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11 Best Online Learning Platforms of 2022

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Best Online Learning Platforms

Table of Contents

These days, more and more online learning platforms have come into the mainstream. It’s easy to see why people flock to them — top eLearning platforms offer great value one way or another. Some may offer courses much more affordably, while others are on the pricier side. Either way, you’d have picked up a new skill that might help you advance your career by the end of your course. Most courses will reward you with a certificate of completion, while some might even help you earn or maintain your professional accreditations.

Of course, you have the mainstays such as Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), but there are now so many platforms that it can be difficult to keep track of all of them. If you’re feeling confused about all these training platforms, this guide lists the very best of them.

Read on to find out about the best learning platforms and learn more about them!

Best Online Learning Platforms [2022]

  • Coursera - Best Subscription-Based Platform for Online Classes
  • Udemy - Best for Casual Learning and Niche Topics
  • Skillshare - Best for Courses on Creative Skills
  • Udacity - Best for Career Growth
  • edX - Best Free Online Learning Platform
  • PluralSight - Best Learning Platform for Working Professionals
  • Khan Academy - Best Free Platform for Learning Math
  • LinkedIn Learning - Best for Certification Prep and Earning CEUs
  • Thinkful - Best for Bootcamps
  • Simplilearn - Best for Flexible Learning
  • CodeAcademy - Best Online Platform for Learning to Code

What Are the Essential Features of an Online Learning Platform?

As you consider your options and look through each online learning platform, there are a few things to keep an eye out for. Consider these essential features below:

  • Fits Your Budget - Most people choose online learning platforms for their tendency to be much more affordable than traditional schooling, such as colleges and universities. However, not all platforms are created equal — some offer courses for free, others offer them very affordably, and others will burn a hole in your wallet. Ensure the platform you choose fits your budget!
  • High-Quality Courses - It goes without saying that a good platform should offer courses that provide value to learners. At the end of each course, they should have learned something new. Again, not all platforms are the same — some offer courses that are more for personal consumption, while others have courses that truly have the potential to help you advance your career. Either way, the courses should be well-made, easily understandable, informative, and accurate.
  • High-Quality Instructors - A course is often only as good as its instructor. Some platforms have higher standards for instructors than others.
  • User-Friendly Interface - Whether the platform only has a website or also offers an app, it should always have a well-designed and user-friendly interface. An intuitive experience can go a long way.
  • Convenience - Some platforms offer apps and offline learning for the utmost convenience. Some may even allow you to download the course materials and keep them indefinitely.
  • Good Support - Any platform you choose should always have good customer support. The last thing you want is to be left out in the cold after paying a lot of money for a course that won’t work for you.
  • Accessibility Options - Accessibility is something that every platform should have. Unfortunately, not all platforms offer captioned content, transcripts, or courses in different languages.

Most eLearning platforms should also offer either a free trial or a free forever tier that allows you to get a closer look at how everything works before you commit to paying. If neither are on offer, check their refund policy to ensure you can try a course to a certain degree and return it if you aren’t quite happy. You can also look for a money-back guarantee.

The Best eLearning Platforms of 2022

1. Coursera - Best Subscription-Based Platform for Online Classes

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.5/5
  • Pricing:
      • Coursera offers some free content such as guided projects or individual courses
      • Coursera Plus subscription: $59/month or $399/year (14-day money-back guarantee)
      • Guided Projects: $9.99+
      • Professional Certificates and Specializations: $39.99+
      • MasterTrack Certificate: $2,000+
      • Degrees from $9,000+
  • Number of Courses: 5,000+
  • Topics Covered: Coursera offers courses on IT, computer science, and data science. You can also find full degrees in such fields. This platform also offers content on other subjects such as business, health, arts and humanities, social sciences, and more.

Check out our full Coursera review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

It’s difficult to pinpoint who Coursera is for specifically, as the platform targets a variety of markets. Coursera is for people who want to learn any of the subjects offered on the platform. It is also for those seeking degrees online, though Coursera’s catalog of degrees is still limited at this time. Coursera targets individuals and also businesses who seek to upskill their workforces.

