We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Online learning is an industry that’s grown considerably over the past few years. The different companies all bring something unique to this field.
Each of these can be considered the best online classes platform for different reasons. Below, you’ll get an in-depth look at what makes each of them special and how you can benefit from signing up for one of their courses. Keep reading to learn which online classes company is right for your goals.
Also, just a note. I’ll earn a small commission from some products listed in this article. It includes no extra cost to you, and my relationship with any supplier never impacts the integrity of my opinions.
Can’t Wait? Here’s Our Favorite
It really depends on what you classify as “best” here. Each offers something a little different. For example, a site like MasterClass offers direct access to celebrity instructors, while Skillshare provides project-based lessons that are affordable enough to fit into any learner’s budget. The Great Courses Plus stands out through its highly qualified professors and expansive library of online courses.
That’s why MasterClass, Great Courses Plus, and SkillShare are our top three sites.
However, if you’re looking for a quick recommendation, then you can’t go wrong with Skillshare. It’s probably the most consistent across all categories we judge This platform stands out from its competitors, with a low monthly subscription price of just $12. It offers classes from professionals who can show you how to turn your passion into a set of real-world skills.
Skillshare also is one of the only online classes companies to offer project-based learning with students across the globe. With classes in fields like writing, photography, business, and entrepreneurship, Skillshare truly offers something every learner can enjoy. Even better, you can visit the company’s website right now to sign up for a free two-month premium trial.
Here, we’ll look at our top three choices in more detail.
MasterClass – Best for Creatives
MasterClass is one of the most well-known brands in the online classes space. There’s a good reason for this.
The company offers its customers direct access to world-renowned talents in culinary arts, design, film, writing, music, science, business, sports, and too many other categories to list here.
If you have ever wanted to learn from Gordon Ramsay or want to learn how to take your business to the top with Disney CEO Bob Iger or learn to riff like Tom Morello, this might be the learning platform for you.
These are just a few examples of the dreams that MasterClass makes come true through their rights reserved online classes.
MasterClass courses are like a one-on-one conversation with the teacher that is presenting the class. MasterClass courses feel more like a mentorship than an online course that other people are taking with you.
This mentorship-like relationship has the benefit of making these courses more engaging than many others in the online marketplace.
You can purchase access to courses from this company one at a time for about $90 per class. Or, you can spend $180 upfront to pay for an annual membership that gives you unlimited access to all courses in the MasterClass library. If you’re serious about deepening your skills in a field you’re passionate about; this could be your best option.
Another benefit of MasterClass is the supplementary materials you’ll receive from the course. You get access to notes, reading resources, and a community of learning. These are tools that you can use to get even more out of your MasterClass investment.
What You’ll Like
MasterClass offers direct access to the biggest names in many different industries. This exclusive availability is something that none of their competitors can match. There’s no one better to learn from than someone who has risen to the top of the field in which you’re passionate.
I also like that MasterClass allows learners to download their lessons as often as they want. You can do this and listen to your lessons in audio mode while driving to work, or the next time you have to fly.
Finally, the platform also benefits from its short lessons. Courses are generally split up into 5 – 25-minute chunks, which makes the information they contain much easier to digest.
This also makes it easier to fit learning into your day. You could complete a lesson on your lunch break, as you head home from work, or during any other brief window of free time you have.
Room for Improvement
MasterClass isn’t perfect. One of the drawbacks of choosing this online classes company is the price of individual classes. If you’re only interested in one or two of the company’s courses, you’ll have to spend a considerable amount to access them. $90 just feels like too much to pay for an individual course when you can get access to all of the company’s courses for a year for just $180. But then again, I guess that’s the point.
EDIT: In 2020, MasterClass added a monthly payment option, which is awesome. Check for yourself.
Additionally, I don’t like that MasterClass doesn’t supplement its offerings with courses from professors and academics. I understand why this is the case, as the company brands itself as the platform people can visit to learn from experts. However, just because you’re incredibly good at something, doesn’t mean you’re good at teaching others how to do it.
However, it would still be nice to see options for more in-depth classes from professors and academics who have more experience with teaching beginners. This could add even more value to the platform.
The Great Courses Plus – Best for Devoted Learners
Another top online classes company you may have heard of is The Great Courses Plus. This platform offers in-depth courses from some of the top professors across the world.
