9 Online Learning Sites That Can Help You Boost Your Skill Set

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If you’ve found some spare time in your day that you’d like to use more productively, you should consider taking an online course from platforms, like MasterClass, Udemy, Coursera, and others. The rise of online courses have seen people appreciating the convenience and variety the best learning sites online have to offer.

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Several online learning sites allow you to take classes on topics you’re actually interested in without providing any transcripts, or having any previous experience in the subject. Some allow you to purchase individual courses a la carte, while others give you unlimited access to their entire catalogue for a flat fee. Keep in mind you’re getting access to full, pre-recorded classes; you don’t need to block out a specific time of day, or certain days of the week.

The online courses we’re recommending differ from tutorials you’ll find on YouTube in a couple of significant ways. First, the instructors selected to teach these classes are trained professionals in their field, and have structured their videos to work like a traditional college course. There’s a set syllabus, and some instructors provide classwork you can use to practice the skill you’re trying to learn. Second, these services allow you to access their courses on your computer, tablet, or phone, so you can follow along wherever you are.

All online course services below all follow the same set of fundamentals, but each has a particular feature that makes them stand out. We’ve broken down each service, and recommended some courses you may be interested in trying out, while considering student satisfaction, wide range of course options and subjects, price, and overall usability and accessibility.

You can find our recommendations for the best online learning sites, below.

1. MasterClass

Masterclass logo with a wide range of featured courses and instructors
Masterclass logo with a wide range of featured courses and instructors

MasterClass has created a series of online courses taught by “masters” of their field, who can draw upon decades of first-hand experience to help you learn. The class we’re recommending is a filmmaking course taught by Martin Scorsese, the director of classic films like Goodfellas, The Last Waltz, and The Color of Money. This class will walk you through finding a story, developing your style, the technology you’ll actually need, and how to cast and direct actors.

The service’s catalogue also includes course taught by Gordon Ramsey, a writing class led by Malcolm Gladwell, a course on singing taught by Mariah Carey, and even a personal branding class from Kris Jenner. There are several classes available in each discipline (not all are in the creative arts), so you can find one taught on the particular area you’re interested in.

Instead of offering individual courses, MasterClass has a flat subscription fee starting at $120 per year, which works out to $10 per month. The subscription allows you to take as many courses as you’d like with no limitations, including new classes that become available while you’re a subscriber.


2. Coursera

Coursera logo, adult online learning
Coursera logo, adult online learning

Coursera is an a la carte online learning service whose classes are taught by professors from universities like Stanford and Duke, or companies like Google and IBM. There are thousands of courses to choose from — some free, some paid — in a wide variety of disciplines.

What sets Coursera apart is that it’s extremely structured. You can choose one course, or choose to take a series of classes to earn a professional or MasterTrack certificate, which you can put on your resume. While some courses are free, you may have to pay a fee to unlock certain features like classwork or homework.

We’re recommending Coursera’s DIY Music Specialization course, which is offered by the Berklee College of Music. The class is designed to walk you through writing, recording, and eventually marketing your music online.


3. Skillshare

Skillshare logo, adult online learning
Skillshare logo, adult online learning

Skillshare is an online class subscription service that offers access to thousands of classes for $29 per month, or $99 per year (billed annually). The company offers a 30-day free trial, if you’d like to see whether or not its classes make sense for you.

Many of Skillshare’s classes are one-off classes that require only one to three hours to complete. Most are related to the arts — writing, photography, video — but there are classes on marketing, entrepreneurship, business analytics, and web development among others. Each class has a “projects & resources” tab, where you can look at class materials and assignments to see if you’ll need any particular materials before taking the class.

We’re recommending a one-hour Creative Writing Bootcamp class that can help guide you through the basics of coming up with a story, and help you avoid writer’s block. Students are encouraged to show off their work on the site, so if you’re looking for an online class service that feels a little more like a community, Skillshare is probably the best choice.


4. Udemy

Udemy logo, adult online learning
Udemy logo, adult online learning

Udemy is the largest storefront for online courses on the internet. The service allows you to get your classes a la carte, so you only pay for the ones you’d like to take. Courses are available in a wide range of subjects, from game development, to finance, to entrepreneurship, to music. As with Masterclass, each subject offers courses in specific disciplines, so you can find the exact course you’re looking for.

