10 Best Online Course Platforms (Ranked and Reviewed)

10 Best Online Course Platforms (Ranked and Reviewed)

Education inspires and empowers those that have a chance to pursue it. In recent years, online learning platforms have had to step up to the challenge of providing it to individuals and institutions.

From learning new skills and languages to chasing official certifications, the options you have at your disposal are avowedly endless.

If you have the expertise and experience to create and sell courses online, then you are in luck. They are massively popular right now.

To make some good money and get your name and brand noticed in what is a competitive environment, you will need to make sure you choose the right platform.

There are many to choose from, and generally, they all offer their unique list of pros and cons.

Whether you feel overwhelmed by the vast choice or don’t know where to start looking, this guide is here to help.

Before you commit to a course platform, it is best to assess the lay of the land. One Google search will have you swamped with results, especially when you can’t seem to spot the difference between the courses!

First, ask yourself what you need to get out of a course.

How do You Know if a Platform Works for You?

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For a platform to be effective, it must cater to your specific needs. This tends to work best when you have goals in mind.

Hopefully, these reviews shed some light on the situation, but it might be worth asking yourself some important questions such as:

How Should I Distribute My Course?

Once you have meticulously planned your expert course, you will need somewhere to distribute it online.

Some platforms are built to take care of all of this for you from scratch, like Teachable, whereas other platforms act as a dedicated marketplace, like Udemy and Domestika.

Others you can simply implement as WordPress plugins for your existing website. Every option has its advantages and disadvantages.

What Kind of Technical Skills do I Need?

Some all-in-one platforms have all the tools you need to get the job done, and this includes built-in website creators and plenty of beautiful templates to choose from, meaning you need only a very basic understanding of the technicalities.

Other platforms offer no such bonuses, and so they will require you to have advanced knowledge of some tricky elements, like marketing and maybe even coding.

What Stage is My Business At?

Your ultimate choice will also depend on what stage your business is at.

There are software platforms aimed at every different type of business and educator, from startups and beginners to well-established learning institutions.

How Much Control Do I Get Over My Brand and Content?

Marketplaces like Udemy are immensely popular course hosting platforms, but they offer nowhere near as much control over your content as Thinkific because it allows you to use your company website to create and sell your courses.

These are just some starter questions to help you get the ball rolling; hopefully, it starts your journey to success in the vast, exciting, and potentially lucrative world of online education.

Below you will find some prime examples of course platforms. Keep reading to find out if there is the perfect option.

Thinkific

Thinkific An Online Course Platform

Thinkific is an immensely popular online course platform favored by plenty of independent educators and teaching institutions, and for good reason: it is highly functional, dependable, and packed full of features.

It allows you to build a membership website from scratch (this is a center where your subscribers can access your courses for a set fee), and it is preferred by some of the world’s biggest brands, like Samsung and Hootsuite.

You can use the great customization options to synchronize the look of your course with your brand’s aesthetic, which is great for anyone trying to establish a strong presence. Cohesion is key!

There is no need to worry about complexity either, as the platform could not be easier to use. Even total beginners will have an easy time developing a course and integrating it into their business.

One of the benefits of online learning is undoubtedly its accessibility. People from all over the world can benefit from your teaching, provided they can understand it. Thinkific recognizes this and currently supports 39 languages!

While it has a few tools available to help you market your courses, you will have to do a lot of this by yourself, which is one of the setbacks of this kind of platform, a setback that marketplace options like Udemy and Skillshare can take care of for you.

If you are trying to build a unique business, though, this may not be relevant, as you will want to go your way when it comes to marketing.

Features to Love

Great customization tools enable you to create a truly unique learning experience for your students.

It supports voiceover power points.

It is accessible and sports a great drag and drop feature for easy asset organization.

The platform is designed with the students and the educators in mind.

There are seemingly countless integration options, so you will never run out of business tools.

The free plan offered by Thinkific is very impressive. Gain access to the core features - a very enticing choice for your first venture into online learning.

The other pricing plans are extremely good value. The Basic, Pro, and Premier versions are priced at $39, $79, and $399, respectively.

There is an exceptional amount of support for this platform, and a wonderfully responsive team is on to help out 24/7 should you have any issues.

Who is it Best For?

Thinkific will be a superb choice for pretty much anyone, but it is especially great for:

  • Academies

  • Teachers

  • Coaches

  • Digital Entrepreneurs

  • HR managers

  • Startups

  • SMBs

  • Large Companies

Unique Selling Point

One of the main differentiators is that it offers so many options without demanding coding knowledge. For example, you can use this Thinkific to create an authentic, top-of-the-line virtual classroom experience, and you can do it all with ease, thanks to its intuitive tools.

