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The 15 Best Educational Platforms to Level Up

The 15 Best Educational Platforms to Level Up

Learning has never been more accessible, affordable, and engaging than today – thanks to a boatload of incredible online educational platforms. No matter your age, background, or interests, there's something to scratch your intellectual itch and help you improve.

Why settle for the same old classroom snoozefest when you can dive into interactive lessons, chat with experts, earn legit credentials, and even have fun along the way? The world is your virtual classroom, folks.

So, let's break out the virtual mortarboard and take a look at 15 of the top-rated platforms, making knowledge more democratised (and downright groovy) than ever before.

The 15 Best Educational Platforms Online

PlatformSubject FocusKey OfferingFree Option?
CourseraWide rangeUniversity courses, degreesSome free courses
edXWide rangeUniversity courses, micro-credentialsFree course audits
UdemySkill developmentInstructor-led video coursesPaid per course
Khan AcademyK-12, test prepComprehensive free lessonsYes, 100% free
SkillshareCreative fieldsCreative skills trainingFree trial, paid subscription
MasterclassVaried disciplinesCelebrity/pro instructor classesNo
PluralsightTechnologyTech skills trainingFree trial
LinkedIn LearningProfessional skillsCareer skills coursesFree through some employers
CodecademyProgrammingInteractive coding coursesFree limited access
EdX MicroBachelorsBachelor's pathwaysUniversity credit programsNo
FutureLearnGeneral topicsUniversity short coursesFree course audits
UdacityTechnologyTech Nanodegree programsFree previews
BrilliantSTEM fieldsGamified learningFree limited access
Coursera Professional CertsCareer skillsGuided certification pathsNo
DuolingoLanguage learningLanguage learning app/gamesYes, the core app is free

1) Coursera

Coursera Online Courses

Incredible Course Selection from Elite Universities

When it comes to massively open online course (MOOC) platforms, Coursera is the reigning champion. This powerhouse partners with over 200 leading universities and companies like Yale, Google, IBM, and more to deliver thousands of courses on virtually every topic imaginable.

Coursera's course catalogue covers everything from machine learning and business analytics to philosophy, music, and beyond. You can earn professional certificates and complete degrees, enrol in free courses or opt for affordable subscription plans.

The course materials are top-notch, with video lectures, readings, projects, and hands-on virtual labs. And with a peer-reviewed assignment system and a global classroom of eager learners, you'll stay motivated every step of the way.

Pros:

  • Unparalleled selection of courses from elite institutions
  • Flexible learning tracks for casual learners or degree seekers
  • High production value, excellent user experience
  • Financial aid available

Cons:

  • Pricey subscription plans
  • Certification costs can add up quickly

Perfect For: Career advancers, university students, lifelong learners with varied interests

2) edX

Top-Tier Courses from Harvard, MIT & More

Another MOOC behemoth, edX, brings course materials from schools like Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, and other prestigious universities to your laptop or smart device. With over 3,000 courses, you can study everything from computer science and data analysis to history, music theory, and anything else that tickles your fancy.

edX offers professional certificates, micro-bachelors, micro-masters, and master's degrees from their partner universities. And the best part? Many courses are 100% free to audit, though you'll need to pay to get graded assignments and earn that sweet certificate.

Pros:

  • Wide range of offerings from elite schools
  • Many free courses are available
  • Flexible learning paths
  • Financial assistance offered

Cons:

  • Paid certificates and credentials can be pricey
  • Less structure than formal online degree programs

Perfect For: Learners on a budget, autodidacts, students seeking affordable pathways to higher ed

3) Udemy

Udemy Design Tutorials Inspiration

Vast Course Marketplace Made by Experts

Think of Udemy as the world's biggest open course marketplace. This platform hosts over 200,000 video courses created by over 70,000 instructors covering an incredibly diverse range of topics.

Want to learn Python? Digital marketing? Guitar? Thai cooking? You name it, Udemy's got it. The instructors are subject matter experts and professionals offering affordable, video-based training for students of all levels.

