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14 Best Online Course Platforms for All Your Needs (2024)

From creating to hosting, here are 14 of the best online course platforms. We review each one and share what to consider when choosing course software.
Kendall Breitman
Social Media & Community Expert
Last Updated:
April 30, 2024
15
min
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Creating, selling and sharing online courses takes an immense amount of preparation.

You need the right kinds of tools and the ability to manage the ongoing performance of your attendees. Luckily, there’s a whole range of online course platforms suited to different creators — from educators, institutions, to thought leaders and businesses.

Whichever profile you fit into, this article will offer you support in finding the best online course platform for your needs.

Why should you use specialized online course platforms?

It’s tempting to try creating your online courses without using a dedicated course creation software. Here’s why you might want to think again:

Benefits of using an online course software

  • Learning-oriented features. Specialized online course platforms and course creation software will offer your users the best experience, with learning and knowledge acquisition-oriented features.  
  • Access to apps. A number of online course platforms also offer dedicated mobile apps.
  • Reach new and interested audiences. By publishing your courses on these platforms, you’re maximizing your chances of reaching new and interested learners organically.
  • Easy workflow. Often, specialized online course software will have ready-to-use templates, beginner-friendly interfaces, and management dashboards.
  • Marketing and promotion support. In addition to the organic exposure you gain, opting for an established online course platform gives you access to powerful marketing and promotion tools.

14 Best online course platforms for all use cases:

Best online course creation software

Riverside

Riverside is an online video creation platform with streaming, recording and editing capabilities.

Live and stream your course to up to 1000 audience members directly on Riverside. The platform also offers multistreaming. Stream to YouTube, LinkedIn or any custom RTMP site.

Invite up to 7 guest speakers who can join on any mobile or desktop device. Audience members can also call in live and interact with you naturally.

Everything records automatically in up to 4K video and 48kHz resolution. This means you can repurpose your live class and turn it into an on-demand online course workshop.

Our video editor has various AI tools that can turn your recording into a branded, polished course video.  Customize your layout and background, create captions or add text and images to highlight your content.  You can even generate AI clips of highlights from your course recordings.

Riverside online course recording platform
Riverside

Pricing:

Riverside has three subscription tiers:

  • Free
  • Standard - $15/month
  • Pro - $24/month

Key features

  • Live streaming:  Stream to online platforms or any custom RTMP.
  • Presentation Recorder: Upload your pre-prepared presentation and record it locally on a separate 4K track.
  • Screen sharing:  Show your audience an online demo live.
  • High-quality local recordings: Everything records directly on your device instead of relying on internet. You’ll get studio-quality video and audio no matter your connection.
  • Live call-ins: Invite audience members to ask their questions and call in live.
  • Teleprompter: Upload your course content, script, or notes to the teleprompter and follow them as you record.
  • Producer mode: If you have a technical team, they can join and monitor the recording session without being picked up in the recording.
  • AI-generated transcript: Download automatic transcripts of your online course and repurpose them into a blog or notes.
  • AI show notes:  Get automated AI summaries, key takeaways and chapters of your recording for easy repurposing descriptions.
  • Magic Clips: Let AI turn your full-length recording into short-form videos ideal for promoting your online course on social media.
  • AI-powered video editor: Trim your recording as easy as editing text, customize your layout and enhance your audio in less time with AI.
  • Browser-based or mobile app.

Pros of Riverside:

  • Versatile & dynamic tool that you can leverage for multiple use cases.
  • High-quality always and easily.
  • Easy to use.
  • Course creation from A to Z.

Cons of Riverside:

  • Not a course sharing or hosting platform, which may pose a challenge. for anyone wanting to sell course bundles for example.  

Best for: Online course creators who want an easy-to-use course creation platform that also accommodates live online courses.

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Best marketplaces to host online courses

Udemy

Udemy is a popular online course platform for learners and course creators alike. With 62 million students worldwide and a community of 75K+ instructors, tapping into that audience is a no-brainer.

