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Online Learning Platforms (Sites) to Learn New Skills in 2021

Mar 9, 2021 11 min read

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Online Learning Platforms (Sites) to Learn New Skills in 2021

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The rise of online learning platforms and portals has democratized education and learning, facilitating diverse stakeholders to explore, discover and learn just about anything from the comforts of their home. However, there are numerous types and categories of online classes, sites, and platforms to choose from and which is highly time-consuming. 

So, to make the process of selection simpler, we have compared and broke down the differences amid eight of the most popular online learning platforms (sites). Let’s explore and discuss them with their USPs, course categories, technicalities, accessibility, and much more.

1. Udemy

Top online learning platforms - Udemy

Udemy is a privately owned online learning platform and headquartered in San Francisco, USA, with offices in India, Ireland, Denver, Brazil, and Turkey. It was established in May 2010 by Eren Bali, Oktay Caglar, and Gagan Biyani. 

Within some months, 1,000 instructors had built around 2,000 courses, and Udemy got 10,000 users. Based on this positive market reaction, the team raised $1 million in venture funding by the month of August.

In 2011, the company raised $3 million in Series A funding being led by diverse investors, followed by raising $12 million in Series B funding. In 2014, Udemy raised another $32 million in Series C funding, followed by a $65 million Series D funding. The company recently raised $50 million in the year 2020. 

Now Udemy joined another digital learning house Skillsdox Inc which had started in Canada to introduce a School of Skills across India. Udemy across the years has been recognized and mentioned in The China Post, Fast Company, The New York Times, the BBC, and TechCrunch, with Mashable quoting, “Udemy provides an experience that relates to an actual classroom, and should prove to be a helpful utility for instructors, teachers, and students across all subjects.

Udemy Significant USPs:

  • 130K courses by creators all across the globe are accessible on this platform
  • Lectures range from around 1 hour to 20 hours, which depends on the type of courses
  • Many courses are obtainable for free, while others are chargeable 
  • There are 35 Million learners and 57K instructors on this platform
  • Other momentous figures include 400 Million course enrolments, 110 Million minutes of videos, and involvement of 65+ languages on this platform 
  • The site has 7000+ enterprise clients, and around 80% of fortune 100 companies rely on this platform for employee upskilling

Udemy Course categories:

  • Software Development, IT, Business and Office Productivity
  • Design, Drawing, Digital Marketing, Photography and Music
  • Health, Fitness, Lifestyle and Personal Development
  • Academics, Teacher Training and Diverse Languages

Udemy Apps accessible on:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Apple TV devices

Udemy Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Business and Technology

Udemy Course Library: 

It offers an extensive selection of courses across different professional and self-development domains. One can pick from 130,000 digital video courses with fresh additions regularly published on a monthly basis. Enjoy the fresh topics!

Udemy Pricing:

  • It follows the Pay-per-course model
  • It avoids loyalty or subscription programs
  • Some classes are provided for free
  • Paid classes charges are mainly between $10 (when discounted) to $200 

2. Coursera

Top online learning platforms - Coursera

Coursera, established in 2012, is a massive open online course (MOOC), provider. This online learning platform was founded in America by Stanford University’s computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. Coursera has successfully partnered with around 200+ top universities. It has joined hands with the best global organizations and renowned colleges with the launch of numerous courses right on its platform. 

The best universities tied up with Coursera and offering these extensive courses include Yale, John Hopkins, Duke University, Indian School of Business, Princeton, Imperial College London, Yonsei, and many others.

This online learning platform raised a preliminary $16 million funding, and then in 2013, the World Bank Group led the Series B investment to the company that totaled around $63 million. The company got further Series C and Series D fundings. The company reached a valuation of $1 billion+ in the year 2019. Lastly, in 2020, the company announced its total valuation to be $2.5 billion.

