The concept of online education while it seems like a breakthrough to a majority of people now, still leaves clouds of doubt over the minds of others.
There are tons of platforms; such as social media, local advertisements, and so on that make promises to offer the best quality of courses at affordable prices but a lot of people have fallen victim to purchasing these courses that end up as a waste of time and resources for them.
If you’re an avid learner looking for an organized platform with accountable customer support or If you’re interested in teaching a skill you’re an expert at and are looking for the best online platform to empower others and get paid, then this ultimate guide on online course platforms is for you.
We are going to be looking through the best Online Course Platforms available right now and also addressing common topics on the subject of Online Course Platforms. Let the journey begin.
Online Learning Platforms Vs Online Course Platforms
These are two terms that are used interchangeably which you might come across when making findings in line with eLearning.
The simplest way to differentiate the two terms is from a point of view perspective. When a learner/student is looking for an Online Course, what they want is an Online Learning Platform.
An online learning platform emphasizes and presents the learner’s perspective. If you’re looking to sign up for a platform to learn new things then you’re looking for an Online Learning Platform. Popular Online Learning Platforms include Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udacity, Skillshare, and many more, which we would go into detail later on in this article.
An Online Course platform takes the perspective of the online instructor/ teacher. If you’re looking for a platform to sell your courses with more flexibility and freedom over course creation, delivery, and price, then an Online Course Platform is ideal for you.
Online Course platforms include software and tools like Teachable, Kajabi, Podia, and LearnWorlds, etc. These are the tools that enable online course creators to create a learning environment that is personified from the design of the website down to the marketing features. They give you the opportunity to sell unique content to your learners.
Best Online Learning Platforms
Udemy is one of the largest online learning destination founded in May 2010 by Eren Bali, Gagan Biyani, and Oktay Caglar. It is an American massive open online course (MOOC) provider aimed at students, businesses, and governments to gain the skills they need to compete in today’s fast-changing competitive economy.
As of January 2020, the Udemy website has more than 35 million students and 57,000 instructors teaching courses in over 65 languages.
Udemy is a great online learning platform to learn whatever you want. With a wide variety of courses available (more than 130,000), it offers a robust amount of information for learners.
Udemy is very popular amongst individuals who are looking for a very friendly and chill approach to learn an entirely new skill and showcase it in the CV/resumes. They offer massive discounts as high as 80-90% sometimes. This could be an advantage to you if you’re a learner on the platform but the Udemy instructors don’t always get benefit from this as their courses are sold at a discount.
Key Features of Udemy Courses:
For any Udemy course, there are some basic features that you should anticipate. They include:
- 30-day Money-Back Guarantee: Udemy offers a 100% refund of the tuition fees if you decide to discontinue your pursuit of the course.
- Certificate after completion: After completion of a course, you are awarded a certificate. Although the courses are non-accredited so the certificate isn’t recognized on a professional level but, is a good addition still.
- Student Reviews and Ratings: This feature helps you evaluate a course before purchasing a course. The reviews are hopefully unbiased and give an insight into what to expect from the course.
- Quizzes and Assignments: Easy to difficult quizzes and assignments are set up across the course of the journey of learning.
- Lifetime access to enrolled courses: Once enrolled, you have access to the entire course content forever. This way you can go back and retake lessons if needed. What’s more, you can even download the videos in your Udemy app to learn at your own pace.
- Affordable courses to gain skills.
- Tons of free courses
- 30-day refund policy
- Wide variety of courses available on the platform
- Certificate at completion
- Lifetime access to enrolled courses.
- Non-accredited certificates
- Few instructors deliver low-quality content.
Once you’re signed up and have an account with Udemy, you can get access to their course content by making a one-time payment for your course of interest. Most of the prices start from $20 and are often less than $200.
If you are a student looking to accomplish IT certification skills, Udemy offers a Pro version; Udemy Pro which is available for a subscription of $19.99 per month. Udemy Pro offers IT certification in topics such as AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. Here is a list of IT certification courses available on Udemy Pro.
Skillshare is a highly interactive online learning community that was founded in 2010 by Michael Karnjanaprakorn. While it may not be the obvious choice for learning for professionals or finding a new career path but, it’s a great platform for casual learning of new skills.
It offers a variety of courses that are intended to appeal more to the creatives. Their most popular courses belong to the categories of Graphic Design, Photography, Creative Writing, and the likes. Skillshare is also an ideal go-to destination for picking up soft skills and skills to indulge in your hobbies.
A noteworthy feature of Skillshare is its vibrant community. Students have the opportunity to work, ask questions, and give feedback to each other. While many other online course platforms have avenues for communication between students, Skillshare’s community is known to be synergetic both for teachers and students alike.
Key Features of Skillshare Courses:
- Free classes
- High-quality learning materials
- Group classes
- Offline access (for premium students only).
- Free trial (free 14 day trail also available for premium)
- Offers free classes
- Great community.
- No certificate
- Available only in English.
Skillshare offers over 20,000 classes that are accessible through different subscription plans.
- Monthly Subscription: Fee of $19 per month.
