free online course platforms

Are you comparing the best online course platforms?

Whether you’re a content creator looking for an online course platform to sell courses, or a student looking to learn from online courses, you’re in the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, we will compare the best online course platforms with their pros and cons.

Comparing the best online course platforms

What to Look for in an Online Course Builder Platform?

Following are a few things that you should look for in an online course builder platform. These things may affect your ability to build better courses and grow your business over time.

1. Course building features

Depending on what kind of online course you want to sell, you may have specific features in mind that you’ll need. For instance, you may want to give assignments to students, create quizzes, or offer multiple payment methods.

Different learning management systems (LMS) offer different course creation features. Make sure you review them before you sign up, so that you don’t have to switch platforms later on.

2. Payment solutions

You may also want to make sure that they offer payment solutions that are affordable for you as the business owner. Some online course builder platforms may charge a percentage of revenue generated from selling each course, and this amount adds up over time.

3. Integrations

Integrations help you connect your online courses to third-party platforms and marketing automation tools. For instance, you may want to connect it with your email marketing service, social media marketing tool, or your CRM software.

Make sure that your online course platform supports third-party integrations and already has many important ones ready to use.

4. Flexibility and freedom

Many online course platforms may have their own terms and conditions that may affect your business. For example, they may not allow you to sell certain types of courses or may have the ability to shutdown your entire business without any notice.

Some platforms compromise on flexibility for ease of use, which means you have less control on your courses, and you cannot add new customization / features on your own course.

5. Ease of use and Support

As a course creator and entrepreneur, you want to choose a course builder that is easy for you to use. It should come with customizable templates, work with your own website, and offer good customer support.

You also want to make sure that it is user-friendly for your students and customers too.

Keeping these criteria in mind, let’s take a look at the best online course platforms on the market today,

Best Online Course Platforms to Create and Sell Online Courses

We are breaking our guide into two sections. The first six course platforms are for content creators looking to build and sell online courses.

If you’re looking for best online learning platforms for students, then please click the link to jump to that section.

Having that said, here are the best online course platforms for content creators and teachers:

1. MemberPress


MemberPress is the best WordPress LMS plugin on the market and the easiest way to build online courses.

It runs on top of WordPress, which powers over 43% of all websites on the internet.

MemberPress comes with an online courses addon that allows you to easily create, manage, and sell online courses. Their drag and drop course builder is super easy to use.

You also don’t need to worry about design skills. MemberPress includes a virtual classroom functionality that takes care of styling and works with all WordPress themes.

The classroom mode is designed to offer an interactive learning experience on your course website. You can add high-quality video content along with additional downloadable resources.

The best part is that you get access to MemberPress’s powerful content access controls. This allows you to sell unlimited courses with different pricing options and subscription plans.

You can also add digital downloads with access control, so only logged-in students can access them.

MemberPress checkout seamlessly integrates with your email marketing service, so you can add each student to your email list, so you can notify them of new course upsell or discounts in the future.

You can add a discussion forum using bbPress to boost engagement, add a referral system or affiliate program using Affiliate Royale to boost sales, and create custom sales pages / webinar pages using SeedProd to grow your online course business.


  • MemberPress is extremely easy for use even for beginners. You don’t need any coding skills to use it.
  • Visual course builder makes it very easy to create courses for educators.
  • It offers a better learning experience for students with the classroom mode
  • Ability to drip course contentsell group memberships, and all the powerful membership features.
  • You have the freedom to set your own course prices, charge upfront vs subscription payments, have multiple pricing options for your online school, and more.
  • It supports multiple payment gateways such as Stripe and for credit cards and full PayPal support.
  • It does not take a percentage of your course sales like other platforms.
  • MemberPress integrates with all popular email marketing services like MailChimp, and they also have a Zapier integration that lets you connect with over 2000+ apps.
  • Since it’s a WordPress plugin, you have the flexibility to customize your website design, add new features, and more without any restrictions.


