If anything, COVID-19 simply brought the inevitable sooner than later.
And instead of refusing online as the new normal for education, it’s time to embrace it.
Whether you’re a course creator or taker, below are the best online course platforms you must know more about moving forward.
What Are Online Course Platforms?
As a type of Learning Management System (LMS), online course platforms give users access to educational materials from their computers or mobile devices. Most online courses allow their students to progress at their own pace before taking exercises and exams to complete the course.
To compensate for the lack of human touch, good online courses also provide an immersive learning experience through the use of text, videos, PDFs, audio, and others. However, not all instructors present their courses this way as the approach depends on a case-to-case basis.
Best Online Course Platforms for 2021?
A really good online course platform allows you to present materials dynamically. They also give you a chance to set up your courses on a site where people can learn more about them before signing up.
Finally, these platforms give you options on how to receive payment from course takers to help you create a self-sustaining stream of income.
That said below are online course platforms that fit the description above to a tee.
If you have a WordPress or know your way around creating websites using the CMS, it’s best to just build your online courses in it.
Learndash gives you this opportunity to set up your online business using the full features of an LMS.
Create your branded learning portal with WordPress functionalities.
Sell courses using varying payment methods (membership, onetime payment, etc.).
Set up a course marketplace like Udemy and allow people to buy licenses in bulk.
Gain full control over your members and check their respective performances.
Use the latest tech, programs (SCORM, Tin Can API), and media on your site easily.
Learndash offers three paid plans starting at $199/year for the Basic plan.
All plans have the same features (unlimited courses and users, 1-year support, drip-feed lessons, etc.). The difference is the number of sites that you can use the license on. The Basic plan only allows for a single site while the other plans (Plus at $229/year and Pro at $369/year) lets you use it on 10-25 sites. Also, the higher plans give you access to a dashboard and live activity reporting.
Best All-Inclusive Learning Platform for Professionals (from $119/month)
While most online learning platforms require you to integrate with other tools to simplify your process, Kajabi takes it to a whole new level.
It takes the best features from these tools and combines them in a single dashboard. This way, you can manage your online business in peace without the troublesome integrations.
Turn your content into high-ticket courses or subscriptions at premium prices.
Grow your email list and send them beautiful emails with built-in dynamic elements.
Create websites and pages you can easily customize to match your brand.
Develop sales funnels using custom automation triggers for greater sales.
Tag and make notes of people based on their behavior to better serve them.
Since Kajabi strives to be more than just an online learning platform, it makes it more expensive than the rest in this list. Starting at $149/month, you can create at least three products and pipelines with over 1,000 members and 10,000 contacts.
Higher plans ($199/month onwards) allow the use of its affiliate marketing and advance automation features. From here, you can also remove the Kajabi branding from all your products.
You can save up to 30% if you sign up to their annual subscriptions. All plans have a 14-day free trial to give you time to toy with it first.
The Perfect Online Learning System for Educators (from $25/month)
WizIQ works both as a platform for holding live classes online and as an LMS where you can sell online courses.
We highly recommend this for teachers looking to share their knowledge to people regardless of where they are.
Make live learning engaging with HD video conference, whiteboard, and more.
Create assessments available in different formats and put students to the test – literally!
Track the performance of students and courses or classes and look for areas of improvement.
Run and analyze your online classes and courses using its NextGen platform.
Take your class on the go with its mobile learning application.
WizIQ offers Live Classroom (starting at $25/month paid annually) and its Learning Management System (contact sales for pricing).
The former is ideal for people who want to deliver live classes from their existing site through API. Under this option, there are three plans to choose from. All give you access to screen sharing, whiteboard, content library, and a maximum of two hours for the video, among others.
The LMS option is best-suited for people looking to launch online courses.
There are two plans to choose from. Both have basic features such as integrated payment gateways, discussion forum, conditional access to content, and others.
Shaw Academy is one of the primary beneficiaries of the online course boom in 2020. But despite its surging popularity for its fine collection of courses, its reputation took a hit because of billing issues and poor customer support.
Easy-to-digest training materials, even for complex topics.
Lots of courses to choose from over a variety of subjects.
Arguably the most popular online learning platform in this list, Udemy is home for over 130,000 courses that range across different topics under the sun.
By signing up, expect to learn from top instructors in their respective fields in easy-to-understand courses. If you run an orgnaization, the Udemy for Business grants you access to the top exclusive learning materials that will help you get to the top.
Wide variety of courses specific to your niche that you can take at your own pace.
The presentation of the course and its sleek video player make learning more conducive.
Inaccurate course ratings – just because a course has lots of 5-star reviews, doesn’t mean it’s good.
Low barrier of entry for instructors, which lends to subpar courses.
As a low-cost online learning platform, you will have to dig deep to find diamonds in the rough with Udemy.
As the top social networking site for professionals, it only makes sense for LinkedIn to launch its own learning platform.
The result is a very concentrated but slowly growing collecting of courses from specific topics. Despite its limited coverage, LinkedIn Learning is an excellent choice for people who want to acquire skills that can help them level up their game at work.
Enjoy access to Linked Premium features to help apply your newly acquired skills in the site’s job network.
Intuitive interface that lets you set goals, read the video transcripts, and check the course’s interactive Q&A.
Courses are not accredited educational materials. This means students can’t transfer the credits earned from finishing the course to a university certificate.
Static delivery of course content – only limited to text and video.
LinkedIn Learning is a great source of insightful job-related courses to help you move up the ranks.
If you want to refine your existing skills or learn a new one, take courses that grant certifications as proof of completion and offer transferable credits to accredited institutions (but only if you’re currently enrolled in degree programs).
In this case, Coursera checks both boxes and then some. The platform is the place to find free and premium courses taught by top experts from the best universities and companies in the world.
Enroll to and audit premium courses at no cost to you.
Hundreds and thousands of course takers to reach out to for networking opportunities.
Little to non-existent interaction with instructors for collecting feedback, making the training too sterile.
Lacking in customer service and not enough online resources that answer concerns related to the platform.
In this day and age, online teaching and learning is the way to go. Even better, each platform caters to people with different wants and needs.
Thanks to the variety of online course and learning platforms available, there’s something for everyone. Based on the description for each tool above, decide which one is going to either help you sell courses effectively or gain new skills to move up the professional ladder.
Regarding the latter, Coursera seems to be the most logical destination for finding courses to take or audit for free. There’s also an option to pay and earn credits plus certification after finishing it.
But if you’re in the business of creating info products, Thinkific is the best place to start. It provides you with all the tools to set up, launch, and earn money from your courses.
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At Findstack.com, our research is meant to offer general software recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.