15 Best Online Course Platforms for 2022 (With Free Options)

Everybody knows that the future of education is online.

And despite what the pandemic would have you believe, the market for online education will have grown to $115 billion between 2017 to 2022.

If anything, COVID-19 simply brought the inevitable sooner than later. And instead of refusing online as the new normal for education, it’s time to embrace it.

Whether you’re a course creator or taker, below are the best online course platforms you must know more about moving forward.

What Are Online Course Platforms?

As a type of Learning Management System (LMS), online course platforms give users access to educational materials from their computers or mobile devices. Most online courses allow their students to progress at their own pace before taking exercises and exams to complete the course.

To compensate for the lack of human touch, good online courses also provide an immersive learning experience through the use of text, videos, PDFs, audio, and others. However, not all instructors present their courses this way as the approach depends on a case-to-case basis.

What Are the Best Online Course Platforms?

A really good online course platform allows you to present materials dynamically. They also give you a chance to set up your courses on a site where people can learn more about them before signing up.

Finally, these platforms give you options on how to receive payment from course takers to help you create a self-sustaining stream of income.

That said below are online course platforms that fit the description above to a tee.

1. Thinkific

Best Overall Online Course Platform (Free plan or $39/month)

Pros:

  • East to use course builder
  • Great set of marketing tools for automation
  • Provides full access to HTML and CSS
  • Dedicated app store
  • Supports over 30 languages

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer a mobile app
  • Doesn’t handle EU VAT

If you want a one-stop-shop where you can set up and market your course to an audience, then Thinkific is for you. The platform offers a wide variety of templates and tools to help you create professional-looking courses, and they provide plenty of support if you need it. Plus, they make it easy to sell your courses directly through their platform, or you can use Thinkifc to power your website where you can promote your own courses and sell them with your preferred pricing.

What users are saying about Thinkific

“I recently transitioned from LifterLMS to Thinkific for my business. It’s great – I wish I have switched over a year ago! The ease of building courses is the best part. I had to transfer all my courses from old platform and I was nervous that this would take lots of time, but it didn’t! The course-building platform is intuitive, thank goodness.”Dustin Y. (G2 Reviews)

“I have been using the Thinkific for over two years, and I have found it very easy to use and very adaptable. Building a course has been effortless, even for a non-techy person like myself. Basically, if you have great content, you can create a great course.”Gregory D. (G2 Reviews)

Key features

  • Upload and organize your course modules quickly using its drag-and-drop feature.
  • Create a website from its premium templates where you can sell all your courses.
  • Choose from many ways on how you can earn from the courses you’ll create.
  • Use tools for motivating students to finish your courses in time.
  • Teach online confidently with its secure cloud hosting, daily backups, and more.
  • Automate your course marketing efforts with integrations with the likes Zapier

Pricing

Thinkific has three paid plans starting at $39/month. You can also pay annually to get a 20% discount. The basic plan includes unlimited courses, custom domains, and email integration, among others.

Higher plans starting at $79/month give you access to additional admin accounts, private and hidden courses, memberships and bundles, and more.

All plans have a 30-day free trial so you can give the platform a test drive.

Also check out: Thinkific vs Teachable: Which Is Right for You?

2. Learnworlds

Best Online Learning Platform for Video Creators ($29/month)

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Learnworlds is a solid #2 on our list and is one of the few platforms that allow you to create engaging videos to help facilitate learning. The area where Learnworlds really stands out is a wide range of interactivity features. Among many functionalities, you can add transcripts and interactions in the videos. This way, you make them easier to understand for hearing-impaired students and those who have short attention spans.

While the platform is not as easy to use as earlier mentioned Thinkific, if you’re planning on engaging your students with quizzes, interactive surveys, and certificates, Learnworlds might be the right choice for you.

Key features

  • All interactive elements in all your course videos to make them more accessible.
  • Create a variety of tests that students must pass to earn their course certificate.
  • Upsell and cross-sell memberships, courses, and bundles for increased sales.
  • Invite students in your community to help them engage with like-minded people.
  • Build a website to promote and sell your courses with a few clicks.

Pricing

Learnworlds has three paid tiers starting with the Starter Plan at $29/month.

It has everything you need to set up your e-learning business (unlimited courses, built-in community, coupons). On the downside, it takes $5 off every course sale and has only four payment gateways.

With higher plans starting at $99/month, you get access to premium features such as subscriptions and memberships, course certificates, live classes via Zoom, and others.

