Top 9 Platforms that Provide the Best Online Courses

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online courses, online education
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Are you wondering if getting an online degree is going to be worth your time and effort? If yes, you’ve come to the right place! Several students go through the mental tug-of-war of choosing between face-to-face classes and online courses. This happens because even today, the majority of students don’t have experience in studying online courses.

And more often than not, many students wonder if it’s worth pursuing a course online and do online courses help with getting a job.

Best-online-courses

In this post, we’ve put together a list of the best online educational websites that offer online courses, and also how to choose an online course that’s right for you.

Let’s begin, shall we?

The best educational platforms for online courses

1. Coursera

Founded by: Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller

With more than 25 million learners, 149 university partners, and 2000+ courses, Coursera is the largest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider on the market and offers not only online courses, but also online degrees and professional certificates. A lot of their courses are created by top universities like Yale, Michigan, Stanford, and leading companies like Google and IBM.

How does it work?

Coursera courses are created by some of the best Universities and companies in the world. Each course on Coursera includes short video lectures on different topics and assignments to be submitted, usually on a weekly basis. Coursera courses approximate from four to six weeks long, with one to two hours of video lectures a week and interactive quizzes, weekly exercises or assignments, peer assessments – which is one of Coursera’s unique offerings, and in some cases, a final project. On completing a course, you can sign up to receive a certificate of completion for a small fee.

Popular Coursera categories

Data Science, Business, Computer Science, Personal Development, Languages, Arts and Humanities

Are courses on Coursera free?

Types of courses on Coursera

Source: Coursera

Creating a Coursera account is free of cost. Also, Coursera offers several free courses. However, you’ll need to pay an extra fee for perks like certificates of completion and graded assignments. If you choose to pursue an online degree or a professional certification, again you’ll have to pay. For their specializations, you can subscribe on a month-by-month or annual basis and you’ll be paying $49 per month, with a free 7-day trial.

They also offer several university-recognized online degrees in streams such as business, computer science, and data science. These Coursera online degree programs require admissions and can cost between $15,000 – $25,000.

Who is it for?

Anyone who wishes to have a deep understanding of a subject area, but doesn’t have time or resources to invest in a proper degree could go for a Coursera course.

Pro Tip: How to choose a Coursera course that is worth your time?

While Coursera course content is rich, educational, and well-developed, there are a few precautions you should take before choosing a course:

  1. Go through the course curriculum and check whether it only teaches theory. Or does it also include practical applications? 
  2. Check whether it has an active and engaging community.

2. EdX

Founded by: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University

EdX is a non-profit, open-source online course platform providing free online university-level courses from universities around the world. A key difference between EdX and Coursera is that their assignments are tougher, and projects are also more difficult. So, the perceived value of learning from edX is higher.

EdX online course partners

Source: EdX

How does it work?

EdX courses are probably the best and most renowned, created by the elite Universities in the world – Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, and Boston University. Most of these courses are Science-related and technical courses. Each course is self-paced, contains video lectures and assignments without any due dates. Between video lectures, they have multiple choice quizzes and problems for you to solve and check your understanding. EdX courses approximately last around five weeks and you can enroll and audit these courses for free. On completing a course, you get free Honor Code certificates. But if you wish to receive a verified certificate, then you need to pay a fee that depends on the course, and ranges from $50 – $300.

Popular categories

Computer Science, Language, Data Science, Business and Management, Engineering

Are courses on EdX free?

Yes, EdX courses are free, but they charge for their verified certificates.

verified EdX certificate

Source: EdX

Their programs also include university-credit programs and MicroMasters. These MicroMasters cost around $800 – $1000, and are accepted by major companies like GE, IBM, Walmart, etc. and major universities all over the world. They also have what is called Xseries, which is a group of Specialization Courses for deeply understanding a particular topic such as Future Cities, SQL Databases, Anatomy, Food Security and Sustainability, among others. Their prices range from $80 to $200, depending on the course you choose. EdX also offers financial assistance for their verified certificates and courses, wherein you can apply and get a response within 2-3 days (unlike Coursera that takes 15 days to review your application).