Rank: A+

Try Thinkific >>

LearnWorlds

LearnWorlds An Online Course Platform

Another fantastically popular online course platform, LearnWorlds is utilized by businesses and educators everywhere to create highly engaging online lessons.

It is commonly favored by course creators who wish to develop an interactive course for their learners, as it boasts plenty of great tools built specifically for driving engagement, like quiz builders and e-books.

The massive benefits of this platform stretch far beyond the course creation side of affairs, however. It is a very in-depth and intricate platform that can help you out greatly with the business elements, too, like marketing and analytics.

While it definitely strives to deliver some intuitive tools to course builders, it is not as beginner-friendly as some of the other options on this list.

That said, the many, many positives it has to offer outweigh this hurdle. It is a complete site builder that offers 24/7 support and loads of space for third-party integrations, enabling you to build the perfect learning center for all your training or teaching needs.

It is certainly one of the best options around, no matter your level, so if you are after some software that helps you create in-depth courses with a difference, this could be the way to go for you.

The sheer number of features are staggering, and they come at a great price as well, starting at just $24 per month for a scheme aimed at who LearnWorlds call ‘Newbie creators,’ but there is also a plan for pro trainers at $79 per month and a learning center plan for $249 per month.

Features to Love

It has outstanding interactive course development tools, truly a one-of-a-kind offering when it comes to holistic course development.

You can offer free courses on the platform.

It lets you build an unlimited number of courses.

Completely white label.

It creates an app for you, allowing you to list your company on the Apple app store and Google play.

The analytics tools are great for keeping a super close eye on how your website is performing.

It is SEO friendly.

There are currently over 400 stunning templates to choose from in the page builder.

You can create private courses.

Collaboration is made easy as you can invite others to sell their courses on your site.

It is ready to go on mobile and tablet.

It is e-commerce ready too, so if you want to sell educational products alongside your courses, you are good to go when you choose this platform.

Who is it Best For?

This platform strives to support anyone who needs to make a course, but it may be ideal for larger organizations. You should at least check out the free trial if you happen to be a:

  • An educational organization

  • An entrepreneur

  • A HR specialist

  • A coach

  • A freelance teacher

  • A course creator

  • Large Companies

Unique Selling Point

It does so much so well, but the stand-out selling point is the course creation options. The wealth of great customization options allows the platform to shine out among its competitors.

Rank: A

Try LearnWorlds >>

Teachable

Teachable An Online Course Platform

Another one of the world’s most popular platforms, Teachable is packed full of great features for you to get your courses out there.

Many huge names use the platforms, like the New York Times and Boston Scientific, but it is not just massive corporations that can benefit; it is also a wonderful option for the individual educator too.

It boasts a built-in payment system as well, making it super easy to manage your income flow and sort out your payment options.

This feature is a glorious time and energy saver, as it negates the need to set up third-party payment integrations.

You may be pleased to know that it is a joy to use; the interface is aesthetically pleasing and straightforward, and it sticks closely to its claim of delivering a transparent customer experience.

The high useability factor, when combined with the great backend functionality and great marketing tools, make it a force to be reckoned with.

While it may lack options regarding course customization tools (at least when compared to options like LearnWorlds and Thinkific), the templates it offers are great, and it excels through its marketing tools and data management features.

The website design tools will likely work fine for developing all the core functions you will need, but it will leave you wanting when you start to scratch under the surface.

If you or your staff have a good knowledge of coding, you should not have to worry about this; otherwise, you might need to hire someone to beautify your course pages.

It has a free plan option, but professionals will likely need to go for their well-priced Basic, Pro, or Business options to get all the tools they need, and these cost $29, $99, and $249 a month, respectively.

Features to Love

It caters to all of your hosting needs in one neat cloud-based LMS platform that is pleasantly easier to navigate around.

It is angled toward instructors in an effort to make your life as a course provider easier.

It has automated tax collection.

It is very flexible as it enables you to sell individual course materials.

Teachable will pay any affiliates you might be working with automatically.

It offers one of the best mobile apps on the market; you can design and put together whole courses using it.

It has a huge array of third-party app integrations.

There is a built-in blog function to help you drive online traffic, another example of its great marketing power.

Unlimited video bandwidth.

Who is it Best For?

