E-learning platforms are one of the most in-demand tools for acquiring a degree or professional skills. Whether you need an online replica of traditional college education or a way to learn skills to boost your career, e-learning is the trend.
However, with so many of them, it can be difficult to find the right one for you. To figure out which one is best for you, we’ve selected three of the most popular: Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning. Wondering which one it will be? We’ll take a look.
Quality of instructors
Deciding which of the three platforms has the best instructors isn’t entirely a black or white decision. There are a lot of gray areas in between. We’ll help you make sense of it.
The instructors on Coursera are some of the best educators you’ll find in the industry. You will find instructors who are professors at Harvard, Princeton, Oxford or MIT. You’ll also find instructors who are industry experts from companies like IBM, Google, and Meta. They are experienced in the teaching field and deliver traditional lectures with some distance learning modifications.
On Udemy, you won’t find many educators like the Ivy League of Coursera. Instead, a large portion of Udemy instructors are course creators for entrepreneurs. They are mostly people who are highly qualified in certain fields and willing to share their expertise. Make no mistake, this in no way means they are inferior. Their delivery is usually top-notch and very engaging, something the big names sometimes fail to do well.
LinkedIn Learning instructors, on the other hand, are like a middle ground between Udemy and Coursera instructors. In some courses, you’re mentored by seasoned faculty from universities, and in others, you’re mentored by real-world professionals who are actively practicing in their field. It’s a close race between the three. If you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn’s e-learning service, here’s a good LinkedIn Learning explainer to get you started.
WinnerYou’ll get the most educationally qualified instructors from Coursera, followed by LinkedIn Learning, then Udemy. However, qualification does not necessarily define quality in all circumstances.
The quality of the courses offered on the three platforms varies considerably.
Of the three, Coursera has the strictest quality requirements for courses. Most of Coursera’s courses are organized and reviewed by some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. Their courses cover introductory concepts of a subject, through to more advanced concepts. In many cases, you get the same courses taught at partner institutions like MIT and Harvard.
Udemy takes a more liberal stance toward course quality. This is mainly because the objectives of Udemy courses are fundamentally different. While Coursera courses aim to teach you most of what you’ll learn at a university, Udemy courses are designed to impact career-ready skills as soon as possible. This sometimes leaves gaps in the quality of lessons, although the objective of imparting skills is achieved in most cases.
LinkedIn Learning has the second best course quality. Much like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning is geared more towards professional skills than traditional lectures. Unlike Udemy, anyone can’t create and upload a course to LinkedIn Learning. Most courses are created by respected industry professionals who have a proven track record in their field.
Winner: Since Udemy is open to any interested course creator, the quality of the courses is watered down a bit. The closed ecosystem of LinkedIn and Coursera guarantees the highest quality. Overall, Coursera wins.
Coursera offers learners multiple enrollment options. They understand:
- Audit a course: Sign up for thousands of courses for free. You will get a few limitations, including an absence of certificates and graded tests.
- Full course, no certificate: Unlimited access to courses, but no certificates.
- Financial aid: Apply for financial aid and, if approved, gain access to premium courses and certificates for free.
- Coursera Plus: Pay $399 per year and get access to thousands of courses and certificates at no additional cost.
- Paid courses: Pay for individual courses and programs as you go.
Udemy offers three enrollment options:
- Free lessons: Take a free course from a list of available free courses. This comes with a series of limitations. You’ll get the tutorial videos and in some cases the course materials, but not much else.
- Coupons: Use discount codes to purchase courses for free or at heavily discounted prices.
- Paid courses: Pay for individual lessons as you go.
LinkedIn Learning has only one recognized enrollment option: paid courses.
- You can pay for a monthly or yearly subscription which gives you access to over 14,000 courses. Or, you can purchase individual courses as you go.
However, there is a workaround to access LinkedIn Learning for free from your local library.
Winner: Coursera undeniably offers the most flexible registration options.
Prices for Coursera courses vary widely. Individual courses cost between $30 and $100, while some degree programs can cost up to $20,000. Coursera also offers the Coursera Plus plan, which costs $399 for one-year access to thousands of courses.
Udemy courses run around an average of $50 per course. However, content creators usually offer steep discounts on their courses in an effort to beat their competition. As a result, you can get top-notch courses at a very cheap rate.
LinkedIn Learning courses cost between $20 and $50 for lifetime access to a single course. Or, you can go the subscription route by paying $29.99 for monthly access to thousands of courses or an annual subscription of $239.88 for $19.99 per month.
Winner: Thanks in part to deep discounts and coupons, Udemy is the cheapest option of the three for individual courses. However, LinkedIn Learning and Coursera are cheaper if you want to purchase multiple courses.
Coursera courses are organized like a traditional college course. First, you learn the building blocks or fundamental concepts of a subject. You then gradually progress to a deeper analysis of more advanced concepts. It’s like the Harvard/MIT experiment, but behind a computer screen in your bedroom. The rhythm is similar to those used in these institutions as well. This is why some Coursera degree programs, which are a combination of related courses, can take longer than a year.
Udemy’s courses are designed as fast-impact, skills-focused, action-oriented crash courses. You will notice a significant departure from the more “academic” approach deployed by Coursera. Udemy courses are not designed to provide in-depth training on any subject. You might find a 12 hour video course that breaks down an entire MBA program.
LinkedIn Learning is similar to Udemy in the way courses are structured. Most of its courses are also skills-focused and action-oriented. These are primarily multi-hour courses designed to teach a skill or group of related skills aimed at having an immediate impact on your career.
Winner: In terms of course structure, Coursera courses are best structured, followed by LinkedIn Learning and then Udemy. Coursera wins.
When to choose Coursera
- If you need an online learning experience as close as possible to what you would get in a traditional classroom
- If you wish to obtain recognized degrees, and possibly credits, towards obtaining a degree at any partner institution.
- If you need in-depth training on a subject
- If you need a slow but qualitative education.
When to Choose Udemy
- If you need to learn many professional skills as soon as possible.
- If you want to learn real-world skills, you won’t learn in a traditional classroom.
- If you need a quick crash course.
- If you need free or cheap but high quality courses.
When to choose LinkedIn Learning
- If you want to learn real job skills that you can apply immediately in your career.
- If you want to learn from successful professionals who are actively practicing in their respective fields.
- If you want high quality professional courses
- If you need popular courses among learners in your industry
It’s a win-win for learners
Whether you choose to learn on Coursera, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning, you’re not missing out on much. In addition, nothing prevents you from following the best courses of the three platforms. It’s a win-win no matter which path you take, as long as you learn.
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