Udemy online hosting platform for courses
Udemy

Pricing:

It’s free to enroll and create courses with Udemy. But you have to apply to become a Premium instructor to be able to offer paid courses.

  • Udemy takes a 3% cut when a student signs up for paid enrollment using your coupon or referral link.
  • They take a 63% cut If a student signs up without using a coupon or referral link, you’ll get 37% of the revenue.

Key features

  • Market insights tool lets you identify in-demand topics for your courses
  • Number of course creation resources to support you
  • Udemy team provide feedback on test videos
  • Custom coupon lets you offer enrollment incentives
  • Benefit from Udemy’s marketing efforts. Udemy advertises on major sites like Facebook and Google to reach learners around the world.

Pros of Udemy:

  • Huge community of global learners with huge scope for exposure
  • Straightforward workflow Udemy makes the course creation process super easy
  • Brand and credibility. Udemy is a well-known and respected course creation software

Cons of Udemy:

  • Minimum control over course pricing. Since Udemy runs discounts on courses, this can decrease your earnings.
  • Udemy takes a substantial cut – especially if learners sign up to your course without using your coupon or referral code.  
  • To offer a paid course, you have to apply to become a Premium instructor.
  • Can’t record videos or audio for your courses directly in Udemy.

Best for: Course creators who want access to a huge global community of learners and want an easy, pre-prepared workflow.

Skillshare

Skillshare online course platform
Skillshare

Skillshare is another big name online course creation platform that boasts a huge number of users – over 12 million registered users. Its key selling points are its simple platform, its low barrier to entry.

Pricing:

Free to publish courses on Skillshare. There are a couple of different referral revenue structures:

  • If a new user buys an annual subscription, you get 60% of the annual subscription fee they paid for their first year.
  • For monthly subscription, you get 60% of the subscription fee they pay each month for the next 12 months.
  • You also get royalties for the number of minutes your students consume.

Key features:

  • Free hosting of your courses.
  • Most courses are short-form videos, making content production less intimidating for beginners.
  • Substantial support for teachers through their “Teach Challenge” and “Teach Lab” .
  • Skillshare marketing can help users to find your courses without much input from you.

Pros of skillshare:

  • Access to huge global community of learners.
  • Organic discovery and exposure through skillshare library .
  • Brand credibility as Skillshare is a popular and respected online learning platform.
  • Support of new and rising teachers incentivizes you to continue optimizing your course offerings
  • Free to use so there’s no need for up-front investment

Cons of skillshare:

  • Have to apply and be approved to become a skillshare teacher
  • Can’t record your content in the Skillshare platform
  • No analytics or data about your course performance or learners
  • No ability to run live classes

Best for: Instructors and educators who are just starting out and are looking for an easy-to-use platform with a credible brand and name.

Best standalone online course platforms

Teachable

Teachable

Teachable is a no-code platform for creating online courses. This makes it an easy tool for any educator from any background to put their knowledge into a course format. They offer substantial support to users who are just starting out too.

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Basic - $39
  • Pro - $119
  • Pro+ - $199

Key features

  • Intuitive course builder with no coding. Simply drag and drop your course elements, upload videos, audio, templates, and more.
  • Teachable:pay automates the payout system to make it easy to get paid.
  • Integrates with your existing tech stack such as Zapier, MailChimp and more
  • AI tools such as a AI-powered curriculum, summary and quiz generator
  • Affiliate marketing and referral programs for diversified monetization. You can also start selling downloads and offering subscriptions too.  
  • Interactive student features such as comments, quizzes, and certifications
  • Launch Accelerator challenge gives you key support during the first 30 days
  • Data and analytics to monitor your marketing funnel performance and to monitor your students’ progress
  • Courses and resources to help you build more effective courses
  • Teachable HQ creator community to help you connect with other creators
  • Teachable app hubs gives you access to all kinds of third-party apps to help strengthen your course offering