- Annual Subscription: Fee of $99 per year. This will save you some money that means you get to pay only $8.25 for each month.
3. LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning, formerly known as Lynda (a name given after its co-founder Lynda Weinman) is an online learning platform that offers video courses that are taught by industry experts from various fields.
LinkedIn Learning courses fall majorly into 3 categories: Business, Creative, and Technology. It’s a good platform if you’re looking to become fluent in specific skills that fall under one of these categories.
By utilizing slideshows, high-quality videos, and a variety of work-related material; LinkedIn Learning helps to develop your professional skills. The integration with LinkedIn itself is also a great bonus as you get the option to download your certificate after course completion and upload it to your LinkedIn profile. This could be beneficial for those who are seeking employment through the LinkedIn social media platform.
Key Features of LinkedIn Learning:
- Course Recommended Engine: Thanks to the integration with your LinkedIn account, LinkedIn Learning is able to automatically recommend courses for you based on your profile.
- Comprehension checks
- Discussion Forum: It also has expert lecturers available on the forums that give proper guidance on times of distress.
- Content Libraries: Its library is always updated and filled with current information on various topics and products.
- LinkedIn profile integration (for showcasing certification at course completion).
- Course contents are downloadable and accessible offline.
- Content available in multiple languages.
- You will get a 1-month free trial.
- Great for working professionals.
- Limited variety of courses.
- Non-accredited certificates.
LinkedIn Learning offers a 1-month free trial. Once the trial period is over and if you would like to continue to have access to the platform, you have two options:
- Monthly Subscription: This goes for $29.99 per month.
- Annual Subscription: Make a yearly payment of $239.88. With this plan, you get to save $10 for each month.
One of the most sought out skills today is programming and all the other tech skills that revolve around it. Treehouse is an online school that offers courses in web design, web development, mobile development, and game development.
Using a Bootcamp-like style, Treehouse is aimed at beginners who are looking to learn to code and build a career around it. If you are committed to learning and completing a course (or ‘tracks’ as they are called), Treehouse is a great choice for you.
One of the advantages of this platform is that it is career-focused. This means that they make it one of their major objectives to not only teach you how to code or design but, also put in the effort to make sure at the end of the track, you are ready to start your career right away.
With Treehouse you have 3 distinct paths that you can take; the Course plan, the Course Pro plan, and the Techdegree.
The Course plan gives you access to the full library of video classes and resources including interactive quizzes and code challenges. You also get to be a part of the Treehouse community forum.
Course Plus plan comes with the features of the Course plan as well as bonus content, additional workshops, and offline access to videos by downloading them.
Techdegree is a Bootcamp-tier program that offers all the features of Course Plus and more. With this, you get reviews of your projects, access to the exclusive Slack community and at the end of the program, you will be tested rigorously to make sure you are now ready to start your new career in the field.
Key Features of Treehouse:
- Quizzes and Challenges: Each lesson in a course is accompanied by quizzes and practice sessions that create a highly interactive environment for users.
- Exclusive Slack Community: Community is important to developers and aspiring developers. Treehouse users get the option to join a supportive online community.
- Leaderboard: Points and badges of completion build up your stats as a Treehouse user and your stats are visible to fellow users or recruiters. This serves as a form of encouragement and is also a venue to showcase your learning progress.
- Free trial available.
- High-quality courses.
- Great for beginners.
- Non-accredited courses
- Only courses revolving around software development and design are available. If you’re looking to learn something in another field then Treehouse is not the online course platform for you.
Treehouse works on subscription based plans.
- Courses: For the course plan, you pay $25/month
- Courses plus: You will pay $49/month
- Techdegree: costs $199/month.
Is Treehouse Techdegree Worth it?
Treehouse Techdegree offers 5 programs:
- Front End Web Development Techdegree: 3 to 9 months
- PHP Development Techdegree: 3 to 12 months
- UX Design Techdegree: 3 to 8 months
- Python Development Techdegree: 2 to 5 months.
Most Techdegree users agree that it is worth the money and is a great experience overall. If you would much rather prefer a free alternative that’s not like a boot camp but has great resources for learning to code as well, you should check out this list of free online platforms for learning how to code.
Coursera was founded in 2012 by Stanford University computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. It’s one of the most prestigious online educational platforms and offers various online courses for you to learn.
On the Coursera platform, you have the option to take paid or free online courses at some of the best universities in the world!
Taking classes from renowned teachers is a very motivating part of the teaching and learning process. Coursera team is always eager to learn how they can improve learning features for their students.
Some of the popular courses such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) amongst many are offered at affordable pricing with the option of financial aid.
One major advantage Coursera has over many other really great online course platforms like Udemy is that its certification is worth it to the employers as its courses are provided by the best of the world’s universities. This means when you enroll for a Coursera course and complete it, you really are getting your money’s worth.
Key Features of Coursera:
- Different Program Paths: Coursera’s learning programs are of different types. There are over 3000 free courses, Mastertracks, Specializations, and Online degrees in partnership with top universities.
