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These days, there are a bunch of e-learning platforms that allow anyone to sign up and can become a student. As you’d imagine, with most online products, the quality of products can be inconsistent. Some online course platforms are great while others are a waste of your money.
One popular e-learning platform is The Great Courses Plus. In this article, we’ll give a full Great Courses Plus review, and I’ll give my professional views as an educator and see if the membership is right for you.
Great Courses Plus Review Summary
A Quick Review of The Great Courses Plus
The Great Courses Plus offers over 700 original courses on a range of topics and they’re all given by experts. Each course is incredibly detailed too. I’ve seen plenty of courses that are around twelve-hours long.
For price, The Great Courses Plus offers two options. You can pay around $25 monthly, or you can pay a quarterly payment that comes out to around $12.50 a month. The month-by-month option is expensive. However, the quarterly price is great. This is especially true if you look at the price of buying the courses individually or seeing what lesser-quality competition charges.
Ease of use: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Great Courses Plus is super-easy to navigate. Considering there’s more content than you’ll know what to do with, it is easy to use. There’s also a great app that lets you download lessons for future use – which is great for travel. You can also connect it to your Smart TV too.
What we like
- Quality courses (some over 12 hours long!)
- A range of different topics with fresh ones added monthly
- Presented by experts
- PDF versions of workbooks that guide you through
- Courses are well thought out and scaffold to improve student results
What could be improved:
- The monthly fee can be expensive.
Summary: The Great Courses Plusis probably the best online education solution on the market. There is a huge range of topics you can choose from and the membership lets you take an unlimited amount of courses.
We wrote this The Great Courses Plus review so you’ll get all the information you’ll need before making a purchasing decision.
What Is The Great Courses Plus?
As we touched on earlier, The Great Courses Plus is an online learning platform that lets you stream courses that are traditionally brought to you from The Great Courses (we’ll look at the differences between the two later).
The Great Courses Plus offers a membership platform where users pay a registration fee and have unlimited access to all courses.
The company isn’t an unfamiliar face either. In fact, it has been around since 1990! Former US Senate Committee Chief Counsel Thomas M. Rollins even found the Great Courses. The Teaching Company, the group who owns The Great Courses, hires various experts that specialize in their field to teach the classes. Usually, they create the course and its syllabus (the content covered in the course).
The Great Courses also offer a range of their courses on Audible too.
The Great Courses have been around for so long and have ties with enormous companies like Audible mean that they’re likely to be around for a long time – which is reassuring considering so many online learning platforms go under after a few years.
Our Great Courses Review
In this section, we’re going to give a Great Courses Plus review and look at what we love about the platform and what they can improve.
Why listen to me? As a qualified teacher, I can look at the educational benefit of the platform. Also, I’m a long-time user of The Great Courses. I’ve been using the platform long before owning this site – so I know the platform well.
What You’ll Love About The Great Courses Plus
The Great Courses Plus has a vast amount of courses in a bunch of categories
The first thing you’ll notice when you sign up for your free month of The Great Courses Plus is the sheer amount of content. There are over 700 courses on the platform in the following categories:
- Economics and Finance
- Food and Wine
- Health, Fitness, and Nutrition
- Hobby and Leisure
- Literature and Language
- Music and Fine Art
- Philosophy and Religion
- Professional and Personal Growth
- Programs for Youth Learners
And there are three or four fresh courses added every single month, along with bonus content. The constant updating of courses and the addition of new content means you’ll never run out of interesting lessons.
As we mentioned earlier, experts organize and teach the courses, and the quality is absolutely top-notch. The experts don’t hold back either! I remember taking this course on playing chess and it had twenty-four different lectures that were all around 30-minutes! Yep, that’s nearly twelve hours of course content.
There’s a Bunch of Impressive Features
One thing you see about a bunch of online businesses is the implementation of useless features that seem to just here so they can add another dot point on their sales page.
True Story: I once used an online writing tool before that promised “translation into over 55 languages!” which was actually just the use of Google translation (no, I’m not making that up).
What I love about the Great Courses is that they don’t bombard you with tacky gimmicks that add nothing to the end product. Instead, you only get the features that you need – and they make sure that those features created well.
For starters, you can use your membership on mobile devices, desktop browsers, and TV-connected devices. Specifically, these are the tools you’ll get the best results with are as follows.
- Android phones and tablets (OS 8 and above)
- iOS phones and tablet (OS 11 and above)
- Kindle/Fire Tablet
The mobile apps are great too and even let you download your lessons and view them at a later date. This is awesome because it means you don’t need the internet to use the app. So if you’re traveling on a train to work or something, your course won’t cut off when you’re going through a tunnel or anything annoying like that.
Desktop Browers (the most current versions)
- Apple TV 4th generation or newer
When you sign up to The Great Courses Plus, you’ll also get other benefits like a discount on other Great Courses products, free accompanying workbooks for your courses, and a stream of short-form content of current events and other interesting topics. I really like this feature. It’s almost like your own mini Netflix for documentaries.
The Quality of Content is Great
I touched on the sheer amount of courses that you can access on Great Courses Plus. But I threw my teacher-hat on and looked at the educational quality of some of these courses – obviously I haven’t watched all 10,000 lectures… yet.
Honestly, the quality of these courses is pretty incredible when you consider how many courses there are. Every course I looked at was a minimum of eight hours, and most were way longer and are around twelve hours long.
These courses are college-quality. I’d say most would be freshman-level courses and give a great insight into the topic. Some are a little more advanced than that. I’ve taken writing courses on The Great Courses Plus before that have been the most advanced courses I’ve come across.