Pros of Teachable

  • 0% transaction fees on the Teachable:pay gateway
  • Community support from the whole Teachable creator community
  • Teachable also supports you in your course creation journey
  • No-code needed so very beginner friendly
  • Number of ways to monetize your content
  • AI powered tools to accelerate your course creation workflow

Cons of Teachable

  • Expensive compared to other sites
  • No ability to record content in platform
  • Can’t host live classes or sessions

Best for: Course creators whose top priority is revenue and diverse channels of monetization

LearnWorlds

Learn worlds online course platform
LearnWorlds

Pricing:

  • Starter - $24/month
  • Pro - $79/month
  • $Learning Center - $249/month

LearnWorlds is an online course creation tool and hosting platform. It helps you to build out your course offering and start monetizing it.

Beyond crafting your course, you can also create an academy website. You can use ready-to-use templates and create innovative and flexible curricula to suit your students.

Key Features:

  • Create an academy website using a ready-to-use template.
  • Diverse options for ways to deliver your courses.
  • Interactive activities and features for engaging your students.
  • 16 question types including multiple choice, short answer, match question and video and sound questions.
  • Create branded certificates for when learners finish your content.
  • Branded mobile app with zero-code needed.
  • Sales and marketing tools to help you promote your course content.
  • Ability to run live sessions.

Pros of LearnWorlds:

  • Dynamic and adaptable online course creators that lets you create all kinds of learning content.
  • Easy to use and fully customizable.

Cons of LearnWorlds:

  • No access to library of courses.
  • Can’t create course materials within the platform.

Best for: Creators who want an easy to use tool to create their online courses. Those with existing audiences or marketing funnels will do the best with this tool.

Thinkific

Thinkific online course platform
Thinkific

Thinkific is a platform that’s all about helping you create and sell your online courses. Equipped with all the tools you need to put together and market your courses, you’re in good hands for reaching interested potential students.

With a drag and drop course builder that lets you build both scheduled and self-paced courses, you can easily create courses to suit all kinds of students.

Thinkific also makes it possible to deliver live lessons if you want to engage directly with your students.

Pricing:

Thinkific has three pricing tiers:

  • Free
  • Basic - $49 per month
  • Start - $99 per month
  • Grow - $199 per month

Key features

  • Interactive and multimedia courses. You can offer your learners assignments, exams, quizzes and interactive files to elevate their learning experience.
  • Unlimited video hosting so you don’t have to worry about running out of space for all your content.
  • Thinkific app store lets you explore all kinds of apps aimed at helping you create the best online courses possible.
  • White-labeled mobile app that you can use to share your courses with your community.
  • Course website with ready-to-use templates and customizable themes. You can add multiple pages to – a home page, instructor bio and testimonials.
  • Community helps you foster a real sense of camaraderie amongst your students, even in an online learning environment.
  • Accelerator program is an annual live program that supports you in creating and selling your online course.
  • Analytics let you monitor your community’s engagement and activity
  • Thinkific Plus — a scalable learning platform that you can upgrade to start using.

Pros of Thinkific:

  • Monthly subscription rather than a revenue share.
  • Flexibility of type of courses you can create and offer
  • Community focus for cultivating loyalty
  • Easy to use to start creating
  • Customizable marketing tools

Cons of Thinkific:

  • Monthly subscription might not suit your current budget
  • No library that would list your course alongside others. Make organic discovery and reach more difficult.
  • Can’t record your course content in the app

Best for: Online course creators who want a bespoke and branded course platform and community.

Xperiencify

Xperiencify is unique for its gamification of online courses – that is, it turns the standard learning experience on its head by making it all into a game. This is a unique and compelling structure that Xperiencify argues will revolutionize the way your students interact and engage with your online courses.

Xperiencify online course platforms
Xperiencify

Price

  • Launch Plan - $49/month
  • Growth Plan - $149/month

Key features:

  • Urgency building tools that encourage your students to complete courses such as Countdowns, Self Destructing Content, and “Use it or Lose it”.
  • Social proof features such as badges, leaderboards and certificates that incentivize your students.
  • Learning personalization tailored to each student.
  • Easy to use interface that makes it easy to build your course pages.  
  • Fully-loaded CRM and e-commerce platform.
  • API and Zapier integration.

