In this article you'll find the 44 best online course platforms on the market, fully ranked and reviewed plus recommendations to find out which one is best suited to your needs.
But first, here are our editor's top 10 course creation platforms:
Top 10 Online Course Platforms of 2022
Disclosure: Although I receive affiliate compensation at no additional cost to you to support this site that compensation in no way influences my recommendations, which are strictly informed by my 10+ years of online business experience consulting for clients large and small. My aim is to always recommend tools that offer the best return for your investment (for more details, read my Affiliate Disclosure).
What Are the Best Online Course Platforms?
Online course platforms are one of the fastest growing segments for internet-based income generation since they allow people to learn new information and skills at their own pace from the comfort of their own homes.
Online courses can be delivered in full or dripped over time, creating a nice stream of recurring revenue via monthly memberships or subscriptions.
As an online instructor, the type of features you’re looking for from online course creation software platforms are attractive templates, email marketing integration and upselling options with a built-in payment processor.
Now, when it comes to monetization, there are two main options you need to consider.
The first option involves hosting your courses in the cloud, in which case you'll be uploading your content to cloud-based online course platforms that operate independently from your website.
The second option involves uploading WordPress plugins that add all of the required course functionality right on your own website.
Both have pros and cons, as you’ll learn in our recommendations below:
Best Overall Online Course Platform:
Ideal for: Teachers and coaches
Incentives: 20% off yearly plans
Best Feature: Generous customization options
Ideal for: Teachers and coaches
Incentives: 20% off yearly plans
Best Feature: Generous customization options
Key Decision-Making Factors
Key Decision-Making Factors
Ease of use
Ease of use
Thinkific is the best course platform overall because if offers a full-featured suite with a truly usable free plan that can be taken advantage of long term without being forced into an upgrade path.
Their free plan is great if you're bootstrapping because it has zero transaction fees and it comes loaded with advanced features.
Thinkific has more customization options than any other platform by a long shot. You can fully brand your online store front and your courses to match exactly your own site.
Example of Customization Features
In addition, their plans allow you to offer quizzes, surveys, student discussions, offer completion certificates, make sales right out of the online course platform and collect payments.
Finally, Thinkific offers excellent course analytics data so that, for example, you can assess the degree of course completion by your students and gain insights about their flow from enrollment through graduation.
Example of Enrollment Analytics
Thinkific's Main Benefits
- Zero transaction fees for any plans, including the free plan!
- Can fully customize Thinkific to look exactly like your website
- Many payment options (e.g. plans, recurring subscriptions, etc.)
- Courses can have rich text, images, audio and video plus downloadable files for your students
- Supports quizzes, surveys, prerequisite lessons and student discussions
- One of the best online course platforms that offer live phone support!
Now Some Drawbacks...
- No built-in email marketing tools or sales funnel features (third-party integrations are required at an additional cost)
- No online course marketplace to market your products (like Udemy)
- Reorganized the admin dashboard to build and manage communities, memberships and bundles alongside courses
Thinkific has a free plan and three paid plans:
- Free: It allows you to test the waters with up to three free courses. Some limitations apply, for example, you can't offer assignments and you can't have prerequisite lessons — only one site admin allowed
- Basic: $49/month (or $39/month if paid annually) offers the same features as the free plan plus unlimited courses, live chat support, and scheduled (dripped) content — only one site admin allowed
- Pro: $99/month (or $79/month if paid annually) offers the same features as the basic plan plus priority support, course memberships, completion certificates and more — 2 site admins allowed
- Premier: $499/month (or $399/month if paid annually) offers the complete Thinkific feature set including a personalized onboarding call, white labeling and Brillium exams integration (an assessment service for building exams with advanced features like time limits and attempt caps.) — 5 site admins allowed
Finally, here's my take...
I selected Thinkific as my top pick because of the high level of customization and the lack of transaction fees.
If you have a branded course website, Thinkific allows you to customize pretty much everything that's customer facing, which is great for visual continuity.
But the best part is: they have no transaction fees on course sales! (even in the free plan.) This is a tremendous bonus that can add up to a lot of extra money over time.
For these reasons, Thinkific is my #1 recommendation.
Best Free Plan:
Ideal for: First-time instructors
Incentives: Save 25% on annual plans
Best Feature: Free account is loaded with premium features
Ideal for: First-time instructors
Incentives: Save 25% on annual plans
Best Feature: Free account is loaded with premium features
Key Decision-Making Factors
Key Decision-Making Factors
Ease of use
Ease of use
In every industry there's a strong fremium player, and among the best online course platforms Teachable is the one to beat.
If you’re planning to make online course delivery a central part of your monetization strategy but you want to test the waters first at no cost, this course platform will give everything you need to succeed:
- A solid, reliable and well supported online course software platform
- Intuitive online course software tools with a clean interface
- A well designed, highly customizable sales funnel (course sales, checkout, and thank you pages)
- Ability to brand your Online Learning Center inside Teachable to match your own website
- A built-in payment system
- Ability to sell courses with multiple payment tiers (like SaaS tools), a subscription system, and even a payment plan feature (e.g. “pay in 3 installments of x dollars)
- Ability to set up your own affiliate program to enlist affiliates to sell online courses on your behalf and use Teachable to manage sales and payouts
Clearly, this is a well-thought out platform that gives you all of the features necessary to create courses, including marketing tools and selling funnels, without having to use multiple disparate systems.
Example of User Interface — Course Curriculum (Student View)
Teachable Main Benefits
- Even though Teachable is feature-rich, it’s easy for beginners to master
- SEO friendly
- Drip delivery option that allows you to release content over a period of time based on date of enrollment
- Courses can contain text, images, audio files, video, quizzes, all designed through an intuitive online course builder
- Lots of course monetization and upselling options through landing pages, sales pages, coupons, discounts, special offers and your own affiliate program
- Coupons and discounts can be applied selectively to specific groups of customers
- Checkout page can be customized with testimonials, bullets showing features and benefits and the addition of a guarantee seal or graphic
- Advanced analytics with tracking and reporting (Professional plans only)
- Ticket based support system complemented by a large knowledge base and self-directed lessons
Now Some Drawbacks...
- The Basic Plan charges a 5% transaction fee on all course sales
- There's no online course marketplace
- Added enhanced video player in course lectures, including a notes-taking feature, a picture-in-picture feature, enhanced video security, and updated course video stats and progress reports
Teachable has a free starter plan and three paid plans:
- Free: It allows you to test the waters with one free course. There's no email marketing automation available on this plan, you're not allowed to integrate with any third-party sales and marketing tools and you're not allowed to use a custom domain (you have to use Teachable's domain instead) — only one site admin allowed
- Basic: $39/month (or $29/month if paid annually) offers unlimited courses, email marketing features, external integrations and custom domains — 2 site admins allowed
- Pro: $199/month (or $99/month if paid annually) offers the same features as the basic plan plus affiliate marketing tools, use of Teachable's pubic API, live chat and no transaction fees on sales — 5 site admins allowed
- Business: $299/month (or $249/month if paid annually) offers the complete Teachable feature set, including advanced theme customization — 20 site admins allowed
Finally, here's my take...
Teachable has by far the best free plan out there. While they don't allow you to do email marketing using this plan, you get to use a lot of the features from the paid plans (with some exceptions, e.g. no custom domain.)
This is a great all in one platform if you just want to get your feet wet in the world of online courses and digital product sales.