- Course recommendation engine.
- Interactive content.
- Accredited certificate at course/degree completion.
- Machine-assisted peer review: This is a new feature that is claimed to be fast and accurate enough to automatically mark learner submissions based on manually graded submissions. This will speed up the grading process and enable users to get their feedback on time.
- Accredited university degrees
- Relatively cost-efficient
- Offline access
- High-quality courses
- Disciplined environment.
- Not always beginner-friendly
- Some of the course contents are outdated.
After subscribing to Coursera and signing in, you have access to Coursera individual courses, Most of these individual courses cost approximately $30 to $100.
Subscription plans are as follows:
- Specialization Subscription: For Specializations, Coursera runs a subscription model with monthly payments that range from something like $30 to $80 / month. Most Specialization subscriptions offer a 7-day trial period. You can cancel your subscription within this trial period.
- Online degrees: This will earn you an accredited university degree. The starting price is around $15,000.
Coursera prices are sometimes somewhat confusing. Users in different countries may see different prices and the pricing of courses can vary even for individual countries and users.
Coursera also offers financial aid to students who are unable to afford to pay the course fees. Click here for more information on the application for Financial aid.
It is an American massive open online course (MOOC) provider created by Harvard and MIT. Most of the courses are of high quality from well-known universities around the world such as UC Berkeley and Boston University.
edX is a trusted platform for online learning and education platform that is home to more than 20 million learners, the majority of top-ranked universities in the world, and industry-leading companies, offering 2000+ online courses.
A great feature of edX is the option to audit which is applicable to many courses. This means you have free access to the course content excluding graded assessments and certificates at completion. This is a pretty handy feature and it means that you can access virtually most of the courses for free unless acquiring the certificate is a major priority to you.
Another helpful thing about edX is it’s community of helping people and it’s review system.
Key Features of edX:
- Offline access: You have the option to download a lesson and view it whenever you want even without internet access.
- Activity grading
- Universities and companies partnerships.
- Accredited certificates.
- Free course option.
- Self-paced or timed classes help you with discipline and enable you to learn at your pace.
- The mobile app is just as great.
- Courses are limited to educational and science-related topics.
- Discussion forums are difficult to navigate.
If you want to be able to earn a certificate at course completion and also complete assignments, you’d have to pay.
edX fees are not subscription-based and vary depending on the course. Most track fees range between $50 to $300.
edX also offers financial assistance to learners who need the certificate but, can’t afford to pay the fees. Find out how to apply for financial assistance.
Udacity is a MOOC-online based learning provider that is known to be reliable and delivers high-quality content. Originally, it used to offer university courses back when it was established in 2011 but, overtime has now morphed into an online education platform that is accessible by the whole world.
They offer ‘Nanodegree programs’ which train students with immersive hands-on learning and although the certificates are not accredited, top technology companies hire Udacity graduates and even use Nanodegree programs to train their existing staff.
Key Features Of Udacity:
- Course Catalog
- Document Comparison
- Employee Training
- Personal Learning
- Video Courses
- Class Management.
- High-Quality Content: The content of the platform is beautiful. It is obvious that it adapts to the needs of the students. It is relevant, timely, and particularly effective. Even the speakers selected on Udacity are very vibrant and attractive and they keep the classes lively.
- Easy to use
- Its courses to use a project-based approach.
- There are free and paid titles.
- The content provided is extremely relevant to what the industry currently needs. You will be taught by experienced instructors who will eliminate the error limits.
- Certificates are awarded at completion.
- The live mentor chat feature has been removed which makes getting answers to questions a difficult task.
- Initial knowledge and preparation are required before enrolling for most courses.
Udacity has about 200 courses that are free but, offer no certification. The cost for a nanodegree course starts from $200 and the course duration can take anywhere between 6-12 months.
You can also pay with a monthly subscription of $399 per month.
Best Online Course Platforms
If you’re looking for an online course platform to sell your courses with more flexibility and freedom over course creation, delivery, and price, then an Online Course Platform might be what you need. Here is our list of the Best Online Course Platforms available right now:
Learnworlds is an all-in-one platform to Create, Sell & Market your online courses and provide online training. If you’re looking to offer a highly interactive learning experience for your students. then this Online Course Platform is for you.
It is available across all major platforms; Windows, Linux, and Mac – and has integrations with other commonly used software such as Dropbox, Zoom, Spotify, and many more.
Despite being a robust platform with a wide variety of features, Learnworlds is very easy to use and set up. A built-in Social Community, Beautiful Templates, Modular Pages Builder, Assessment Engine, Automated Certificates, and Advanced Analytics are made available by this platform.
Learnworlds is a favorite among course creators because of it’s very intuitive interface and professionalism. Its customer service is known for being top-notch.
Key Features of Learnworlds:
Learnworlds has some unique features such as:
- Interactive video editor
- automatic video transcripts
- built-in communities
- E-commerce system
- robust website builder
- Certificate management
- Mobile learning
- System reports.
- Affordable prices
- Unlimited Courses
- VIP experience
- Ready-made Templates
- Free Trial Available.
