What is an Online Learning Platform?

An online learning platform is an environment where students can take online courses. These online learning platforms are often called ‘course marketplaces’ because they give learners the opportunity to search for and pay directly for online courses. While some of these course marketplaces are intended to be used by online content creators, the majority are intended for university students and provides educational materials.

Importance of Online Course Platform in Relation to a Learning Management System:

An online course platform is a learning management system (LMS) that can help instructors create, host, deliver and sell online courses. The definition of an LMS is usually used in the context of employee training and onboarding or in academic institutions to support teaching. Other learning management systems allow instructors to create online classes or individual lessons uploading education material that they have created using text, image, video, PDF files, and audio. Instead of providing courses via platforms that have already built up their own user bases, companies can use course platforms to create their own course marketplace. This allows them to keep the data and revenue associated with user-generated content.

Difference Online Learning Platforms between Online Course Platforms:

An online course platform takes the perspective of the online instructor/ teacher whereas an online learning platform emphasizes and presents the learner’s perspective. The definitions are often used interchangeably but are more distinctly defined by the speaker’s tone, use of examples, and general attitude towards what is being described.

From a student’s perspective, a learning platform is a place to find educational content and buy courses. While, if you’re an educator or teacher, it is the place to deliver knowledge. Online learning platforms are frequently used to locate marketplaces for courses or to identify clients, while course platforms commonly refer to the software used to create a learning environment.

On the one hand, you can use an online platform to quickly grow your audience and sell your courses. On the other hand, you lose certain control over pricing, branding, and user data. Not only is it more convenient to use a website platform than managing your learning resources yourself, but it is also not limited by what is available at your local library. You also get to choose how your online courses are presented and advertised. You also get to choose how your courses are priced.

Role of Online Learning Platforms during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has created new management techniques that have changed how students and office workers around the world are learning. This global pandemic is not necessarily a good time to brush up on skills as many are busy working in essential business, trying to get new clients, or simply taking care of their loved ones. But now, since most countries have extended summer break, online classes are a great option to keep busy and productive.

Best Online Learning Platforms of 2021

As we analyze each learning platform, you can use it to decide if the platform fits your needs. Learning platforms contain massive libraries of courses and learning paths for learners of all subjects. Some colleges and universities allow individual instructors to teach with varied conditions to approve the content. In case you don’t want to create a course from scratch, here are the platforms that allow you to publish your material and monetize them under different conditions.

We have included information below for both students and instructors looking into these platforms.

Platform No.1: LinkedIn

LinkedIn Learning is an educational platform that offers online lessons on business, technology-related and creative fields. The platform is to be used only by users of LinkedIn and offers over 1,100 courses in 5 languages and focuses on helping them invest in their professional development and growth.

Pros

  • It has a great reputation among its customers.
  • This allows you to test the software for a month before deciding whether you want to buy it.
  • It compiles course recommendations based on user data and interests.
  • The course offers certification upon completion.
  • Quizzes allow you to assess your progress to see how what you learned applies to the world.
  • You can access your offline learning from anywhere.
  • It gives you access to additional career resources.

Cons

  • While it’s hard to tell if the courses are any good, you need to conduct some research into the quality of the courses before enrolling.
  • If you’re joining as an instructor, you will have to be motivated enough to meet the challenge.

Who is ideal for it?

Students: The business management software is primarily made for companies that may not have much experience with spreadsheets.

Instructors: Apart from individuals, businesses and universities can use the platform for training and educational purposes.

Platform No. 2: Udemy

Online course marketplace Udemy is one of the most popular online course marketplaces on the web. This educational platform has more than 40 million students and 50 thousand instructors and subject matter experts creating online courses. Udemy strives to create a platform that enables any individual with skills to create and share courses. It offers a range of online learning materials including PDF documents, PowerPoint, text, and video content among others. The platform takes a huge commission from the revenue and controls how much you can discount.

Pros:

  • No additional costs for the instructor
  • The site has courses designed to give you the skills you need for your career.
  • Business owners and investors don’t need to be technical experts.
  • There are Udemy applications for iOS and Android.

Cons:

  • Students have very few opportunities to ask questions to the instructor.
  • Keep in mind that you’re just one of thousands of course creators.
  • Personal branding is for everyone, not just instructors.
  • The company sells courses for incredibly low prices.
  • On the other hand, it does not give instructors access to user data or allow them to brand their apps.

Who is ideal for it?

Students: Udemy has a wide variety of courses, but it is important to read the reviews before buying. Quality is not consistent.