Coursera Significant USPs:

  • Master new skills and get ready for professional work
  • Get an opportunity to learn from top college leaders across the globe
  • Better utilize the extra time with these swift and some of the short courses
  • Some courses have been exclusively made free for the pandemic lockdown
  • Move further and earn a degree or diploma certificate from a university
  • Up-skill your company with on-demand training programs
  • Apply what you learn with quick quizzes and hands-on projects
  • Get true feedbacks from a worldwide community of learners and educators 

Coursera Course categories:

  • Health, Personal Development, Arts and Humanities 
  • Social Sciences, Business and Language Leanings 
  • Computer Science, Data Science, Maths and Logic
  • Life Sciences, Physical Science and Engineering

Coursera Apps accessible on:

  • iOS and Android devices

Coursera Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Professionals
  • Government and Business

Coursera Course Library: 

Coursera provides a broad selection of courses and 70+ million individuals are already learning on this platform. You can choose from 39000+ courses and specializations, 20+ educational degrees & certificates, and 13+ professional certificates. Explore, comprehensively discover and learn at your own pace with 100% digital access.

Coursera Pricing:

  • Free or pay-per-course accessibility 
  • Applications for financial aid are obtainable 
  • Regular charges are between $29 to $99 per course
  • Around $39 to $79 month-wise for specialized courses
  • $15,000 to $25,000 for master’s degree

3. Skillshare

Top online learning platforms - Skillshare

Skillshare is an American online learning platform cum community founded in November 2010 created by Malcolm Ong and Michael Karnjanaprakorn. The company raised around $3.1 million in Series A funding, which was led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital followed by other heavy investments in the coming years.

This online learning platform held the Penny Conference in 2012, which was a one-day discussion on the existing educational system and how to transform it.  The company further collaborated with Levi’s to establish the School of MakeOurMark in October 2013.

Across 2019, the company has 27,000+ premium classes and 2,000+ free classes obtainable. The company’s CEO, Matt Cooper, said 2020 had been a year of swift growth and maturity as people turned to digital learning for enrichment and entertainment. 

Skillshare Significant USPs:

  • Specialized teachers share their experiences, knowledge, and reliable tools 
  • One can gain benchmarked practices and essential tips from the instructor
  • Access to short format classes that teach helpful skills in quick time
  • Concise, straightforward lessons, enabled with exercises and real techniques
  • The platform offers different memberships and classes designed for life lessons 
  • Work on projects to build your portfolio and get instant feedback from communities
  • One can apply for student scholarships, refer a friend or become a teacher on the Skillshare learning platform, all online

Skillshare Course categories:

  • Design, Logos and Branding
  • Lifestyle, Music, Business, and Technology
  • Photography, Film, Fine Arts and Crafts 
  • Animation, Illustration, and Video Creation 
  • Creative Writing, Entrepreneurship, and Freelancing
  • Marketing, Product Management, and Productivity
  • Mobile & Web Development, Data Science and Game Design 

Skillshare Apps accessible on:

  • Android, iOS, and Apple TV devices

Skillshare Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Businesses and Academics

Skillshare Course Library:

There are more than 22,000 diverse courses to select from on this online learning platform with free access for two months.

Skillshare Pricing:

  • Absolutely free 30-days trial
  • Many classes are freely accessible
  • The monthly subscription plan accounts for $19 
  • Annual subscription plans start from around $8.25 every month.

4. AWS

Best online learning platforms for technology professionals - AWS

The AWS online learning platform was established in July 2002. In the early stages, the platform consisted of merely a few tools and services. AWS announced AWS Activate, a worldwide program for startups. Here, the Involved startups got promotional credits that can be invested within AWS, like training, support, and forum access.

To back industry extensive training and skills standardization, AWS started providing a certification program for IT engineers in 2013 to highlight specialization across cloud computing. Further, AWS Training and Certification started assisting with building and validating skills to get more learning out of the cloud.

Today, with AWS Training and Certification, one can academically be proficient, technically more efficient, professionally effective, and fruitful to enable more productive study and work right in the cloud. 

AWS Significant USPs:

  • Facilitates digital training from experts 
  • Enables classroom training, webinars, and events
  • Learn from AWS specialists and professionals
  • Advance latest skill-sets and existing technology knowledge
  • Get certified and build a successful future in the AWS cloud domains
  • Drive and steer the organization with cloud fluency

AWS Course categories:

  • Designed highly accessible AWS systems and architecture courses
  • Courses with best practices on AWS Cloud Practitioners
  • Data Analytics Courses to build, secure and sustain Analytics Solutions
  • Courses on training developers across Machine Learning and Data Science 

AWS Apps accessible on:

  • iOS and Android

AWS Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Corporate, Technical Teams & Businesse

AWS Course Library:

It offers 12-course certifications, comprising six core certificates and six specialty certificates. The certificates are well-organized into three tiers: 1) Foundational 2) Associate and 3) Professional certifications.