This platform strives to support anyone who needs to make a course, but it may be ideal for larger organizations. You should at least check out the free trial if you happen to be a:

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Brand Builders

  • Teachers

  • Schools

  • Academies

  • Solo entrepreneurs who want to provide one-on-one coaching

  • Organizations who need to train their workforce

Unique Selling Point

It is by far one of the more straightforward and powerful course builders out there, and at a very reasonable price, it makes developing a brand highly accessible.

The fact that it takes care of EU VAT costs is a great help, and it is another marvelous example of just how supportive this platform can be for creators.

Rank: A

Try Teachable >>

Coursera

Coursera An Online Course Platform

Coursera flourishes a brand in its ability to represent prestigious education. Countless universities and widely acclaimed learning organizations partner with the platform to deliver top-quality learning experiences, from basic courses to highly advanced and specialized degrees.

The platform is unique in that it offers various options to those selling their courses online. For example, you can use the platform as a standalone course provider, or you can decide to use it as a fully functioning LMS through which you can market your resources too.

It differs from some of the other options on this list in that you have to be a partner in order to create courses. Coursera is more of a place to host your courses than a customizable platform.

There are some distinct advantages with this, like the fact that it appeals to those who want to simply sell their existing courses online without having to build their own LMS.

It is well known for hosting elite learning institutions like Stanford and the University of Sao Paulo.

It costs $399 per year for a single user to subscribe to courses via Coursera Plus, but there is a custom pricing option for larger organizations.

Coursera focuses heavily on the nature of the courses themselves as opposed to the end-to-end experience offered by turnkey LMS solutions, which could be ideal for established learning institutions or businesses wanting to train their staff on an easy-to-use platform.

Features to Love

It has a great feature that enables individuals to learn offline once they have downloaded the course.

It is highly accessible and easy to use.

One of the big advantages of this kind of course facilitator is that it takes care of much of the marketing for you.

Coursera is very credible and known for its output of high-quality content.

Everything is already set up for you; all you need to do is add your course.

Ideal for lead generation.

Who is it Best For?

Since the platform is known for offering prestigious courses and training opportunities of all different kinds, it could be ideal for serious universities and academies. It could also be great for:

  • Educators who wish to use a third-party host to enrich their existing learning programs

  • Businesses who want to make training opportunities easy for their staff

  • Universities and colleges

  • Government bodies

  • Think tanks

  • Schools

Unique Selling Point

Coursera prides itself on offering a professional learning experience to its users, making it a highly credible platform for your business to inhabit.

It also offers financial support for learners and different learning specializations when it comes to taking the courses, which is certainly unique among the competition.

Rank: A

Try Coursera >>

LearnDash

LearnDash An Online Course Platform

LearnDash differs from the predecessors on this list as it is not a hosting platform but rather a WordPress plugin.

This does in no way mean it should be ignored, as it has some immense benefits of its own to consider for businesses of all different shapes and sizes.

The major difference here is that a WordPress plugin requires you to set up the software on your side, meaning that those who are a little less tech-literate might find themselves in a pickle. In reality, it is not that hard to do. If you are struggling, then do not worry, as there are plenty of great guides online.

LearnDash offers many great features, like multiple course enrollments, multimedia lessons, drip-feed content, and a drag and drop course builder, but it has the massive added benefit of being integrated with your existing website as a plugin, which essential grants you all the control you could possibly need.

WordPress is famed for its legendary flexibility when it comes to design, and being a WordPress plugin, LearnDash thrives on this.

It does mean that you will need to install other plugins and perhaps do a little coding to make sure you get all the features you need (like payment handling, for example), but LearnDash has a huge library of add-ons for you to explore.

The ability to host your courses on your own website and not go through a third-party host is a gargantuan advantage in many instances.

For example, it represents much greater scalability and customization, since you are not tied to your third-party host; you are the one with the power to control every element of your course creation, and often, that just means downloading a nifty add-on to make it happen.

Since it is a WordPress Plugin, you can even directly reach out to LearnDash if you need a custom update made and they might be able to do it for you or direct you to an add-on that can help the software meet your requirements.

Starting at just $159 per year for the basic version, it is a real steal for a business or an individual that wants to put some time into creating a truly unique learning experience for their brand. The more advanced options are the plus package at $189 and the pro package at $329.

Features to Love

It has wonderful flexibility, adaptability, and seamless WordPress integration.

A vast array of add-ons is available, and there are also some community-made options worth checking out too.

The advanced quiz builder is superb and easy to use.

You retain all of your data, an advantage that you would likely not have through a third-party option.

It is open-source, essentially meaning that you have total creative control over what the software does, provided you can write the code to do it.

