The 11 Best Online Learning Platforms (+ How to Pick the Right one as a Creator)

Looking for advice on how to pick the best online learning platform for your course? Finding the perfect fit is no simple feat. There is a growing number of platforms available today, and statistics show that the e-learning industry is set to grow to $243 billion by 2022. And with significant projected growth, you’ll be hard-pressed to quickly find the best solution without doing some solid research. 

The good news is that we’ve done the digging for you. In this blog post, we’re looking at 11 of the best online learning platforms available today. We’ll share what makes them stand out and include a collection of pros and cons for each. 

By the end of this piece, you’ll be well on your way to creating your first online course. And if you still want more in-depth walk-throughs, we’ve created comprehensive reviews for almost all platforms. They include videos, images, keen insights and our takes on every feature offered. 

Before we dive into choosing the best online learning platform, we’re going to identify the two types of course platforms available today. Why? The online learning platform world is evolving. Where online courses were once platforms that offered the ability to create lessons and offer testing functionality, today, some offer much more. 

Some provide built-in social media functionality to foster communities, where others allow you to recruit affiliate partners and build complete websites that include blogs. That said, you can also find platforms with core tools you need to market and track your course success. And with these services rolled in, you're in a position to save more money that you would otherwise spend on third-party applications or standalone solutions.


The 11 Best Online Learning Platforms:


Two Types of Course Platforms

Online learning platforms come in two flavors. You get all-in-one platforms and integrators. Here’s a look at what makes each unique:

All-in-one Online Learning Platforms

All-in-one platforms include a collection of tools and services that course creators would otherwise need to purchase separately or pay for a subscription basis in addition to an online learning platform fee. For example, Kajabi is one of the platforms on our list. Kajabi has five tools rolled into one. It comes with built-in website design and development, the ability to take payments and create your own e-commerce store, powerful analytics, email marketing, and community tools like it's a complete social media platform. While all-in-one platforms have built-in tools, they also offer third-party integrations. 

Integrated Online Learning Platforms

Integrated online course platforms are designed with less functionality than all-in-one platforms, but they allow integrations with third-party applications. For example, Learnworlds is another platform on our list. While it offers a collection of amazing marketing features, email relies on third-party integrations with applications like MailChimp and ConvertKit.


How to Pick the Best Online Learning Platform

When choosing the ideal platform, you need to have a measuring stick of sorts. In this section, we will look at a collection of core features that you'll need to successfully roll out your online course. 

User Experience

User experiences is one of the most important aspects you can consider when signing up for an online learning platform. The ease with which you are able to navigate through features and perform tasks will determine how easy it is to use the platform daily.

Features and Functionality

While features and functionality vary across online learning platforms, most of them include features that are absolutely must haves. These are:

  1. Learner management tools
  2. Analytics and reporting functionality
  3. Third-party integrations

Marketing Tools

We've included marketing tools as a separate section altogether. This is because there is a great emphasis placed on the ability to market courses once created. In our experience, all platforms have added this functionality. It typically includes the ability to use a built-in website or landing page development tool and email marketing.

Support

Support is a big deal. Committing to an online learning platform that you're not familiar with can be daunting. Access to support makes it easier to get more done faster. We found that support varies across platforms. From email-only to 24/7 dedicated support.


11 of the Best Online Learning Platforms Available 

Here's our list of the 11 best online learning platforms. For each, we’ve included a brief description of what we find valuable. We've also included a more detailed list of pros and cons. And if you'd like to dive a little deeper into how we scored each platform, click on the link (where available) below each platform’s listing for a comprehensive platform review.

1. Kajabi 

Kajabi is an all-in-one course platform filled with features that make building, marketing and selling online courses easier. It is priced a little higher than most platoforms, but is worth it. Kajabi bundles core tools and functionality into a single platform and saves you money. 