Best for Marketing:
Ideal for: Online entrepreneurs
Incentives: Save up to 20% on yearly plans
Best Feature: Beautiful templates / Rich multimedia experience
Ideal for: Online entrepreneurs
Incentives: Save up to 20% on yearly plans
Best Feature: Beautiful templates / Rich multimedia experience
Key Decision-Making Factors
Key Decision-Making Factors
Ease of use
Ease of use
This is another cloud-based platform that has a strong set of features plus beautiful professional-looking templates, a modular page builder, automated certificates and advanced analytics so you can easily assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
LearnWorlds is designed to provide your students with a rich multimedia experience, including interactive videos and eBooks. It supports quizzes, learning paths, question banks and certificates of completion.
In terms of monetization, LearnWorlds offers robust affiliate marketing tools and it has built-in eCommerce capabilities so you can sell courses, bundles and memberships.
In addition, it integrates with a large number of third-party marketing tools to boost your revenue.
For example, you can link LearnWorlds with popular email marketing tools so that you can drip-market to your current customers over time to entice them to make future purchases, increasing their lifetime value.
View of LearnWorlds' Analytics Dashboard
LearnWorlds' Main Benefits
- Sales funnel (landing pages, sales pages, checkout and thank you pages)
- Allows digital downloads of course materials by students
- Mobile friendly
- Robust course affiliate marketing tools
- Blogging tool
- Built-in online community with social-networking features
- 24/7 customer support
Now Some Drawbacks...
- The main drawback is the lack of a free plan option
- New sales support features, including digital wallets, buy now pay later, qualification survey, NPS Survey, and bulk seat management
- New design features, including parallax scrolling, site templates, and page templates
- New mobile features, including mobile offline video, guest user flow, mobile integrations, mobile analytics view, and reminders
LearnWorlds has three paid plans:
- Starter: $29/month ($24/month when paid annually) offers unlimited courses, custom domains and drip courses, among other features, but it charges a transaction fee of $5 per course sale and it only offers 24/5 customer support — one site admin allowed
- Pro Trainer: $99/month ($79/month when paid annually) adds course memberships, affiliate marketing features, custom certificates and 24/7 priority e-mail support — 5 site admins allowed
- Learning Center: $299/month ($249/month when paid annually) offers the entire LearnWorlds feature set plus premium onboarding and premium support with a dedicated customer success manager — 5 site admins allowed
Finally, here's my take...
LearnWorlds is ideal if you're an experienced online marketer, internet entrepreneur or small business owner.
For example, with this course platform you can develop an online course as a digital product to be marketed via partnerships through your own affiliate marketing network.
Learnworlds provides you with all the tools that are necessary to set up this network and manage disbursements to your affiliate program partners.
Best Plugin-Based Online Course Platform
This platform decided to go the plugin route instead of hosting on the cloud.
In fact, LearnDash is the leading learning platform WordPress plugin, allowing you to create and sell online courses on a self-hosted platform where you retain total control of your content and delivery.
LearnDash has a powerful course builder with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
A neat feature missing from many of its competitors is the ability to reuse lessons across different courses, saving you a tremendous amount of course creation time.
It also has a really good setup for your students, where they have access to personal profile pages where, among other things, they can see what courses they’re signed up to and track their own progress.
The checkout is designed to be self-supporting allowing you to monetize natively with PayPal, but also give you the option to use a separate eCommerce or membership plugin if you so desire.
LearnDash allows you to create an unlimited number of courses and offers powerful reporting and administrative tools right out of the box.
LearnDash Features that Stand Out
- Easy to use course builder
- Ability to drip content over time
- Ability to reuse lessons across multiple courses
- Advanced quiz builder
- Easy user registration setup
- Private or public forums for students
- Custom certificates and badges for course attendees
- Ability to package your courses into bundles for increased profits
- Ability to create your own marketplace (like a personal Udemy)
Best Online Course Platform for Ease of Use
Kajabi is a great online course platform for all your teaching needs, including marketing and student acquisition, course development, hosting of content delivery, assessment tools for progress monitoring, enrollment management features and a lot more.
This platform has been designed from the ground up as a user-friendly, accessible system that makes the process of creating online courses and updating your content simple and fast.
With just a few clicks, you can create unique material for each module in your course, upload documents and other files that you might want to distribute to learners and customize the welcome page that greets your students at sign-up in line with your branding.
Kajabi Features that Stand Out
- Drip lessons over any time period
- Create quizzes to test your students
- Track lesson progress, view grades and get detailed analytics
- Add video, image, text, audio, PDF files and digital downloads
- Unlimited video hosting
Best Online Course Platform for Monetization
Podia is an all in one online platform for creating and hosting online courses as well as webinars.
They offer lesson planning, a built-in live chat tool to interact with your students, sales pages to sell courses and email marketing capabilities.
Their hallmark is simplicity of use and hosting. Their course creation tools, course management and delivery user interfaces are very intuitive and super easy to use.
And unlike many of their competitors, they don't limit how many courses you can offer, how much money you can make or how many students you can have without forcing you through an upgrade path..
Podia Features that Stand Out
- Presell your course by crowdfunding it
- Package up similar courses as a bundle
- Drip your content set to a schedule of your choosing
- Add your logo and customize the colors to suit your brand
- Offer upsells to increase your revenue per seat
Find out More About Podia Here.
Best Online Course Platform for Educators
The goal of Ruzuku is to give educators a new medium for reaching online students — one that's mobile first, device agnostic and accessible worldwide.
With Ruzuku, teachers have complete control over how they distribute their content by uploading text-based lessons, video or audio as well as using downloadable formats such as PowerPoint, Word Documents and PDF files to generate dynamic course content.
In addition educators can send announcements, manage discussion boards and post questions to their online students. Ruzuku also provides access to payment gateways so you can collect course tuition as well as it integrates with Mailchimp for email marketing automation.
Ruzuku Features that Stand Out
- Create courses for free
- On Demand courses with drip content
- Accept payments through Stripe, PayPal and more
- Integrate with Mailchimp
- Students have social profiles, bios, and photos in the course community
- Invite or remove participants from courses
Find out More About Ruzuku Here.
Best Online Course Platform for Organizations
Academy of Mine is an enterprise customizable eLearning course platform with embedded performance support tools for better employee experience, productivity, and retention.
It provides businesses and organizations with flexible online educational content capabilities so they can develop custom classroom presentations or engage in adaptive learning that meets their specific staff and customer training needs.
Academy of Mine Features that Stand Out
- Self-paced courses
- Course marketing
- Corporate and group onboarding
- Reporting and analytics
- Personalized branding
Find out More About the Academy of Mine Here.
Best Online Course Platform for Unlimited Courses
Teachery is an online course platform that helps instructors from all walks of life grow their target audience while they earn money from their courses.
It was built by course creators for course creators using three core principles: 1- Transaction fees will never be increased as a result of the success of a course, 2- Course creation software should be as easy to use as writing an email and 3- Everything that can be metered must be unlimited (e.g. courses, students, sales pages, etc.)
Teachery Features that Stand Out
- Unlimited courses, lessons, and students
- Live course editor
- Embed video, audio, and slide presentations
- Payment pages, recurring payments and promo codes
- Memberships and course bundles
- Create sales pages, landing pages, and email marketing capture pages
- Email integration with MailChimp and ConvertKit
Find out More About Teachery Here.
Best Online Course Platform for Tutors and Trainers
WizIQ is a virtual classroom and online course platform ideal for teachers, instructors, tutors and corporate trainers.