It is great for growing companies who wish to adopt a long-term solution to their LMS requirements.

There is plenty of support for the software online.

Once you have it set up, it is very easy to get to grips with

Who is it Best For?

Third-party hosts certainly have amazing benefits, but the plugin option that LearnDash offers may outshine them in some contexts, particularly for growing brands looking for scalable solutions or large institutions who need to benefit from a complex custom-built LMS. It is also great for:

  • Colleges and universities

  • Schools

  • Any size business

  • Training companies

  • Professional bloggers

  • Coaches

  • Entrepreneurs

  • B2B marketing teams

  • Market researchers

Unique Selling Point

LearnDash’s amazing customization options and many marvelous add-ons make it a very powerful contender indeed. Do not let the initial set up put you off just because it might be a bit awkward, as the results are incredible.

Rank: A

Try LearnDash >>

Skillshare

Skillshare An Online Course Platform

Skillshare is a wildly popular online course platform that acts as both a course creator and a marketplace for selling those courses.

It has a well-established base of learners, and it is incredibly easy to get started. Anyone that has a course to offer can use this platform’s vast reach to sell their courses.

All you have to do is sign up and publish a class. This is a sound option for individual teachers who wish to quickly get their courses (or classes, as referred to on Skillshare) on sale and potentially reach millions of people as soon as possible.

For those who do not have an audience or businesses who are just starting out and trying to get noticed, this platform could be a perfect choice.

Although self-built LMS are immensely flexible, you need to do all the work for them to truly thrive.

A popular platform like Skillshare already has an audience, so by publishing your courses there, you are getting a head start in reaching your students.

The platform will take care of all the marketing for you, and since it’s free to publish a course, it is a wonderful option for saving on your budget.

It does not offer anywhere near as many course customization tools (video only) as some of the other entries, but it makes up for it in easy access.

Features to Love

Anyone can publish a course (although this can be a disadvantage too).

It is free to publish.

It has a well-established base of learners eager to try out new courses.

You get your course marketed and distributed for you.

The course creation tool is easy to use.

It is widely known for its high-quality creative courses.

Superb money-making potential in relatively little time, so if you are a professional with a knack for teaching, this could be a great earner, even with one course published.

It can help you build an audience.

Who is it Best For?

Skillshare is utilized by countless coaches and individual enthusiasts all over the world.

It does have plans for teams and businesses, but if you want to build your own branded LMS system from the ground up, you should know that this is a different kind of software, serving a different purpose.

Businesses do use the service regularly, however, so it is certainly worth checking out if you want to represent your entire company on the platform. It is great for:

  • Teachers who are just starting out

  • Coaches

  • Professionals who want to sell their courses for secondary income

  • Creatives (a big focus of the platform)

  • Freelancers

  • People who need to grow their audience

  • Businesses trying to establish an online presence

Unique Selling Point

Skillshare is leagues ahead when it comes to course promotion and generating visibility for your profile, and it is well-known for its vast range of courses teaching soft skills.

Rank: B+


Academy of Mine

Academy of Mine An Online Course Platform

Academy of Mine is a great cloud-based LMS that strives to deliver a turnkey solution to its users, which means the development team will work closely with you to ensure that you get the right solution for your needs.

They will do this by writing you custom code and setting up specialized integrations should you need it, but the LMS is very good as it comes.

This software is focused on enterprise-level companies looking to offer courses to a larger number of students or staff, and the bigger price tag reflects that kind of budget. The platform starts at $599 a month for the basic plan and $899 for the advanced option, but there is also a custom pricing option for maximum flexibility.

Academy of Mine will get the job done and deliver you a complete experience when it comes to creating and marketing your courses.

It is also entirely e-commerce ready, allowing you to easily sell your products and courses and keep track of the analytical side of your business.

These learning management systems are often essential for larger businesses who need to offer their clients and employees versatile services and require an intricate and powerful solution.

Features to Love

It offers great customization options when it comes to building courses.

You can bulk export and import data.

Customer user profiles are available.

Its B2B portals are immensely useful for anyone selling to other businesses.

It’s white-labeled.

The course evaluation tools are a stand-out feature, offering you intense depth when it comes to measuring the progress of a course.

The developers prioritize your ability to customize the LMS.

Who is it Best For?

Academy of Mine works perfectly when tackling complex situations that require businesses to take a custom approach. It will be a superb choice for:

  • Medium and large-sized businesses

  • Healthcare providers

  • Training management companies

  • Universities and colleges

  • Schools

  • Research facilities

  • Tech companies

Unique Selling Point

The support from the Academy of Mine development team is phenomenal, as they will work extremely hard to ensure your LMS is perfect.

