The 7 Best Online Learning Sites
You don’t need to pay tens of thousands of dollars a semester for a world-class education.
We’ve put together a list of the world’s best online learning sites based on budget, learning style, course material, and user experience.
With these sites, you’ll be able to learn any topic in the known universe at your own pace, and in some cases, 100% FREE.
It’s like the future, except it’s today!
Ready to learn? Let’s go.
Overview The Best Online Course Sites of 2020
Here’s a brief overview of our picks so you can see everything at a glance. We highly recommend reading through our experiences with each course, but if you find exactly what you’re looking for here, then just dive in!
- Coursera – The Best Overall Online Learning Site
Learn the latest skills, gain a promotion at work, or upskill your organization with expert courses from 190+ leading universities and companies like Duke, Michigan State, Google, IBM, and Stanford.
You can choose a free course or pay for one of their 20+ legit degrees!
- Linkedin Learning (Lynda.com) – The Best Value Online Learning Site
Linkedin Learning is the leading online education site for professionals, and by far the most comprehensive, accessible, and affordable.
This is easily the best choice for professionals looking to quickly and cheaply upgrade their business, creative, and analytical skills/credentials. Choose from over 15,000 easy-to-digest courses from certified professionals.
- edX – The Best Online STEM Learning Site
2,500+ online courses from 140 institutions specializing in science, engineering, math, business, and management.
Founded by MIT and Harvard. Hard to argue with that.
- Khan Academy – The Best FREE Online Learning Site
Khan Academy is on a mission to revolutionize learning, break down barriers, and give a world-class education to everyone everywhere.
It also has by far the best learning experience in our opinion, even if the courses aren’t as in-depth as its paid competitors.
- SkillShare – The Best Online Site to Quickly Learn New Skills
Fun and exciting courses like starting a YouTube channel, learning music theory, and our favorite, online Spanish courses with a fun and vibrant learning community!
The pricing, community, and UX give SkillShare a big bump over its more well known competitor, who happens to make an appearance on this list too.
- Tuts+ – The Best Online Courses for Creatives
Learn from digital courses, how-to tutorials, and eBooks, and be part of a flourishing creative community of like-minded professionals, all for a fraction of some of the bigger named sites.
- Udemy – The Best Online Site for Cheap Courses en Masse
Maybe the biggest name in online courses, Udemy makes the list due to its sheer number of available courses, and cheap prices. 100,000 online video courses starting at $10.99.
The Best Online Course Sites Reviews
Imagine being accepted into 190+ of the world’s leading institutions on the same day.
Welcome to Coursera, the best online learning site on Earth.
Coursera is more than an online learning platform, it’s a gateway to certification and accreditation from the world’s topmost universities.
Learn the science behind wellbeing from Yale, kickstart your career in IT by learning data science straight from IBM – the company driving the very field, or earn a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of London.
Or maybe just study cryptography from Stanford. It’s up to you!
Each course is broken down into modules and videos, many with readings and supplementary materials added. Coursera is more than just online learning, it truly is an online university.
Of course, this all comes at a very steep price, though Coursera is testing out a new all-you-can-eat annual subscription of $400. Some degrees cost up to $15,000 or even more! There are free courses to get you started though.
OUR FAVORITE COURE: Game Theory – the mathematical modeling of strategic interactions among rational and irrational agents.
- Degrees from the world’s leading universities
- Simple, easy-to-follow structure
- Professional certificates from leading companies
- Prices are steep
Linkedin Learning (Lynda.com)
Linkedin Learning – formerly Lynda.com – gives you direct access to 15,000 practical professional development courses taught by industry pros.
Whereas Coursera is more about learning high-end concepts and obtaining degrees, Linkedin Learning is about fast, practical, directly applicable professional skills to level up your career.
Put in a different way, Coursera is for launching a career, Linkedin Learning is for obtaining the skills necessary to get a promotion in the one you’ve already got.
The user interface is friendly and familiar, and we love how the entire course – including the instructor – is laid bare on the home page.
Don’t be fooled, there’s still plenty of course work!
And the courses are measured in minutes and hours rather than in weeks or semesters. And for everything it lacks in high-end credentials from IBM, Google, or Yale, it makes up for in accessibility. A premium subscription is only $30/month!
- Directly applicable courses
- Short, practical videos
- Learn granular skills for the office
- Some courses seem pointless
- We aren’t convinced of the credentials of some of the instructors
edX is the world’s leading online course platform for courses on:
- Computer science
- Data science
Founded by MIT and Harvard, you also get courses from Berkely, Boston University (There’s a lot of Boston going on around here), and Stanford among others.
