6 Of The Best Online Course Platforms To Utilize Now

The global online education market is expected to reach the $325 billion mark by 2025. 

98% of US corporations have incorporated online learning, and 83% of the countries in the world are now using online education platforms on a regular basis.

The eLearning market is hot and everybody wants to get a piece of that pie. 

However, the question that confuses most new eLearning entrepreneurs is – which platform is the best to host their online course?

In this article, we compare the advantages and shortcomings of six of the best online course builder platforms – AccessAlly, Udemy, Thinkific, Teachable, Skillshare, and Podia – to help you choose the best solution for your requirements.

What Are Online Course Platforms? 

An online course platform is a system that contains all the tools you need to ideate, create, and share your educational material, in a way that interests and engages students. 

Typically, an online course builder platform, or an eLearning platform, offers the ability to:

  • Create and conduct audio/video lectures
  • Add various types of assignments, tests, and quizzes
  • Organize events such as workshops or webinars
  • Build a student community for course-related discussions
  • Integrate gamification options to improve learner engagement and retention

Advanced learning platforms have a variety of options to create different types of courses, from simple tutorials to step-by-step guides, from video training to gamified learning experiences, and everything in between.

Benefits of Using Online Course Platforms

Online learning platforms have many advantages over the more traditional approaches of building your own eLearning website from scratch or offering in-person courses. 

Here are some of the most popular benefits of the best digital course platforms:

  • Easy course creation options that allow instructors to create meaningful and engaging content without too much technical effort
  • A single consolidated hub of support resources for instructors to help them design, develop, promote, and monetize their courses
  • Opportunity for developing content that can be used for lead generation, such as eBooks, downloadable charts and infographics, and other digital products
  • Reduced operational costs, which make it much easier and more financially viable to conduct an online course than teach in person
  • Automation of tasks and processes that can save the time and effort of instructors. For example, bulk enrollment options to save course instructors from having to register each student manually on the platform.
  • Marketing and sales tools, such as email marketing integration, affiliate marketing programs, membership modules, and one-page checkout, for better business scalability and growth
  • Built-in reporting options for student performance tracking, which enable instructors to measure how well students are engaging with the course material and what steps can be taken to improve their performance
  • Seamless student-teacher communication features, like in-platform email and live chat, to help teachers resolve student queries with ease
  • Greater student engagement with gamification tools, combinations of audio/video lectures, different types of assessments and assignments, and webinar/live class functionalities.
  • Freedom of location as online learning platforms allow you to teach from any corner of the world, as long as you have a laptop and a strong internet connection!

Now that you know all the great reasons why using an online course platform can be convenient, the next question is – which online course platform should you choose?

There are hundreds of eLearning platform options available, so to make your work easier, we have shortlisted six of the best, most popular learning platforms in use today. 

6 Best Online Course Platforms

For the purpose of this guide, we have considered the following four factors for shortlisting the best online course builder platforms.

  1. Feature set
  2. Platform intuitiveness and ease-of-use
  3. Scalability
  4. Customer support

We have not considered cost as a ranking factor here because all of these platforms have a variety of pricing packages, which makes it difficult to compare them fairly based on that parameter. Let’s get started!

1. AccessAlly

AccessAlly landing page

AccessAlly is a powerful online course creation and management solution that offers flexible ways to create interactive courses, manage digital memberships, effectively manage and sell online courses, coaching and memberships, on a 1:1 as well as on a group coaching basis.

Built as a WordPress plugin, AccessAlly has all the essential eLearning features built into the platform, making it quick and convenient to scale your business. 

It is designed to eliminate the need for multiple plugins that need to be constantly updated or complex integrations that make site management difficult and time-consuming. 

Here is an overview of some of the key functionalities it offers:

Memberships and membership management

AccessAlly has an integrated membership module that allows you to create various membership levels for your students.

You can offer/limit access to your courses based on these membership levels and even use them to set up custom content delivery schedules.

To market your courses and memberships, AccessAlly lets you create conversion-focused sales pages.

Affiliate management

Affiliate marketing is an effective digital marketing strategy that can be used to increase the reach of your training programs, events, or memberships.

AccessAlly helps course creators tap into the potential of affiliate marketing with its integrated affiliate management system that allows platform owners to onboard influencers who promote their courses and earn commissions for every sale.

Course gamification

In an era of rapidly decreasing attention spans, it is essential for course instructors to figure out new and original ways to keep students engaged with the course content. AccessAlly offers a slew of gamification tools to make courses interesting and memorable.