Pros

  • Offers some accredited certificates that are employer-recognized
  • Courses are usually built by established companies and universities
  • Tons of free courses
  • Accessibility — courses are offered in many languages
  • Website is pretty user-friendly

Cons

  • Courses can at times be inconsistent in terms of quality or value provided
  • Some courses are not so self-paced
  • Enrolling in a degree program requires following an additional application process

2. Udemy - Best for Casual Learning and Niche Topics

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.4/5
  • Pricing:
      • Instructors choose the prices for their Udemy courses
      • Free courses are available, but you cannot earn a certificate
      • Courses start at <$10 and go up to $300+, but Udemy often offers sales of up to 70-90% off
      • Udemy Personal Plan: $29.99/mo for access to 6,000+ curated courses 
  • Number of Courses: 200,000+
  • Topics Covered: Udemy offers a course on practically any topic you can think of. Here, you’ll also find a ton of courses related to computer science, web development, software development, data science, data visualization, machine learning, and more.

Check out our full Udemy review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

Because anyone can create a course on Udemy, there seems to be a bit of a perception that Udemy is more for casual learners and people who want to pick up a new skill or two. While these skills are generally useful and can help you find employment, Udemy’s certificates are often not recognized by employers.

Pros

  • 30-day money-back guarantee for individually purchased courses
  • Fully self-paced
  • Keep your purchased courses forever
  • Multimedia lectures, quizzes, projects, and more
  • 200,000+ courses
  • Affordable
  • Many courses are available in other languages

Cons

  • Certificates from Udemy are not often employer-recognized
  • Q&A section for courses are not always active; many instructors do not participate
  • Course quality can vary greatly

3. Skillshare - Best for Courses on Creative Skills

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.5/5
  • Pricing: 
      • Some free content available, though not much
      • One-month free trial, then
      • $32/mo paid monthly; $168/mo paid annually
      • Accounts created with valid .edu email addresses get 50% off
  • Number of Courses: 40,000+
  • Topics Covered: Although Skillshare mostly offers classes related to creative skills, there are also courses on web development, business and entrepreneurship, productivity, and more.

Check out our full Skillshare review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

Skillshare is best for those looking to learn new skills related to creative fields. On this platform, you can learn everything from animation to photography and even graphic design. However, those wanting to learn web development can also find something useful here.

Pros

  • A variety of course topics are available
  • Instructors are generally skilled; some are even celebrities
  • An excellent platform for creatives looking to upskill

Cons

  • Free content is quite limited
  • Courses are only in English
  • There are ads unless you pay for a premium subscription

4. Udacity - Best for Career Growth

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.5/5
  • Pricing: 
      • $399/month for single courses and Nanodegrees
      • Enrolling in a Nanodegree and choosing the value package (paying upfront for multiple months) can get you a 15% discount off your total
  • Number of Courses: 200+ free courses, 70+ Nanodegrees
  • Topics Covered: Udacity offers courses and Nanodegrees on a variety of topics, including cloud computing, AI and machine learning, cybersecurity, data science, programming, project management, and more.

Check out our full Udacity review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

Udacity is best for learners who are serious about making a career out of what they learn from the platform. Hobbyists and casual learners can still learn a great deal from this platform, but the pricing can be a deterrent.

Pros

  • Nanodegrees are intense programs that can help you be career-ready by the end
  • Certificates are widely employer-recognized, thanks to the quality of Udacity’s courses
  • Courses are often co-created with respected companies and instructors
  • Nanodegree students get some resume and portfolio support
  • Some scholarships are available for qualifying students

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other platforms
  • Some courses have enrollment deadlines
  • Nanodegrees require more time commitment

5. edX - Best Free Online Learning Platform

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.7/5
  • Pricing:
      • You can audit all the regular classes for free, but you cannot earn a certificate
      • For access to assignments and certificates, prices range from $50-$300
      • Costs for Bootcamps, MicroMasters programs, Bachelor’s Degrees, Master’s Degrees, and Professional Certificate Programs vary and can be in the thousands (these classes/courses cannot be audited for free)
  • Number of Courses: 5,100+
  • Topics Covered: edX offers courses on a variety of topics, including coding and development, data science, computer science, and more. edX is also the best online training platform for STEM-related subjects.