When paired with the customizability options, there is a force to be reckoned with. In fact, they claim on their website that your support is their number one priority, and they certainly keep to this claim.

Rank: B


Udemy

Udemy An Online Course Platform

Udemy is another popular online course platform, acting in a similar fashion to Skillshare as a course creator and a marketplace, but with its own distinct advantages.

It has a great instructor dashboard for you to easily navigate around your profile and create courses at the touch of a button, and it includes curriculum pages to help you get organized quickly.

It provides team plans too, which is ideal for businesses who need to upskill their workforce. There are some courses that do extremely well on the platform, like business-related topics and tech, an area that Skillshare does not always excel in.

The platform also has quiz building and assignment creation functions, which is a great way to add dynamism to your courses, and it is easy to use as a feature. It even has a code building assignment creator, a unique function, and a fairly advanced feature for an online platform.

The interface is generally a joy to use and allows you to create an engaging and diverse course with relative ease.

The marketplace has a huge audience too, so if you are in need of boosting your course’s visibility, Udemy can market your efforts to its millions of members.

It is also free to become a teacher on Udemy; creators are paid by the company using a revenue share model.

Features to Love

It is a straightforward course creation tool that has a decent number of features, allowing you to create an in-depth and engaging course.

There is a huge audience to access.

It gives you access to a professional environment full of individuals hoping to sharpen their skillsets.

The website is very high quality.

Great earning potential.

It is great for someone acting as a lone wolf.

It is good for growing a dedicated audience in a niche topic.

Who is it Best For?

  • Teachers

  • Coaches

  • Trainers

  • Individuals wishing to get a quick start in course building and selling

  • Educators who are searching for an audience

  • Companies looking for cost-effective training opportunities for their staff

Unique Selling Point

Udemy’s unique selling point is its enormous size. When combined with some surprisingly complex course creation tools, you can find yourself an audience in no time.

Rank: B


Domestika

Domestika An Online Course Platform

Domestika focuses their energy on offering extremely high-quality classes. Their elite production team will be able to help you create great courses, provided they accept your proposal.

Herein lies a big advantage of the platform: it screens its teachers, resulting in higher quality courses across the board, unlike Skillshare and Udemy, which are also marketplace-based platforms, but anyone can post a course.

The platform is also unique in that they will produce the course for you essentially, as long as you have the content ready to go.

Considering you do not pay to use the platform, courses taught on the platform are usually very in-depth and last for over 2 hours.

Features to Love

The website emanates quality, which will enrich your content.

There is a big earning potential.

It has a passionate and highly engaged community.

The production team is superb and will enable you to produce high-quality courses.

You need to worry very little about the creative side of the course, making it ideal for those who love to teach but do not know where to start creating online.

Who is it Best For?

  • Passionate teachers

  • Academics

  • Coaches

  • Creative experts

  • Companies wishing to share their knowledge and grow their audience

  • Creatives

Rank: B


Pluralsight

Pluralsight An Online Course Platform

Pluralsight was born back in 2004 as a training platform for companies wishing to upskill their workforce, and it has grown to accommodate professionals wishing to share their knowledge all over the world.

This platform is focused heavily on technology and business solutions, and their platform reaches learners in over 150 countries.

After passing a short audition, you can sign up to become an author and work closely with their acquisition editors to ensure you build a high-quality course that will be seen everywhere.

You have complete control over your course content, and Pluralsight has plenty of resources to help you, mostly applied in post-production.

If you are a highly experienced and accomplished professional passionate about teaching, this platform could be the perfect way to make some great money doing what you love.

Features to Love

An extensive network of professionals will work with you to create courses that make a difference.

Expert vetting means that you get a chance to work with the best.

Pluralsight has a dedicated publishing team to take care of your course for you

They have a great marketing team.

There are wonderful feedback opportunities from your students.

You can earn a very decent living on this platform.

Who is it Best For?

  • Tech experts

  • Experienced teachers

  • Experienced professionals who want to get into online education

  • Those who want to inspire and educate in the world of tech

  • Academics

  • Course builders

Rank: B

Conclusion

Hopefully, you will find what you are looking for, and since there are plenty of options covering pretty much every scenario, you should be fine after trying a few of them out.


Author Bio

Rafael W.

Head of the content. Rafael is an entrepreneur, investor, software developer, SEO specialist, natural problem solver and startup enthusiast.

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