You can create and deliver self-paced courses to students from around the world, either live or pre-recorded, create one-on-one remote tutoring sessions, train customers and staff and make all training materials available from any type of device.
WizIQ also provides a powerful exam builder that you can use to administer online tests and quizzes so you can easily assess your students' progress.
It provides comprehensive scorecards, detailed insights and test reports.
WizIQ Features that Stand Out
- Import, upload, embed content
- Support for tests, quizzes, surveys
- Course structure template
- Role-based course access
- Integrated cloud storage
- Course content optimization for different devices
Find out More About the WiziQ Platform Here.
Best Customizable Online Course Platform
Click4Course is an all in one platform that allows you to create courses and recorded webinars to a worldwide audience.
It can be used by solopreneur instructors to deliver their paid courses as well as by corporate training departments to deliver online courses to employees.
Click4Course allows you to create unlimited courses, including video and PowerPoint content, manage learners individually or in bulk and offer tests, run surveys and issue certificates of completion.
Click4Course Features that Stand Out
- Create unlimited content
- Apply course deadlines, restrictions and pre-requisites
- Unlimited learner groups
- Set passing score percentages for each test
- Customize your learners' certificates
- Customize your site with your own logo, welcome message and background colors
Find out More About the Click4Course Online Course Platform Here.
Best Online Course Platform with CRM Integration
ShowTime is a web-driven course delivery solution for on-demand multimedia learning.
Not only is it equally ideal for single instructors as well as corporate training departments, but being part of the Zoho suite of online business tools, it seamlessly integrates with Zoho Mail, Zoho CRM, Zoho Meeting (webinars) and Soho Cliq (chat tool).
ShowTime Features that Stand Out
- Audio & video recording
- On-demand webcasting
- Recording & playback
- Multi-language support
- CRM integration
- Registration management
- Survey creation and private text chat
Find out More About the ShowTime Platform Here.
13. Talent LMS
Best Online Course Corporate Platform
Talent LMS is a corporate learning platform that helps businesses map out their skills development, collaborate on training and create skill maps for the workplace.
The platform features an easy-to-navigate interface offering a complete solution for corporate education and training needs.
It allows businesses to easily manage online onboarding training, compliance training, customer support training, customer training, extended enterprise training, employee training, marketing training, remote workforce training and sales training.
Talent LMS Features that Stand Out
- Drag and drop course creation tools
- Set up detailed learning paths
- Fully brand your course site
- Create unlimited sub-accounts to match your organization’s structure
- Host video conferences
Find out More About the Talent LMS Platform Here.
Best Online Course WordPress Platform
LifterLMS is a learning management system that can be hosted entirely from your own WordPress installation.
Unlike cloud-hosted online course platforms, LifterLMS gives you total freedom and control over your course creation process, management, delivery, marketing and signups without ever incurring in metered billing of any kind.
The only downside is that you need to ensure that your WordPress course website server can handle the increasing bandwidth require to deliver your content (especially if you use a lot of self-hosted video content) as you scale up your audience.
LifterLMS Features that Stand Out
- Drip your course content
- Drag and drop course builder
- Create dynamic multimedia quizzes
- Require course pre-requisites
- Multi instructor online course platform
- Flexible recurring payment options
- Offer payment plans
Find out More About the LifterLMS Platform Here.
Best Team-Based Online Course Platform
Pathright is a learning system designed to easily and rapidly create online courses, build your own online community of learners around them, create a storefront and use it to sell courses and subscriptions.
It caters not just to individual course instructors but also to business teams, nonprofit teams, online schools, teachers, experts, coaches and tutors and ministries, among many others.
Pathright allows both learners and instructors access from any device, it allows course creators to custom-brand their space and download detailed reports with course registrations, learner progress and other analytics.
Pathright Features that Stand Out
- Fully customizable courses
- Map out any type of course in minutes with Path Designer
- Feature video or audio media
- Create practice quizzes, tests, study guides and style assessments
- Set start dates to lock course access until an upcoming date
- Manage all your members in one place
- Private, public, or members-only courses
Find out More About Pathright Here.
Best Online Course Platform for Student Engagement
Xperiencify is a unique online course creation and delivery platform designed with multiple psychological triggers that increase student engagement by a factor of ten.
On average, even the best online course platforms are successful turning just 3% of their potential audience into paying customers.
Xperiencify claims that the psychological triggers embedded into their course solution increase this rate up to 30%, therefore multiplying signup revenue by 10x.
Xperiencify Features that Stand Out
- Create online courses with gamification and psychological triggers to increase engagement
- Sell online courses
- Issue experience points for online students that accomplish predetermined goals
- Use count down timers to encourage students to consume content within the time frame of your course
- Connect with your students via email, SMS, post success to social media and more
Find out More About Xperiencify Here.
Best Mobile-Based Online Course Platform
Passion claims to have reinvented online course platforms by delivering training experiences instead of static courses.
For example, instead of delivering courses and training materials via traditional web browsers they do so via a dedicated mobile app that is customized to your brand and style.
Apps are much more versatile and native than web browsers for mobile users since that's how they consume information most of the time, and Passion has taken this approach into the heart of learning online.
Passion Features that Stand Out
- Unlock course content via drip to keep students engaged, focused and aligned
- Downloadable, fully protected content accessible where network coverage is not available
- Interactive exercises with step-by-step actions
- Nudge your customers to stay motivated with push notifications
- Segment students with quizzes to deliver relevant content
Find out More About the Passion Course Platform Here.
Best Membership-Based Online Course Platform
Accessaly is another WordPress-based learning management system that competes with LifterLMS.
It allows you to not only build and deliver course ware directly from WordPress, but also to create and manage memberships and sell all kinds of digital products (not just courses) from your WordPress dashboard.
To help you maximize revenue, it offers conversion-focused order forms, handles recurring payments, coupons, cross selling online courses, multiple currencies and even sends customizable cart-abandonment follow up emails for you.
Accessally Features that Stand Out
- Bulk Course Enrollment
- Conversion Focused Order Forms
- Recurring Payments with Stripe & PayPal
- Flexible Course Builder
- Auto-generated Certificates
- Gamification & Points
- 3 Quiz Types
- 1-Click Upsells & Order Bumps
Find out More About Accessally Here.
Best Online Course Platform for Revenue Generation
ZippyCourses is an online course creation, delivery and management platform that brings together the worlds of education and marketing into an optimized system design to minimize time wasters and maximize revenue.
For example, it helps online course creators bring courses to market fast through their easy to use drag-and-drop course builder while offering a natural way to upsell premium courses for a 25% average bump in sales.
It also allows you to create scarcity through launch windows with limited enrollment and it allows you to release course content in drip mode with the use of a scheduler, which increases engagement through anticipation.
ZippyCourses Features that Stand Out
- Create online courses using drag-and-drop online course builder
- Create multiple tiers to sell online courses with different pricing options
- Enroll more students with launch windows
- Release your course at once or drip your content
- Automatic follow-up emails to keep students engaged
- Fully customize site to your brand
Find out More About the ZippyCourses Platform Here.
Best Online Course Platform with a Concierge Service
Coursecats is an all in one platform that provides you with everything you need to go to market fast and multiple paths to creating an audience.
If you're not technically inclined, Coursecats offers a concierge service that will set up your site for you.
Also, if you need to grow your email list first, they'll set you up with a blog and a course landing page optimized to convert into signups.