- Doesn’t offer a native mobile app
- Limited payment options for your courses.
- Starter (For newbie Course creators)- Goes for $24/month
- Pro Trainer (For professional trainers)- Goes for $63.2/month
- Learning Center: This is the most popular plan and goes for $199.2/month.
Learnworlds has a 30 day Money-back guarantee and a free trial.
With over 50,000 course creators and $200 million+ generated from the sale of online courses, Thinkific gives you the confidence and assurance you need to sell your courses online.
Thinkific has amazing customization options that enable you to brand your courses and storefront to look just like your website, offer quizzes, surveys, student discussions, prerequisite lessons, and completion certificates.
Although no coding knowledge is required, Thinkific gives you full access to modify HTML and CSS. It also has existing integrations with popular platforms like MailChimp and Brillium exams. You can also use Zapier integration to connect to virtually any third-party platforms.
A nice advantage Thinkific offers is a free version which other course creation platforms don’t usually offer. The downside to this is that you are limited to selling only 3 courses. This can still come in really handy, depending on the number of courses you are looking to sell.
Key Features of Thinkific:
Thinkific has a handful of features that are available on all its versions including the free version. They include:
- No design or technical experience required.
- Full video & content hosting.
- Create courses with any content type.
- Import existing content.
- Retain ownership over your content.
- Built-in content creation tools.
- Downloadable content.
- Embed 3rd party tools and sites.
- Student course reviews.
- Student discussions.
- Student surveys.
- Great user Interface Design for the Course Creator.
- Integration with 3rd party software and tools.
- The free version is available.
- Easy to use and professional final look of the course.
- HTML and CSS access is a nice feature for developers.
- Their affiliate link functionality could be a bit more robust and flexible
- Customer service is not as responsive.
- Free Plan – $0
- Basic Plan – $49/month
- Pro Plan – $99/month
- Growth Plan – $99/month (plus $0.10 per active student. First 100 students are FREE)
- Premiere plan – $499/month.
Is Thinkific Premiere Plan Worth It?
The Premiere plan might seem to be quite pricey but, before dismissing it, here are some reasons why it might be worth your money.
The Premiere plan comes with additional features such as:
- White-labeling: with this feature, you can remove Thinkific branding from your website and the course player.
- Direct Infusionsoft integration
- Bulk emailing: enables you to send emails to multiple students at once through the dashboard.
- You can have up to 5 site admins and as many as 50-course admins.
Teachable is a powerful online course creation and selling tool that offers a premium course builder, integrated payment tools, and award-winning support amongst other things.
It is easy to use and makes available all the tools you would need on one platform. Teachable is known for having a straight to point set up and appeals to busy course creators who may not have time for all the technical touch-ups to make a website look good. Teachable helps you with that.
It also offers a free version, although they take a 10% cut plus $1 from each paid course sale. In addition, Teachable has robust marketing and affiliate management tools.
Key Features Of Teachable:
- Asynchronous Learning
- Blended Learning
- Built-in Course Authoring
- Learner Portal
- Mobile Learning
- Synchronous Learning
- Video Conferencing
- It is simple and easy-to-use.
- It has a landing page editor and blogging capabilities.
- It comes with built-in eCommerce features.
- It includes built-in affiliate, marketing, and sales tools.
- Convenient for novice course creators as well as experienced ones.
- You can create discounts and special codes for your students.
- Teachable takes cuts of pay even when you are on a paid plan (the basic plan).
- No built-in gamification.
- Basic plan – $29/month (5% transaction fees)
- Pro plan – $99/month (No transaction fees)
- Business plan – $249/month (Allows as many as 20 admin users and no transaction fees are required).
Kajabi is an all-in-one online creation platform that excels in its marketing automation tools. You can segment users in your list, send professionally-branded messages, and launch your advertising campaigns.
Kajabi sells itself as the one home for your whole business which may include websites, courses, checkout, landing pages, emails, and many more.
It is often referred to as pricey, but most customers are satisfied with their end product when working with Kajabi.
Key Features Of Kajabi:
- Website builder: Create a professional website with a drag-and-drop builder that integrates perfectly with your marketing.
- One-click marketing sequences: Generate marketing sequence templates using built-in pipeline blueprints.
- Custom domain: Use a custom domain to further grow your brand and make your Kajabi site even more discoverable.
- Autoscaling: Your Kajabi site uses powerful auto-scaling technology to keep your site blazing fast no matter how many visitors you have.
- SEO optimized
- Automated marketing tools
- Quizzes and Drip Content.
- Built-in email and marketing tools.
- It offers various integrations with popular software.
- It allows the creation of landing pages.
- It is easy to use.
- Great Customer service team.
- Expensive pricing options.
- Can be overwhelming to learn how to set up and utilize all the features.
- Basic Plan: $149/month
- Growth Plan: $199/month
- Pro Plan: $399/month.
Podia is a great alternative to other Online Course creation platforms like Thinkific and Kajabi. In addition to being affordable when compared to the rest, Podia stands out in its membership functionality and in its affiliate program.