You can save up to 20% on a yearly subscription on all plans.

Get a free 30-day trial of Learnworlds with our link below and start building your interactive online course.

3. Teachable

Best Online Course Platform for Beginners (from $29/month)

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With over 100,000 users who have made over $50 million from selling courses, you can’t go wrong with Teachable.

Part of its success is offering users everything they need to establish a successful online and e-learning business with the platform.

Key features

  • Integrate the platforms with third-party tools to automate your e-learning business.
  • Track and monitor the progress of your students and the sales of your courses.
  • Use its native Calendly integration to book leads and convert them into students.
  • Leverage its affiliate marketing features so you can get more sales and reward referees.
  • Get paid with over 130 currencies and make money without worrying about tax troubles.

Pricing

Teachable has three paid plans starting with the Basic plan at $39/month. It has the same features as the other two plans. However, it takes $5 off every course sale and has lower admin-level users.

Also, features like affiliate marketing, advanced reports, and certificates are available starting with the Pro plan ($119/month)

All plans offer unlimited videos, courses, and hosting. Also, you can save up to 20% for an annual subscription on all plans.

4. Podia

The Perfect Online Teaching Platform for Non-Techies (from $39/month)

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Some people have set up an online course but are unhappy with their current platform.

Thanks to Podia, you can migrate all your course materials for free without the technical know-how and start fresh.

More importantly, you can enjoy advanced features that will help maximize your sales and conversions.

Key features

  • Create a customizable website with help from live customer support.
  • Migrate your existing content (courses, website, etc.) to its hosting for free.
  • Pre-sell your digital products and use lead magnets to increase interest.
  • Connect with prospects via email marketing and messaging.
  • Generate more sales with 1-click upsells, product bundling, coupons, and more.

Pricing

Podia keeps it simple by offering only two plans: Mover ($39/month) and Shaker ($78/month). Both let you set up your courses with zero transaction feeds on your website hosted by the platform.

With Shaker, however, you get to enjoy premium features like affiliate marketing, blog, memberships, and others.

You can save up to 20% if you pay yearly instead of monthly.

5. Learndash

Best LMS Plugin for WordPress (from $16.50/month)

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If you have a WordPress or know your way around creating websites using the CMS, it’s best to just build your online courses in it.

Learndash gives you this opportunity to set up your online business using the full features of an LMS.

Key features

  • Create your branded learning portal with WordPress functionalities.
  • Sell courses using varying payment methods (membership, onetime payment, etc.).
  • Set up a course marketplace like Udemy and allow people to buy licenses in bulk.
  • Gain full control over your members and check their respective performances.
  • Use the latest tech, programs (SCORM, Tin Can API), and media on your site easily.

Pricing

Learndash offers three paid plans starting at $199/year for the Basic plan.

All plans have the same features (unlimited courses and users, 1-year support, drip-feed lessons, etc.). The difference is the number of sites that you can use the license on. The Basic plan only allows for a single site while the other plans (Plus at $229/year and Pro at $369/year) let you use it on 10-25 sites. Also, the higher plans give you access to a dashboard and live activity reporting.

6. Kajabi

Best All-Inclusive Learning Platform for Professionals (from $119/month)

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While most online learning platforms require you to integrate with other tools to simplify your process, Kajabi takes it to a whole new level.

It takes the best features from these tools and combines them in a single dashboard. This way, you can manage your online business in peace without the troublesome integrations.

Key features

  • Turn your content into high-ticket courses or subscriptions at premium prices.
  • Grow your email list and send them beautiful emails with built-in dynamic elements.
  • Create websites and pages you can easily customize to match your brand.
  • Develop sales funnels using custom automation triggers for greater sales.
  • Tag and make notes of people based on their behavior to better serve them.

Pricing

Since Kajabi strives to be more than just an online learning platform, it makes it more expensive than the rest of the solutions in this list. Starting at $149/month, you can create at least three products and pipelines with over 1,000 members and 10,000 contacts.

Higher plans ($199/month onwards) allow the use of its affiliate marketing and advanced automation features. From here, you can also remove the Kajabi branding from all your products.

You can save up to 30% if you sign up for their annual subscriptions. All plans have a 14-day free trial to give you time to toy with it first.

Also check out: Kajabi vs Teachable: Which Is Right for You?