Kajabi Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Clean design
  • Great usability
  • Sales funnel capabilities 
  • Marketing tools
  • Reporting or analytics
  • 500+ third-party app integrations
  • 24/7 support is available via email, and live chat 
  • Comprehensive knowledge base
  • Student engagement tools available
  • Drip content is available
  • Can bundle and cross-sell courses
  • Blog feature is available
  • Affiliate program available
  • Offers a 14-day no-credit card trial period 
  • Mobile apps available for students only

Cons

  • No corporate sales option
  • No course accreditation
  • Mobile apps don’t offer instructor features
  • Confusion about offers, products and sales pages

Read our comprehensive Kajabi review.


2. Learnworlds

LearnWorlds is one of the most comprehensive online learning platforms available today. It comes with 2000 application integrations, offers 400 page design templates, and all the functionality you'll need to build a fully-fledged course and a website to sell it. It also comes with marketing tools to help you reach audiences and offers some of the best customer support in the industry. While feature-rich, this can be slightly overwhelming for beginners. Nonetheless, this platform offers a high degree of customizability, something many course creators long for.

LearnWorlds Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Unlimited courses
  • Video library
  • Responsive design
  • Branding and theme editor
  • Ready-made templates (400 available)
  • Enables lead generation
  • Powerful student engagement tools (built-in social media and RSS aggregation tools)
  • Learner analytics
  • Conversion tracking
  • Professional player with interactive video
  • Interactive e-books
  • Quizzes, assessments, and exams available
  • SCORM Compliant
  • Access to a comprehensive help centre
  • Free 30-day no-credit card trial
  • Includes 2000+ integrations
  • Marketing tools available
  • Offers membership plans for courses
  • Offers payment plans for students
  • Provides accreditation and certificates of completion
  • Offers downloads
  • Offers drip content
  • Can create multiple courses
  • Four payment gateways to choose from
  • Live chat, email and telephonic support
  • Comprehensive reporting views

Cons

  • Possibly too complex for beginners 
  • No bulk upload feature for content
  • No mobile app

Read our comprehensive LearnWorlds review.


3. Podia

Podia is a five-in-one platform. It comes with a collection of features that are designed to help you quickly create your course, market, and sell it. Some elements of the features may prove a little challenging for beginners. Unlike competitors, it lacks templates in its site builder. 

Podia does, however, make the process of growing and scaling your course business easy. You can offer membership plans to generate recurring revenue. 

Podia Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can create multiple courses
  • Offers drip content
  • Can create quizzes
  • Comprehensive student engagement tools
  • Comprehensive knowledge base
  • Offers membership plans for courses
  • Offers downloads
  • Provides certificates of completion
  • Marketing tools available
  • Includes integrations
  • Telephone support for all all plans above Basic
  • Access to a comprehensive help centre
  • Offers training courses (free and premium)
  • Free 14-day no-credit card trial
  • Support via email, chat 24/7

Cons

  • Limited customization for email design
  • No free plan
  • No assignments feature
  • Certificates of completion feature is rudimentary, an integration with Accredible would be simpler
  • No native analytics for site activity
  • No course accreditation
  • Navigation not the easiest to understand off the bat

Read our comprehensive Podia review.


4. Skillshare 

Skillshare offers a clean design and user interface but the experience of delivering and managing courses on the platform isn't as powerful as competitors on this list. It lacks important analytics and reporting tools, something that teachers could use to perfect course content over time. Skillshare ’s subscription model also makes it harder for teachers to earn more income. Weaknesses aside, it is a simplistic online education platform. If you want to create your course quickly and go live in a day, that’s possible. 

Skillshare Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A basic platform with clean design
  • Ideal for instructors who want a hands-off approach to course design and management
  • Team plans available for companies

Cons

  • No sales funnel capabilities
  • No reporting or analytics
  • No marketing tools 
  • Support is available via online ticket submissions
  • No chat support
  • The revenue model offers low-income potential
  • Student engagement is limited with one page dedicated to all questions, posts, and discussions
  • No course accreditation
  • Drip content is not available
  • No blog feature or standalone site to market your course
  • Cannot bundle or cross-sell classes
  • No affiliate management 
  • Trial period is only seven days long
  • Mobile apps only allow watching classes and not creating them

Read our comprehensive Skillshare review.