Coursecats Features that Stand Out
- Landing pages
- Membership integrations
- Blogging feature
- Professional looking templates to increase conversions
- Include PDFs, cheat sheets, MP4s, PowerPoint slides, and more
- Concierge service available
Find out More About the Coursecats Platform Here.
Best All in One Online Course Platform
Zenler is an online course tool built around sales and marketing. They follow an all in one platform approach that saves you from having to integrate disparate tools in order to design and market your courses.
Among other things, Zenler bring together under one roof online course creation and delivery, marketing funnels, email automation, quizzes and surveys, a membership engine, and community building.
Zenler Features that Stand Out
- Create courses and sales funnels
- Drag and drop page designer
- Live chat room
- Live interactive seminars and live streaming
- Email automation
- Create membership sites
- Quizzes and surveys
Find out More About the Zenier Online Course Platform Here.
Best Business Online Course Platform
iSpring is an eLearning toolkit designed to accommodate all the different training scenarios required by businesses and organizations in a single all in one platform.
From handing your customer onboarding to product training, sales training, channel training, compliance training, and certification, the iSpring platform is easy to use, fast to deeply and cost-effective.
iSpring Features that Stand Out
- Upload PowerPoint presentations, courses (SCORM), video tutorials (FLV, MP4), flash clips (SWF) and audio tracks (MP3, WAV)
- Customizable design with step-by-step navigation
- Build learning tracks
- Set user roles
- Unlimited administrators
- Automatic assignments
- Quiz and simulation reports
Find out More About the iSpring Platform Here.
Best Course Platform with Built-in Checkout
Like Zoho Showtime, Katra is one of those online course platforms that provides an all-in-one solution that'll not only handle your course creation, delivery and management needs but also provide you with a suite of complementary services.
For example, Katra has their own managed checkout for your online course sales, a built-in customer relationship management tool so you can handle your prospects and students, marketing funnels for your course landing pages, a membership system to bill for recurring course modules, surveys and quizzes and even a built-in help desk in case you want to offer customer support.
Katra Features that Stand Out
- Drag and drop visual interface
- One-click publish to your domain
- Sell unlimited products at multiple price points
- Upsells, downsells and order bumps
- Build surveys within minutes
- Comprehensive data analytics
- 100% mobile responsive
- Fully customize to your brand
Find out More About Katra Here.
What Are the Top Platforms with Online Course Marketplaces?
Below, you'll find reviews of the top online course platforms with marketplaces, offering courses in everything from entrepreneurship to marketing and sales, to the creative fields to K-12 math and science to college level degrees.
These outfits offer you the opportunity to offer your courses in large marketplaces with captive audiences in the millions, so you don't have to host and market your content all on your own.
The downside is that you earn a lot less per seat compared to online course platforms, so it comes down to a tradeoff between revenue per subscriber and volume.
In fact, there's nothing that prevents you from trying both approaches concurrently.
These learning marketplaces are typically structured by subject, so you'll need to look into each one to see if they're a good fit for your area of expertise.
Finally, some have very high barriers of entry, so they might require a high level of credentials (or in some cases celebrity) in order to be accepted.
Having said that, there are a lot of popular marketplaces below that welcome both experienced as well as new teachers, provided they offer high quality content that meets the needs of their audiences.
Here's the list of the best marketplaces where you could offer your courses to millions of potential students:
Brilliant.org is a learning system with a focus on K-12 students wanting to learn STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).
With high-quality self-paced courses catering to all school age groups, Brilliant helps students stay on top of the knowledge that will be critical to their future success.
With over 10 million learners and growing fast, Brilliant's mission is to inspire and develop students to achieve their goals in STEM by substituting traditional video lectures with hands-on, interactive problem-solving screens to maximize discovery and retention.
Brilliant Features that Stand Out
- 10+ million learners
- Ideal for S.T.E.M. course creators targeting K-12 learners
- Opt-in marketing promotions to increase sales for your online course business
- Premium content and virtual classroom tools
Find out More About Brilliant Here.
Udemy is one of the largest learning marketplaces in the world with a mission to empower lifelong learners with unlimited access to instruction.
It offers over 130,000 free and paid courses where you can learn anything from system administration to web development to accounting as well as hundreds of hobbies like knitting, woodworking or gardening.
To provide such a wide array of courses, Udemy counts in its ranks with over 50,000 expert instructors teaching over 40 million students at their own pace in 60 different languages from the comfort of their own homes.
Udemy Features that Stand Out
- Lifetime access to purchased courses
- Chat rooms and message boards for all classes
- Powerful ratings and review system to quickly find the courses with the best instructors
- 30-day refund policy for all paid courses
Find out More About Udemy Here.
Treehouse is a coding-based online school and learning management system.
It assists people of all ages to learn computer programming, web design, and mobile app development through its high-quality courses, which include quizzes and hands-on coding drills.
To keep learners engaged, they offer coding challenges through a browser-based code editor they developed to help you see the result of your work in real-time.
Treehouse Features that Stand Out
- Specializes in courses for coding, digital literacy, databases, game development and more
- In-browser quizzes and coding challenges
- Videos are equipped with transcripts, closed captioning and adjustable speeds
Find out More About Treehouse Here.
Mindvalley is a learning system where students can dive deep into the world of personal development and learn from thought leaders.
They offer a suite of personal development products which include courses, training sessions and individual coaching sessions to help students achieve their personal growth goals.
Mindvalley’s portfolio of courses are divided into the following categories: mind, body, soul, relationships, business, entrepreneurship, careers, kids, teens and parenting, and partner programs.
Since launching in 2002, they have grown to over 10 million people worldwide, who use Mindvalley's programs to reach new levels of happiness and fulfillment.
Mindvalley Features that Stand Out
- 10 million+ students enrolled
- A-la-carte classes or all inclusive monthly or yearly membership
- Strong learner community
- 15-day money back guarantee for monthly or yearly membership
Find out More About Mindvalley Here.
Masterclass is a learning system that offers high-quality classes from the world’s greatest experts in fields such as cooking, photography, music, acting and film-making, sports, writing and entrepreneurship, among many others.
It focuses on celebrity-level experts who have spent decades honing their skills and distilling the knowledge they gained into a curriculum for people to learn at their own pace.
An area where they stand out is the high production quality of their video classes and the thoroughness of the course material.
For example, students can learn in depth the process required to develop into a top-tier comedy writer directly from Judd Apatow. Or cooking techniques, tricks and tips developed by world-class chefs like Gordon Ramsay.
MasterClass Features that Stand Out
- Large roster of celebrity teachers
- Unlimited access to all 100+ classes
- Best-in-class video production quality
- MasterClass class discussion boards
Find out More About MasterClass Here.
Udacity is an innovative learning platform that provides mentored courses and programs to train students on the careers of the future.
Areas of focus include artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, cybersecurity, cloud computing, data science and programming & development, among others.
Their goal is to provide a platform where people can learn the latest technical skills that are in high demand right now so they can thrive in a digital world driven by automation, data and AI algorithms.
Udacity Features that Stand Out
- Students in 160+ countries
- Over 200 free courses
- Student discussion forums
- All teachers are industry professionals
Find out More About Udacity Here.
FutureLearn is a UK-based learning system that delivers online courses from leading universities from around the world, including the University of Michigan, the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London, Johns Hopkins University as well as from independent industry experts.
Subjects on offer include business & management, creative arts & media, healthcare & medicine, IT & computer science, nature & the environment, politics & society and science, engineering & math, among others.