7. Ruzuku

The Easiest Way to Deliver Online Courses (from $74.75/month)

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Given the unprecedented times, some people lack the know-how to move all their learning tools online.

However, Ruzuku simplifies setting up and launching your online courses so you can focus on the bottom line.

Key features

  • Launch and manage all your courses in a simple and powerful dashboard.
  • Bring your course to life on the platform using videos, PDFs, text, and others.
  • Track the progress of each student and encourage them to connect with each other.
  • Take payment (onetime or recurring) using your Stripe or PayPal accounts.
  • Receive excellent customer support to get the most out of your course.

Pricing

All three paid plans (starting at $99/month with a 14-day trial) have 0% transaction fees, accept PayPal and Stripe payments, and allow discount coupons that you can offer to people.

Higher plans receive access to unlimited webinars, polls and quizzes, and a wide variety of payment plans.

To save with your subscription, sign up for their yearly plans (from $99/month to $74.75/month paid annually).

If you’re unhappy with the platform, you can request a refund within 30 days upon purchase – no questions asked.

8. Academy of Mine

The Best Enterprise B2B Online Learning Platform (from $499/month)

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If there’s a platform dedicated to the creation of internal training materials for organizations, the Academy of Mine is it.

Arguably the most robust among the list, it can deliver the most advanced features that meet the demands of B2B companies.

Key features

  • Create self-paced courses using videos, HTML, SCORM, TinCan, and more.
  • Set up live webinars with students and take the discussion to the next level.
  • Sell courses to companies and delegate the modules to their representatives using its Group Onboarding feature.
  • Deliver your courses to your students seamlessly by integrating with different platforms.
  • Get help from building your course from its in-house team’s custom services.

Pricing

For $9,997/year, the Academy of Mine provides users with everything they possibly need from an online learning platform.

It has the usual features common across all platforms – unlimited courses, integrated e-commerce, advanced reporting, and others.

However, since Academy of Mine caters to B2B clients, its Group Onboarding features are the most popular.

Upon purchase, you also receive 15 hours’ worth of onboarding and training from the team. This helps acquaint you with its distinct features so you can get the best out of it.

9. WizlQ

The Perfect Online Learning System for Educators (from $25/month)

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WizIQ works both as a platform for holding live classes online and as an LMS where you can sell online courses.

We highly recommend this for teachers looking to share their knowledge with people regardless of where they are.

Key features

  • Make live learning engaging with HD video conference, whiteboard, and more.
  • Create assessments available in different formats and put students to the test – literally!
  • Track the performance of students and courses or classes and look for areas of improvement.
  • Run and analyze your online classes and courses using its NextGen platform.
  • Take your class on the go with its mobile learning application.

Pricing

WizIQ offers Live Classroom (starting at $25/month paid annually) and its Learning Management System (contact sales for pricing).

The former is ideal for people who want to deliver live classes from their existing site through API. Under this option, there are three plans to choose from. All give you access to screen sharing, whiteboard, content library, and a maximum of two hours for the video, among others.

The LMS option is best-suited for people looking to launch online courses.

There are two plans to choose from. Both have basic features such as integrated payment gateways, discussion forums, conditional access to content, and others.

What Are the Best Online Learning Platforms?

Just as fun as creating courses is learning new skills you can capitalize on later in life. This is true especially in today’s world where we are experiencing a paradigm shift in how we receive an education.

Therefore, on the flip side of profiting from your knowledge, below are online learning platforms where you can gain new knowledge about your interests and passions.

1. Shaw Academy

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Shaw Academy is one of the primary beneficiaries of the online course boom in 2020. But despite its surging popularity for its fine collection of courses, its reputation took a hit because of billing issues and poor customer support.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-digest training materials, even for complex topics.
  • Lots of courses to choose from over a variety of subjects.

Cons:

  • Was flagged on Trustpilot on 18 June 2020 for breaching the guidelines by inviting users to leave biased reviews.
  • Confusing pricing structure; it charged some users for payment they didn’t intend on paying.

Since the Trustpilot debacle, people are moving away from Shaw Academy to its alternatives. For your safety, we suggest you do the same.

2. Skillshare

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With a healthy mix of 20,000 free and premium online classes to choose from, Skillshare is a great place to start with your online education.

Learn about practical skills you can apply in real life from industry experts to help you level up your game in the workplace and life.

Pros:

  • Contains a variety of content about your interests that will keep you busy in a good way.
  • Offers various free trials to its premium courses that will help you decide whether or not to subscribe.