Instructors: This product is ideal for teachers, instructors, educators, and writers, especially those who are just starting out.

Platform No.3: Coursera

Coursera is an online education platform that aims to provide online training in high quality in order to reach a worldwide audience. Students can sign up for paid courses with world-class universities and businesses, and receive certifications upon completion. Coursera is a company that provides online video lectures, homework exercises, peer-reviewed assignments, and discussion forums.

Pros:

  • It offers several different ways to learn new things.
  • It awards people who take different types of courses with certificates and degrees.
  • It doesn’t come with educational tools or instructor interactions.

Cons:

  • It is only offered to educators in partner institutions.
  • It’s not as flexible as other platforms for course creation.

Who is ideal for it?

Students: Anybody who would like to get a taste of the education that world-class institutions offer, whether they are looking for a one-off course, certification, or online degree.

Instructors:  The grant is aimed at professors at HE partner institutions and businesses.

Platform #4: Skillshare

Skillshare has over 4 million students and up to 24,000 lessons in various disciplines. Lessons are made out of a series of one-on-one videos with me, group projects, and an interactive community where my students can ask questions via video or text chat.

Classes are categorized into 4 areas:

  1. Creative and science arts: Graphic design, fine art, cooking and music production are all kinds of art.
  2. Technology: Data science, web design, and e-commerce are the three areas where the highest profit opportunities are.
  3. Business: Finance, accounting, and project management are ways to help you run your business more effectively.
  4. Lifestyle: Online education, foreign languages, online gaming, and wellness.

Pros:

  • It offers a forum that lets students exchange feedback.
  • It allows you to take more than one course without adding to your total financial burden.

Cons:

  • Content is divided into four categories.
  • When you graduate, there is no formal recognition of the fact.

Who is ideal for it?

Students: Students who are interested in creative arts, technology, business and lifestyle classes will find it interesting.

Instructors: It’s a good side income for instructors who are in the creative field and want to make a living. Instructors can make money through Skillshare’s royalty system and their referral program.

Platform No.5: edX & Open edX

EdX and Open-edX are like two sides of a coin: one is the learning platform where students find online courses from various universities, and the other is an open-source content management system. Harvard and MIT created edX with the goal of providing worldwide access to high-quality education, online.

EdX has gained 8,000 courses from 100 universities and businesses that are offering higher education in many disciplines. They focus on the sciences – engineering, computer science, data science, math, humanities, business, and management.

Pros:

  • It’s free for anyone to use and edit, and the source code is available on GitHub.
  • It has iOS and Android apps.
  • Online classes are interactive, allowing students to contribute.

Cons:

  • Relating to its discussion forums: It doesn’t seem that they are easy to navigate.
  • It’s a good idea to take a course on web design or hire a developer if you can afford it.
  • There are additional costs for self-hosting, including the cost of the server and its maintenance.

Who is ideal for it?

Students: EdX has a large range of courses suitable for most ages to learn about a subject or new skills.

Instructors: For businesses that can afford the necessary resources, the best option is to use something they already own.

Tips to Choose a Top Online Learning Platform

It’s a really good idea to learn online, but picking the right platform for your needs can be confusing.

  • Focused points: Some of these learning communities focus on a certain topic (e.g. data science, coding or creative crafts). If you want to learn about one of these topics in particular, a specialized e-learning platform may be a better option.
  • Languages: If you’re looking for a course in languages other than English, it’s likely that your choice will be limited.
  • Community: Not all platforms have a vibrant community of students and instructors, although you can find them if you look for them.
  • Price range: Do you prefer to pay for each course or do you prefer a subscription? A lot of courses are free to watch, but you have to pay if you want any kind of certificate. Some charge a fixed fee per course, while others charge a monthly fee for access to many courses.
  • Assignments, quizzes and certificates: In addition, not all of them offer the same approach when it comes to how their courses are followed. Some require you to assess your own work, others require you to obtain peer reviews and still others allow you to obtain an official completion certificate.
  • Course quality: Some elearning platforms are better than others. Some of the top ones include Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, edX and Coursera. But courses from organisations with training communities like Creativelive, Pluralsight and Datacamp offer a bit more.

Choosing an effective Online Learning Platform:

As you can see, there’s a variety of options available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. While there are a lot of different tools and platforms out there, it’s important to do some research on those you’re most interested in.

Don’t forget that almost all platforms offer a free trial of their products, so be sure to give it a try! All factors considered, the best option for you is to choose the one that best accommodates your needs and works well with your budget.

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