The average person, in their lifetime, changes their career between five and seven times.
Yep, gone are the days of staying in one career path until you retire. Nowadays, it’s all about learning new skills and taking on new challenges, sometimes in an entirely different industry than the one you’ve grown accustomed to or have been in for years.
Indeed, the best way to do this is through online learning platforms, or “e-learnings,” which these days are remarkably plentiful. Quickly adapting to your schedule, online learning platforms are accessed either by visiting a website, downloading an app, or both. This lets you study the specific topics you’re interested in (filmmaking, anyone?) and get certified accordingly.
Typically, e-learning platforms are geared towards professional adults who already have some traditional schooling. While some offer full academic certificates or even degree programs, most are structured as individual courses, e.g., Google’s Digital Marketing diploma.
But with so many options out there, how do you know which platform or course is right for you? Whether you want to learn some new skills or pivot careers entirely, we break down some of our favorite e-learning platforms that’ll get you on the right track.
Online courses are, by design, meant to seamlessly fit with your current schedule, especially if you’re still working and can’t currently leave your present job.
Whereas potential employers might have previously dismissed online courses, they’re now perceived very differently in the wake of 2020 and the rise of remote hiring. In fact, in a study conducted by FutureLearn, nearly half of all hiring managers (44%) felt online learning was essential during the interview process.
Why? Taking an online course proves you have drive, discipline, curiosity, and, you guessed it, a passion for learning. Completing a course can give you a better idea if it’s a career choice you want to make.
The best online e-learning platforms
Here’s our roundup of some of the best options out there for independent online learning.
As the name suggests, Coursera is all about courses. Higher education courses, to be exact, from over 200 universities, including esteemed American universities like Stanford and Yale. With nearly 30 million registered users, it’s your go-to place online for actual academic courses from real professors.
- How to start? You can enroll in self-paced or timed classes with professors who will assign you homework, grade quizzes, and all the other things you’d find in a real-life university setting.
- Length? Courses range from anywhere between four and twelve weeks.
- Certifications? Depending on the course, you can earn certificates or degrees.
- Price? Each course is individually priced, with the least expensive ones starting at around $30. With Coursera Plus, however, you pay $399 for a one-year subscription and get unlimited access to over 3,000 courses.
Side note: We also want to give a quick shoutout to EdX, which is also taught by actual professors and offers a wide range of topics, although it’s primarily geared toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
If you want to learn something about anything, you can probably find it on Udemy. Founded in 2010, Udemy is a global marketplace for those wishing to learn online and acquire new skills. Udemy has more than 40 million students and over 150,000 courses taught by expert instructors aimed primarily at professional adults and students.
From the more creative topics (arts, music, fitness) to business (IT, teaching, productivity), the beauty of Udemy is that there isn’t one standard course format. It’s entirely up to the instructor.
- How to start? Udemy lets students preview a class you’re interested in and sign up officially if you’re ready to give it a go. Udemy’s setup also attracts instructors from all around the world, allowing you to teach what you love (not a bad way to make some extra money, right?).
- Length? According to Udemy’s guidelines, courses must have at least 30 minutes of video content and at least five lectures or learning modules.
- Certifications? Yes! When you complete a paid Udemy course, you’ll receive an official certificate of completion.
- Price? Because each class is created and taught individually, the pricing is structured in the same way. Lifetime access to a single course can range from $11 to roughly $200 and up. Udemy does offer a 30-day refund if you’re dissatisfied, though, which is a nice perk.
Less formal than its previous counterparts, Skillshare was founded in 2010 and serves as an online learning community to learn cutting-edge skills (primarily creative). Offering a library of instructional and educational video content, Skillshare has more than 3.5 million students and approximately 200,000 paying users monthly or annual subscription fees.
While there are marketing and business classes available with Skillshare, most of their courses are creative ones (we’re talking photography to animation, interior design to film). The main takeaway here is that you can learn practical skills to create your project.
- How to start? You can choose from their free classes or upgrade to a premium membership for full access to their catalog.
- Length? Combining video lessons and a class project, all classes are pre-recorded and average around 30-40 minutes.
- Certifications? Nope! Skillshare courses aren’t accredited, but you’ll learn a lot.
- Price? Because Skillshare has a subscription model, you can take as many or as few courses as you want if you sign up. The current monthly fee is $32, while the yearly price is $168 (which works out to around $14 per month). They also have a free 7-day trial, which is worth noting.
Founded on a mission to democratize education, Udacity is the platform for all you tech-forward folks. Addressing skill gaps like data science and cybersecurity, Udacity students experience a combination of lessons and hands-on projects designed by tech experts, letting them apply these newly acquired skills in a professional environment.
According to a recent Udacity survey, nearly 70% of those who obtained their Udacity Nanodegree said it helped them advance their careers.
- How to start? Udacity is aimed at three groups: individuals, enterprises (businesses), and government. So, take your pick!
- The length? Students can complete their respective programs in four months, working around 10 hours per week. Each project gets reviewed by the Udacity reviewer network and platform.
- Certifications? Yes! All graduates from any Udacity Nanodegree program, single paid course, or executive program receive a certificate.
- The price? Udacity isn’t cheap. It makes a profit by charging for courses, especially courses offered by reputable companies (AT&T, Google, Facebook, Mercedes-Benz, to name a few.) If you can’t afford it, you can at least view the course materials (videos, assignments, forums, etc.) for free.
As a little aside, did you know that Julia Child first started as an ad agency copywriter in New York before becoming a world-famous chef?
The bottom line, it’s never too late to think about a career transition.
And thanks to the flexibility and accessibility of online courses, those of you with time-heavy commitments can rest easy, knowing you can still acquire a new skill or build upon an existing one without having to uproot your current lifestyle.
Because learning online is an entirely individual experience, that’s why we’ve given Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, and Udacity top marks. While they all differ in certain ways, whether that’s the type of courses they offer or their pricing structure, they’re all highly-regarded platforms with millions of happy students worldwide.
If you’re curious about learning while you earn, how to motivate yourself while you’re learning, or you’re ready to start learning Python code, our Namecheap blog has it all.
Do you use any of these e-learning platforms? If so, which ones, and what are your thoughts on them?
Why e-learning is your best bet to reach new career heights .