Check out our full edX review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

edX is for a variety of learners of practically any age. With 40 million users in 2021, edX offers courses to just about anyone, whether they are hobbyists or working professionals. Currently, edX is in the middle of releasing more bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, which means the platform will begin to target a university-level audience more in the future.

Pros

  • You can access any of the regular courses for free, but you cannot earn a certificate
  • The platform offers a variety of certification courses, bachelor’s degree programs, MicroMasters programs, and more
  • Qualifying students can get financial assistance, sometimes up to 90% off
  • 14-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Not all programs offer financial assistance
  • As edX figures out its monetization, pricing models may change

6. PluralSight - Best Learning Platform for Working Professionals

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.75/5
  • Pricing: (for individuals)
      • Standard: $29/mo paid monthly; $299/year paid annually
      • Pro: $45/mo paid monthly; $449/year paid annually
      • Five free courses rotating every week
  • Number of Courses: 7,500+ courses and a few hundred paths
  • Topics Covered: PluralSight offers courses and paths related to subjects such as software development, information technology, cybersecurity, data science, and more.

Check out our full PluralSight review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

PluralSight is definitely in the running for the title of best eLearning platform for working professionals. It’s also best for those looking to expand their data science-related knowledge. As an authorized CEU (continuing education unit) provider, many of the certificates earned on this platform count as CEU or CPE (continuing professional education) for professional certification holders.

Pros

  • There are more than 7,500 high-quality courses and hundreds of paths, with more added each month
  • ALL courses have full transcripts, closed captioning, and translation into 50+ languages
  • Instructors and course creators are vetted experts
  • Pretty affordable pricing compared to other platforms like Udacity

Cons

  • No refunds mean you cannot get your money back if you aren’t happy with your subscription
  • Beginner courses could be easier
  • All courses are tech-related (not necessarily a bad thing)

7. Khan Academy - Best Free Platform for Learning Math

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.5/5
  • Pricing: Free — forever!
  • Topics Covered: Khan Academy has recently made a switch to offering free K-14-level education, so most of the subjects on this website cover such topics. However, there are also some college-level courses, life skill courses, and courses all about computing and computer programming.

Check out our full Khan Academy review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

Although this platform is more geared towards K-14 learners, anyone can access the courses here. Khan Academy is extremely well known for its math classes, which are completely free and comprehensive. Khan Academy is one of the best learning platforms for those who want foundational knowledge in math that can help them later on in their computer science and data-related studies.

Khan Academy is unique in that it offers all of its courses for free and makes it a mission to keep all of them free forever. This platform is fully supported by generous benefactors, whether they are individuals like you or tech giants like Google, which has made millions in donations so far.

Pros

  • Courses are high quality and are created by knowledgable and vetted experts
  • User-friendly, intuitive, and easy-to-use
  • Stellar reputation

Cons

  • Content has shifted to be more K-14 related, and as such, the website will no longer be as useful to a lot of people
  • Limited courses on tech-related subjects
  • No certificates

8. LinkedIn Learning - Best for Certification Prep and Earning CEUs

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.5/5
  • Pricing:
      • One-month free trial, then
      • Individual courses available from $20 to $40
      • Monthly subscription: $39.99/mo paid monthly; $323.88/year paid annually
  • Number of Courses: 17,000+
  • Topics Covered: LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com, offers courses on a variety of topics, most of them related to professional growth. Here, you’ll find courses on three main topics: Business, Technology, and Creative. Computer Science-related topics are under Technology, and it is there you’ll find classes on programming and the like. LinkedIn Learning also offers a variety of courses meant to help with certification prep or to provide learners with continuing education units (CEUs) necessary to maintain their current certifications.

Check out our full LinkedIn Learning review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

LinkedIn Learning is one of the best learning platforms for those who seek to earn professional certification (or maintain the ones they have). LinkedIn Learning is affiliated with a myriad of certifying bodies, which means that courses you take on this platform can help you prepare for your certification assessment. If you’d like to see which certifications are covered on this platform, check out this link.