With a Udemy course, you get on-demand video lectures, curriculum resources, coding exercises, quizzes, and certification of completion – usually for $10-20 per course. Don't expect the same rigour or support you'd get in a university program.

Pros:

  • Massive selection of affordable video courses
  • Trusted instructors who are subject-matter experts
  • Structured curriculums with exercises and quizzes
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Content quality can be inconsistent between courses
  • Limited instructor support or peer interaction
  • Certificates hold little weight compared to accredited programs

Perfect For: Casual hobbyist learners, career skill-boosters on a budget

4) Khan Academy

The OG Free Learning Platform Extraordinaire

Ah, Khan Academy – the granddaddy of free online education platforms. This non-profit juggernaut started the online learning revolution many moons ago and is still becoming more vital than ever.

Khan Academy offers a mind-blowing catalogue of free video lessons, practice exercises, and instructional materials in math, science, economics, computing, arts & humanities – you name it. The content is well-structured and suitable for learners from pre-K to college-level and beyond.

While Khan started as a humble math tutoring site, it has grown into a vast, interactive learning ecosystem that uses gamification techniques to keep even the most unruly students engaged.

Pros:

  • Completely free to access all content and resources
  • Huge catalogue spanning many subjects and grade levels
  • Fun, interactive practice with badges and points
  • Great for kids, teens, adults – anyone!

Cons:

  • Community is geared more towards students than adult learners
  • Experienced instructors rely heavily on virtual assistants
  • Limited support staff for one-on-one tutoring

Perfect For: Students, autodidacts, lifelong learners on a budget

5) Skillshare

Skillshare Design Resources

The Netflix of Creative Online Classes

Think “creative online courses” and Skillshare are probably the first names that come to mind. This platform focuses on visually oriented classes in graphic design, illustration, photography, video production and other creative disciplines.

With over 35,000 video-based classes taught by industry professionals, it's Netflix for fueling your artistic interests and ambitions. The courses combine high-quality video lessons with class projects, resources, and vibrant student communities.

Skillshare's affordable subscription model gives unlimited access to the entire course library for around $10 monthly. You won't earn formal credentials, but you'll gain invaluable real-world skills taught by creative experts.

Pros:

  • Massive selection of creative/artistic skills courses
  • Classes led by industry professionals
  • Affordable unlimited access with a subscription
  • Great for hobbyists or career skills

Cons:

  • No accredited certificates or credentials
  • Limited support beyond pre-recorded videos
  • Geared more towards creative skills vs academics

Perfect For: Creatives, hobbyists, designers, and anyone with artistic interests

6) Masterclass

Learn from Celebs, Legends & Master Craftsmen

Imagine being mentored by your heroes – Serena Williams, Neil Gaiman, Gordon Ramsay or Dr Jane Goodall? That's precisely what you get with the cinematic online classes on Masterclass.

This unique platform gives you unprecedented access to highly-produced video lessons taught by literal masters of their crafts – award-winning authors, chefs, designers, athletes, business moguls and more. Each multi-lesson class immerses you in their unique process, passion, and philosophy.

While certainly not cheap (each class runs around $90), the production value is unmatched with HD video, episode workbooks, and student community hubs. It's like an engaging documentary series with intimate workshops from cultural icons.

Pros:

  • Highly engaging, cinematic lesson experiences
  • Taught by A-list celebrities, luminaries and industry titans
  • Superb production quality, like mini-documentaries
  • New classes added frequently

Cons:

  • Very expensive per class with no free trials
  • No fundamental accreditations, credentials or support
  • Not suitable for comprehensive, deep-dive training

Perfect For: Hobbyists, fans, and creatives seeking artistic inspiration

7) Pluralsight

Pluralsight Educational Platforms

Level Up Your IT Mastery. Seriously.

You know those developers and techies who just seem to have superpowers? Whether it's coding wizardry, cloud architecture, or DevOps black magic – chances are they've logged some solid hours on Pluralsight.

This powerful e-learning platform is laser-focused on the IT world, offering a vast catalogue of video courses and interactive learning paths for technical skills. Software developers, admins, security pros, creative professionals – you name it, Pluralsight has industry-leading training for it.