Who is it for?

If you wish to study technical subjects, get a deep understanding of each concept, and earn certifications that acceptable by tech companies and Universities worldwide, then EdX is for you. Also, if you’re looking for MOOCs from prestigious universities, then go for EdX.

Pro tip: How to choose an EdX course that is worth your time?

Even though the elite universities of the world have created EdX courses, you should take a look at their course curriculum and see if they suit your needs.

3. Udacity

Founded by: Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky (born out of a Stanford University experiment)

Udacity has a vast range of courses, especially in programming and computer science. Udacity is a skills-based platform for professionals, offering Nanodegree programs and industry-specific credentials, aimed at making you job ready. Their courses are co-created with corporate leaders like Google, Facebook, AT&T, Mercedes Benz and Amazon, among others.

How does it work?

Udacity offers a few free courses which cover the basics. However, if you wish to get a verified certificate, then you’ll have to pay (and their certificates are more expensive than EdX and Coursera). Udacity offers self-paced as well as timed programs – Nanodegrees – that include short videos, exercises, projects, mentoring and verified certificates on course completion. The feedback provided on your projects are personalized and quite insightful.

Udacity nanodegree

Source: Udacity

Popular categories

Machine learning, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Web Development, Digital Marketing, Business Analysis

Are Udacity courses for free?

Udacity offers a few free courses, but the ones that provide maximum value are their Nanodegrees, that cost approximately ₹ 50,000 and can last between 4-6 months. They offer tuition reimbursement and a job guarantee as part of certain Nanodegrees. If you wish to enroll for their Nanodegrees, keep an eye on their social media (especially Facebook) for discounts.

Who is it for?

Udacity courses are mostly focused on science, emerging technologies and digital space. If this is your career track or is something that you’re interested in, then you should go for Udacity’s courses.

Pro tip – Are Udacity Nanodegrees worth it for finding a job?

Udacity’s Nanodegrees consist of carefully curated content that is quite relevant to what the tech and digital job markets are looking for. As part of their Nanodegrees, they also create a learning community where you can share your learning experience and ask all kinds of questions. They also offer to mentor you to solve your doubts and difficult concepts with a professional from that field.

According to Sebastian Thrun, Founder and President, Udacity –

“If you can’t find a job upon graduation, and we can’t for you either, we pay you back your full tuition. Through our Talent Source program, we work closely with companies to get our Nanodegree students a job. You can take our Android Nanodegree and pay about $2,000 and be trained for an entry-level Android job or more. Kushal in India landed a job at Flipkart after taking our Android Nanodegree. These jobs start at $80K in the United States and command even more in Silicon Valley. In fact, if you look at our Nanodegrees today, we have a salary tool embedded that shows you how much you might be worth. Give it a shot!”

4. Udemy

Founded by: Gagan Biyani, Oktay Caglar, Eren Bali

Launched in 2009, Udemy is the marketplace for over 80,000 courses on the widest possible range of topics.

How does it work?

On Udemy, anyone can create a course and submit it to be published, with profits shared between the instructor and the platform. Courses are purchased individually by users, rather than through a subscription model, so you only get access (lifetime access) to the course you’ve paid for. Each course consists of video lectures and articles which could be accessed on your PC as well as on your mobile through their app. On completing a course from Udemy, you get a certificate of completion.

Popular categories

Development, Business, Software and IT, Design, Marketing

Are courses on Udemy free?

Udemy courses

Source: Udemy

There are several free courses. The paid courses cost anywhere from ₹ 640 – ₹ 12,000. Udemy doesn’t offer a free trial, but it offers a 30-day, no questions asked money-back guarantee. Udemy also often runs promotions and discounts on its courses. Its instructors often provide free samples of their paid courses.

Who is it for?

With so many courses to choose from, covering the widest range of topics out of these three platforms, as well as the ability to purchase courses individually for a one-time fee, Udemy is definitely appealing in certain situations. If you’re just looking for picking up a few skills through one or two courses, or you don’t want to commit to a subscription payment plan  or are looking for something specific like “How to grow your Instagram following?”, then Udemy is a great option.

