As technology continues to advance over time, so does the way people interact with the world. One of the most noticeable shifts in technological advances changing daily life comes in the form of online learning. Online learning takes the in-person instruction out of classroom settings and instead makes everything virtual with students learning from home and teachers often teaching from home.
With the recent events surrounding COVID-19, online learning has become more popular than ever before. Social distancing measures are a requirement to help mitigate the spread of the virus, leaving schools little choice but to engage in this method of study. For many, it has meant a calmer learning environment that allows them to take in more information in their quiet homes as opposed to noisy classrooms, but that is not the only advantage to online learning.
Online learning allows teachers to deliver lessons to students in more versatile and efficient ways, including videos, podcasts and PDFs. Extending learning past traditional textbooks makes it easier to cater to a variety of learning styles. It is also more affordable than physical learning as it eliminates costs of meals, transportation and building needs. Beyond that, it helps improve the attendance of the students since they don’t have to leave their homes to learn.
Best Online Learning Platforms in 2021
Udacity is one of the longest-running and most popular types of e-learning platforms all around the world. One of the biggest draws to this platform as a learning tool is its ease of use. Those who are new to online learning may not be comfortable with all of its intricacies yet, meaning they need something simpler to help them get accustomed. Though the site’s front page is fairly generic, this lends itself to an intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate.
Once you are on the site, the quality of the content becomes clear. Udacity has a large variety of courses, making it a versatile teaching tool for many subjects. This site even has a Nondegree feature that lets you pay a simple payment every month to learn a subject that you will receive a certificate for completing at the end. There are also free courses that do not offer the certificate. The only real issue with Udacity is that it seems to lack any true customer support, meaning teachers and students alike could be on their own if they run into any problems.
Skillshare is an online learning platform that gives students the chance to access thousands of new tools, projects, skills and even a community of fellow learners to enrich the experience. They are known for their varied content that constantly seems updated, so there is no shortage of things you can learn how to do. There are high-quality courses on many subjects ranging from creativity to technology to business and lifestyle models.
To be more specific, some of the most popular Skillshare courses on the site include ones surrounding digital illustration, writing your memoir, learning character animation basics, interior design courses and productivity masterclasses that help you become a better student, period. It is full of expert contributors in various fields so that you can be sure the learning material you are given is accurate and helpful. There are self-paced courses where you can work on them at your own rate, making it more likely you will complete the course. The Groups feature allows you to connect with other learners to get ideas and feedback and to have a general discussion about the topics that everyone is essentially learning at the same time.
3. LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning is an educational tool that offers courses for professionals in various industries. It is easy to jump right in and get started, thanks to the way you tell it your skills and interests, and it recommends courses for you. You can also discover courses that are currently trending according to your field and those liked the most.
There are three learning directions you can take: learning by subject so that you can learn a specific skill; learning by software to keep you immersed and focused; or through their learning paths that will set you up for success by showing you various courses to take to achieve your goals so that you aren’t just clicking random classes hoping for the best.
LinkedIn Learning is an excellent tool for those who want to advance in their professional fields. This is due to the focus that LinkedIn Learning puts on professional and creative skills across many different industries so that some other paid platforms do not. Many use it to help boost their chances of getting a job.
4. Master Class
Master Class is the platform for those who want to learn from leading experts in various fields. Some of the world’s most famous and successful figures are known to teach on the site, including Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Gordon Ramsay, Matthew Walker, Timbaland and Serena Williams, who will teach you all they know about their fields of expertise. The lessons are all pre-recorded, meaning you don’t have to worry about showing up for a lesson at a scheduled time and can instead learn at your own pace.
These classes include both video lessons and workbooks that you can download to follow along with and focus on fine-tuning your skills. With hundreds of hours of educational content, there is always something to learn and keep you engaged. Master Class is best suited for creative people, such as photographers, writers, cooks, musicians, and artists who want to improve these skills over professional skills. Office-oriented and practical skills that will assist you in non-creative endeavours aren’t really found in Master Class. Because the lessons are pre-recorded, you won’t have hands-on instruction from the teachers, which could be a drawback for those who don’t care for independent learning.
Udemy allows students to receive a certificate at the end of their learning periods, making it quite a productive endeavour. The certificates tend to hold a lot of value and help get you a new job in many cases. No matter what you are interested in learning, you are likely to find it on their site. There are over 100,000 courses that are made with the help of 57,000 instructors. The classes range from IT & software, office productivity, hobbies, design, personal development, health and fitness, marketing and beyond, making them quite versatile.
Once you have signed up for the service, you get lifetime access to the course material, so you can always go back and revisit it. There is also no time limit for completing a course, meaning you can work at your own pace without any pressure to take on more than you can handle. This is especially important for those who are serious about their personal development and want to obtain skills in a looser classroom setting or have a busy life and cannot commit to regular class times set on a certain schedule.
Coursera is another platform that offers a huge variety of classes on many different topics. They focus on top-quality education by partnering with educators from more than 150 distinguished and reputable universities worldwide, offering over 2,500 courses within hundreds of specialization types. They even offer four academic degrees to their millions of learners.
The courses are entirely online, and for those who are busy on the go, you can use a Coursera app to access the material anytime, anywhere. While it is free to enrol in many courses, if you want to get auto-graded exercises, exams, quizzes and peer-reviewed papers, you have to pay a fee. The fee also needs to be paid to get your certificate after completing the course, although this is optional.
You can enrol specifically in certain specializations and pay a one-time fee to get access to a huge number of courses all within that “genre.” There are currently 310 specializations, with more than 3,200 total online courses available throughout each one. Once you have enrolled in a course, you will receive a course overview and a syllabus to give you the lesson schedule and information before you navigate the lessons dashboard.
7. Khan Academy
Last but not least is Khan Academy, a learning platform increasing in popularity as time goes on. Khan Academy is 100 per cent free with no hidden fees and no payment walls to give money to get out from under. This makes it stand out from many of the other learning platforms that ask for a fee to access some of the features.
Ease of use is at the forefront, with an aesthetically pleasing and intuitive user interface that makes it simple to navigate, which is key to keeping learners coming back. Once you have chosen the courses you want, you are given access to personalized dashboards that will help you navigate the lessons and make it easier to complete them. They even offer badges to reward you for your studies and keep you motivated to continue your studies.
You can pick many choices when it comes to what you want to learn, and the content that is offered is top quality. Just because the platform is free doesn’t mean it sacrifices quality and instead gives its all toward providing you with quality education.
Online learning is considered a learning method that is sure to carry on long after the pandemic has been resolved. With so many benefits to online learning plus the sheer number of platforms, it makes sense that online learning may be the ticket to education in the future.