Pros

  • Affordable compared to other platforms
  • Offers CEUs and certification prep
  • One-month free trial gets you access to all the courses
  • Courses are high-quality and well produced
  • Certificates of completion are shareable on your LinkedIn profile

Cons

  • Certificates aren’t accredited
  • Topics are somewhat limited
  • User interface needs an update
  • Some courses need updating

9. Thinkful - Best for Bootcamps

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.7/5
  • Pricing:
      • No free trial
      • $4,500 for some part-time programs and up to $16,000 on full-time courses
      • Because of the high cost related to enrolling in Thinkful’s bootcamps, the platform offers various payment methods, including deferred payments which require no upfront payment
      • Thinkful also offers a tuition refund guarantee to qualifying graduates, which allows a full refund if certain conditions are met
  • Number of Courses: 6 intense bootcamps
  • Topics Covered: Thinkful offers full bootcamps on a few subjects, namely software engineering, data science, data analytics, UX / UI (user experience/user interface) design, digital marketing, and technical project management.

Check out our full Thinkful review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

Thinkful is one of the best platforms offering bootcamps on tech-related topics. Bootcamps are generally intense programs that are often full-time commitments, but Thinkful also offers part-time programs for those who have other responsibilities. For the hefty price you pay to enroll in one of the programs, you also get one-on-one mentoring and access to career services and guidance. Thinkful’s career services focus on helping students secure a job soon after graduation, so we would also say that Thinkful is one of the best platforms for those seeking to start a new career or advance in their current one.

Pros

  • Because Thinkful has only six bootcamps available, you can pretty much rest assured that each one is of extremely high quality
  • One-on-one mentoring offers a unique new way to learn
  • Full community support
  • Full-time programs have preparatory courses to help you get ready
  • Thinkful offers many ways to pay for their bootcamp fees
  • Tuition refund guarantee can help you recoup all of your tuition costs, provided you meet the eligibility requirements

Cons

  • Some reviews have stated that mentor quality is inconsistent
  • You need to pass prep courses to qualify for enrollment in full-time programs
  • Expensive!
  • Could use programs on more topics

10. Simplilearn - Best for Flexible Learning

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.3/5
  • Pricing:
      • Self-paced learning starts from $400
      • Online bootcamp options start from $700
      • All courses are offered as one-time purchases
      • Simplilearn offers free courses through SkillUp
  • Number of Courses: 400+ courses
  • Topics Covered: Simplilearn offers courses in tech and business-related subjects, such as data science, AI/machine learning, cyber security, project management, software development, business and leadership, and more.

Check out our full Simplilearn review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

Simplilearn is easily the best eLearning platform for those who want a unique way of learning tech and business-related skills. This platform recognizes that people all learn in their own way, which is why it provides options for students to choose from. For example, if you’d like a fully self-paced style of course with no need for you to interact with others or show up at any specified time, you can choose a self-paced class. Online bootcamp options, on the other hand, are better for people who enjoy live lectures.

Pros

  • Choose self-paced or online bootcamp learning styles
  • Courses are created and instructed by industry experts
  • Some certificates earned on this platform are recognized as CEUs and CPEs
  • Excellent customer service
  • Free trial for seven days

Cons

  • Limited payment options
  • Courses are only available in English, and there are no subtitles available
  • Some reviews express dissatisfaction with the quality of courses

11. CodeAcademy - Best Online Platform for Learning to Code

Key information:

  • Our Rating: 4.6/5
  • Pricing:
      • CodeAcademy offers a free forever “Basic” tier that allows access to daily practice and interactive lessons
      • Pro Lite: $14.99/mo paid monthly; $11.99/mo paid annually
      • Pro: $19.99/mo paid monthly; $15.99/mo paid annually
  • Number of Courses: 60+
  • Topics Covered: CodeAcademy offers courses on topics like data science, web development, computer science, machine learning, web design, game development, mobile development, cybersecurity, data visualization, AI, and more. It offers various aspects of data science, programming and development, and information technology.

Check out our full CodeAcademy review to learn more.

Who is this platform for?