With expert-led video courses, virtual labs, skill assessments, and certification preparation, Pluralsight is the ultimate tech skills artillery. Subscription plans are tailored for individuals, businesses, and governments looking to upgrade their tech game seriously.

Pros:

  • Authoritative, industry-leading tech courses and paths
  • Hands-on virtual labs for practical experience
  • Certs and skill assessments to validate mastery
  • Flexible subscription plans for business use

Cons:

  • Very technical and IT-centric, with no casual courses
  • It can get pricey for individual or business plans
  • No structured degree programs

Perfect For: Software developers, IT ops, security pros, enterprise tech upskilling

8) LinkedIn Learning

Power Up Your Career Skills. Network Included.

Who better to learn professional skills from than…LinkedIn itself? This powerful e-learning platform has become an indispensable career resource, with video courses on everything from in-demand tech skills like Python and project management to “soft skills” like leadership, marketing, and more.

LinkedIn Learning's dynamic course library covers many professional focus areas like business, technology, and creative fields. The classes feature practice files, exercise tutorials, and even insider tips from industry thought leaders.

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The magic happens when you link your LinkedIn profile and start racking up course completions to showcase on your profile – a simple way to wow recruiters and boost your professional clout.

Pros:

  • Incredible selection of professional upskilling courses
  • Short, bite-sized tutorials for busy professionals
  • Official certificates to display on LinkedIn profile
  • Free access through some corporations/schools

Cons:

  • Content prioritised towards business/professional use
  • Some courses can feel shallow or outdated
  • Pricing is on the higher side for individuals

Perfect For: Business professionals, career advancers, students preparing for jobs

9) Codecademy

Codecademy Online Learning Platform

Dive Into Code (In Your Browser) & Get Hired

If you're looking to learn programming and kickstart a coding career, Codecademy is a rite of passage. Thanks to its interactive courses and project-based approach, this browser-based platform is popular among aspiring software developers.

With Codecademy, you'll learn Python, JavaScript, SQL, Ruby, Java and other in-demand languages through hands-on coding environments and guided curriculum paths. Test your newfound skills by building fun projects like websites, apps and games.

Beyond the coding lessons, you'll get access to professional portfolios, job path guidance, and interview prep to help launch that dream dev career. While it won't be as rigorous as a CS degree, Codecademy provides solid programming foundations.

Pros:

  • Interactive coding environment in your browser
  • Structured curriculums for many programming languages
  • Capstone portfolio projects to showcase skills
  • Pathways mapped to tech careers and jobs

Cons:

  • No personalised support or instructor feedback
  • Not as credentialed as traditional higher education programs
  • Most career services require a paid membership

Perfect For: Aspiring programmers, coding students, career switchers to tech.

10) edX MicroBachelors Programs

Earn Legit Bachelor's Degree Credits Online

Regarding credentialing, edX took a massive leap in making affordable credentials a reality with their innovative MicroBachelors programs. These unique online programs are made up of courses from top universities that allow you to earn legitimate credit towards a bachelor's degree.

How does it work? You enrol in a MicroBachelors program in computer science, marketing, or project management. Complete the curriculum with courses from schools like NYU, Boston University, and more. Then, you can directly transfer those credits to an affiliated university to pursue a full bachelor's degree online.

The beauty is that you only pay for your courses – no need to enrol in an entire degree program upfront. It's a flexible, affordable pathway for students and professionals alike.

Pros:

  • Earn real, transferable university credits for a bachelor's
  • Pay for individual courses, not full upfront tuition
  • Leading university courses in high-demand fields
  • Jump into a full degree program online later

Cons:

  • Credits don't transfer to all universities
  • No direct credential – must move into a degree program
  • Course costs can add up over a full bachelor's degree

Perfect For: Adults returning to school, degree seekers on a budget, career changers

11) FutureLearn

Futurelearn Online Learning Platforms

Upskill with Courses from Top Global Universities

FutureLearn connects the world's top universities with eager students through accessible online courses. This platform partners with institutions across the UK, Australia, Europe and beyond to offer short online programs on many fascinating topics.