This service’s core strength is the sheer volume of its course catalog. If you’re interested in developing a particular set of skills — even ones that are unrelated — you’ll probably find what you’re looking for. The a la carte structure is also nice because it gives you the opportunity to see whether online courses work for you without making a long term commitment.

We’re recommending a course on blogging, which will walk you through starting your blog, coming up with content ideas, SEO (search engine optimization), e-mail marketing, and ultimately making money off of your site.


5. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning logo, adult online learning
LinkedIn Learning logo, adult online learning

LinkedIn Learning is the online course section of the popular professional networking site. This online learning service offers a la carte classes in three major categories: business, creative, and technology. Once you’ve chosen a category, you can dig into sub-categories (graphics arts, for example) to find the specific course you’re looking for.

We recommend using LinkedIn Learning to find courses in general professional development skills, which is why we’re recommending this resume workshop, which will help you get yours ready before you begin your next job hunt. The class will guide you through figuring out the best way to present your skills to a potential employer, which keywords to use to avoid being sorted out by resume scanning software, and interview tactics once gotten called in.


6. Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone logo, adult online learning
Rosetta Stone logo, adult online learning

Planning a trip overseas? Want to meet new friends in other countries? Ever wanted to learn a new language? Rosetta Stone is the premiere name in language learning and education for adults.

It’s an award-winning online platform that can help you speak, read, and learn a new language — with 25 in total, like Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Korean, and others — through a series of immersive games, story sessions, audio and visual lessons, quizzes, and live tutorials with teachers and native speakers. Lessons are short and quick to pick up, while they’re accessible on your laptop or mobile device.

Rosette Stone starts at $10.50 per month (billed annually). The platform has a limited-time deal for the New Year. Right now you can save 50% off of a lifetime subscription for unlimited languages. That’s access to all 25 language lessons for $199 (reg. $399).

Buy: Rosetta Stone COurses

7. Wondrium

Wondrium logo, adult online learning
Wondrium logo, adult online learning

Formerly known as The Great Courses Plus, Wondrium is an online learning platform that has more than 18,000 streaming lectures and documentaries on a wide rage of subjects, such as history, science, philosophy, religion, literature, the natural world, health, travel, and others. From Ph.Ds to Michelin-starred chefs, world-renowned professors and the best and brightest experts lead a large number of courses on the platform.

While Wondrium doesn’t offer many hands-on skill courses, it does have a thousands of educational and entertaining videos that are directed to fed your curious mind on various topics and subjects. Meanwhile, videos are streamable and available on streaming devices that support Apple TV, Google TV, Android, iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and more.

Wondrium is ad-free and starts at $12.50 per month (billed annually), while the platform has a 14-day free trial for new learners.

Buy: Wondrium by The Great Courses

8. FutureLearn

FutureLearn logo, adult online learning
FutureLearn logo, adult online learning

From cyber security operations to developing business management and leadership, FutureLearn is a digital education platform designed to build skills for a new job or a career change. With more than 1,400 high quality online courses available, the platform offers short lessons, as well as professional credentials and qualifications to pursue what comes next if your life. It even has a number of “boredom buster” courses that can help you discover a new hobby, or learn a new language.

FutureLearn — which is based in the United Kingdom — pools its knowledge and expertise from over 260 institutions and teachers from schools, like King’s College London, Cambridge, University College London, Bloomsbury Publishing, and much more.

Currently, FutureLearn is offering unlimited learning for a year at 30% off for new subscribers. That comes to $244.99, or $105 off its regular price.

Buy: FutureLearn Courses

9. edX

edX logo, adult online learning
edX logo, adult online learning

Launching in 2012, edX is a free adult online learning platform in a joint venture with dozens of universities and companies, including Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, University of California Berkley, Amazon Web Services, Google, and others.

It boasts more than 3,500 skill-based online courses that range from cyber security to computer engineers and cloud computer to coding for beginners and advanced users. Courses are designed to build confidence and skills for innovating technology in your current or next career. There are even certificates and degrees available after completing select courses.

Although edX is mostly free, the platform offers bundles, select executive courses, subscriptions, and bootcamp training starting at $50.


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