CodeAcademy is one of the best online education platforms for those who want to learn how to code, regardless of their skill level. Even if you are an absolute beginner, CodeAcademy will have content to help you get started.

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly platform; even complete newbies will find helpful lessons 
  • There are fifteen programming languages you can learn through CodeAcademy
  • The free forever Basic tier is great for anyone who needs to learn without all the bells and whistles
  • Community support is readily available
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Navigation can be a challenge at times
  • Paid plans don’t offer a paid trial so you can’t see the content behind the paywall before committing
  • You can’t skip the lessons

How We Chose the Best Online Learning Platforms

Thanks to the sudden boom in online learning, there are now more platforms than people can track of. The sheer number of platforms available can be pretty overwhelming, so we’ve considered a few factors to help us decide which ones to put on this list. 

Here’s what we looked at:

  • Who the platform is for - We made sure to include only platforms that can help you learn more about programming, IT, data science, and more. From these platforms, you’ll be able to find courses on coding for beginners and even complex, advanced programs in data science.
  • Pricing - We made sure to list a variety of courses at every price point.
  • Reviews - We’ve chosen to include platforms that we’ve already looked at in-depth and reviewed as we can guarantee their quality. Additionally, we did a lot of research into the public’s general consensus about these platforms. We eliminated anything that didn’t meet our high standards.
  • Learning styles - Although a great majority of the platforms on this list offer self-paced learning, some offer a different learning experience compared to others. We’ve chosen to include different learning options as everyone learns in their own way.
  • Course and instructor quality - We eliminated any platforms that do not meet our quality standards.

We’ve also made sure to include platforms that offer a more casual experience as well as platforms that are intended to help you professionally.

What’s the Difference Between Open Source, Free, and Paid Platforms?

Chances are you’ve come across three different types of online learning platforms: free, open-source, and paid.

Paid platforms are exactly what they sound like. They will require you to pay to purchase a course outright or to subscribe to their service to access their catalog. It’s worth mentioning that most of these paid platforms do offer a “free forever” tier with limited access. Otherwise, they may offer a free trial or a few free rotating courses from their catalog each week (or month).

Free platforms, on the other hand, offer all of their content for free. A great example of this is Khan Academy, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to offering free education to all — forever! Free online learning platforms will never ask you to pay for anything, though there may be donation links up that can allow you to support their website if you wish.

Open-source learning platforms are another free option. However, unlike free platforms, which are typically run by one individual or organization, open-source platforms are open to everyone’s contributions. One of the best examples of this is Wikipedia, which is run under a management style you can call open-source. After all, Wikipedia allows anyone to write or edit articles on the website.

Conclusion

With so many online learning platforms available today, it can be challenging to find the one that’s just right for you. Luckily, there are many ways to check whether a platform is right for you, such as by reading reviews. Most platforms also have free trials or free courses that can give you a peek into how everything works — so give it a whirl before you commit!

We hope that this guide has helped you figure out which platform you’d like to check out first. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to paid online courses just yet, you can check out our article on the best free coding bootcamps.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which online learning platform is best?

The best platform for online training will be the one that suits your needs best. Consider factors such as your budget, the topics you’d like to learn, the length of time you are willing to commit to your learning, and whether you want a certificate at the end. Additionally, if you are taking a course to prepare for or maintain a professional certification, it’s important to ensure your platform of choice is recognized by the respective accrediting boards.

2. What are digital learning platforms?

Online learning platforms are websites or apps that allow anyone to study over the internet at their own pace. Many of these platforms are MOOC (massive open online course) providers.

3. Which is the largest online learning platform?

In our opinion, Udemy is the largest online learning platform if you look at the sheer number of courses available. Udemy currently boasts over 200,000 courses on its platform. However, many other platforms (such as edX) have users in the tens of millions.

4. How much do online learning platforms cost?

Online learning platforms can offer their courses at wildly varying prices — some offer everything for free, while others can charge over $10,000. One thing’s for sure, though: courses from these platforms are almost always more affordable than similar programs offered at traditional colleges and universities. Note that online learning platforms usually charge a monthly subscription or require you to pay for each course you’d like to access.

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Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer. View all posts by the Author

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