Just like most of its competitors, Podia has embedded checkout options that allow people to do the checkout process without leaving your site. It also has integrated email marketing with also drip functionality (not present in Teachable or Thinkific). Zapier integration is also available which enables integration with most 3rd party software tools.
Key Features Of Podia:
- Free migration: Move your content from wherever it’s hosted or saved.
- Live customer support: Great customer service is available and ready to help whenever you need them
- Unlimited hosting included: “No need to pay for hosting or deal with technical headaches.”
- Language + Currency: Choose from 11 languages and 22 currencies.
- Build your website: “Add an about page, a contact page, or any other page you’d like your visitors to see.”
- Custom URL: Make your site your own with a custom URL.
- Live Previews.
- Customizable Branding.
- It is very easy and simple to use.
- It offers affiliate marketing options within the platform.
- Membership subscription is made available.
- Very refined UI, UX.
- With Podia you have a 0% transaction fee on sales, whereas Teachable charges you 5% even in their premium plan.
- Very pocket friendly.
- No support for support SCORM or TinCan.
- There are no white-label options.
- It doesn’t come with a certification feature.
Subscription pricing plans include:
- Mover: $39/month
- Shaker: $79/month.
6. Academy Of Mine
Academy of Mine is a standard all in one platform that empowers you to create and sell your courses in professional training, continuing education, and certification.
It is a high-end learning management system (LMS) that is ideal for Small businesses or Enterprise Customers that are doing training and certifications including continuing education, safety training, healthcare, law, insurance, internal/employee training, partner training.
Academy of Mine is cloud-based and is an award-winning platform that enables you to “customize existing features or build new features. Via API, integrate with the external software you rely on. SCORM/xAPI compliant.”
Key Features Of Academy Of Mine:
- Audio/Video Recording.
- Interactive Learning.
- SCORM Compliance.
- Template Management
- Drag & Drop Course Builder.
- Automated eCommerce.
- Marketing and Analytics tools.
- It has SCORM support.
- Simple to handle and navigate.
- Has a very active support team.
- The platform can be translated into many languages other than English.
- In-built messaging makes it easy to communicate with your students.
- It is a bit expensive.
- It has a steep learning curve to get set up.
Academy Of Mine pricing starts at $9997.00 per year or $499/month.
What is an Online Course?
In an age where everything is going digital, it’s only expected that learning follows the trend. Sure, formal education that takes place within the four walls of a building is still relevant but, what if I wanted to pick up a new skill like knowing how to edit photos with a sophisticated video editing software such as Camtasia or Adobe Premiere Pro? Or even learning how to code?
An online course is your gateway ticket. You will get all the information, all the practical and hands-on exercises from educational institutions or experts in your desired field by simply staying in the comfort of your home…..or your office or wherever it is you like to use your computer (or mobile phone).
Online learning isn’t all about learning fast skills or indulging in hobbies, it is the future of education. Various levels of education are made available through Online Course Platforms; from Children’s education platforms like Twinkl to Platforms that offer Bachelor’s, Undergrad, and even Master’s degrees.
Here are some interesting facts about online learning according to Purdue University & The National Center for Education Statistics:
- More than 6 million students are currently in online courses as part of their higher education program.
- Almost half of all students enrolled in online courses are educated exclusively through distance education.
- 85% of students think that online learning is the same or better than the traditional classroom experience.
If you are still wondering, ‘Are Online Courses Worth it?’, here are a couple of benefits of Online Courses that would hopefully clear your doubts:
- Education at a pace that suits you: Online courses offer learning at your own pace. This gives you the flexibility to determine your schedule. Although, some online courses are synchronous (this means that set times are placed by the instructors and the students have to be available during that particular time to receive the lecture over a medium like a Zoom or other video conferencing applications), most Online Course Platforms offer asynchronous methods of teaching which offer even more flexibility.
- A more comfortable learning environment: With Online Courses, your learning environment is completely up to you. You have the freedom to go to wherever that suits you best and study comfortably. My go-to places are usually serene cafes.
- Geographic Flexibility: This is one of the biggest advantages of online courses. The opportunity to learn from expert instructors and top educational institutions who may even be on another continent is really something worth mentioning. Not only does it cut costs in the long run, but it also gives your learning endless possibilities because you don’t have to boycott your normal life dramatically, all because you want to learn something new.
- Improve Your Technical Skills: Online courses are a great medium for acquiring new technical skills. Students can learn new skills to spice up their resumes and CVs and even those who are already working can add to their skills and increase their worth to their employers.
- Career Advancement: You can earn a certificate or degree that can qualify you for a job or a pay raise. Most online degrees and certificates also allow learners to continue working while they study. Students can work during the day and complete coursework in the evenings or on the weekends. Some learners can also take quick online courses that they could apply to their jobs immediately.
How To Choose The Right Platform
Despite the amazing benefits of taking Online Courses, there are a handful of sources that deliver courses that are below expectations. The internet is that largest marketplace, after all, some sellers are bound to try to dish out low-quality products.
