Why have nearly 6 million people decided that online learning is the right option for them? The answer is simple. Online courses, such as those offered by Udemy, Coursera and Lynda are cost-effective, flexible and easy to access.
There are several main reasons why online learning is a more attractive option than traditional methods.
1. Online courses are more affordable. A traditional education can accumulate student loan costs of well over $100,000. Online courses are often less than $100 each, and in some cases, are free.
2. Online learning offers much more flexibility. Traditional classes can easily become a burden. In-class courses require that you set aside a specific date and time every week, and in some cases, multiple times per week. Most online courses allow you to learn at your own pace.
3. Online learning platforms are accessible anywhere. Most online learning sites even allow you to access your courses from your smartphone of tablet.
When it comes to learning, we each have our own preferences. Some people are not ready to commit to more than one course at a time, while others wish to take on a full course load. And that’s okay!
With so many great online learning options available, I thought it would be helpful to offer a thorough comparison of three of the very best online educational platforms.
Here is my ultimate comparison between three of the very best online learning options: Udemy, Coursera and Lynda. [You can also check out the detailed comparison by The Crowder]
Udemy is a unique option among online learning platforms. They market themselves as a “course marketplace.” Udemy offers an open platform for instructors to create and market their own courses. The courses are then rated by online students on a five-star scale, resulting in an educational merit system.
Because of their unique open model, Udemy is home to a massive number of courses — over 65,000 unique courses according to their website, a third of which are free. The courses cover a very diverse range of topics, including programming, development, business, design, and much, much more.
The classes are available on a per diem basis, so there is no need for a monthly subscription or membership fee. One of the benefits of choosing per diem courses is that you can pick and choose the topics you are interested in, rather than committing to a controlled lesson plan. Courses are completed at your own pace, which makes the process very flexible and low-commitment.
Course pricing is very reasonable and there are often discount sales which help tremendously reduce the cost of the courses. For example, as we write this review, all courses are available for $11.99, even the courses that typically cost around $200.
The single, biggest disadvantage you’ll face is directly caused by one of the reasons that make Udemy such a great option. Because of their marketplace model, some of the courses are not very in-depth or thorough. Some courses, especially the free ones, sometimes blatantly try to upsell paid products. Some of the free courses are practically advertisements. The rating system helps separate the good courses from the poor courses. Udemy also offers little in the way of certifications of completion.
Udemy’s marketplace platform offers a very large catalog of per diem courses at a very reasonable price, though the lack of class vetting opens the possibility to poor classes. Just follow courses with high ratings and most chances you’ll end up happy with results.
As opposed to Udemy, Coursera offers a much more curated online learning experience. Their learning platform provides courses and degree programs created by some of the most well-respected universities and academic institutions in the world, including Duke, Stanford, UPenn, the University of Michigan, and many more. Each course is taught by one of the institution’s top instructors.
The level of required commitment varies depending on the type of course you chose. Coursera’s courses offer a wide range of awards, including everything from a certification of completion to a completed degree. Each course takes between 4 to 6 weeks to complete and requires participation and graded assignments. Assignments can be either auto-graded or peer-review assessed.
Coursera offers their users three different learning options. Students can choose between single courses, specializations (a series of courses designed to improve a single skill) and degree programs. Specialization programs typically take between 4 to 6 months to complete, while degree programs can take up to three years.
One of the disadvantages of choosing Coursera is that the courses are typically more expensive than other options. Also, the courses are not as flexible as other platforms since Coursera adheres to a stricter level of commitment.
Coursera offers expertly curated classes created by some of the most well-respected educational institutions in the world and taught by top instructors. As a result, the courses are more expensive than other online learning platforms.
In contrast with both Udemy and Coursera, which both offer their courses on a per diem basis, Lynda charges their users a monthly subscription fee for access to every course on their platform. Starting at $19.99 per month (with other plans available if priced annually), online students are provided with on-demand and unlimited access to every course in their catalog.
Lynda’s subscription payment model makes it one of the most flexible learning platforms on the market. Students can take a variety of courses in a very diverse number of topics without being committed to a single course or program.
Lynda offers courses on topics ranging from business, design, animation, programming, photography and many, many more. Each course is taught by a recognized industry expert and provides students with engaging video and written content.
If you are looking to take courses on a very specific topic, or are only looking to take one or two quick classes, Udemy or Coursera might be a better choice. While Lynda is a great option for people looking for general knowledge on a large number of topics, it is not the best option for people only interested in a single course.
Lynda is a flexible learning platform which offers unlimited access to many courses for a flat monthly subscription fee. Their monthly subscription model might be overkill for someone looking to only take one or two courses.
Udemy, Coursera and Lynda are all very effective online learning platforms offering a wide variety of learning options. Among these three options, there is a learning format that will work for anyone.
Udemy is a great choice for people looking for a very large catalog of affordable per diem courses.
Coursera is the best choice for the online student looking for a certification or degree from one of the best schools in the world.
Lynda is a good choice for anyone looking for on-demand access to a diverse catalog of courses for one flat monthly fee.
While Udemy, Coursera and Lynda are all effective learning platforms, there are many more options and platforms worth exploring. For much more detailed information on these and many more online course sites, check out this detailed comparison by The Crowder.
Did you find this review helpful? You know what to do:) If you have any experience with online learning, leave a comment — I’d love to hear your own experience.