  • You’ll need to manage a WordPress site which means installing updates and managing backups.
  • If you haven’t used WordPress before, then there might be a slight learning curve as you familiarize yourself with it. Most beginners quickly overcome this phase quite easily.

Pricing: Starts from $149 per year for a single site license (no monthly fee).

How to Get Started with MemberPress:

To build and sell courses with MemberPress, you will need to create a WordPress website.

We have created a complete step by step on how to create a membership site in WordPress with MemberPress.

2. LearnDash


LearnDash is another popular WordPress LMS plugin and online course builder. It allows you to easily sell online courses using WordPress.

LearnDash comes with an intuitive drag and drop course builder that allows you to create any type of course, add interactive video lessons, quizzes, assignments, and more.

You can give all course contents right-way, or use drip content feature to release content as users move along a course. It is super easy to use and gives you lots of tools you would want to see in an LMS platform.

It integrates with all popular payment services, WordPress eCommerce plugins, bbPress, and more. It even works with MemberPress allowing you to let MemberPress manage subscriptions and LearnDash handle the course management.

You can create sales funnels for your courses by using the SeedProd landing page builder, and add gamification by using any of the WordPress gamification plugins.

If you’re looking to create SCORM or TinCan content, then you will need the UncannyOwl Toolkit with the all access pass. They allow you to add many powerful features to LearnDash.


  • Full fledged WordPress LMS plugin with quizzes, lessons, assignments, certificates, and more.
  • Easy to use with a visual course builder that allows you to create interactive online courses.
  • Integrations allow you to add third-party tools you’ll need to promote your online course.
  • It does not take a percentage of your course sales like other platforms.


  • Content access controls are not as powerful as MemberPress.
  • Less control on creating multiple subscriptions with different access controls.
  • Runs on WordPress, so you’ll need to manage your own site, which is pretty easy for most beginners.

Pricing: Starting from $159 for a single site license.

How to Get Started with LearnDash:

To build and sell courses with LearnDash, you will need to create a WordPress website.

To get started, you will need your own domain name and web hosting. Domain name is your website’s address on the internet such as, and web hosting is where your website files are stored.

We recommend using Bluehost. They are offering WPBeginner users a generous 60% discount on hosting, a free domain name and free SSL certificate. Basically, you can get started for $2.75 per month.

→ Click Here to Claim This Exclusive Bluehost Offer ←

After your website is setup, you’ll need to install the LearnDash plugin and continue creating your courses.

3. Teachable


Teachable is a hosted all-in-one platform that allows you to easily create courses and sell them without managing any software or installing updates.

You can use Teachable on your own custom domain name or add it as a subdomain to your existing website.

It is super easy to use and allows you an easy drag and drop platform to make courses, upload content, and publish it. It also includes marketing and analytics to help promote your course.

Teachable also takes care of payments for you and offers your customers multiple ways to pay. You can also use its highly optimized sales to create landing pages for your courses.


  • Incredibly easy to use.
  • You don’t need to manage any software installation, updates, or backups.
  • You also dont’t need to worry about scaling resources as your business grows.
  • Powerful integrations allow you to use third-party tools for marketing and growth.


  • Teachable is more expensive than MemberPress or LearnDash.
  • It also charges 5% transaction fee on each transaction if you are on the basic plan.

Pricing Starting from $29 per month for basic plan with 5% transaction fee. You can upgrade to the Pro plan which has no transaction fees but costs $99 per month.

4. Thinkific


Thinkific is another fully-hosted online course platform similar to Teachable.

It comes with an intuitive drag and drop visual course builder that lets you make highly interactive courses. You can upload any content to your course including videos.

Thinkific supports all features you can expect from an LMS plugin. Plus, you can create different multiple subscription programs, create landing pages, and make a membership community.