AWS Pricing:

  • Offer Pay-as-you-go model for pricing

5. LinkedIn Learning

Leading online learning platforms - LinkedIn Learning

A lot of professionals know LinkedIn Learning as the former Lynda.com, which has prominently captured the focus of e-learning followers across the globe. This online learning platform was established in 1995 by Lynda Weinman as Lynda.com prior to being acquired by LinkedIn in the year 2015. After that, Lynda has been successfully rebranded as LinkedIn Learning and taken forward. 

In 2002, the company started providing courses online. By 2004, there were around 100 courses, and in 2008, the company initiated producing and publishing documentaries on leaders and entrepreneurs.

In 2013, Lynda.com raised $103 million as funding, and in 2015, the company announced it had got $186 million in financing. In 2015, LinkedIn bought Lynda.com in a deal of $1.5 billion.

In 2017, Lynda.com was renamed LinkedIn Learning. In 2019, the website declared that users accessing LinkedIn Learning by their public library would be needed to build a LinkedIn profile to utilize the services. Today, 1 million hours of LinkedIn Learning content are being explored and watched every week.

LinkedIn Learning USPs:

  • Numerous courses to select from across different domains and fields 
  • All courses are in effect free since the first month right on the platform as a trial version
  • One can join and complete the courses of preferences at no costs
  • Talented professionals and instructors from esteemed organizations and universities have built and shaped these courses, so you get comprehensive and superior quality learning
  • The platform comes with the support of LinkedIn, so one can effortlessly add skill-sets to the profile, thus boosting the opportunities of getting a better job
  • The alternative of ‘view offline’ enables one to take classes without internet connectivity and on the move.

LinkedIn Learning Course categories:

  • Business
  • Technology
  • Creative
  • Data science
  • Digital Marketing 

LinkedIn Learning Apps accessible on:

  • Windows 8, Android, iOS, and Apple TV devices

LinkedIn Learning Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Government, Academics and Business

LinkedIn Learning Course Library: 

With over 16,000 courses and recommendations, you can explore, complete, and track courses concerned with your professional domains.

LinkedIn Learning Pricing:

  • Absolutely free with a 30-day trial
  • The monthly subscription plan starts from $29.99 per month
  • Annual subscription plan initiates from $19.99 per month

6. edX and Open edX

Top online learning platforms - edX

The edX is one of the top online learning platforms was established in the year 2012 by MIT and Harvard. In 2013, edX open-sourced its complete platform. And in 2014, edX declared a high school initiative and Professional Education courses. 

Further, in 2015 it partnered with Microsoft and later with Arizona State University. In 2016, edX launched and enabled 19 MicroMasters programs, further launching additional 16 MicroMasters programs. In 2018, the company partnered with Microsoft and General Electric to offer subsidized online courses, followed by Tech Mahindra partnership to re-skill the workforce on innovative technologies.

Later in 2018, the degree programs were enabled completely online. And in 2020, edX launched MicroBachelors programs. These programs provide undergraduate-level courses, which are valuable for university credits, especially for degree-seeking students.

edX Significant USPs:

  • Boosts access to quality education from anywhere and for everyone
  • Improve teaching and learning on campus as well as digitally
  • Advance career, get a degree, and increase knowledge at any level
  • Up-skill employees and create a concrete culture of collaborative learning
  • Enhance your curriculum with the assistance of blended learning
  • Engage with video lectures, highly dynamic graphics, and visualizations 
  • Help enable interactive programs with quizzes, assessments and virtual setting 

edX Course categories:

  • Business, Design, and Technology
  • Data Science, Computer Science, and Engineering

edX Apps accessible on:

  • Available for desktop, Android and iOS versions

edX Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Businesses, Educators and Learners

edX Course Library:

There are more than 3000 courses on edX and around 456,792 people are learning on the platform.

edX Pricing:

  • OpenEdX provides a free trial
  • The monthly pricing initiates at $45.00 
  • It is also obtainable at $165/month and $330/month with added features

7. Alison

Top online learning platforms - Alison

Alison is one of the best online learning platforms that was founded in Ireland by Irish entrepreneur Mike Feerick in 2007. In 2016, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee declared the partnership between Alison and National Skill Development Corporation. Further, in 2017, the company decided to make a technical transformation of the platform. Alison launched its mobile app, which steers 50 percent of the site’s traffic globally. In the year 2020, Alison created and published a course on the coronavirus and readily translated it into different languages.