Because of this, you have to look out for some things when choosing an Online Course platform. Firstly, you’d need to know what type of Online Courses you are looking for so let’s quickly cover the different types of Online Courses that are available in the marketplace.
Types of Online Courses
There are various types of online courses and degrees that are available. The kind of Course/degree you’re looking for determines what online platforms you should be considering. Here are the common types of Online Courses:
A MOOC is a massive open online course. It is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. Popular Online Course platforms like Udemy or Treehouse are MOOC providers.
This kind of online courses can be academic, created by university professors, and following what traditional university coursework would look like.
You might choose to take this kind of course to learn something like video editing, logo designing or web design that you want to know, but don’t necessarily want to go back to school for.
These type of courses are very popular and offer the highest level of flexibility.
These include courses from colleges and Universities. Some of them provide access to take a degree (bachelors, masters, or prerequisite degrees to college admissions). A great platform for University degrees is the University of People, it’s a tuition-free, online college that is accredited and has a partnership with many top universities.
Platforms like Coursera and edX also are in collaboration with top universities like Stanford and also offer some of their courses.
This includes Online Course Platforms like Thinkific, Teachable, Podia, and Learnworlds. Professionals and experts in a field could personally host their online courses through these platforms.
You can find a variety of courses through personal brands from standard stuff like Digital marketing to unusual topics like tattooing.
Other factors to consider when choosing an online learning platform:
- Quality of content delivered: You can check for reviews on platforms like Trustradius or Quora. You can also start with their free trials as many online course and learning platforms have free trial sessions available.
- Interaction and Community: This will come in handy eventually when the frustration or roadblocks set in, you want a community that is helpful and also courses that make use of interactive tools for learning such as gamification features and quizzes.
- Hobby or Career: While some people are very comfortable paying huge amounts of money for skills they only use as a hobby, consider exploring free online learning platforms like ALISON. If you gain more interest and want to dive in deeper, you can then pay for a master class.
How To Sell Online Courses
Creating and selling an online course is not an easy deal but, it can be if you make a proper plan and preparations coupled with using an effective Online course platform for the creation, distribution, and marketing of your course.
We’ve put together a quick step by step procedure of the things you’d need to know and do in order to sell your course online and cash out.
1. What Topic Do You Want To Teach?
The first thing you need to do is to decide what topic you want your course to be about. To do this, you’d want to consider a few factors such as:
- What topic are you an expert in?
- Is the topic you are going to teach is in demand? Check out this list of online course niches in demand.
2. Determine Your Target Audience
This is a very important step that you need to take. Your audience determines everything; from your tone to your storefront design.
For example, if you are creating a course for a younger audience, you’d want to adjust your teaching style and maybe take a more laidback approach or if you are creating content for training employees in a certain field, you’d want to make use of professional-looking templates and themes.
3. Get Your Tools In Order
If you feel confident and comfortable with your initial knowledge then you need to evaluate the tools you have at hand for videography and recording course content.
The tools you would need could include:
- A screen sharing software (Screenflow or Screen Leap are great options).
- A microphone (Blue Snowball or Audio Technica ATR 2100 are popular choices amongst online course creators). Check out this list of the best microphones for online teaching.
- A Video Camera: The world cares about the quality of your videos. Even with top-notch content, your video quality has to be pleasing to the eye. Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 is the king amongst HD cameras for e-learning.
- Video editing software: Editing is the final procedure for the look and delivery of your video. Not sure what software to use for your edits? We have you covered with the best video editing software.
Other tools like lighting and tripod stand could also come in handy.
4. Create Your Course Outline/Structure
Before writing this article, an outline was created that ensured that all the important things were covered and whenever a writer’s block was hit, the structure served as a guide for what next to create content around.
Brainstorm your ideas, create a skills checklist and make use of milestones for creation of content.
5. Choose an Online Course Creation Platform
You have a variety of options from our list above. Take into consideration the different plans and pick one which will serve you in the long term and boost your sales. Of course, you can choose to self-host your online courses but, this comes with a few challenges. It might not be a good idea if you are looking for an option with longevity.
6. Create Engaging Content
To engage your students, you need to take some things into consideration:
- Make your content educational: The most important thing is that you are offering quality information to your students. You need to make proper research and to give yourself an edge, answer the questions that haven’t been answered on a topic. Or frequently asked questions that you yourself may have even had when you were a newbie on the topic.
- Make your content entertaining: Capture the attention of your students by creating entertaining content. Be your unique, authentic self. People want someone relatable and confident to teach them. Making use of features such as quizzes and pop-ups also helps to create a more interactive atmosphere.
- Make your content valuable: What makes your content valuable? Delivering what your audience wants. If you are appealing to an audience that wants to learn a hands-on skill, incorporating a lot of practical exercises will give your content more value. Awarding certificates at the end of your curriculum also adds more value to your course as well as showing them proof of people just like them in the past that have followed what you are teaching and excelled in their desired field.