FutureLearn supports 15 million learners from 190 countries from around the world and offers over 3,000 courses in association with 175 university partners.
FutureLearn Features that Stand Out
- Over 175 university partners around the globe
- Over 3,000 classes available
- Micro-credential programs, certificates and full online degree programs available
Find out More About FutureLearn Here.
EdX is the U.S. equivalent of FutureLearn, a non-profit learning platform that offers over 700 courses from the nation's best schools including MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, The University of Texas and Boston University, among many others.
Students can take courses in just about any subject — from math and physics to humanities and social sciences.
In addition to stand-alone skills-based courses, students can also obtain accredited professional certificates from employers and colleges and even online masters degrees from top-ranked universities in the U.S.
EdX.org Features that Stand Out
- 3,000+ online courses and 300+ programs available
- 34+ million learners
- Over 150 institutions, including MIT and Harvard
- Provides accredited certificates
- Specializes in higher education online coursework
Find out More About EdX.org Here.
In the fast-paced, connected world of technology, there's huge demand for employees who can develop their careers by constantly updating their skills.
That’s where Pluralsight comes in as the leader in expert level skills training for corporate teams amd individuals. Its training courses allow students to master the latest in IT, AI, machine learning, cybersecurity and more.
Courses are targeted to beginner, intermediate and advanced users and are all authored by industry experts, so learners at all levels can keep up with the latest tech developments.
Pluralsight Features that Stand Out
- Over 7,000 courses taught by 1,500+ industry experts
- Specializes on IT and s/w development
- Online AI mentor tracks student progress and develops a customized learning path for you
Find out More About Pluralsight Here.
With over 1,100 courses and almost 2 million students, BitDegree is a rapidly growing learning system that targets ambitious, tech-savvy students who wish to learn the latest in blockchain, programming, data science, web design, IT security and digital marketing.
BitDegree incentivizes students through a gamified learning experience and also offers certificates of completion issued using blockchain technology.
BitDegree Features that Stand Out
- Specializes on IT and digital skills
- Gamified learning with rewards and badges for completion
- Blockchain certificates that cannot be counterfeited
Find out More About BitDegree Here.
Datacamp is an learning system where students can find over 350 courses and exercises to build their knowledge and skills in data science.
Courses cover Python, R and SQL and provide an interactive learning experience where learners can work on real-world projects and even enter into competitions where they can win prizes.
Datacamp Features that Stand Out
- 9 million learners from over 180 countries
- Specializes on data science and analytics
- Unlimited access to 300+ courses taught by 270 expert instructors
Find out More About Datacamp Here.
35. Khan Academy
The Khan Academy is a non-profit learning organization with the missionb of providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere around the world.
Founded by American educator Salman Khan in 2007, the academy counts with 2.5 million students from 190 countries and boasts over 3,000 short instructional videos along with interactive quizzes and tools for teachers to track student progress.
Khan Academy Features that Stand Out
- Specializes in K-12 math and science courses and AP courses
- 100% free to use — mostly funded by corporate donations
- Personalized dashboards and tools for parents and teachers to track student progress
Find out More About Khan Academy Here.
Simplilearn is the world’s #1 online bootcamp, having helped over 2 million people advance their careers through certification courses and masters and postgraduate programs offered in partnership with top-tier universities, like CalTech, Purdue and Harvard.
Their online bootcamp offers an immersive experience that allows studetns to work on real-world problems through programs taught by experts who are active in their field (not retired instructors,) so learners always get access to the latest information.
Simplilearn Features that Stand Out
- Over 400 full-length courses available (average 1-month duration)
- Includes dozens of accredited courses taught by experts
- Certified courses recognized by companies like Google and Amazon
- Partnerships with over 40 global accreditation bodies
Find out More About Simplilearn Here.
Codecademy is an online education platform where anyone can learn the skills required for the 21st century workplace in a self-paced format.
It has over 50 million students in over 190 countries and has taught millions of people around the world to code for free.
Course subjects include web development, data science, computer science, developer tools, machine learning, programming languages, web design, game development, mobile app development, data visualization and cybersecurity, among many others.
Codecademy Features that Stand Out
- Specializes in teaching programming languages, computer engineering and data science
- Personalized learning plans
- Certificates of completion recognized in the IT industry
- Complete career road maps available (Pro version)
Find out More About Codecademy Here.
Blackboard is a leading learning technology company that serves K-12 students and higher education institutions from around the world.
While not a learning system per se, Blackboard provides technologies that enable students, teachers, schools and parents the ability to access and communicate relevant information from online school assignments, lesson plans, grades, calendars and school-specific news feeds.
Blackboard Features that Stand Out
- Technology widely used by K-12 schools and universities
- Attendance tracking
- Highly intuitive interface
Find out More About Blackboard Here.
MOOCs, short for Massive Open Online Courses, are free courses available online for anyone to enroll.
MOOCs provide an affordable way to learn new skills, advance learners' careers and deliver quality educational experiences to the masses.
MOOC.org is a web portal operated by edX.org, a leader in online courses, where you students get access to over 3,000 courses on subjects ranging from biology & life sciences to business & management to philosophy and social sciences to any subject imaginable.
MOOC.org Features that Stand Out
- Over 3,000 online courses
- Key specialization in business, computer and data sciences, engineering, humanities, languages and world studies
- Courses for both individuals and corporate e-learning
Find out More About MOOC.org Here.
Creativelive is a popular online learning platform that caters to learners interested in the creative arts.
They provide quality online education for everyone who wishes to enter the creative field for the first time or take their creative career to the next level.
Subjects include photo & video, art & design, music & audio, craft & maker and money & life.
Createlive has over 10 million students and offers over 1,500 curated classes taught by over 650 world-class instructors in the creative arts.
Creativelive Features that Stand Out
- Online platform dedicated to creative professionals
- Over 650 expert instructors
- A-la-carte or monthly/annual membership
Find out More About Creativelive Here.
Coursera is a learning system that partners with over 200 leading universities and companies, including Duke, Yale, Stanford, Google and IBM, to offer affordable learning to individuals and organizations from around the world.
Serving an impressive 82 million learners, Coursera offers professional certificates and online degrees from top universities at surprisingly affordable prices.
Coursera Features that Stand Out
- Match learners with the right content using machine learning
- Seamless integration of Zoom live lectures into private courses
- Manage content and learner data via API
Find out More About Coursera Here.
LinkedIn Learning is an online learning platform that features learner-paced courses for accelerated skill development, learning paths to build skills in various areas of business and up-to-date career training courses tailored to people's employment objectives.
Students can take business courses on topics like personal branding, digital marketing, social media marketing, project management, finance & accounting and a lot more.
With over 1,000 courses on offer and growing, LinkedIn Learning delivers a unique mix of educational products for beginners and seasoned professionals alike.
LinkedIn Learning Features that Stand Out
- Personalized content (based on your LinkedIn profile)
- Supportive, interactive community
- Rich insights to measure the impact of your learning
Find out More About LinkedIn Learning Here.
43. Shaw Academy
Shaw Academy is best known for making education accessible for everyone, especially those who feel they can't pursue it because they're unable to sacrifice time away from family, their jobs or other commitments.
This platform has been around for almost 10 years, supports over 12 million students worldwide and offers 100+ courses with more than 3,000 hours of content centered on vocational, career and life skill topics.
Course topics cover a wide range of interests, from accounting to professional photography, to nutrition and web development among many others.