You can take inexpensive courses lasting 2-6 weeks on everything from dinosaur paleobiology and coding apps to literature, film history, foreign languages and everything in between. The course materials are developed by legit professors and experts, bringing a taste of world-class education to your screen.

While you won't earn formal university credit through FutureLearn's standalone courses, you can get certified career development qualifications or pursue full online degrees and postgraduate studies through partner schools.

Pros:

  • Diverse course topics from prestigious universities globally
  • Bite-sized courses perfect for casual learners
  • Affordable pricing for high-quality materials
  • Option to pursue full online degrees

Cons:

  • Open courses alone don't earn formal credentials
  • Limited structure or support compared to degree programs
  • Course availability can be limited

Perfect For: Curious learners, skill development, self-improvement

12) Udacity

Get Hired! With Credentialed Nano-Degrees

While it may not be a household name (yet), Udacity is quickly establishing itself as a pioneering tech education disruptor – thanks mainly to its innovative Nanodegree programs that get people hired at tech giants like Google and AT&T.

Udacity partners with elite companies and universities to offer focused Nanodegree programs in in-demand tech disciplines like AI programming, cloud computing, self-driving car engineering, data analysis and more. The programs are immersive, with months of rigorous instruction and hands-on projects under mentors and reviewers.

Upon completing a Nanodegree, you'll have an impressive portfolio of projects to showcase and career support, like resume reviews, mock interviews, and introductions to employers. In the rapidly evolving tech fields, it's one of the quickest credentialed paths to lucrative roles.

Pros:

  • Focused, skills-based Nanodegree programs
  • Career services to get hired at top tech firms
  • Work on real-world projects under mentors
  • Innovative learning techniques like app teaching

Cons:

  • It is pretty pricey for Nanodegree programs
  • Limited beyond technical/engineering tracks
  • Support and credibility are still lower than traditional degrees

Perfect For: Aspiring engineers and programmers seeking quick career pivots

13) Brilliant

Brilliant Learning Platform

Gamified Learning for the Mathematically Gifted

Do you eat, sleep, and breathe math, science, and engineering? Then, you'll want to check out Brilliant – a unique e-learning platform that turns those typically dry subjects into an engaging, gamified experience.

Rather than traditional video lessons, Brilliant uses interactive explorations, brain teasers, puzzles, and coding challenges to teach STEM concepts hands-on. You'll tackle bite-sized quizzes and “eureka” problems designed to stimulate your critical thinking skills while having fun.

Brilliant's curriculum covers math from introductory algebra to university-level topics, physics, computer science, logic, entrepreneurship, and even artistic concepts like music theory and art history. It's an ideal supplement for students, hobbyists looking to train their mental muscles, or professionals wanting to stay sharp.

Pros:

  • Unique, engaging, gamified approach to STEM learning
  • Challenging, thought-provoking interactive problems
  • Covers advanced topics beyond the typical K-12 curriculum
  • Free content plus affordable premium subscriptions

Cons:

  • It is best as a supplemental resource, not core instruction
  • Less structured than traditional courses
  • Content favours breadth over comprehensive depth

Perfect For: Math/science enthusiasts, engineering students, mental fitness

14) Coursera Professional Certificates

Quickly Gain In-Demand Career Skills from Coursera

While Coursera made its name with a considerable catalogue of university-backed courses, the platform's professional certificates have become a powerhouse for career upskilling and credentialing in their own right.

With a Coursera professional certificate, you can follow a guided curriculum pathway developed by industry leaders in cloud computing, digital marketing, UX design, project management, and many more. Through video courses and hands-on projects, you'll gain practical job-ready skills recognised by top employers.

These professional certificates come with built-in industry certification prep, like Google IT Support, IBM Data Science, and Amazon AWS Cloud Architect. You'll get affordable pricing compared to traditional boot camps, plus the flexibility to learn on your schedule.