Pros of Xperiencify:

  • Unique approach and tools.
  • Engaging course builder that’s easy to build and use.

Cons of Xperiencify:

  • Gamification isn’t for everyone.
  • Not as budget friendly as some similar platforms.

Best for: Course creators who are looking for an innovative tool to shake up their existing content and engage their users.

Best plugins to build an online course on your website

If you want to keep things contained to your own website, you can use plugins to build an online course that sits on your site:

LearnPress

LearnPress
LearnPress

LearnPress is a WordPress Learning Management System plugin. It promotes itself as an easy-to-use plugin that helps you quickly and easily build a course curriculum. You can also create lessons and quizzes that slot right into your WordPress site.

Pricing:

LearnPress is a free Wordpress plugin.

Key features

  • Integrates with your existing WordPress theme.
  • Data and analytics about trends and the number of students.
  • Supports selling of your course with billing methods like PayPal, WooCommerce, Stripe etc.
  • BuddyPress lets you create a WordPress forum to communicate with your students.
  • Number of free-to-use and premium add-ons to customize your learners’.

Pros of LearnPress:

  • Integrates seamlessly with your existing WordPress site.
  • Gives you full control to create a course that fits your branding and style.
  • Easy to use and budget friendly.

Cons of LearnPress

  • No in-built marketing tools.
  • Limited capabilities.
  • No access to an existing learning community.

Best for existing Wordpress users who are committed to creating a course on their own website.

Sensei

Sensei online course platform
Sensei

Sensei is another Wordpress LMS plugin. It’s designed by Automattic — the company behind Wordpress (and the makers of WooCommerce and Jetpack). Sensei is all about helping you to easily create immersive and interactive online courses.

Pricing:

You can use Sensei for free or upgrade to Sensei Pro for $179 per year  

Key features

  • Integrates with WooCommerce to let you sell your courses in a number. of ways (one-time payments, subscriptions or memberships).
  • Interactive learning features — video learning, flashcards, quizzes and more.
  • Customizable WordPress themes and course templates.
  • Video course templates that you help you build out your courses quickly and easily.
  • Open source and extendable so you can truly customize your courses.
  • Groups and cohorts lets you create groups of students, set access periods  (only on Sensei Pro).
  • Schedule and ‘drip lessons’ – only on Sensei Pro.
  • Sensei AI – helps you create your courses quickly and easily.
  • Interactive blocks – quizzes, images, flashcards and more.
  • Course analytics and reports.

Pros

  • AI-generated course content such as quizzes, course outlines, and more.
  • Flexible and scalable to match the kinds of courses you want to use.
  • Affordable (depending on your budget).

Cons

  • Only for WordPress users so if you use other webhosts or builders, you won’t be able to use Sensei.
  • Expensive compared to other plugins.
  • You have to pay for certain add-ons which might put off some creators.

Best for: Wordpress users who are looking for maximum customizability and control over the kinds of courses they’re able to produce.

Best online course solutions for promotion and marketing

Podia

Podia online course software
Podia

Podia is an all-in-one platform that helps you bring together your website, email marketing, and online course. You can offer downloads, a community, courses, webinar, and more.

Pricing:

Free to use

Key features

  • No-code design for your website.
  • Course builder that’s easy to use.
  • Customizable free website with unlimited landing pages.
  • Freedom to price your products.
  • Upload multimedia materials: videos, audio files, PDF docs, quizzes and more.
  • Offer standalone, cohort and drip courses to engage your students in different ways.
  • Number of different ways to sell your course — from bundles through to presales.

Pros

  • Versatile product that can be iterated in different ways.
  • Ability to run different types of courses — on-demand courses, courses that run on a specific schedule or by cohort.