You’ll find an online course in nearly every category, including food and wine, health, literature, science, history, economics, and many other topics. The Great Courses Plus offers so many courses; you could spend hours each day learning and never get bored.
Each course from the Great Courses Plus is thoroughly researched and beautifully produced. They focus on creating classes that are as intellectually satisfying as they are fun and engaging to watch. If you’re not careful, you could quickly lose track of time and end up spending all day learning on this platform. There’s simply that much to do on the Great Courses Plus.
The company prides itself on giving its customers access to the highest quality professors. They come from some of the most prestigious universities across the world and are universally acclaimed for their subject matter expertise. These instructors are also highly skilled at explaining complicated topics to learners who don’t quite understand them yet.
Additionally, when you sign up for the Great Courses Plus, you can get access to content from many of their partners. The list of places you can consume content from includes National Geographic, History, and Smithsonian. It’s another example of how you can take your understanding of your favorite subject to the next level with the Great Courses Plus.
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What I like
I like how easy The Great Courses Plus makes it to access the content you want. To start, you can visit their website right now and sign up for a free trial. This will give you the opportunity to experience what The Great Courses Plus is all about before you decide whether the platform is worth a financial investment.
Once you’ve signed up, you can watch your online courses on platforms like Apple TV, Roku, Kindle Fire, and Chromecast.
I also appreciate that this platform makes regular content updates.
According to their website, you can expect new content to be uploaded every month. This ensures that when you pay for a yearly subscription, you’ll virtually never run out of informative courses to learn and absorb. Add that to the availability of transcripts and audio lessons, and you have a platform that compares well to the best in the industry.
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What I don’t like
There are few drawbacks to trying out The Great Courses Plus, especially since the company offers a free trial.
Additionally, the company would do well to learn from its competitors in the space and begin working with experts in addition to academics. Companies from MasterClass benefit a lot from the hype surrounding lessons from celebrities that learners can’t usually access. The Great Courses Plus would instantly rise to the top of the field of online platforms if it made this change.
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Skillshare – Best All-Rounder
Skillshare is another excellent learning company, with courses from which anybody can benefit. The platform is similar to others in that it offers its customers access to top professors who teach about fashion, photography, marketing, business, technology, and more. However, Skillshare stands out in a few critical ways from its competitors.
First, the platform markets itself as a place where students and teachers can learn real-world skills. They offer more substance than you might expect to back up this claim. Skillshare is unique in that the majority of its classes offer project-based coursework.
This class style gives learners a structured way to put what they’ve been studying into practice. You can even branch out into LinkedIn learning after connecting with other students in the Skillshare community. Other platforms are mostly academic, offering students little opportunity to test how well they understand the complexities of the material they’re learning.
Next, Skillshare also allows professionals to sign up as instructors and teach skills by creating and publishing their classes. This is an option that isn’t available from companies like MasterClass and The Great Courses Plus.
Many learners will find this appealing, as it offers the chance to learn directly from practitioners in the industry they are interested. It’s another feature that makes this one of the best online classes companies to improve your skills.
What I like
One of Skillshare’s best features is its price. The platform also offers a free trial, so you can sign up to check it out before paying a dime.
If you decide you like it, then you can have unlimited access to thousands of online courses for just $12 per month.
That number goes down to $8 a month if you sign up to be billed annually. This affordability makes Skillshare the learning company that can fit into any budget.
I also like how diverse this platform’s offerings are. While there are many courses for beginners, it’s not the only level of experience you’ll find coursework for. Instead, you’ll find learning options that can refresh your understanding of topics you studied long ago, and classes that enable you to upgrade your existing skills. This kind of instructional diversity broadens the appeal of Skillshare, making it a trustworthy learning company that virtually everyone can enjoy.
What I don’t like
It’s relatively difficult to come up with something about Skillshare that could be a turn off for some users. Doing so feels a little like nit-picking. That being said, if you’re hoping to get lessons from top professors or celebrities, you may be a bit disappointed with Skillshare’s offerings. Most of the company’s courses seem to be taught by regular professionals in the field you’re studying.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most learners still have a ton to learn from those who have found success in the profession they wish to enter. However, if you’re looking to gain inspiration and subtle tips from the best of the best, then Skillshare likely isn’t the right learning company for you.
Want To Read More?
If you want to read more about some other options on our list, read the following articles below for a great start.