Before writing this article I took a few courses in fields I’m competent and knowledgeable in – just to see how the content held up. While I didn’t agree with every word said, the course was brilliant. There were thoughts and sources that I’ve never heard of. I learned a lot more than I thought I would have.
Other Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) usually have a super-low completion rate. In fact, studies have shown that one of The Great Courses Plus’ major competitors only had a 3.13 percent completion rate for their courses. Now I’m sure some of this comes down to people just wanting to do a particular lecture or two, but a lot of this would come down to the way they teach the lessons.
The courses I’ve taken and the ones I researched when writing this article have had great scaffolding in place. That means they break the content down into chunks and they give guidance to make sure students achieve their goals.
See How The Great Courses Stacks up Afainst MasterClass: MasterClass vs The Great Courses Plus
Things That Can Be Improved
As you can tell, there’s a lot to like about The Great Courses Plus. However, it has an issue common with other online courses.
Mainly, while it’s great that The Great Courses Plus uses topic experts, don’t always take everything they say as absolute gospel truth. Being a lecturer or Ph.D. on a topic isn’t an argument, nor is it evidence proving that they’re right. This is especially true in complex topics like history that have varying interpretations of truth. Also, over time, more evidence comes to light. Previous thoughts that were once considered to be correct may be wrong. When you come across any contradictory views, make sure you look for evidence and don’t stick your heels in because you once say something on Great Courses Plus.
You won’t become an expert in your twelve-hour course. However, you will learn a solid foundation on a topic. That way, you can either continue studying the topic or practicing the skill being taught until you master it. That’s a normal education growth process.
However, this isn’t really a problem with Great Courses Plus – It’s a thought on the entire online education platform. And there’s no actual way to fix it. You as a student just have to remain curious and wanting to learn more.
On the whole though, with The Great Courses Plus, you’ll get a great base-education on a topic from an expert. Which is more than you can say for other cheaper online learning platforms where anyone can sign up and throw a class online.
How Much Does The Great Courses Plus Cost?
For pricing, the Great Courses has a two-tier pricing system, which is pretty much industry standard. There’s an option to pay monthly, which will cost $24.99 a month. However, if you pay the quarterly plan, you only pay $12.50 a month.
Honestly, I don’t know why you’d sign up for the monthly plan. Considering the quarterly plan is $37.50 for three months, you’d be crazy to pay $25 for one month.
The quarterly plan is reasonable price-wise. To buy one course individually on The Great Courses can cost hundreds of dollars. So being able to have unlimited streaming on The Great Courses Plus for $12.50 a month is an absolute bargain in comparison.
Also, when you consider the gap in quality between The Great Courses Plus and other services that aren’t as good (some of which are more expensive than The Great Courses), The Great Courses’ price point is reasonable.
Sure, for a lot of these courses, you could probably find all the information online somewhere for free. However:
- Take you hundreds of hours to find, analyze and comprehend the information in a twelve-hour course
- You’d have no idea about the quality of the information you’re reading or listening to. You could spend hundreds of hours learning complete rubbish.
Some people will naysay about paying for information. However, I don’t see an issue with it, it when you’re paying for expert tutelage rather than aggregating whatever you can find from a google search.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here we’ll add a few common questions that you may have on The Great Courses Plus.
What’s The Difference Between Great Courses Plus and The Great Courses?
They may sound the same, but there’s a sizeable difference. The Great Courses Plus is a subscription service that has hundreds of the most current and most popular courses, from The Great Courses. The Great Courses Plus is an online streaming service that offers a membership, where The Great Courses is not a subscription service but offers all courses for individual purchase on DVD, CD, or Digital formats.
They’re two different sites and two different businesses
Great Courses offers multiple ways to purchase courses. You can buy courses as an instant video to take the lessons wherever you go. Great Courses also provides the option to buy programs as a DVD. Select courses also come as instant audio, and you can even send classes as an e-gift. Great Courses Plus is a membership that gets you unlimited access to courses at a higher price.
Each course has about 20 lectures on an average of 30 minutes each. You can get so much content within one single course.
The Great Courses Plus on the other hand, is a streaming subscription model that gives you unlimited access to a lot of the best courses from The Great Courses. The price for the membership program is actually very reasonable compared to MasterClass.
Great Courses’ individual prices can be steep as well. The price for courses ranges anywhere from $25 to $500. It all depends on what class you purchase and how many lessons it contains.
However, when you buy with the Great Courses, you’re buying the course. With membership models like MasterClass and The Great Courses Plus, you’re buying access. When you cancel your subscription, you lose access. So in that regard, I understand the inflated price.
How many great courses are there?
There are over 700 courses on The Great Courses Plus.
How often is there new content?
Every month, 3-4 fresh courses are added. Along with that, they add Bonus material during the month. Members get notifications through email or push notifications if they choose.
Can You order a membership to The Great Courses Plus as a gift?
From what I can tell, gift subscriptions are not available. However, you can set up an account for someone else:
- Get a valid email address for the person for whom you are creating an account. You can use the person’s current email or make one.
- Progress as normal with the account creation process. If you are paying for the membership as a gift, use your own credit card. If you are creating an account for someone and they’ll be paying, get a valid credit card for use.
- When you finish making the account, notify the account recipient of the email and password associated with their new account.
Just make sure you remember that if you use your credit card, you’ll be the one who gets charged any recurring payments until the card is changed.
How many people can use my account?
An account with The Great Courses Plus can be logged in to ten unique devices and allows for up to five simultaneous streams.
The Final Verdict – Is the Great Course Plus Worth It?
All in all, The Great Courses Plus is one of the best online learning platforms out there. It has over 10,000 lectures given by experts and is well worth the subscription. Click Here to get your free month trial.