As a bonus, many of its courses are certified by accreditation organizations such as Continued Professional Development, the International Accreditation Organization and the International Council of Specialized Online Certifications, which is ideal for career advancement.
Shaw Academy Features that Stand Out
- 12+ million students
- 100+ courses
- Fully accredited with the CPD, IAO and ICSOC
Find out More About Shaw Academy Here.
With over 8 million students and 25,000 courses taught by 8,000+ teachers on topics that range from coding to marketing to cooking, Skillshare one of the best online learning platforms.
To speed up retention, each course is designed to take between 20-60 minutes to consume, split into 2 to 5-minute short videos that are easy to absorb.
And like social media, students can choose to follow their favorite experts as they add new courses on a regular basis, or simply browse their catalog for courses that match their specific needs.
Skillshare Features that Stand Out
- Unlimited access to Skillshare's entire curriculum and community
- Easy-to-use admin panel where you can manage team and users
- Learning management system integrations and API capabilities
- Personalized discovery algorithms to find relevant content
Find out More About Skillshare Here.
How to Create an Online Course that Generates a Monthly Cash Flow
More and more people are turning to online courses these days because they offer convenience, affordability, and flexibility — three things that are really hard to find in traditional education models.
Let's discuss below how to build an online course business that can generate consistent monthly cash flow for you.
What Are Online Courses?
Online courses are classes that allow students to learn remotely at their own time and pace.
While many of the top rated colleges and universities today offer learning programs online, including Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and so on, the bulk of the sales generated by online courses comes from single operators like you.
Why Create an Online Course?
Online courses offer a great way for instructors to monetize their knowledge in a way that can scale without limits, unlike traditional classroom settings.
The Internet is the great education equalizer, allowing anyone anywhere to learn at their own pace and for a reasonable cost.
This paradigm shift has turned the entire world into a prospective student body that in the aggregate can generate vast amounts of revenue for enterprising instructors.
Ways You Can Monetize Your Online Course
There are many ways to turn your online course into revenue. Here are just a few of the most popular ways successful online instructors are making money with their courses today:
- Selling seats on several standalone courses through a hosting platform
- Creating courses with six training levels and then selling a membership to access a new level every month (this is akin to offering a payment plan)
- Selling tools that are required in order to practice what you teach on your course (e.g. pottery equipment, gardening equipment, etc). You could either sell direct, via drop-shipping or as an affiliate on sales commissions
- Creating a hierarchy of course proficiency levels with pre-requisites (e.g. beginner, intermediate and advanced courses)
- Offering one-on-one coaching or consulting sessions
How To Create an Online Course in 5 Easy Steps
So, is it hard to get started? Not if you follow these five steps:
Step 1. Find a niche you're passionate about
The first step is to choose a topic you know something about. If you consider yourself to be an expert in some area of life — from gardening to finance — then that’s probably what you'll want to focus on first.
For instance, if you've experienced financial hardship and eventually became debt-free, then create an online course to teach people strategies to overcome their debt problems.
Or, if you’ve developed a special technique over the years for growing the most gorgeous peonies, then you might want to consider teaching others what they need to do in order to achieve similar results.
The trick is for you to create content about an area that you’re truly passionate about — there's nothing worse than listening to someone talking dispassionately about a subject they don't particularly enjoy simply because it has value for others.
Step 2. Create your online course outline
Next, it’s time to outline your course modules. A fast and easy way to create your outline is to use a mind map.
Mind maps are a graphical representation of sub-topics stemming from a main idea, and work extremely well for outlining courses.
Your goal here is to deconstruct your main topic into two sub-levels. The first one will become your list of modules and the second one will become your table of contents for each module.
Step 3. Fill out the outline
Now that you have a completed outline, it's time to start writing out the content for each module.
The best way to go about this process is to set a daily writing goal — a good-size block would be two hours of course creation per day.
The key here is consistency, you don’t want to write for hours on end one day until you’re creatively spent and then skip the next two days to recover.
Also, try to minimize any interruptions to your creative process. Protect your daily course creation hours by turning off beeps and notifications from your devices and letting people know that you’ll be unreachable during this time.
Make sure to intersperse teaching "hooks" throughout your online course content to help connect students with your material, such as asking them engaging questions and polling them as a way to check their retention.
Step 4. Choose a platform to host your online course
Once you've drafted the content for your online course, the next step is to choose where it’ll live.
Now, there are a number of excellent online course platforms to choose from and each has different features that you’ll have to consider based on your particular needs.
Some run entirely on the cloud, which is great if you don’t have a online school website as an anchor for your online teaching career, and some run directly on your WordPress installation.
Some excel at marketing but don’t have a great course editor, while others have great editing features but don’t offer as many marketing options.
The easiest thing to do to get started is to check the list of the best online course platforms in this article to get the lay of the land.
Then, make a short list with your top three choices and visit the sites to drill down on individual features.
Step 5. Plan your marketing strategy
Finally, it's time to plan out the strategy that will help you get your course in front of students.
Now, while 4 and 5 figure monthly course sales are possible — in fact there are large numbers of instructors who’ve left their jobs to teach online full time — this doesn’t happen overnight.
You first need to plan and then execute on a proper marketing strategy.
Your goal is to build a large audience of potential students over time through a variety of marketing outreach activities and then allow word of mouth to do the rest of the work.
Now, if you don’t already have a track record as an instructor (i.e. no former students to spread the word) you may want to first consider creating a course website and starting a blog to drive traffic through organic search.
Then, you can grow an email list from your website traffic and market your courses to your subscribers.
You can also create social media accounts as an instructor and build a large audience of followers by regularly posting useful information of interest to your target audience.
Or, if your expertise is visual in nature, like teaching how to play an instrument or how to create pottery pieces, then starting a YouTube channel and building an audience of subscribers would be a fantastic idea.
How to Sell Online Courses Profitably
Marketing yourself as an authority in your field is one of the best ways to sell products online, and a great way to do this with minimal costs is creating and selling online courses.
In fact, online courses are one of the best vehicles for generating passive income while you're teaching or coaching offline or when you're busy with other projects.
Let's explore how to create and sell online courses profitably if you’ve never done this before.
Can You Make Money If You Start Selling Online Courses?
Absolutely! In fact, instructors with two or more years of online teaching experience routinely generate 4 and some even 5 figures a month selling online courses from a variety of platforms.
Some have become so popular that they can even attract the attention of seasoned affiliate program partners with large email lists, which becomes an even greater revenue multiplier.
At the end of the day, there is a huge demand from the general public for online courses that can help them develop new skills and learn new hobbies from the comfort of their home...
...and they’d rather learn from experts rather than trying to figure things out on their own.
How Much Should You Sell Online Courses For?
Online courses should be priced based on the intrinsic value they offer combined with your uniqueness in the marketplace.
This amount will vary depending on what you teach and how well you can market your expertise.
If you’re brand new to online teaching platforms, you may have to start out with a free introductory course and then begin to charge once you’ve managed to build an audience.
Once you’ve developed an audience, then you’ll need to ramp up your price point as enrollment increases over time until you find your sweet spot.
So, say for example that you’ve developed a special technique that allows beginners to learn to play guitar in half the time than it normally takes.
You could test a price point between $20-$30 at first and, if the course continues to sell well after it's been released, gradually increase the price until your enrollment begins to decrease — that’s when you know you’ve reached the sweet spot.
Now, once you become more seasoned, you’ll be able to break into the low three figures per seat and as demand grows with word of mouth you’ll be able to move up the chain into the $299-$399 range and higher.