Cons

  • Not a dedi​​cated course creation and hosting platform.
  • Can’t record your course content in Podia itself.

Best for: Course creators who want the ability to create a versatile site – not just courses, but digital downloads, webinars, bundles or one-to-one coaching sessions

Simplero

Simplero

Simplero is an online business platform that caters to course creators. You can create websites, effective funnels, start building your lead lists, and building out your course attendees. Its USP is that it consolidates all the tools you could need into one easy-to-use platform.

Pricing:

  • Starter - $59/month
  • Scale - $149/month
  • Skyrocket - $249/month
  • White label - get in touch for more information

Key features:

  • Create a branded website with an intuitive website builder.
  • Customize the lead and customer journey.
  • Media hosting for all of your course content.
  • Email campaigns to help you market your courses and nurture your leads.
  • Ready to use templates for quick and easy course creation.
  • Different ways to interact with your students with forums, blogs, comments, groups and worksheets.
  • Decide the way that your course is delivered — by cohort, drip-feeding or by community.
  • Analytics and metrics to monitor conversions and performance.
  • Mobile app for your customers means they can access your content from any device.

Pros:

  • Flexible and dynamic platform that works for a number of use cases.
  • Ability to customize your student’s experience.

Cons

  • No ability to create the course content in the platform.
  • Not education or course focussed

Best for online course creators who want thorough support in generating leads for their courses.

Kajabi

Kajabi

Kajabi is a dynamic platform for building and hosting online businesses that sell any kind of digital product.

Pricing:

  • Basic - $149 per month
  • Growth - $199 per month
  • Pro - $399 per month

Key features

  • AI course builder to streamline and speed up the online course creation process.
  • Community space. Build an online community space for your students and customers to interact with one another.
  • 27/7 live support to help you resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
  • Creator community for network building and learning from other Kajabi users.
  • Create a fully integrated website for your online course with Kajabi.
  • Run email campaigns directly from Kajabi to help build and scale your business and activate your leads.
  • Beta Creator Studio is an editing tool that helps you to quickly create marketing content assets for all of your social media channels.
  • Metrics, data and analytics so you can understanding where your business is at.
  • Integrates with all your apps for seamless workflows across the board.

Pros:

  • Built-in marketing suite with all the tools and templates you could need.
  • Easy to use and intuitive interface that makes content creation easy.
  • Ai tools that help you to build your course: course outlines, lesson content, copywriting and more.
  • Versatile and adaptable platform that you can use to launch other types of digital businesses.

Cons:

  • Not a dedicated online course marketplace or builder.
  • Inability to record directly within Kajabi.
  • Expensive compared to other similar platforms.

Best for: Businesses and online course creators who want to optimize their acquisition and marketing strategies. And who prioritize the ability to pivot the kind of digital business they’re running.

Best online course management platforms

If you’re looking for a Learning Management System (LMS), here are some options to consider:

Google Classroom

Google Classroom online course management
Google Classroom

Google Classroom is Google’s educational learning management system. It sits within Google’s Workspace for Education, which works really well if you’re using Google Suite for the rest of your workflow.  

You’ll find all kinds of learning-oriented features that help you customize your students’ learning experience. Note, however, that this is much more a learning management system than a course creator or library.

Pricing:

If you’re a qualifying institution, you can use Google for Education for free.

You can upgrade for a per-student license fee of:

  • $3 per year to Education Standard
  • $5 per year to Education Plus

Key features:

  • AI features that help you individualize the learning experience for each student.
  • Automatically detects plagiarism with Originality Reports.
  • Self-paced learning and assignments.
  • Customizable metrics and rubrics to easily track student progress.
  • Tons of integrations with other educational apps.
  • Manage multiple classes at one time.
  • Easily manage and assign class grades.

Pros

  • Education oriented.
  • Ability to manage multiple classes.
  • Easy management of multiple students’ work, assignments and progress.
  • Easily integrates with other Google platforms.