Pro Tip: How to choose a Udemy course that is worth your time and money?

Just like you would when shopping online. While choosing a course, you should look at:

  1. Course curriculum
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Free preview lectures
  4. Student reviews on Udemy
  5. Reviews on external sites
  6. Reviews for the course content creator

5. Lynda.com

Founded by:  Lynda Weinman, Bruce Heavin (now LinkedIn Learning)

Lynda.com is a veteran in the online education space, founded in 1995. This platform offers a subscription-based video tutorial library. Think of it like Netflix, the only difference being this one is education-based!

Are Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning the same?

They’re two separate websites, but ever since LinkedIn acquired Lynda.com in 2015, all courses on Lynda.com are also available on LinkedIn Learning. They add new material each week. Currently, there are more than 10,000 expert led-courses available.

Lynda online courses

How does it work?

Their courses are available on their website as well as through their mobile apps. Their courses consist of video lessons, and interactive quizzes between lessons. On completion, you get a certificate that you can add to your LinkedIn profile (it’ll appear under the Certifications section on your LinkedIn profile). Memberships are based on a monthly or annual subscription model and you can cancel your plan anytime.

Popular categories

Business, Design, Photography, Web Development, Software Development

Is Lynda.com free?

Lynda by LinkedIn Learning keeps things simple with a single access-to-everything plan — although you can save money by paying annually instead of monthly. You get a month of free trial, followed by a paid membership which costs ₹1,400/month. If you opt for the annual membership, it costs ₹1,150/month. Once you buy a membership, you get unlimited access to more than 80,000 videos on a broad range of different subjects. What’s more? Lynda has a “reactivate” feature that restores all your account information including all your course history and progress If you ever want to deactivate your membership and then come back at a later time.

Who is it for?

Their focus is on having courses on skills that you can apply at your job right away. If you’re a visual learner, this platform is a great option for you as their video lessons are some of the best you’ll ever find. Also, if your goal is to get a deep understanding of a subject, such as building mobile apps or learning a programming language, then Lynda by LinkedIn Learning with its subscription model is a good option.

Is Lynda.com worth it?

It is. However, before choosing a course, go through the instructor’s profile (which you can do easily thanks to the LinkedIn integration) and see their credentials. This makes sure that the course you’ll be spending your time and effort on is really worth it. Unlike Udemy, it doesn’t include any course ratings or reviews to help you assess the content.

6. Skillshare

Founded by: Michael Karnjanaprakorn and Malcolm Ong

Skillshare is an online community for ‘creators’. Founded in 2010, Skillshare initially offered an online platform for users to find and teach in-person classes. Currently, they have a subscription model for online courses and topics ranging from arts and design to business, technology and everyday hobbies for adult learners. More than 5 million people and 6,000 teacher contributors are a part of the Skillshare community. The platform encourages more practical learning techniques, with every class including a practical project with feedback on completion.

How does it work?

Anyone who wants to teach can set up their own class on this platform. Being on this platform will give you a chance to connect and share insights with people from various industries. Their courses include video lessons followed by projects and discussions.

Skillshare courses

Source: Skillshare

Popular categories

Creative Arts, Design, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle, Technology

Is Skillshare free?

Signing up to Skillshare is free and will you access to all of their free courses – almost 1,000 free courses. For full access to all of their courses, you’ll have to pay a subscription fee – ₹1,000 per month if you opt for a monthly subscription or ₹ 599 per month if you go for an annual subscription. A premium access is ad-free and also allows you offline access, and discounts and benefits. They also use the subscription fee to pay their teachers and offer scholarships for the needy. From time to time, Skillshare runs promotions with a one-month free access to all Premium classes. So keep an eye out for these!

Who is it for?

Skillshare is a valuable tool for freelancers and for those who work in a niche industry – people who have to constantly keep up with their field.

7. Unacademy

Founded by: Gaurav Munjal (CEO), Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh

Started in 2015, Unacademy is an edtech company based in Bangalore, India. With over 2 million subscribers, a wide variety of courses and amazing mentors, Unacademy is known to provide knowledge on a variety of subjects. While Unacademy offers a wide range of courses, their most popular offerings include exam prep for important exams in India. They claim to be India’s largest learning platform.