This includes three types of quizzes, autogenerated certificates, video and audio lessons, student notes, drip-feed strategies, and much more.

Community management

One of the best things about learning in a classroom is the opportunity to learn with peers.

AccessAlly brings this sense of community to your virtual classroom with its community development module, which enables you to foster healthy discussions and in-depth conversations around your course content on dedicated landing pages.

You can create global, site-wide communities, per-course or per-cohort level groups, and even topic-level discussions to facilitate meaningful discourse.

AccessAlly is designed to be a single solution where online course creators can get everything they need to create unlimited courses, build a rich learning ecosystem and scale their business. 

It has an extremely intuitive interface, is compatible with popular payment gateways like PayPal & Stripe, and also offers industry-leading 1:1 support to ensure that your website keeps working smoothly at all times.

Schedule a free discovery call

Find out why AccessAlly is the WordPress course plugin that pays for itself.

AccessAlly logo with a looking glass
AccessAlly At A Glance:

Intuitive, WordPress-based all-in-one online course creation and management solution.

Key features include – Learning Management System setup, membership module, affiliate marketing management, gamification options, and community development.

Strong 1:1 customer support

2. Thinkific

Thinkific landing page

Thinkific is an all-in-one course builder platform that allows course creators to develop and manage their online courses with ease. 

It is a SaaS, web-based solution that is packed with features and highly scalable. One of its unique features is that it comes with the ability to build community spaces for collaborative learning and allows you to monetize memberships.

Thinkific helps you create an online course platform the way Wix helps you build a website. 

  • You can choose a theme, pick a course template, create your course using a drag-and-drop course builder, conduct live lessons via Zoom, award certificates to students on course completion, and so on.
  • It allows you to track and measure student performance with tests, quizzes, assignments, and feedback.
  • It has a unique ‘Learning Community’ module, which lets you build collaborative student communities for your courses. These communities can be bundled with courses, set up for memberships, or marketed as a standalone offering.

The advantage here is that you have an out-of-the-box solution with a very smooth learning curve. You can plug in your study material and start conducting or selling courses from day one. 

The drawback is that you have limited control over the technical aspects of your eLearning website, like removing the Thinkific branding on the lower-end plans. 

Recurring one-to-one customer support is also restricted to the higher-end plans.

3. Teachable

Teachable landing page

Teachable is a beginner-friendly online course creation platform that gives you all the basic functionality you need to create standard online courses. 

It features an intuitive drag-and-drop course builder, a robust ecommerce module, integrations with popular eLearning management tools such as Google Analytics, ConvertKit, MailChimp, Zapier, and more, and a student referral module. 

Some of its key features include:

  • Bulk course uploads and bulk student enrollments to save time and effort
  • Advanced data reporting to track student and business performance
  • In-built taxation management
  • Full encryption and backup options for complete data security
  • Support for digital downloads, which makes it easy to sell eBooks, podcasts, guides, templates, and more
  • Provision for marketing and sales strategies, such as tax-inclusive pricing, upselling, social media marketing, and coupons
  • Flexible payout schedules and tax filings for collaborators

Teachable is a good option if you’re creating a course as an add-on to provide value to your target audience and boost your income. 

However, if you want to build courses as your main source of income, Teachable’s functionality and scalability are limited. 

It doesn’t allow you to monetize memberships, which prevents you from generating recurring income or setting up a dedicated membership site. 

Additionally, customers can only access support through email and live chat.

4. Udemy

Udemy landing page

Udemy is the world’s largest eLearning platform, hosting over 213,000 courses, 74,000 instructors, and 57 million students. 

It has a large variety of resources for students for personal and professional development and enjoys strong customer loyalty. 

This gives new course instructors immediate access to millions of students, although the sheer number of courses makes it highly difficult to rank well.

At its core, Udemy is a course marketplace and its course creation and marketing modules reflect that. This means that with Udemy, you get:

  • A robust course builder, with several support resources to help instructors get started
  • No hosting costs, no limits on uploads, and the ability to publish unlimited courses, with full access to all platform features at no cost

However, given the huge number of instructors and courses on Udemy, there are also some major drawbacks of choosing it as your course builder platform. For example:

  • No scope for personal branding as a coach or course creator or a custom domain, which can be detrimental to your career as an online instructor in the long run
  • A pricing model that does not pay well. Udemy offers instructors a commission anywhere between 25% to 97% per sale, depending on how the student discovers the course.
  • No control over the final pricing of the course. Udemy allows you to become a premium instructor and participate in promotional campaigns, but this means that they may offer huge discounts on your course prices, selling it at a fraction of the original cost.

