From art to astrophysics: The 8 best online course platforms in 2021

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Did you take advantage of the online classes boom during the pandemic?

Ever wanted to learn embroidery? Interior design? Digital marketing? How about sitting in on a whole Harvard course, or taking conservation advice from Jane Goodall?

After reading this article, you can do all that and more.

Thanks to the events of 2020, there’s now a vast range of online learning platforms and classes awaiting your convenience. You can now learn creative and culinary skills, upskill for your career, do one-off university courses, and even earn degrees at your leisure and from the comfort of your home.

But where do you start? Every online course platform has something to offer.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the best online learning options out there and their advantages, so you know where to find the class for you.

The 8 Best Online Course Platforms

Learn yoga or personal wellbeing through online courses. Photo by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash.
  1. Skillshare courses are great for upskilling in a creative career or exploring an artistic interest.
    Subject areas: there are thousands of classes on illustration, journalism, design, animation, lifestyle, photography, business, film, podcasting, writing, and building a creative business.
    Format: Each course is a series of short videos. Classes are 30-40 minutes long on average. There are assigned homework activities and exercises based on what you learn in the class.   
    Teachers: Course creators are experts and industry professionals.
    Cost: $119.88 annually, or $24 monthly.
  2. Masterclass is a dream come true. Imagine learning writing from Margaret Atwood, cooking from Gordon Ramsey, gardening from Ron Finley. These names and more teach Masterclass courses.
    Subject areas:
    Masterclass has over 100 courses on arts and entertainment, home and lifestyle, business, writing, food, music, design and style, sports and gaming, wellness, community and government, science and tech.
    Format: Classes are high-quality (almost cinematic) video lectures with around 20 lessons per class.
    Teachers: Masterclass teachers are all big names in their fields.
    Cost: $276 annually.
  3. Udemy is the place to go to get affordable, quality training in specific skills. Note that courses aren’t accredited.
    Subject areas:
    Udemy has hundreds of sub-topics. The main 13 range from business to IT to lifestyle. Under these, you’ll find more categories, and courses like travel writing, digital marketing, Excel, life coach certification, and more.
    Format: Udemy has over 155, 000 video courses.
    Teachers: Udemy does screen its courses. Anyone skilled can create a Udemy course.
    Cost: Udemy is pay-per-course. Prices range from USD$12.99 to USD$200, but courses are often heavily discounted and can be as low as 10% of the original price.
  4. Coursera offers certificate courses and accredited degrees with partner universities and companies including MIT and Google.
    Subject areas:
    Coursera has thousands of courses under 11 main categories. These range from Data Science to Arts and Humanities.
    Format: Watch pre-recorded video lectures, participate in student discussion forums, do homework and assignments, and online quizzes or exams. You can also audit courses for free (watch the videos) but this won’t earn you a certification.
    Teachers: Coursera courses are by leading universities and companies like Google.
    Cost: You can buy individual courses or take unlimited certificate courses for $79 monthly. There are also more than 1600 free courses, like Introduction to Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh.
    Degrees and Masters Degrees are discounted, but still not cheap!
    Similar platforms:
    FutureLearn
    EdX
  5. Schoolism is your ultimate platform for learning serious art skills. It’s aimed at aspiring professional artists, but you can’t go wrong if you just want to improve your art.
    Subject areas: Schoolism categories are art, drawing, illustration, sculpting, and painting. Under these you’ll find more specific classes, like Understanding Textures.
    Format: Classes are pre-recorded lectures as well as video feedback on your work. Artist Workouts are more intensive video-led practical classes with a focus on a specific skill, like watercolour.
    Teachers: Schoolism puts it well: “Your instructors will be top professionals in the art industry who are doing the dream jobs that you want.”
    Cost: Access all Schoolism content for USD$29.95 monthly or $299.40 annually. Otherwise, individual courses can cost nearly USD$1000.
  6. Craftsy is your platform for all things crafty!
    Subject areas: Craftsy has over 1,500 classes under categories ranging from Baking and Cooking, to Embroidery, to Jewellery Making, and Woodwork.
    Format: Craftsy classes are project-oriented. They consist of pre-recorded video lectures or “sessions”, which are themselves at least 12 minutes long. There are on average six sessions per class, which guide you through creating skill-focused projects.
    Teachers: Professionals and experts
    Cost: You can buy classes individually, or pay $7.99 monthly or $79.99 annually. There are also a number of freeclasses.
  7. CreativeLive is the Masterclass of creative fields.
    Subject areas: CreativeLive has over 2000 classes. Class categories range from Entrepreneurship to Videography to Art & Design.
    Format: Classes are video lectures. There are also ‘Fast Classes’ which are 1 hour or less, free Live Stream classes, and interviews with industry experts. CreativeLive also offers Learning Pathways: bundles of classes for achieving specific aims, like becoming an outdoor photographer or freelance designer.
    Teachers: Classes are taught by big industry names.
    Cost: You can buy courses individually (often heavily discounted). Or, you can access all courses for $149 annually, $180 annually, or $39 monthly.
  8. GetSetUp is aimed at giving skills and social connection to older people (both teachers and students).
    Subject areas: Class categories range from Art to Cooking to Financial Planning to
    Format: Classes are live. There are also Social Hours which are about connecting for a chat.
    Teachers: Teachers are older, skilled people with something to share. Teachers must apply to host a class.
    Cost: Classes are free for now.

Enjoy exploring the online classes these platforms offer. You might learn from multiple platforms: some require yearly subscriptions, while others allow you to buy individual classes. You can target a specific skill, or sit in on an in-depth academic exploration into Greek Philosophy. It’s all at your fingertips!

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