There’s everything from FREE courses on languages like Mandarin for business or TOEFL prep to masters degrees in IT and accounting from universities like Texas, Georgia Tech, and Purdue.
Talk about powerhouse learning!
We love how many of the courses are free to take, and you only pay if you need a “verified” certificate. That way, you can study on your own terms and only pay when it directly benefits you.
- Science, math, and engineering courses from the world’s leading STEM institutions
- Freemium payment model
- edX for business platform for training employees
- Extremely expensive degree courses
- The UX is not our favorite
Khan Academy is the most recognizable name in FREE, open learning. It’s become a symbol of the future of education, and is a mission to change the world through open education to anyone anywhere!
The course material is not as high-end or specialized as what you get with Coursera or edX, and the skills aren’t asapplicable as Linkedin Learning, but Khan Academy is 100% free and covers much of basic academia – chemistry, math, history, reading, and writing – and beyond. Including FREE test prep (LSAT, MCAT, GMAT)
It’s especially useful for teachers and schools, seeing as you can customize coursework and allow students to learn at their own pace. We love how you can use Khan Academy to fill in the gaps of student’s knowledge without slowing down the entire class.
Lastly, it has the best UX out of any of the platforms we cover.
NOTE: Khan is 100% customizable to your interests! Check it out!
- 100% free (Donations accepted)
- Great UX
- FREE test prep
- More basic-level coursework (That could actually be a good thing)
- Lacking in high-end specializations
Skill Share is our favorite online skills learning community.
When they explore your creativity, they mean it.
This isn’t the platform for boring office skills. This is where you go to learn how to illustrate expressive characters, master logo design, and how to craft conflict within a narrative.
Find what fascinates you, master it, and level up your creative life, all for the price of a cheap dinner!
The UX is simple and intuitive, with each course being broken down into simple, practical videos, like so:
- Great classes taught by experts
- Simple UX
- Tons of creative courses
- Some of the courses are low-quality
- Lacking in highly specialized coursework
Tuts is another boss-level learning platform for creatives, complete with grainy how-to guides, eBooks, and master level courses on everything from illustration and video production to leveling up your business.
We highly recommend it for creatives looking to learn Photoshop, WordPress, or other creative design skills. The thing we love most about Tuts+ are their how-to guides.
Say you need to figure out how to do just one thing within a program or field, for example, learning how to get that graffiti effect in Photoshop or make educational slides via a template in Google slides, Tuts+ has a quick how-to article detailing exactly how to do it step-by-step.
This is definitely a platform worth using for:
- Excellent design and illustration courses
- Extremely affordable
- Lacking outside of creative design coursework
Last but not least, the most recognizable name on the list: Udemy.
Udemy is the world’s largest and most diverse peer-to-peer course platform, with over 100,000 online courses on topics as broad as development, business, machine learning, music theory, and Microsoft Excel.
The courses aren’t all high-quality, but for about $10 a pop, you can’t complain. And they’ve got pretty much every topic you could imagine. Course creators often offer support outside of the videos, often in the form of Q & A, so you can further hone your skills.
If you just need to learn some basic skills, and want to get a leg up on other students or colleagues, it’s not a bad place to get started. But if you need serious instruction, we recommend looking elsewhere. We’re heavily skeptical of anywhere that offers a $12 one-day MBA.
- Tens of thousands of courses
- Simple UX
- Broad range of courses
- Extremely cheap
- Courses are hit or miss
- Some way oversell how informative they are
- Not all instructors have great credentials
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which is the best online learning site?
A: That highly depends on your needs. Coursera is good for university-level courses in academia, Linkedin Learning is great for professional skills, edX is good for STEM, and Skill Share is good for regular skills or more basic level online business skills.
Q: Where can I learn online for free?
A: Most online platforms offer free courses, but Khan Academy is the best 100% free platform.
Q: Where can I learn online?
A: Anywhere from YouTube to Coursera, Udemy, Skill Share and beyond. The web is your oyster!
Q: What are the benefits of online learning?
A: The benefits of online learning are immense. Students can learn at their own pace, it’s much more affordable, and you can do it from anywhere at any time!
Q: What are the most popular online courses?
A: The most popular online courses these days are programming courses, foriegn language courses (Especially English, Chinese, and Spanish), and basic school courses like reading, writing, and math for students in disadvantaged locations.
Those are our picks for the best online learning sites of 2020. The potential for self improvement is unlimited! Let us know which platform you choose and which courses provide the most value We might even take a course or two ourselves!
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