Pros:

  • Career-focused curriculum pathways from industry experts
  • Build practical, job-relevant skills through projects
  • Option to pursue integrated industry certifications
  • More affordable than boot camps or master's degrees

Cons:

  • Less prestige than university-backed programs
  • No direct employer partnerships or hiring guarantees
  • It is self-paced, so it requires discipline to complete

Perfect For: Career advancers, skills development, job switchers, industry credentialing

15) Duolingo

Duolingo Learning App

Habla…from Anywhere, for Free!

Who says learning a new language has to be bookish and boring? Duolingo makes practising Spanish, French, Japanese, and dozens of other languages a delightfully addictive experience through clever gamification.

This free language learning app and website turns building vocabulary and grammar skills into quick, bite-sized lessons filled with memes, hilarious dialogues, achievement badges, and rewards for keeping your streak. The adaptive platform tailors your experience based on your strengths and weaknesses while maintaining a silly, casual vibe.

While not a substitute for immersive practice, Duolingo is one of the easiest ways to pick up new languages through short daily sessions. Don't be surprised when you mindlessly practice verb conjugations in Klingon at 2 am…

Pros:

  • Entirely free for core language learning
  • Fun, addictive, gamified approach
  • Bite-sized lessons perfect for on-the-go
  • Dozens of languages to choose from

Cons:

  • Capped progress without a paid subscription
  • Conversational learning only, no formal accreditation
  • May not build comprehensive fluency alone

Perfect For: Language hobbyists, travellers, students, casual learners

The Bottom Line

No matter your age, interests, or skill level, an e-learning platform exists to fulfil your educational appetites and career ambitions. The hard part is simply choosing the right one!

Some key factors to weigh are your goals (career upskilling vs. personal enrichment), subject areas, budget, learning preferences, and desire for formal credentials. Do you prefer highly structured curricula or a more free-form experience? Video lessons, hands-on projects, gamified approaches?

Ultimately, the beauty of online learning is that you're no longer confined to local options or overwhelming upfront costs. The world's top universities, instructors, and innovative new models are at your fingertips – ready to help you transform yourself through the power of knowledge.

So what are you waiting for? The virtual classroom is in session!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do employers recognise courses from these online platforms?

It depends on the platform and program. Many offer professional certificates and accredited courses from top universities that employers recognise. However, some provide education that is aimed more at personal enrichment. Always check credentialing details before enrolling.

How much do most online courses cost?

Prices vary widely – from free to several thousand dollars. Many platforms use a subscription or per-course pricing model, with costs ranging from $10-200 per month or course. More specialised programs like MicroBachelors and Nanodegree pathways can cost $1000 or more.

Do I need any special equipment for online learning?

In most cases, just a computer/laptop or mobile device with internet access is required. Some courses may suggest additional materials like textbooks or software. Certain platforms (Coursera, edX) now offer augmented/virtual reality content requiring a headset.

Will I get to interact with instructors or classmates?

This depends on the platform's format. Video-based platforms like Udemy usually have minimal interaction, while cohort-based programs like Coursera and edX utilise online forums, peer reviews, and sometimes live Q&As or tutoring. In-person components are rare, but some offer local meetup groups.

How long do online courses typically take to complete?

Many platforms allow you to learn at your own pace, so completion times range from a few hours to months or even years for degree programs. As a rough estimate, individual courses are often 4-10 weeks long when following the recommended cadence.

Interesting Statistics

  • The global online education market will be worth $200 billion by 2030. (EducationDataHub)
  • As of 2024, over 9 million students were enrolled in online courses worldwide. (World Economic Forum)
  • In early 2023, Coursera reached 100 million registered learners taking 7000+ courses. (Coursera)
  • edX has over 35 million students enrolled across 3,100+ courses from 160+ institutions. (edX)
  • Udemy features 213,000+ courses created by 74,000 expert instructors. (Udemy)
  • At peak COVID times in 2020, Skillshare saw over 1 million new student enrollments per month. (Forbes)
  • Over 17 million people use Duolingo to learn one of 40 language courses. (Duolingo)
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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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