But this may take you a few years to achieve — you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Also, the key is not just price point alone but price point times total enrollment.
A $79 course will attract a much larger audience than a $299 course. In the end, all that matters is the total size of the monthly check.
How Much Should You Expect To Make?
Clearly, this hinges on too many factors that depend on your personal circumstances, prior experience, years as an instructor, reputation, number of course offerings, size of captive audience (say, from your email list), and so on.
However, to give you an idea of what to expect let’s look at the statistics put out by one of the best online course platforms, Teachable.
After looking at over 100,000 instructors on their platform in 2021, they found that approximately 40% of instructors who have been teaching on the platform a year or longer earn on average between $25,000 and $50,000/yr.
About 20% earn less than $25,000/yr, 15% earn between $50,000 and $75,000/yr and the remaining 25% earn more than $75,000/yr.
How to Create and Sell Online Courses Profitably in 5 Easy Steps
The following five steps will provide you with a clear blueprint you can follow to create and sell online courses:
Step 1. Find out what people are looking for in your niche
The first step is to figure out what people are looking for in your niche. Going back to the above example, if you’re a guitar teacher, “learning how to play guitar” may be too broad a niche at first.
Different people have different needs and it’s really hard to address all needs for all people all at once — like the old saying goes: Market to everyone and sell to no one.
So you need to specialize. For example, some people may be looking for shortcuts to learn how to play popular chords, others may be interested in learning how to play the electric guitar, others may be more interested in classic guitar lessons, etc.
Step 2. Create a compelling product description for your course
The next step is to create a product description for your course. This is composed of a headline designed to catch the attention of your audience followed by a brief blurb describing what’s unique about your course.
For example, depending on your guitar niche, you may try something like:
- Learn How to Play Blues Guitar in 5 Easy Steps
- How to Start Playing Your Favorite Guitar Songs Tonight (No Prior Experience Required!)
- The Complete Step by Step Course for Electric Guitar Soloing
Your blurb should expand on your catchy headline to add more meat to the bones, plus it should tell your prospective students why you’re qualified to teach the course.
For example, you could say that you’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years and teaching for as long, or that you’ve played on the road for <enter a number of celeb singer names here> for the past 15 years, and so on.
Step 3. Set up an account with a platform that sells courses
Next, you need to set up an account with a hosting platform. These sites allow you to create an online school where you can host online courses.
Here's some of the most popular options on the online course market:
- Teachable: A solid, reliable and well supported platform with intuitive online course creation software and a well designed, highly customizable sales funnel
- LearnDash: Ability to drip content over time, easy user registration setup, ability to package your individual courses into bundles for increased profits
- LearnWorlds: Unlimited courses and sales funnels, mobile friendly, robust affiliate marketing tools, built-in community with social-networking features
- Thinkific: Best free plan for beginners, no transaction fees, fully customize to match your brand, supports quizzes, surveys, prerequisites and student discussions
- Kajabi: Track lesson progress, view grades and get detailed analytics, drip lessons over any time period, easily create quizzes to test your students
Step 4. Stand out from other courses
To differentiate yourself from your competitors, consider offering bonuses or freebies to people who purchase your product.
If you know someone else in your niche (who isn't even in direct competition with you) offer to collaborate with them on something special for students that opt-in for both of your courses.
Here's some ideas:
- An eBook that includes relevant content that complements your main method/course theme
- A tool or cheat sheet that students can reference later
- Exclusive access to a private Facebook group where students can directly communicate with you and other students, ask questions, hold office hours, etc.
- Offer premium coaching sessions at a deep discount for anyone who purchases multiple courses from you
- A free bonus course for graduates of your paid courses
Step 5. Promote your course on multiple channels
The first place to promote your courses is on your own website. Make sure you make your course front and center and give it high-traffic real estate. Also, make your teacher bio easily accessible.
The second place is your email list.
If you’ve been growing an email list over time and have been building a strong relationship with your audience through a drip campaign, then you have an ideal captive audience to promote your course to.
They already know you, like you and trust you, making them ideal sign-up candidates for your online courses.
The next channel to promote your course is social media.
If you regularly post to various networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, depending on your audience, then leverage this social media presence to promote your new courses as well.
Finally, the best online course platforms will have a course review feature where students can leave their feedback about their course experience.
But, don't let your reviews just sit there. Take advantage of this feature by answering them in a timely way. Engage with your students by thanking them and addressing any comments or concerns they may have.
Student reviews are one of the most effective promotion tools in your arsenal because of the power of social proof.
What is Online Learning?
It's the choice of taking advantage of educational opportunities that are provided completely online.
Not unlike on-site classes, an online course may require you to do some reading, watch videos, interact with the material, take quizzes or tests and submit assignments.
Online courses offer many benefits, including affordability, convenience, rapid feedback for assignments, equality of access no matter where you live in the world (as long as you have a broadband connection) and 24/7/365 access to content from any time zone.
Many of the best online learning platforms also offer personalized lesson plans based on your learning styles and interests by tailoring the information delivered to you based on a learner profile that you get to complete in advance.
Who Should Consider Using an Online Learning Platform?
This is a great option for people who have time constraints, live in remote rural areas, live in foreign countries with limited educational options, or have mobility impairments.
It's not for everyone though. For some people, the dynamics of learning online may not provide them with the same immediacy as interacting with other students and faculty at school.
And since you learn at your own pace, classes may take longer to complete than if you were taking them in person on a set schedule.
Having said that, learning online can be a life saver for people who are not in a position to attend traditional classes, such as people with certain disabilities that impinge on their mobility, people who cannot afford to take time off work and family, or people who live in parts of the world with no direct access to internationally recognized educational institutions.
Learning online is also a lot more cost-effective than in-person instruction due to the ability of educational institutions to use digital technology to scale worldwide without the expense of opening foreign offices.
This feature, for example, makes it possible for learners to obtain online degrees from world-class universities for a fraction of the cost of on-campus tuition and housing.
The Benefits of Taking an Online Course
While some people may fear that the quality of learning material online is substandard compared to on-site learning, or fear their degrees will not be valued by employers, the benefits really outweigh the risks.
As far as the above fears, the quality issue might have been a problem in the early days of the industry when there wasn’t as much course curation taking place, but this is no longer the case.
Nowadays, most online learning platforms offer a scoring mechanism where you can easily identify who the best teachers are before you sign up for classes.
Also, most sites (in fact, all reputable ones) offer generous money-back guarantees, often 30-days in duration, so you can truly immerse yourself in the material with no financial risk.
In terms of value, there’s a growing number of platforms that have created partnerships with top-tier universities, such as Harvard, Yale and MIT, as well as companies such as Google and Amazon, where they offer accredited courses and full online university degrees that are internationally recognized.
As far as benefits are concerned, consider the many advantages of taking an online course: flexibility in your schedule, not having to worry about traffic or commuting, avoiding gas and parking costs, not needing to deal with crowded classrooms and working at your own pace.
How to Get Started?
The first step to getting started is to familiarize yourself with the top learning platforms on the market. Check out their sites and explore what types of courses they each specialize in.
Step two is to clearly define what your area of study is going to be.
Are you looking to learn a new hobby, perhaps how to play a musical instrument or learn how to paint? If this is the case, there are many platforms that target specific areas of interest — for example Creativelive caters to learners who want to immerse themselves in the creative arts.