Cons:

  • School and education oriented so isn’t ideal if you’re a business looking to sell an online course.
  • Per student license fee can get expensive if you’re teaching a big class.

Best for: Educators and institutions who aren’t looking to sell and market their online courses, but rather are seeking a platform to effectively manage their students' work.

Moodle

Moodle calls itself an eLearning solution. It’s another learning management software that targets educational institutions, their teachers, and their students. Using Moodle, you can create engaging learning experiences for your students within a fully customizable interface.

Pricing:

There are four different pricing plans:

  • Free
  • Pro - $215 (approx)
  • Premium - $540 (approx)
  • Branded - get in touch for pricing details
Moodle

Key features

  • Automated email and mobile alerts for deadlines and course requirements.
  • Moodle app lets you access your LMS wherever you are – even if you’re offline.
  • Custom reports and metrics to help you manage your student’s progress and performance.
  • Integrates with other apps such as video conferencing platforms and plagiarism detection tools.
  • Open source platform means that you can fully customize your LMS to fit your needs.
  • Customize the look and feel of your platform with your logo, custom themes and brand colors.
  • Translation of your content into over 160 languages for more accessibility.

Pros of Moodle:

  • Fully customizable LMS.
  • Optimum educational experience for students and instructors alike.

Cons of Moodle:

  • Very institution and educator oriented.
  • An online classroom environment, but not a course host.
  • You need to pay separately for hosting, which can rack up.  

Best for: Educator and institutions with a big budget who are looking for a bespoke LMS

Which online course platform is best?: What to consider

With so many different options, it can be difficult to know which online course platform is the best fit for you. Here are a few factors you should consider:

Budget

The first thing to think about is your budget — how much are you able to pay monthly for your online course platform? What kinds of features are you looking for? How much are you expecting to make back from your online courses? All of this will come together to define a realistic budget that will inform your platform choice.

Recording capabilities

If you want to create video and audio course content, you need to consider what software you’re going to be using for this. Some online course platforms don’t have native recording tools which means you’ll have to pay separately for this. Looking for software that offers everything from recording through to marketing is a good option if you’re trying to save on budget.

Course builder

An easy to use, fully-loaded course builder is a big plus. This should be intuitive and produce professional standard results. You want to steer away from being too generic, though. A platform that gives you full customizability to ensure your course stands out against the rest is ideal.

Online course platform analytics

Target audience

Consider your target audience when thinking about your online course platform. If you’re an educator affiliated with an institution, your needs will look very different from a thought leader who is trying to build out a business using online courses. Your target audience will also tell you a lot about the kinds of features and learning tools you want to be able to offer.  

Flexibility  

Flexibility to pivot to other kinds of digital businesses is important to some creators. If you’re a business trying to generate leads and drive sales, for example, you may want the ability to offer products beyond online courses. If this is the case, you’re on the lookout for a different tool from educators who are simply trying to share their materials with students.

FAQs on Online Course Platforms

What is the best online learning platform?

As we outlined earlier, this totally depends on your budget, target audience, and what kind of scope you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for a platform that makes recording high-quality content easy, Riverside is a great option.  For a wide range of marketing and promotion tools, consider Podia or Simplero. And if you’re a Wordpress user, take a look at LearnPress or Sensei.

What is the best online course building platform?

Again, this depends on what exactly you’re looking for. Obviously, there are big names such as Udemy and Skillshare that enjoy a strong global reputation and community. But others we’ve mentioned such as Thinkific and Teachable offer great course building capabilities too.

Which platform is best for online distance learning?

There are a whole range of options you can consider for online distance learning. If you’re looking for an LMS that lets you manage whole classes, Google Classroom or Moodle are both strong options. You can set assignments, share grades and manage each student’s performance.

Which is better: Udemy or Coursera?

The biggest difference between Coursera and Udemy is that Coursera generally offers courses from established educational institutions or experts and qualified instructors. Udemy on the other hand features online courses from all kinds of experts and leaders who aren’t necessarily affiliated with any institution or qualified to teach.

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