Online learning platforms have recently seen a spike in popularity. For one thing, they’re an excellent tool for sharing knowledge. For another, they have been indispensable during COVID-19, as they have allowed students to continue with their studies.
Why online training matters today
Online learning uses technology — including various devices, tools, and the Internet — to create, distribute, and assess educational material. No matter what technology is used, however, online learning has a carefully planned structure that aims to provide students with knowledge or skills — the same as with in-person learning.
This educational model has become more common in the past few years due to its many advantages:
- Universal access: students can keep up with their studies wherever they may be. All they need is a computer and Internet access. Because it is so flexible, online learning fits the needs of the many people trying to achieve a good work-life balance.
- Up-to-date content: Online training is multi-directional. In other words, students and professors share information in a way that ensures the content is up to date.
- Self-study: Students are in charge of their own learning process. They can adjust the schedule or review the material as many times as they need. They can focus on their own educational needs.
- Low cost: While this type of learning programme requires a computer and Internet connection, it's usually less expensive than in-person learning.
- Improved learning: students who learn online are believed to better retain the contents they’ve learned.
As we can see, online learning used to be an innovative format. With the COVID-19 pandemic, it became an optimal alternative for many students around the globe to keep up with their classroom learning while at a distance.
Types of online training platforms
As we said at the beginning, certain tools are necessary for online training. It relies on online teaching platforms, which allow instructors to upload content, create forums for discussing material or answering questions, and evaluate activities and exams. These tools were developed to make learning via digital channels easier, so they are useful and effective.
There are many options on the market. We have divided them into two categories of online learning platforms.
Online course platforms
Since this is the golden age of online learning, many platforms have been launched, offering virtual courses about all manner of topics: physics, economics, photography, design, etc. These courses allow students access to massive quantities of educational material, mostly in video format.
- Platforms may be paid or free.
- Course content is usually created by subject-matter experts.
- The online learning platform is in charge of distributing courses.
- Students have the flexibility to complete the class when it's convenient for them.
- After purchasing a course, the user has access to a classroom in which they can find all of the available content.
Learning management systems (LMS) for creating courses
Some learning platforms make things easier for those who want to become instructors and share their knowledge with others online. These are known as Learning Management Systems (LMS, for short).
This type of software creates an online learning community where users can upload their own courses. Some are open source, while others are paid.
- These platforms let you create your own online course.
- There are paid as well as open-source versions.
- Users are responsible for creating content as well as marketing it.
These are an especially useful tool for companies who want to create their own internal training programmes.
The 6 best online training platforms for learning
As we mentioned earlier, online course platforms offer many courses taught by experts in their respective subject areas. Some allow you to purchase unlimited subscriptions for a period of time; others charge for each course you're interested in.
Below, we'll talk about some of the best online class platforms.
Trailhead is the online training platform created by Salesforce, an American CRM software. It offers a resource library that uses gamification to make the learning experience more engaging and fun for users.
Its content focuses largely on how to use their tool, but there are also courses about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, for example, or on how to implement policies related to equality in your company. Information is organised in units, modules, trails, and itineraries that guide users through the Salesforce universe.
Overall, this online training platform is particularly recommended for Salesforce users.
2. Think with Google
Google also has its own online learning platform, although theirs has something of a different focus: it offers reports, case studies, tools, and other findings for advertising professionals. Think with Google is an excellent source of information — and inspiration — to check regularly.
Their platform aims to collate ideas, visions, opinions, and thought leadership from digital media specialists. It's easy to find insights, research, statistics, and useful tools within.
Udemy hosts more than 130,000 online courses in a variety of languages. Expert instructors teach classes on a wide variety of topics, among them programming, fitness, foreign languages, and music. Content is updated each month, and users have lifetime access to course content. All of their courses are available on-demand, so students can begin whenever they want and work at a pace that suits them.
Udemy’s website also offers you the ability to create your own courses and offer them to the general public.
Coursera is an online learning platform created in 2011 by professors at Stanford University with the aim of offering large-scale educational opportunities that are accessible to anyone, anywhere. One hallmark of Coursera is that they work with world-renowned universities and major corporations to create their courses. Because of this, some courses offer a professional certificate upon completion.
They also offer online master's programmes taught by universities from around the world. The majority of these programmes are in the IT space.
5. Open courses from the Open University
The Open University offers free courses that can be completed from anywhere, on a student's own schedule. While they don't offer credit or degrees, they are a great source of information. They offer a wide variety of programmes, including business administration, sciences, law, language and linguistics, geography, art history, etc.
SkillShare is an online video course platform that hosts more than 25,000 classes taught by entrepreneurs, professionals, and creatives from around the world. The majority of the content is in English.
Within Skillshare, you can find courses about design, illustration, technology, film, writing, and entrepreneurship. In other words, it has a more artistic bent than other platforms.
Its unique format uses short videos followed by a hands-on project that can be shared with the community so that you can receive comments and critiques from other students. The whole experience can be quite enriching.
Some courses are available for free, while others are only open to users with a Premium account.
The 5 best learning management systems (LMS) for creating courses
Do you want to create your own online learning platform? If you're interested in teaching a course, here are some platforms that allow you to share your knowledge.
Moodle is a platform designed for creating and managing online learning spaces. It was first created in 2002 by an Australian educator with a background in computing. It's one of the most commonly used platforms because:
- It's a stable platform, which increases trust.
- It's intuitive and easy to use.
- It's regularly updated and always improving to better serve its users.
- It's scalable, whether you're teaching a dozen students or thousands.
- It's robust, secure and private.
While WordPress is best-known as a content management system, it can also be used to publish online courses. Users who are familiar with the tool can use it to upload their presentations, videos, etc. to share with students. However, they won't have access to some of the functionality offered by specialised platforms.
Teachable is another one of the best-known online learning platforms, since it offers affordable subscriptions and the ability to fully customise the portal used to sell courses (including use of your own domain name).
It's also easy to use and integrates with other apps such as MailChimp, which makes it worth considering.
Thinkific is perfect for those just getting their feet wet with online course creation, since they allow you to create three courses for free. Additionally, they let you modify the learning environment to suit your needs without any knowledge of coding or desk. All you have to do is click and drag the blocks you need onto a blank page.
They offer all of the tools you need to build a course, presented in a clean and intuitive format.
Invanto is one of the less well-known online class platforms, but it has some very interesting features:
- High level of personalisation when designing the online classroom or sending emails.
- Tracking of each student's learning process.
- Free storage for course materials.
- Certificates to award on course completion.
It's a very appealing tool for creators focussed on providing an excellent learning experience.