How does it work?

It consists of students who have cleared various exams or mentors who have teaching experience. This online education platform uses videos to teach a variety of subjects to students. Educators can create educational lessons on the Educator App. Learners access these lessons via the Learning App.

Popular categories

Union Public Service Commission Exams (UPSC), State Public Service Commission Exams, Bank Exams, Engineering, Medical, Management exams

Is Unacademy free?

Unacademy offers several free courses. Their paid courses – Unacademy plus – have prices ranging from ₹ 1,000 up to ₹ 30,000.

Their paid courses – Unacademy Plus – are limited to small batches of students. Within these batches, their students discuss, debate and share learning resources under the guidance of the educator.

Unacademy plus

They personalize the learning experience by giving their students access to weekly doubt clearing sessions, live quizzes, learning materials and discussion with peers. Unacademy plus students are given access to recordings of the live sessions, downloadable notes and other learning material for 2 years.  

Who is it for?

If you’re taking exams such as UPSC, CAT, GATE, JEE and other Indian entrance exams, then Unacademy is a great option.

8. Simplilearn

Founded by: Krishna Kumar

Based in San Francisco and Bengaluru, Simplilearn is an edtech company founded in September 2009 that provides certification courses to professionals. Named as the eighth influential brand in education worldwide, Simplilearn has impacted over 400,000 learners globally. In addition to online courses, they also offer Masters programs for certifications in Project Management (includes PMP, Agile Scrum Master, Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt), Cloud Computing (includes AWS Technical Essentials, Microsoft Azure Fundamentals), AI & Machine Learning (includes Data Science with Python, Machine Learning, Deep Learning) among others.

How does it work?

Their courses offer a combination of online classes, in-person workshops and corporate training, depending on your requirements. You can choose to take either the self-paced (180 days of access to self-paced learning content )or the instructor-led courses. All courses consist of online content, practice projects, quizzes, case studies, and assessments. They also provide guidance and assistance throughout your course as well as with your projects/assignments. On course completion, they offer a certificate and offer job assistance with partner companies.

Popular categories

Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Digital Marketing, Data Science

Is it free?

Simplilearn courses aren’t free. Their courses cost anywhere between ₹ 1,999 – ₹ 15,999. Their Master’s programs costs range from ₹ 22,999 – ₹ 49,999.

Who is it for?

If you’re looking for a platform that offers certifications and helps you find a job at affordable prices, then Simplilearn is for you.

9. Khan Academy

Founded by: Salman Khan

Founded in 2005, Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that aims to educate students online, free of cost. The site now provides more than 3,000 free educational videos on a range of topics. Although the content is mainly available in English, they are also available in other languages including Bengali and Hindi.

How does it work?

Khan Academy delivers its free lessons via OpenCourseWare Youtube video clips embedded on the Khan Academy website. Many of the videos include free examples and practice exercises. Their videos are conversational with step-by-step doodles.

Popular categories

Math, Science, Science and Engineering, Computing, Arts and Humanities

Is Khan Academy free?

Yes, it is absolutely free.

Who is it for?

It says anyone can learn anything. It’s best for picking up basic concepts. They use tons of examples to explain concepts in a fun, interactive manner. They also have a good community and if you have questions, you can ask them in discussions.

Planning to start your preparation for entrance exams? If yes, check out the following courses!

GMAT: Ultimate Free Course – https://careerninja.in/shortcourse/GMAT/

CAT: Free Strategy Course – https://careerninja.in/shortcourse/CAT/

GRE: Free Strategy Course – https://careerninja.in/shortcourse/GRE/

 

 

CareerNinja Team
CareerNinja is an edtech venture aiming to inspire, educate and guide students to move closer towards success. We provide the Indian youth with job focussed, practical content to get them more work ready. Our content ranges from articles and short courses to videos covering the personal, professional, social and academic lives of young Indians. Wanna know more? Get in touch via Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
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