Maybe you want to add a new certification to advance in your career without having to attend night school? Many platforms, like Coursera and EdX.org focus on accredited courses recognized by large employers.
Or perhaps, you’re interested in obtaining a masters degree online? To this end, there are a growing number of online learning platforms that have teamed up with leading universities to offer full degrees — two examples are Simplilearn in the U.S. and FutureLearn in the U.K.
The next step is to browse the course catalog of your selected platforms to find the online courses that best fit your needs. Make sure you check for past student feedback about the courses and instructors before you sign up.
The final step is to make your selection and register for your course. Make sure the learning system offers a money-back guarantee so that you can back out of it if the course doesn’t meet your expectations.
How Much Does an Online Course Cost?
When it comes to cost, there’s a very wide range of options, from free to multiple thousands of dollars, depending on the depth of training and the level of accreditation you’re seeking.
For example, some platforms like the Khan Academy are completely free, as it’s funded primarily by corporate donations, but it specializes on K-12 students and AP courses.
Some other platforms offer some free courses for beginners so you can get a taste for the content, and then charge on a per use basis for more advanced levels.
Per-use costs can vary greatly, anywhere from $20 or $30 to several hundreds depending on the duration of the course and on whether they’re accredited or not.
If you’re intending on signing up for online courses regularly, some platforms offer a recurring monthly fee — similarly to Netflix — where you can take an unlimited number of online courses from their catalog every month (e.g. Skillshare Premium.)
Where costs can run you into the thousands is for full online degrees with a year-long duration or more.
While this sounds like a large sum of money, it’s just a fraction of the cost of attending the degree-granting universities in person to obtain the same result.
For example, Edx.org offers an online master’s degree in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin, which is a top-10 ranked computer science school in the U.S. for $10,000. However, in person attendance for the same degree will cost you many times that amount.
Pros and Cons of Learning Online
With the convenience of being able to take courses whenever you want and not having to worry about school schedules or commutes, learning online is a fantastic attractive alternative for many people — yet it does have its pros and cons.
Let's assess below whether this type of learning is the best solution for you or if you’d be better off in a traditional school setting.
What Does Online Learning Mean for New Students?
Learning online is an education approach in which students learn at their own pace from a remote location via the internet, while enjoying unrestricted access to information.
There are many benefits to learning online, including convenience, accessibility and cost. Numerous students even report they feel a lot less time pressure in an online setting compared to on-campus classes.
Distance learners are able to complete assignments in a more relaxed manner since they don’t require face-to-face contact with their teacher or class participants.
Learning online also presents the opportunity for working adults who don't want to interrupt their careers to take full classes part-time through night school programs, or have young families and cannot accommodate the commute.
Is Learning Online Right for You?
There are many factors that go into the process of figuring out whether this type of learning is right for you or not.
You first need to take a close look at your budget, your time constraints, your family responsibilities and last but not least, whether there is a learning platform that covers your area of interest.
Some may find learning online to be the ideal way to acquire knowledge because they can study where and when they’re most likely to be energized and focused both mentally and physically.
This could also be a great option for people with a physical disability that restricts their mobility and transportation choices.
However, this learning approach can present some challenges as well.
For example, if you have trouble finding the motivation to attend remote sessions without the need for the peer pressure of a physical environment, you might be better off in a classroom setting with other students.
Also, if you have an extroverted personality, you might find the nature of self-learning too isolating and may need a physical setting in order to thrive academically.
How to Choose the Right Learning Platform?
It all depends on what your goals are. If you’re looking for certified career advancement courses that you can take outside of work hours, then you might want to explore sites like FutureLearn, EdX.org and Simplilearn.
In all cases, you want your learning platform to offer a mix of:
- An intuitive user interface
- Ease of use on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones
- Built-in collaboration tools
- Lesson variety with multiple difficulty levels (e.g. beginner, intermediate, advanced)
- Assignments and quizzes at every level of difficulty
- Feedback from real instructors and fellow students instead of general forums and knowledge bases
What Are the Pros and Cons of Online Learning?
There’s no doubt that the internet has revolutionized the learning industry in many positive ways. However, like anything in life, this has both pluses and minuses. Let’s summarize them below:
- Online courses are flexible and convenient; you can take online courses at any time of day
- As technology in your field of work constantly evolves, you're always up-skilling with the latest available training in real time
- There's no need to commute to school, which saves money on gas or public transportation
- You can interact online with your instructors and other students through discussion boards or chats, making it less intimidating than a traditional classroom settings
- You don’t need to take time off work to attend school
- You can work at your own pace
- There are a lot of online course platforms to choose from, so there’s always something for everyone
- It’s a lot more affordable than on-site learning
- Online courses are a great way to learn new skills, knowledge and hobbies
- You can take as many online classes as you want without having to worry about scheduling conflicts
- Classes are available 24/7, so they're perfect for those who have busy schedules
- If your learning platform doesn’t score teachers by popularity, you may unknowingly end up with a weak teacher (this is especially true for non accredited courses, like hobbies and general skills)
- There’s no face-to-face interaction with other students or teachers, which may be important for some people
- You could find it hard to keep up with everything that's happening in your coursework without a group of friends to help you out (unless you sign up with friends)
- The instructors can’t always respond in real time when you ask a question as when you are in an on-site class setting
- Many online courses have no personal interaction with the instructor
- You can't easily ask for help from a student or peer after class if you get stuck on a problem
- It can be difficult for some people to stay motivated when working independently
- Online courses can’t offer access to specialized equipment, such as lab equipment, that traditional classes are able to supply
- Online courses are not always accessible to everyone (at a minimum you'll need access to high-speed internet and a fairly modern computer or mobile device)
Frequently Asked Questions
What Online Courses Are in Demand?
We're in the age of self-improvement.
With the massive transition to the digital economy, people today are looking for easy online access to resources they can use to develop new hobbies, start new businesses and better manage their health, money and careers.
So, areas that are in high demand now include all forms of creative courses such as art, photography, cooking and pottery.
Learning musical instruments is also in high demand and so are investment, personal development, health, fitness, business, entrepreneurship and career advancement verticals.
How Do I Choose a Learning Marketplace?
The best way to choose a learning marketplace is to determine what type of learner you are after.
Some people prefer to be self-directed and do not want to solicit feedback on their work, while other learners look for platforms that provide accountability and encouragement.
Also, your choice of platform depends on whether you offer courses that allow students to pick up a skill they're interested in learning for their personal development or to gain full certification required to upgrade their employment status.
How Much Are Online Learning Platforms?
Platforms vary widely in cost depending on the learning needs of their audience, from free to several hundred dollars a month.
For example, the Khan Academy offers free K-12 courses in math and sciences because they are primarily funded by large corporate donations.
But for students who want to obtain an online degree that's accreditated they'll likely have to pay top dollar — for example, a year-long post graduate degree in cloud computing from Caltech delivered by Simplilearn costs $5,000.
What Features Should I Look for In Online Course Platforms?
When looking for online course platforms, you should consider the following features:
- Ease of use: The platform should be easy to use, with a user-friendly interface and a minimal learning curve
- Features: The platform should offer a variety of features, including course editor, assessment tools, quiz builders, content drip technology, sales funnels and landing pages, membership capabilities and email marketing capture pages
- Integrations: The platform should integrate with complementary marketing and sales tools, such as email marketing platforms and payment processing gateways
- Prices: Pricing plans should be such that you can get a reasonable return on investment based on the level of revenue you're expected to generate from course sales, which will depend on the size of your audience