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The Top Ten Online Learning Platforms in 2021

EZRA
Apr 06 2021 | Insights

Looking to pick up some new skills at home using an online learning platform? Here are Ezra's top ten e-learning choices to pick from in 2021, whether you're interested in boosting some professional skill sets or are just looking for a new hobby.


Online platforms have become an incredibly popular option for independent learning and personal development over the past couple of years. You can study from home on your own time with the help of valuable learning resources. There are even online courses that encourage you to study a skill or subject from all angles. 

E-learning is also a powerful way to accelerate your professional growth. By supplementing your knowledge with professional courses and instructors over the internet, you can develop brand-new skills and build on existing experience to be more efficient and productive in your career.

Accredited vs non-accredited platforms

One main thing to consider when picking an online learning platform to try is whether or not they are accredited. To become accredited, a learning institution needs to meet a minimum standard of excellence set by an accrediting organization. This factors in things like academic quality, integrity, learning experience, student experience, and ethics. Ezra's own coaching app, for example, uses only fully accredited and professional career coaches, whereas signing up for a more informal or less focused platform will be less clear cut in terms of credentials.

Accredited platforms are vetted for their high standards and student success rates. Students get more peace of mind and a guaranteed quality experience when enrolling on an accredited course. If an institution is non-accredited, there is no way to verify any of its claims, experience, or integrity. This could cause you to be declined when applying for certifications or licenses, since some governing bodies only accept applications from students of accredited institutes. Sometimes this isn’t a problem (if you're after something more generalized like soft skills development, or a hobby instructor) but it is something to be aware of to make sure you get the most out of the e-learning solution you choose.

Our top ten picks for 2021

Let’s look at some of the top online learning platforms and their pros and cons:

LinkedIn Learning

Pros

  • Recognizable brand

  • Personalized course recommendations

  • Integrates well into your professional profile on LinkedIn

  • Certification options

  • Free trial available

Cons

  • Difficult to determine the quality of a course without research

Pricing

$29.99/month or $24.00/month if paid annually.

Treehouse

Pros

  • A diverse range of development and coding-focused courses

  • Partners with big names such as Microsoft and Google Developers

  • High-quality content created by in-house experts

  • Project-based approach for learning practical skills

Cons

  • No lifetime access to courses

  • Primarily video-focused

Pricing

Plans range from $25 to $199 per month.

Skillshare

Pros

  • Great community support with a discussion forum

  • Inexpensive and gives you access to many courses

  • Reliable course quality

Cons

  • No formal recognition after completing a course

  • Limited support options via email

Pricing

$15 per month to access all courses.

edX and Open edX

Pros

  • Robust mobile app available

  • Online interactive classes

  • Courses are university-level in terms of quality and content

Cons

  • The system is somewhat outdated and lacking in features

Pricing

No cost for regular courses. Between $50 and $300 for professional courses.

Udemy

Pros

  • Self-paced learning focus

  • Mobile app for remote learning

  • Courses for almost every subject

Cons

  • Limited student-instructor interaction

  • The quality of courses can be inconsistent

Pricing

Courses priced between $20 and $200.

MasterClass

Pros

  • Unlimited courses for a single annual fee

  • Excellent course quality

  • Massive variety of different courses

  • Celebrity appearances

  • Suitable for all student levels

Cons

  • No professional certification

  • Course quality can vary

Pricing

$180 annual subscription cost.

Coursera

Pros

  • Millions of users across the world

  • Many different learning activities available

  • Awards certifications and degrees

  • High-quality educational tools

  • Interaction with instructors

Cons

  • Not as much course variety as other platforms

Pricing

Between $39 to $79 per month.

Pluralsight

Pros

  • Mini-degree approach is an innovative take on online courses

  • Over 7,500 individual classes across hundreds of paths

  • Access to the entire library of classes

  • Specialized focus means quality courses in every subject

Cons

  • Generally focused on technology-related subjects such as software development and cybersecurity

Pricing

$29 per month or $299 for the whole year. $449 per year for a premium option with interactive courses and industry-standard practice exams.

Alison

Pros

  • Ad-supported platform means it’s free to use

  • Offers a comprehensive range of classes on many different subjects

  • Great for all learning levels

  • Courses can be sorted by type, category, or even job

  • Millions of learners and thousands of courses

Cons

  • Not optimized for mobile devices

  • Advertisements can become annoying unless you pay for a premium subscription

Pricing

The ad-free premium subscription is $7.99 per month.

Udacity

Pros

  • Excellent course quality

  • Collaborations with industry leaders such as Google, Amazon, and Nvidia

  • Extremely easy to use and follow

  • Hundreds of free courses to get started

  • Certifications available

Cons

  • Institute is not accredited due to their status as a private online educator

  • Limited topics in computer science and business

  • Some programs are quite expensive

Pricing

$399 per month to access nanodegrees. $339 per month if the full course is prepaid.

Choosing the best online learning platform for your needs

Each online learning platform offers a variety of unique courses you can choose from. Some will feel more academic, some more professional. But it’s important to pick a course based on the type of knowledge that you’d like to gain, and to choose an accredited institution if you plan to seek certification or a license after completing your course.

Take a look at each individual platform to check out the courses you’re interested in. How do course descriptions vary between platforms? Reviews also help, since one platform may be stronger in certain subjects than another. When it comes to courses from individual instructors (like on Skillshare or MasterClass) your learning experience will depend on your teacher. Because of this, it’s hard to directly compare platforms, since course quality will vary. 

We firmly believe these are the top online learning platforms to choose from. Once you’ve set your budget and a direction for your online learning, you’ll find that it’s a fantastic way tohelp your professional growth, opening you up to new career possibilities.

Boost organizational skill development with Ezra’s world-class employee coaching, built to fit into today’s working life. We’ve redesigned leadership coaching for the modern age to help transform people through affordable, scalable and high-impact solutions, with equitable access through our world-class coaching app. Find out today how digital coaching could make a big difference to your organization.

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