Alison Significant USPs:

  • Learn from 1000+ superior quality certifications obtainable across 9 different categories, all of which are entirely free to complete
  • Courses are designed by subject matter specialists and all the content here is self-paced
  • Offer interactive, engaging, and enriching learning experiences
  • One can easily filter down learning choices based on course categories, type, level and learning fields

Alison Course categories:

  • IT, Software Development, Languages and Science 
  • Health, Humanity, Engineering, Finance, and Business
  • Skilled Trades, Operations, Maths, Marketing and Lifestyle

Alison Apps accessible on:

  • Android-powered devices

Alison Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Businesses and Professionals

Alison Course Library: 

There are more than 2000 Courses, 18 Million Learners, and 3 Million Graduates with a platform presence across 195 countries.

Alison Pricing:

  • Unlimited free access to 2000+ courses
  • Pricing varies for premium versions and certifications

8. Udacity

Top online education platform - Udacity

Udacity is an American for-profit online educational organization established in February 2012 by Sebastian Thrun, David Stevens, and Mike Sokolsky, providing massive open online courses (MOOCs).

In the year 2014, the Georgia Institute of Technology introduced the foremost online open degree in computer science in a partnership with Udacity and AT&T.

In 2017, Udacity enabled and launched the ‘Learn ARKit’ program, which could assist developers to enhance their AR application skill-sets. A step further, Google partnered with Udacity to establish a fresh scholarship initiative for facilitating application developers. Udacity is valued at more than $1B, having been funded by $163M from diverse investors. Today, Udacity is a market leader when it comes to online learning, and it offers numerous ranges of resources for education.

Udacity Significant USPs:

  • Industry associations with major organizations, including Google
  • Enables students and make them job-ready for the competitive markets
  • Provides paid nano degree programs and even free courses
  • You can learn through their app on the move and at any time

Udacity Course categories:

  • Self-driving Car, Business, and Digital Marketing
  • Data Science, Software Development and Programming
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), Dev Ops, and Cloud Computing 

Udacity Apps accessible on:

  • iOS and Android

Udacity Corporate or team programs obtainable for:

  • Individuals, Enterprises & Government

Udacity Course Library:

It has more than 200 courses that are free; however, does not offer a professional certificate.

Udacity Pricing:

Udacity’s nanodegrees which are micro-credentials and exclusive to Udacity are entirely paid. They cost $399 per month; however, if you cancel the enrolment within 7 days of the sign-up, you may get a complete refund.

Choosing an Online Learning Platform

As you can explore, there are many choices for online learning platforms that are accessible out there, and each one carries its own advantages. Please check reviews and ratings prior to selecting these platforms so you can make the precise choice. The bottom line is that it’s both helpful and useful for being a lifelong learner and growing as a professional. Moving forward these learning websites will open your mind and open doors to new professional and personal opportunities. 

Our team of e-learning specialists has done in-depth research to come up with this compilation of 8 Online Learning Platforms (Sites) for you to easily explore, discover and learn new skills in 2021. We are sure it will assist you to find what you are looking for in your professional, academic, or personal learning. If you have utilized any of these learning platforms, or have explored such other online learning platforms you wish to suggest, please share at [email protected].

Vatsal Shah is a co-founder of Pragmatic Consultancy and DIMC and has transformed various IT, E-Commerce, Chemical, Retail, Service sector organizations for 15 years now. Vatsal has been invited as a speaker by WordCamp, Meet Magento, GTU, ETail India, AMA, GLS University, etc. As a business coach and mentor, he has influenced more than 48 organizations in India, China, the UK, Africa, and the USA and trained more than 4700 people. Vatsal is the most artistic personality at eComKeeda because he is an amazing singer, dancer, artist, gold medalist in the corporate writing, and so much more.