- Coursera vs Udemy vs LinkedIn Learning
- Coursera vs EdX
- Masterclass vs Udemy
- MasterClass vs LinkedIn Learning
Otherwise, below we’ll go into what you should consider before you purchase any online course.
Online Classes Consumer Guide
In recent years, we’ve seen a boom in the number of learning course sites that offer courses to everyone online. With so many options to choose from, it can sometimes feel challenging to zero in on the platform that’s the best fit for your goals. Making the right decision requires doing a little self-reflection.
Consider the following questions to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for in a learning platform. Doing so can help you make a smarter decision about where you sign up for courses.
Figuring Out Who You Want to Learn From
Deciding the types of teachers you want to learn from is an excellent starting point for your research. You need to decide whether you’d rather learn from celebrities in their field, or more traditional teachers who are experts in theirs. The choice that you make will ultimately come down to what you hope to get out of your courses.
Celebrities may be able to offer you inspiration, and finer nuggets of knowledge that the average teacher may not understand themselves. On the other hand, professors typically have more experience with teaching students. They may have better strategies for sharing information with you that enable you to understand the fundamentals of the field you’re learning about better.
Professionals can also be excellent instructors. Their lessons may focus more on the real-world applications of what you’re studying. They could give you a better understanding of how to take what you’re learning and apply it to your job or passion project. However, professionals may not provide as in-depth instruction on the theory behind what you’re studying as professors might.
Ultimately, these are all valid instructors from who to learn. Each can teach you something different about the field you love through comprehensive video lectures. When you’ve decided which option you prefer, you can narrow down the best learning companies by assessing which ones offer lessons from your chosen instructors.
Deciding How Many Courses to Take
This is another crucial question to ask yourself before selecting a learning platform. If you’re only looking to take a single course, then you may have very different needs than someone who is hoping to take many courses across various subject areas.
For example, learners who are interested in just one course will want to prioritize companies that sell their classes at a low individual price. Those who are interested in many classes will want to find a course site that has a lower subscription price, or a larger course library. Making this distinction is important because it will give you further clarity over which learning platform is the right fit for your goals.
Figuring Out Exactly What You Want to Study
You should also be considering which subjects you hope to learn more about. Ask yourself if you want to focus on technology topics like coding and machine learning.
Or, maybe you’d prefer to study creative fields like writing and filmmaking. Perhaps your preference is to focus on learning management or another topic that online classes can teach you about. Figuring out what you want to learn will go a long way in deciding the course platform for you.
Some companies may have expanded site courses in your chosen field. For example, MasterClass is a solid option for creatives who are looking for in-depth instruction in their industry. However, it wouldn’t be a good choice for learners who are hoping to expand their coding skills.
Online Classes Platforms FAQs
How much do online classes platforms cost?
Costs for learning platforms are typically split based on single course offerings or subscriptions that provide access to a platform’s entire library. These prices vary widely based on the platform you choose. Individual courses can cost anywhere from $5 to $500, while subscriptions can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 monthly.
What are the benefits of online classes platforms?
These companies give you the opportunity to expand your skills and deepen your understanding of your passions through their widespread availability of e-courses. Many offer lessons that you would hope to get from a top university for a fraction of the price. Additionally, the best learning platforms allow you to study from anywhere.
How do I find the best online classes platforms for my needs?
Finding the right online courses requires a strong understanding of your goals. If you’re hoping to enhance your skill set and broaden your horizons, an online course platform may be for you Answer the questions listed in the Buyer’s Guide to gain a better understanding of which platform may be right for your needs.
The Final Verdict
There are many different learning companies available in the marketplace today. MasterClass, Skillshare, and The Great Courses Plus each offer specific benefits and drawbacks.
Ultimately, we recommend Skillshare as the best online classes company. It’s affordable enough to fit into any budget, provides a wide variety of classes across multiple fields, and even offers project-based learning with other students. You can visit their website right now to sign up for a 60-day free trial of their premium service.
Alternatively, MasterClass could be the best choice for your goals if you’ve always dreamed of learning from celebrities. This easy to use website offers direct access to the titans of industry and art in a way that is completely unmatched by other platforms.
Whichever e-learning option you pick, these companies can help you take your passion to the next level and gain new skills. Consider investing in one to expand your knowledge and grow.