Cons:

  • Lack of closed captioning on some courses rendering some of it inaccessible.
  • Doesn’t offer certification after course completion, which is a deal-breaker for some.

With an excellent track record of courses, you can’t go wrong with at least trying Skillshare out.

3. Udemy

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Arguably the most popular online learning platform in this list, Udemy is home to over 130,000 courses that range across different topics under the sun.

By signing up, expect to learn from top instructors in their respective fields in easy-to-understand courses. If you run an organization, the Udemy for Business grants you access to the top exclusive learning materials that will help you get to the top.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of courses specific to your niche that you can take at your own pace.
  • The presentation of the course and its sleek video player make learning more conducive.

Cons:

  • Inaccurate course ratings – just because a course has lots of 5-star reviews, doesn’t mean it’s good.
  • Low barrier of entry for instructors, which lends to subpar courses.

As a low-cost online learning platform, you will have to dig deep to find diamonds in the rough with Udemy.

4. LinkedIn Learning

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As the top social networking site for professionals, it only makes sense for LinkedIn to launch its own learning platform.

The result is a very concentrated but slowly growing collecting of courses from specific topics. Despite its limited coverage, LinkedIn Learning is an excellent choice for people who want to acquire skills that can help them level up their game at work.

Pros:

  • Enjoy access to Linked Premium features to help apply your newly acquired skills in the site’s job network.
  • Intuitive interface that lets you set goals, read the video transcripts, and check the course’s interactive Q&A.

Cons:

  • Courses are not accredited educational materials. This means students can’t transfer the credits earned from finishing the course to a university certificate.
  • Static delivery of course content – only limited to text and video.

LinkedIn Learning is a great source of insightful job-related courses to help you move up the ranks.

5. Treehouse

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The demand for technical and web-related skills is high nowadays.

Therefore, instead of sticking with the things you know, you may want to expand your skill sets that businesses need with the help of Treehouse.

Pros:

  • Arguably has the best library of courses related to coding and web development (Ruby on Rails, PHP, JavaScript, and more).
  • Receive university-level education (at a fraction of the cost) to prepare you for high-paying jobs in the marketplace with the Techdegree program.

Cons:

  • Once you cancel your subscription, you will lose access to the courses.
  • Lack of course reviews from its former students, making it difficult to decide whether or not the course is for you.

Despite the steep price ($199/month), learning code doesn’t get any better than Treehouse.

6. Coursera

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If you want to refine your existing skills or learn a new one, take courses that grant certifications as proof of completion and offer transferable credits to accredited institutions (but only if you’re currently enrolled in degree programs).

In this case, Coursera checks both boxes and then some. The platform is the place to find free and premium courses taught by top experts from the best universities and companies in the world.

Pros:

  • Enroll to and audit premium courses at no cost to you.
  • Hundreds and thousands of course takers to reach out to for networking opportunities.

Cons:

  • Little to non-existent interaction with instructors for collecting feedback, making the training too sterile.
  • Lacking in customer service and not enough online resources that answer concerns related to the platform.

How Do I Create and Sell Online Courses?

1. Figure out the topic of your online course

Your first step is to decide what type, of course, you want to sell. Do you have expertise in something? Is there a skill or hobby that people would pay for lessons on? If so, then you’ve got the makings of a great online course! Once you’ve figured out your topic, it’s time to start thinking about different ways to create your course content. You can do this by recording videos, writing articles and blog posts about the subject matter, or even just holding live webinars. While options are ample, it’s widely believed that a series of videos is usually the most engaging form of delivery for an online course.

2. Estimate the cost to create your online course

Before you start developing your course, it’s important to figure out how much it will cost you. This includes the development costs (such as hiring a developer if necessary) and marketing expenses (such as advertising or website design). Be sure to include any other associated costs, such as software licenses or course materials.

Once you have an estimate for the total cost, create a budget and make sure you have the funds to cover it. You don’t want to start developing your course only to find out that you can’t afford to finish it!

Tip: If you’re unsure about how much something will cost, ask other online course creators for advice or consult with a professional.

3. Use the right equipment

When developing your course, it’s important to use the best software and equipment. This will ensure that you create a high-quality product and save time in the process. For example, if you’re recording videos for your course, then make sure you have a good camera as well as lighting and sound equipment. You don’t want to end up with grainy or distorted footage! However, you don’t need the most expensive, top-of-the-range equipment to get started.