5. Teachable

Teachable’s an easy-to-use platform. It is also one of the most affordable to build your course on today. You are able to customize themes, pages and email content. You can also add custom code sections that are available for any advanced coding requirement you have. Teachable’s simplicity is also backed by some powerful reporting functionality. You can also build a site and blog, and leverage 100+ third-party integrations.

Teachable Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Clean design
  • Offers advanced coding options
  • Sales funnel capabilities 
  • Marketing tools
  • Reporting and analytics
  • 100+ third-party app integrations
  • Support is available via email, and live chat 
  • Comprehensive knowledge base
  • Student engagement tools available
  • Drip content is available
  • Can bundle and cross-sell courses
  • Site, page and blog building feature is available
  • Affiliate program available
  • Offers a 14-day no-credit card trial period 

Cons

  • No corporate sales option
  • No course accreditation
  • Mobile apps not available
  • Limited site themes (just one)

Read our comprehensive Teachable review.


6. Thinkific

Thinkific is a powerful course creation platform. It packs all you'll need to produce a high-quality course in the shortest possible time, and comes with helpful reporting features. You may find the limited number of themes a little restrictive at first glance, but they are highly customizable. You also get comprehensive student management tools. And when it comes to marketing, you can build a site, leverage smart widget to sell courses on third-party sites and use email marketing and third-party integrations.

Thinkific Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can create multiple courses
  • Keep all revenue from course sales on all plans above the Free plan.
  • Free plan is feature-rich
  • Offers drip content
  • Can create quizzes and assignments
  • Comprehensive student engagement tools
  • Provides certificates of completion
  • Marketing tools available
  • Includes integrations
  • Telephone support for all plans above Basic
  • Includes an Expert Marketplace for help from Thinkific pros to build your course
  • Access to comprehensive help center
  • Offers training courses (free and premium)

Cons

  • Only offers four site themes
  • Marketing and sales can be improved to allow for the creation of funnels
  • No course accreditation
  • Limited third-party app integrations
  • A five-hour wait time for email support is long and can delay course creation

Read our comprehensive Thinkific review.


7. Udemy

Udemy includes many helpful features. It’s a course creation platform and marketplace. You’re able to deliver quality courses and testing, and it also offers helpful analytics and reporting tools. Another interesting feature Udemy provides is course bundling. You’re able to group courses and generate more revenue per customer, something that is helpful when scaling your business. 

Udemy Pros and Cons

Pros

  • No sign-up fee
  • Easy-to-use platform and user interface
  • Offers quizzes with multiple question formats
  • Provide certificates of completion
  • Comprehensive course creation lessons through Teaching Centre
  • Analytics and reporting functionality
  • Marketing tools to help promote courses
  • Student engagement tools available
  • Comprehensive online knowledge base
  • Access to a large community of course creators
  • Can create multiple courses
  • Can bundle courses
  • Can market multiple courses (similar to a cross-sell feature)

Cons

  • Udemy’s revenue share model allows for the platform to receive between 3% and 75% of the money instructors make depending on the promotion model
  • Ranking your course requires agreeing to heavy price discounts
  • Does not offer drip content
  • No telephonic or chat support
  • Payouts take as much as 30 days to account for refund requests
  • No standalone blog feature
  • Mobile app limitations for instructors
  • Reporting and analytics are limited

Read our comprehensive Udemy review.


8. Academy of Mine

Academy of Mine is one of the most robust online learning platforms we've come across. It offers a considerable amount of features and is targeted at enterprise customers. You get everything you need to create online courses including the ability to offer quizzes and assignments, integrate e-commerce functionality, and integrate with your marketing site. It also comes with SCORM compliance, allows for API and developer access, and a plethora of unique user functionality.

