However, since OpemLearning allows anyone to post content on their online learning platforms this might lead to quality issues in a few classes.
Level: Beginner to Advanced | User Rating: 4.4 ★★★★☆
Ed2Go provides career training and vocational training for individuals who are looking to expand their skillsets. They offer courses in two formats – Online Career Training and Classes. Online classes are time-bound classes with regular classes at specific time slots, while Online Career Training is a self-paced mode of study. Moreover, they cover a variety of fields such as business and programming.
Level: Beginner to Advanced | Rating: 4.4 ★★★★☆
Providing courses in a blueprint format that maps out the exact knowledge needed to pursue a specific career, SkillCrush focuses on transforming a student into job-ready professionals who add value to their work environment. It is a great online learning platform for professionals who wish to switch their focus or skillset as all instructions start from basic concepts.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate | Rating: 4.4 ★★★★☆
Two of the most popular problems reported by students who are enrolled in online courses is boredom, closely followed by a lack of motivation. Codecademy takes a unique approach for teaching (mainly programming languages) their students by structuring material in the form of challenges and games. This has proven to be an effective method of teaching with testimonials reflecting their success. Codecademy is still one of the most popular and best online learning platforms to learn to code.
Level: Beginner to Intermediate | Rating: 4.6 ★★★★☆
Info: Review of best codecademy courses.
Started by one of the most renowned universities in the world, Stanford Online is one of the best online learning platforms out there. Instead of relying on outside help, courses on this platform are created by Stanford’s own respected faculty who offer a wealth of experience and insight into the subject at hand. Covering a wide variety of subjects, Stanford Online is a great place to gain new knowledge or even learn advanced topics to further your pre-existing awareness.
Level: Intermediate to Advanced | Rating: 4.8 ★★★★★
25. MIT Video
MIT Video aggregates and curates the video content produced by the departments of this prestigious institution. It made it on our list of best online learning platforms as it provides past and current courses taught at the university as free learning resources so that students around the world can experience and widen their educational horizons.
Most of the content here is based on advanced engineering topics, ranging from undergraduate to graduate-level courses in biology, chemistry, physics, computing, etc.
Level: Intermediate to Advanced | Rating: 4.8 ★★★★★
Other best online learning platforms
- Shaw Academy
- Canvas Network
- Google Classroom
- Cognitive Class
Online Learning Platforms 2021 – Summary
Wrapping up our tour of the best online learning platforms. Online education has morphed into a viable option in the past decade and an increasing number of people are turning towards these online learning platforms for education instead of costly and traditional college programs.
However, the vast number of online learning platforms sprouting up all over the internet have made it impossible to select a specific provider as the absolute best or worst.
Nonetheless, assessing your requirements, current skill levels and end goals in conjunction with going over the overviews of each platform should help you decide the option that will most further your education, career or business.
Best Online Learning Platforms 2021
- LinkedIn Learning
- Khan Academy
- General Assembly
- MIT Video
What is an online learning platform?
An online learning platform is an interactive system of learning resources and courses that allows students to learn the skills they need to land a new job, change careers, advance existing skills, or get professional certification. They commonly offer video lectures, assignments, exercises, capstone projects, and discussion forums to facilitate the virtual learning experience. There are free and paid resources available.
What are MOOCs? (Massive Open Online Courses)
MOOC is the acronym and stands for massive open online courses that allow an unlimited number of participants to enroll in interactive online classes and access lectures, materials, resources, discussions, forums, and exercises. It’s the most common type of distance learning and education.
What is an online course platform?
An online course platform provides the tools and resources for teachers and instructors to create, host, manage and sell online classes. Thinkific, Wiziq, LearnWorlds, Kajabi, LearnDash or Teachable are a few popular platforms in this field.
What is the difference between online learning platforms and online course platforms?
Online learning platforms provide recourses and material for students to learn a new skill, get a certification, or upgrade existing knowledge. A course platform allows to create and manage those classes. One takes the learner’s perspective, the other the instructor’s. However, some platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare, or LinkedIn offer both options.
What are the best online learning platforms 2021 in your opinion? Which providers can you recommend? How do you research and manage your online learning resources? We look forward to hearing from you.