7. Get The Price Right
Resist the temptation to set your price bar low. Believe it or not, when products are priced low, they are perceived to have a lower value. Apart from that obvious disadvantage, putting your course at a low price makes it difficult to attract affiliates and marketers. It even makes it difficult to attract quality customers.
Consider the price of your competition and also be honest with yourself and consider the value of what you are selling. With this in mind, you can set a fair price for your course. Leaning towards a higher price will be more beneficial over a low price as long as the value is good and it’s not too much above the average cost for similar products.
8. Market Your Online Course
There are various proven ways to market your online courses and to start making sales. In addition to building a social media presence, below are some of the effective methods to build traffic for your course:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): There is a lot to SEO (you can take a quick Online Course to get the basics covered). That aside, making use of keywords on your website that hosts your course will help you generate organic traffic through Google searches. Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, TheHoth, UberSuggest, and Google Keywords Planner are great for getting keywords on topics.
- YouTube Marketing: People are constantly searching for free content on YouTube. Creating a YouTube channel will go hand in hand with your Online courses whether you are self-hosting or using an existing platform. Rope your potential students and make sure to include links to your courses for a complete tutorial or whatever it is you are trying to market.
- Blogging and Guest posting: Tons of people could find your courses through a blog. If you don’t own a blog or have the time for it, guest posting is an alternative. You can do both of them though. Guest posting on other blogs helps with building backlinks back to your hosting website.
- Ads, Ads, Ads: Yes, Ads are super annoying but, there’s a reason why everyone still uses them. Although it could cost a lot of money, it is absolutely worth it. Google Ads, YouTube ads, and Facebook ads bring in a lot of traffic.
9. Gather Feedback and Reviews
Personally, I aggressively seek out reviews on courses before I pay for them and I know I’m not the only one. Reviews and feedback are super important. Encourage your initial patrons to leave some feedback, write a professional review, or throw in some ratings. As long as you have good content to give, this won’t be a problem. Also, make sure you pay attention to any cons highlighted by your students, respond and improve on them.
10. Stay Updated
Selling your courses is an ongoing process even when you are already live. You need to keep your content updated and keep improving. Topics under the niche of programming languages, for example, you’d expect the content to change very often because it’s an industry that is constantly on the go. So when you make your course, no matter how awesome and valuable it is, you would always need to keep making changes and staying up to date.
Online Courses to boost your CV
If you are looking for skills and qualifications to give your CV/Resume value then, taking an online course is a quick and budget-friendly way to do that. We have put together a list of free online courses that are sure to help boost your CV and future career.
1. Google Digital Garage
Most of their courses are free and widely accepted; I mean it’s Google! From courses in digital marketing, career development to courses on Data analysis and Tech; the Google Digital Garage offers a good number of digital skill courses that look great on a CV. The Google Analytics Academy is also another online course offered by Google that would look good on your CV.
2. Coding Courses
There are so many; a whole ocean of courses that offer coding and programming knowledge. Even if your field of work or the field you are hoping to get into has nothing to do with programming, bear it in mind that your employer is aware that if you know how to code; you are probably good at problem-solving and critical thinking. Aside from that, it is a generally impressive skill.
Platforms like Coursera, Codecademy, Udemy, and Freecodecamp offer some of the best content on Coding and programming.
3. New Language
This is an eye-catcher on CVs and Resumes. It could even be the edge that gets you a job. Even better, there are platforms where you can learn the most sought after languages such as French, Spanish, and Mandarin and learn them for free. Check out ALISON or BBC Academy.
4. Project Management Courses
Simple as it sounds, Project management skills are vital for many positions. Again, it might not be a direct requirement for the position you are looking to get but, it will always look impressive on paper. Taking an online course on project management will ensure you have the skills to back up your claims.
Here are some great Project management courses to get you up to speed:
- Alison: Diploma in Project Management
- Brain Sensei: Complete PMP Exam Prep Course
- Coursera: Applied Project Management Certificate
- Master of Project Academy: Bundled Course
- PMI: Project Management Basics.
5. Social Media Marketing Course
Social media marketing plays a very vital role in the world right now. There are also a plethora of marketing jobs available at any given time. Adding this to your CV gives you an edge in the job market. Even when it’s not a marketing role, it shows that you are proactive and know how to make a presence via social media.
Here are some of the best Social Media Marketing Courses online right now:
- Social Media Marketing MASTERY | Learn Ads on 10+ Platforms
- Social Media Marketing – Complete Certificate Course
- LinkedIn Learning – Social Media Marketing Foundations.
Online Courses Vs Traditional Courses
We already know what online courses are and that they represent a new method of education; e-learning. We certainly know what traditional learning is all about. It’s an education system that requires you to be physically present in a classroom and have live interaction with your teachers and fellow students.
So which way is the most effective? Online learning or Traditional learning? Here are some factors we should take into consideration when making a decision on which one is right for you:
Traditional classes have scheduled times that have been set in stone. It doesn’t offer flexible study hours, therefore in terms of managing your own time and schedule, that freedom is taken away from you.
Online courses give you flexible hours and in the end, teach you how to manage your time better by yourself.