All in all, Udemy is a decent option if you are just getting started and do not want to manage your own site. 

However, if you want to build courses as your main source of revenue, there are better options out there that give you more control, a better chance to compete, and more revenue-generation strategies.

5. Skillshare

Skillshare landing page

Skillshare is the leading platform for creative professionals to share their knowledge and expertise with learners from across the globe. 

The platform has a variety of courses with a focus on the creative arts, like painting, photography, creative writing, film and video, crafts, and so on, which makes it a good option for creative entrepreneurs with expertise in the field.

In terms of pure functionality, Skillshare has:

  • A standard course pattern, which combines video lectures and a class project. All classes are approximately 30 minutes in length, while the project focuses on getting learners to practice their newly learned skills.
  • In-depth resources and detailed roadmaps for instructors to get started and continue on their teaching journey

However, you don’t own your own course content. 

Skillshare pays instructors based on how many minutes of the course have been watched rather than how many people have signed up for a course, which makes it essential for your course to engage and retain learners.

6. Podia

Podia landing page

Podia is a beginner-friendly, affordable, all-in-one online learning platform that allows you to create courses and sell memberships with ease. 

Its core features include a website builder, community development module, affiliate marketing, email marketing tools, a range of integrations, and more.

Some advantages of using Podia include:

  • You can create your custom website from the ground up, and sell all types digital eLearning products like online courses, coaching sessions, webinars, workshops, ebooks, and more
  • You have access to strong marketing tools like an email marketing system, affiliate marketing program, tracking and analytics, payment gateway integrations with support for multiple currencies, and so on
  • You can set up various workflows and automated processes to simplify course management with Podia’s numerous integrations

The primary drawback with Podia is that you cannot control the backend, or the tech stack of your website, which can make advanced customizations difficult. 

Secondly, you don’t actually own your own courses, so you lack the control you’d have with dedicated site builders. 

Podia also lacks customization options and advanced features, such as umbrella accounts and course enrollment limits for live cohort-based courses.

How to choose the best platform to create and sell your online course

Different course creators have different requirements from online course platforms, depending on their end goal, audience, technical capabilities, and expected revenue. 

To know which of these six platforms will suit you the best, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

What kind of course content do you want to create?

While most course platforms support all the different types of course content, decide if your content format is primarily video or audio. 

With self-hosted platforms like AccessAlly, it is easy to have a mix of various content formats for the course material as well as quizzes, assignments, downloadable content, and more.

Who is your target audience?

Knowing your target audience enables you to choose a platform that is aligned to meet their expectations and tech-savviness. 

For instance, if you have an audience looking to learn creative skills, Teachable or Kajabi can be a good place to start your online course. 

If you have students of a specific subject or a more general audience, AccessAlly gives you the freedom to create courses of various different genres on the same platform.

What kind of features and functionality do you need? 

Make a list of the core features that you need on your course platform, at present and in the future, like email marketing, affiliate marketing, community management, and more. 

Knowing this makes it easier to pick a course builder that is scalable and offers expansion capabilities. 

What level of technical detail can you handle?

Some eLearning entrepreneurs look for an all-in-one solution that offers all features out of the box. 

Others prefer having more control over customization options so they can modify the platform per their requirements. 

AccessAlly offers the best of both worlds here, with a slew of in-built features that all course creators need as well as the flexibility to customize the platform according to your needs.

AccessAlly has all the functionality you need to create a variety of content types, courses for all types of target audiences, and generate a great ROI in the process.

Setting up your eLearning website with AccessAlly

The online course platform you choose becomes the cornerstone of your eLearning business. 

6 Of The Best Online Course Platforms To Utilize Now - Laptop image

It is more than just a tool to create and sell your courses. It is where you connect with your learners, develop an audience, and eventually build your brand. 

So, it is essential to choose the right platform that meets your needs and your audience’s expectations. 

Based on the parameters we have outlined above, AccessAlly is the best solution for both new and seasoned course creators. 

It has a smooth, highly intuitive interface, advanced features and integrated modules for course creation, monetization, marketing, and business development, and excellent customer support. 

Discover how AccessAlly can be the partner you need to build, manage, and market your online courses.

Experience AccessAlly first hand, with your own interactive demo account.

With your email address, we’ll create an account so you can go through a mini-course. You’ll earn points and unlock bonuses.

AccessAlly logo with a map

you might also like...