We all wish we were better at something. Whether you’re looking to pick up a new skill and boost your resume, dive into a new hobby, or change career fields entirely, there’s always something to learn.
With more and more online classes and unprecedented access to information, finding the best option for you can be exhausting. Free online classes are great but can often be outdated or poorly produced. Paid courses can have great content but can cost you a lot depending on the source.
Here we’ll break down the strengths of each platform in hopes to help you find the best fit for you!
Udemy is currently one of the largest online learning platforms - for good reason. They host an expansive collection of courses covering almost any topic you can think of. While they may not be the cheapest option on this list (many courses being priced between $20 and $200 each), they have a frequent sales discount which can knock the price of most of their courses down by up to 90%!
Once you buy a course on Udemy, you get lifetime access across multiple devices. This lets you truly set your own learning pace without the time pressure of monthly fees.
Courses also generally contain additional resources and access to a Q&A form which allows direct interaction with other students and the instructor.
1) People looking to learn a brand-new skill from the ground up!
2) Those looking to avoid monthly charges or subscription payments.
3) People who want to sell their own courses.
Coursera was originally founded by 2 Stanford professors and has worked to maintain partnerships with many of the world’s most recognized educational institutions and businesses.
These partnerships allow Coursera to offer a level of prestige and credibility that isn't found in most other online learning platforms. They offer several payment paths ranging from free single classes to full online degree programs and professional certification.
1) People looking to advance their careers with professionally recognized certifications.
Rosetta Stone is likely the most recognized name in language education and has been providing excellent tools since 1992.
While the classic yellow box CD’s are still available, most of their tools have been optimized for modern users and are available online. After their short free trial, each language course will cost $199 for lifetime access or can be paid for month to month using a subscription model (starting as low as $49 per month).
While the price may dissuade some folks looking at online language resources, the plethora of high quality learning tools and features that come bundled make it one of the best options for people serious about learning a new language.
1) People looking for an in-depth language learning tool.
Khan Academy is a relatively unique platform in that it’s entirely free. Instead of offering courses on specific skills such as web development or beginner guitar, Khan Academy offers curated courses on broader topics.
If you were looking to brush up on calculus or have always wanted to take an entry level electrical engineering course this is the site for you!
Khan Academy also has a number of courses devoted to test preparation making it an excellent choice for anyone who is interested in transitioning back into a degree program.
1) People preparing to go back to school.
Formally Lynda.com, Linkedin Learning offers all the same great content with a number of additional integrations which make finding the perfect courses for you easier than ever.
For $29.99 per month, Linkedin Learning offers an excellent and ever evolving library of courses taught by industry professionals. They cover coding languages, business techniques, artistic programs, and so much more.
Their courses are generally a little shorter than those found on other platforms due to being more specific. This makes it an ideal source for folks already familiar with the basics but looking to dig deeper into more advanced topics.
For people that are looking to learn a new skill from scratch, Linkedin Learning also provides “Learning Paths” which structure a set of courses and will help guide you from the basics onward.
1) Professionals or intermediates looking to expand their skill sets.
If you only have a few minutes to invest then Ted-Ed will be hard to beat. Ted-Ed’s primary focus is delivering excellent short form content and provides an impressive selection of quick talks and animated videos.
While you won’t become an expert here, it’s a great place to explore new topics and look for inspiration. Their videos range between 5 and 15 minutes and are available for free on their site which make them one of the most accessible options on this list!
1) People looking to explore new topics.
2) People who only have a few minutes to invest.
Easy the most specialized sites listed here, CodeAcademy is built with a single purpose in mind, to teach people how to code. In addition to offering courses covering specific topics, CodeAdademy also provides a number of “Career Paths” which help students navigate from having never written a line of code to being ready for an entry level job in the space of a few months.
They currently offer a few free courses which will allow you to see if their service is right for you but most of their content is locked behind their Pro plan which will run you $19.99 a month.
1) People serious about learning to code.
2) People looking to change career fields.
Skillshare is one of the best sources online for creatives looking to expand their skills. While there are a few business and technical courses available, their library is heavily weighted towards the visual arts.
Like Udemy, anyone can produce and sell courses on Skillshare which means they have a very expansive selection, but it may take a little longer to find the perfect course and instructor for you.
Skillshare hosts thousands free classes in addition to a Premium Subscription for $15 a month which will unlock the rest of their content as well as a few additional features like offline viewing.
1) People looking to pick up a new artistic skill!
Each platform has strengths and weaknesses depending on what you need. Whether you’re looking to learn physics or classical painting there is an online course out there somewhere!
(hint: Check Khan Academy for the first and Skillshare for the latter).