Best Choice: Online Courses
2. Social Interactions
Online learning doesn’t provide an environment for social interaction that you might want as an interactive student. Although, some platforms provide tools for interaction like quizzes and emailing and even community forums, it cannot be compared to face-to-face interaction that can be gotten in a classroom.
Traditional classrooms offer maximum social interaction and help you develop better interpersonal skills. In addition, some students learn ‘in the moment’ and from intellectually challenging professors during the course of a lecture. This is seamlessly achievable in a proper traditional classroom.
The only edge online courses have here is that you get to interact with people from all over the world while, traditional classes will give you a greater level of interaction but, basically with only locals.
Best Choice: Traditional Courses
When taking some factors like transport fare, cost of materials or accommodation close to school, Online courses definitely cost less. A bonus is that most platforms offer lifetime access to your course content and resources so you can re-learn at any time in the future.
Best Choice: Online Courses.
4. Motivation and Productivity
Traditional classrooms offer more motivation and the pressure sort of forces you to be more productive. While this approach might not be the best for everyone, it certainly is effective and motivates a lot of students, and ensures they get their projects done on time due to the supervision.
With time, students master their own time and how to get the best out of their online courses. With some self-discipline, you could be just as motivated and productive with your Online Courses but, it is up to you.
Best Choice: Traditional Courses.
Which One Should You Go With?
The good news is – you don’t have to pick one. Some refer to it as ‘The blended education model’ or ‘hybrid model’. You don’t have to pick one because you can effectively combine them both and get the best out of both worlds.
Elon Musk said ‘everything you need to learn a new skill is available on the internet and going to college is just for fun’ or something close to that. While this take is somewhat controversial, the message remains valid. You can combine both. Either by taking a course with a curriculum that combines traditional and online coursework or by using your online learning medium for learning technical skills and a traditional classroom for lab work or – fun.
Popular Online Courses
We put together a list of the most popular courses for you. This could come in handy whether you want to sell and need an idea of what is in demand, or if you are looking to learn something new:
- How to Learn Online from edX. “Learn essential strategies for successful online learning.”
- Excel/VBA for Creative Problem Solving, Part 1 from the University of Colorado Boulder. This course is “aimed at learners who are seeking to augment, expand, optimize, and increase the efficiency of their Excel spreadsheet skills by tapping into the powerful programming, automation, and customization capabilities available with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA),” explains the course description.
- Crash Course on Python from Google. “This course is designed to teach you the foundations in order to write simple programs in Python using the most common structures.”
- Finding Purpose and Meaning In Life: Living for What Matters Most from the University of Michigan. The course title pretty much says everything you need to know.
- Everyday Excel, Part 1 University of Colorado Boulder. A more basic Excel class for “learners who are seeking to learn Excel from the ground up.”
- Exercising Leadership: Foundational Principles from Harvard University. “Mobilize people to tackle tough problems and build the capacity to thrive through the dangers of change.”
- Introduction to Business Management from King’s College London. “Discover how to manage people, money, and information, and gain confidence and insight into your own management style.”
- Computer Programming for Everyone from the University of Leeds. “Discover the art of computer programming and learn what code can do.”
- Data Analytics for Decision Making: An Introduction to Using Excel Bond University. Another opportunity to become an Excel master. “It’s not enough to gather information; to stand out you must know how to use data to improve real-life decisions,” insists the course description.
- AI for Everyone: Master the Basics from IBM. “Learn what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is by understanding its applications and key concepts including machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks.
Frequently Asked Questions – Online Courses
What Online Courses make money?
If you are looking to create and sell a course online, choose a topic that you are an expert in and one that also has enough demand.
If you are looking for an online course to take so you can make more money, here is a list of lucrative courses you can take that enable you to learn and earn.
What Online Courses are in demand?
Well, in addition to the most popular online courses, there are a handful of courses that are in high demand but, there are so many and it often varies so we would be answering based on the niche that is in high demand. Online courses niches in high demand include:
Computer and technology (Web development, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence, etc), Writing and Content development (Freelance writing, Search Engine Marketing, etc.), and courses under the business and entrepreneurship niche are examples of courses that are in demand right now.
Are Online Courses effective?
Yes, Online learning is in fact effective whether you’re taking an online degree or a course for reasons unrelated to school. The benefits are endless and it is an undisputable effective method of learning.
Which Online Courses are Accredited?
If you are looking for accredited courses, then the online learning platforms you might prefer are Coursera and edX.
What is the Best Free Online Learning Platform?
If you are looking for free online education, most of these platforms offer a plethora of free courses. For platforms that offer all their content exclusively for free, check out Khan Academy or Alison.
E-learning (Online learning) is here and it is here to stay. Whether as a tutor or as a student, making use of these platforms will soon be unavoidable.
Get on the trend now and take a course in that topic you’ve always been interested in or go ahead and begin your course creation journey and empower thousands (or millions!) of people from all over the world.
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Hi, I’m Chandan Negi, Founder of SoftwareTools – a Software Review Blog that provides Software Reviews, SaaS Software, Software Tutorials, and Software Products.