Let’s look at some of the essential items to get you going:

#1. Microphone

If you’re recording videos for your course, then make sure to invest in a good microphone. There are many different types of microphones available but here are three popular options:

  • Lavalier microphones: These small mics can be clipped onto clothing or placed near the speaker’s mouth. They’re great for capturing audio that is close to the source.
  • Headphones with a microphone: These headphones have built-in microphones, which makes them ideal for recording videos or audio conferences.
  • USB microphones: USB mics offer the same functionality as other microphones, but with the major convenience of not requiring any additional gear to interface with your computer.

You can also consider getting additional accessories such as foam balls, shock mounts, and acoustics panels in order to further improve the quality of recorded audio. It’s particularly crucial in smaller spaces and rooms lacking soft surfaces.

#2. Headphones

If you’re recording audio, then make sure to invest in a good pair of headphones. This will allow you to hear yourself clearly and keep track of any mistakes that may have been made during the recording process. You can consider purchasing, lately popular, noise-canceling headphones if your workspace is noisy or has an echo effect.

#3. Screen recording program

If you’re creating video tutorials, then you’ll need a screen recording program. This will allow you to record your computer screen as you walk through the steps of whatever task you’re demonstrating. There are many different programs available, but we recommend using Loom as our go-to screen recording tool.

#4. USB Webcam

If you’re recording videos, then a USB webcam is essential. This will allow you to record yourself and your computer screen at the same time (as well as other people if they join in onscreen).

You can also use a built-in laptop camera, but these tend to be lower quality than USB webcams.

Tip: If your webcam doesn’t have good lighting or the image is dark, try using an external light source like a lamp near the camera so that it will show up onscreen better!

#5. Audio and video editing software

Once you’ve recorded the audio and video for your course, it’s time to edit it. This will allow you to remove any mistakes or background noise that may have occurred during recording so that your final product is as professional as possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about different available options, don’t forget to check out our posts on the best video editing tools and photo editing software.

4. Create valuable content

It’s not enough to just create an online course; you need to make sure that it provides value as well! The best way of doing this is by using examples from your own experience or research, and then teaching them in a clear and concise manner so that students can easily understand what they’re learning. You should also include any relevant tips or advice that you’ve gathered over the years.

Ask your family and friends to test out your course content and provide feedback. This will help you ensure that your content is valuable and easy to understand.

The next step is to create a landing page for your course and drive traffic to it. You can do this by promoting your course on social media, blogging about it, or even sending out email marketing campaigns.

Finally, once you’ve generated some interest in your course, it’s time to start selling!

5. Choose the right online course platform

After you’ve spent your precious time creating standout content, it is important that you think about what kind of platform will best suit your marketing strategy and the needs of your students. There are many options available on the market today, however, Thinkific stands out as our #1 choice thanks to an easy-to-use interface and pricing being exactly in line with other affordable options, despite offering a much broader range of powerful features such as a built-in payment system and free Wistia video hosting.

How Much Money Can I Make Selling Online Courses?

There’s no one answer to this question since it depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of course you create, your target audience, and how popular your courses are. However, we’ve seen people earning anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per month from their online courses.

It’s important to remember that you won’t become rich overnight by selling online courses, but it can be a viable source of relatively passive income once your courses are up and running.

There are many different types of online courses available, but some of the most popular ones include:

  • Business and entrepreneurship courses
  • Technology courses
  • Creative arts courses
  • Cooking and nutrition courses
  • Language courses

The popularity of these subjects is likely due to the fact that they offer tangible skills or knowledge that can be applied in the real world.

What Are The Best Online Course Platforms? Our Key Takeaways

In this day and age, online teaching and learning are the way to go. Even better, each platform caters to people with different wants and needs.

Thanks to the variety of online courses and learning platforms available, there’s something for everyone. Based on the description for each tool above, decide which one is going to either help you sell courses effectively or gain new skills to move up the professional ladder.

If you’re in the business of creating info products, Thinkific is the best place to start. It provides you with all the tools to set up, launch, and earn money from your courses.

Regarding the latter, Coursera seems to be the most logical destination for finding courses to take or audit for free. There’s also an option to pay and earn credits plus certification after finishing it.

Want to Learn More?

Still not sure which platform will best meet your needs? Check out some of our more in-depth reviews and comparisons before picking your online course platform:

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