Academy of Mine Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Unlimited users and courses
  • Quizzes and assignments
  • Integrated eCommerce
  • SCORM and xAPI compliant
  • Webpage builder
  • Live webinars
  • Integrates with marketing sites
  • 24/7 Customer support
  • Secure dedicated servers and hosting
  • Surveys and discussions
  • Custom user fields
  • Group onboarding
  • Advanced reporting
  • SSO (Single Sign-On)
  • Custom payment gateways
  • API and developer access
  • Bulk import and export data
  • Activity and audit Log

Cons

  • No trial
  • Many features may be too complex for a beginner users

9. iSpring Learn

iSpring Learn is another enterprise platform to make our list. It also comes with a considerable amount of features and functionality. iSpring Learn has a customizable interface and its intuitive learner portal makes it a strong competitor. It also comes with reporting features and user management functionality to make the process of tracking and managing students simple. As an enterprise solution, it's charged per seat and pricing starts at around $4/user per month.

iSpring Learn Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offers 14-trial
  • Great content management features
  • User management
  • Offers training mangement
  • Reporting functionality 
  • Customizable interface
  • Intuitive learner portal
  • White labeling options available
  • SCORM compliant
  • Ideal for enterprises

Cons

  • Integrations require coding
  • No website design and development features
  • Not suited for beginners or small businesses

10. TalentLMS

TalentLMS is a powerful platform that can work for solo-preneurs or enterprises. It’s affordable, too. While it comes with a limit of 1000 students, it packs tons of features that will help you present high-quality courses. Support for all but the Plus and Enterprise Plans could be better, but altogether, this is a platform worth looking closer at.

Talent LMS Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offers free plan
  • Scorm and xAPI
  • Mobile apps available
  • Multilingual
  • Homepage builder available
  • Highly customizable
  • Content-friendly
  • Assessments engine
  • Surveys engine
  • Files repository
  • Learning Paths
  • Blended learning
  • Certifications
  • Ecommerce
  • Rich communication tools
  • Video conference support
  • Gamification
  • User types
  • Extensible profiles
  • Branching
  • Reporting
  • Course Store
  • Mass actions
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • API
  • Offer 200+ integrations
  • GDPR-friendly
  • Comes with a success manager (Plus and Enterprise Plans)

Cons

  • Amazing feature set but possibly overwhelming for beginners
  • Customization is available at a click of a button but more advanced tweaks require coding knowledge.
  • Limited to 1000 learners
  • Free, Starter and Basic plans only offer email support

11. ProProfs Training Maker

ProProfs Training Maker is an enterprise solution and is not suited for beginner or solo-preneurs. Its features set is comprehensive. Pricing is by the number of seats you require, and that floor is 20 students. Pricing starts as low as $1.50/student, however, that’s with the Essential Plan and limited functionality. If you’re looking for value, opt for the Premium Plan (their top plan). It comes with a comprehensive feature set at $3/student. While we’re not fans of the Free or Essential Plans due to limited functionality, ProProfs Training Maker is a strong contender in the enterprise solutions space. 

ProProfs Training Maker Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offers free plan
  • Can have unlimited instructors 
  • Online classroom and learner dashboard
  • Turnkey compliance courses available
  • 30+ customizable courses
  • Can sell courses
  • Content library available
  • Personalized branding options
  • Includes forums and learner communities
  • Can issue certificates
  • Can administer quizzes and assessments
  • Seek feedback and offer surveys 
  • Learner grouping available
  • Can assign group admins
  • Can assign roles, permissions & manage collaboration
  • Can issue reminders & make announcement
  • Control compliance of courses by setting expiry dates
  • Protect data loss by storing content in the cloud
  • Offer self registration
  • Provides api and single-sign on SAML and LDAP
  • Import SCORM, TinCan and LRS quizzes from other platforms
  • Offer course bundles and learning paths
  • Comes with custom license, enterprise security and ownership
  • Offers third-party integrations
  • Offers email, phone and live chat customer support

Cons

  • Free and Essential Plans offer limited functionality
  • Not ideal for beginner and solo-preneurs

It’s a Wrap

Finding the best platform for your online course requires research and some testing. While this list includes 11 of the best online learning platforms available, there’s far more that goes into each. Take the time to investigate each platform by reading our comprehensive reviews.

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