  • Thinkific is very easy to use for all users
  • It is fully hosted which means you don’t need to worry about software, backup, and other technical aspects.
  • You can grow your business without worrying about scaling the platform


  • It is more expansive than WordPress powered LMS platform like MemberPress
  • The free plan is quite limited in features

Pricing: Limited free plan that allows you to offer up to three courses. Paid plans start at $39 per month.

5. LifterLMS


LifterLMS is a popular WordPress LMS plugin that you can use to create and see courses online.

LifterLMS is a powerful platform and comes with tools that help you easily create online courses. It also offers a better learning experience for your users which is important to build a community around your website.

It is flexible enough to set up an small online coaching website or a full-fledged degree program. It supports multi-tier courses, where you can add training modules, lessons, categories, and more.

It has advanced features like drip content, course progression requirements, group memberships, and more.


  • A powerful platform to create highly engaging online learning communities.
  • Easy to use with simple course builder that helps you add any type of course material.
  • Integrations for third-party services to help you promote and grow.


  • You need to manage your WordPress website and install updates
  • Cost may increase if you choose to buy individual addons

Pricing: Starting from $99 per year for a single site. You’ll need to purchase addons separately and pricing for addons typically starts at $99 per year.

How to Get Started with LifterLMS:

You’ll need to purchase a domain name and web hosting to setup your WordPress site.

You can use BluehostSiteGround, or any other recommended WordPress hosting provider.

6. WooCommerce


WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform in the world. It is incredibly easy and flexible which makes it a good base to build your online course.

For selling and managing an online courses with WooCommerce, you’ll need their Sensei LMS extension.

Sensei LMS is a simple and straightforward LMS addon that allows you to create courses, add modules, lessons, and quizzes.

It is easy to use, and you can quickly setup a course website using the WooCommerce storefront theme.

If you want to create custom sales pages, then you can use SeedProd page builder. For real-time analytics, you can use the MonsterInsights analytics plugin.


  • Simple and straightforward LMS plugin
  • Runs on top of WooCommerce which allows you to sell other physical or digital products on the same site.
  • You can use essential WordPress plugins to extend your website and grow your business.


  • Requires paid addons to create paid courses and subscription programs
  • Lacks some of the advanced LMS plugin features.
  • You’ll have to manage your WooCommerce store and install updates

Pricing: Sensie LMS itself is free, but you’ll need WooCommerce Paid Subscriptions addon to create paid courses which costs $129 per year.

Best Online Course Platforms for Students

Whether you’re a student or an aspiring professional, acquiring new skills and continue improving on them can open many doors of opportunities in the modern economy.

There are ton of online learning platforms for students that you can join to acquire a new skill or to follow your passion.

7. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning (formerly, Lynda) is a popular platform to learn digital, creative, and other professional skills. They a large variety of subjects and classes for all levels of users (not just beginners).

LinkedIn Learning’s courses are taught by professionals with real-world experience and qualifications in their field.

You can learn at your own pace using the their online teaching platform, or their iOS / Android app.

You also get to earn certificates upon completion of a course which you can then display as a badge on your LinkedIn profile.


  • Higher quality courses taught by professionals with relevant background
  • Badges and certificates that you can show off on your LinkedIn profile
  • You also get access to LinkedIn Premium with more salary and job insights, unlimited profile viewing, InMail credits, and more.


  • More expansive than other online learning and skill sharing platforms.
  • LinkedIn does not offer refunds, so you better take advantage of their free trial before making a purchase.

Pricing: Free trial, but pricing starts at $29.99 per month.

8. Skillshare


Skillshare is one of the largest online course platform for students offering hundreds of courses on a wide variety of subjects and categories.

It has a limited free trial, after that, you can upgrade to premium which gives you access to thousands of premium online courses that you can join.

Courses are created by professionals and teachers, not by Skillshare itself. Teachers are paid for these courses by views. This acts as an incentive for teachers to offer better quality and highly engaging courses.


  • It is affordable and you can cancel anytime.
  • Thousands of classes on a very large number of skills and topics
  • Easy to use with a built-in community element that makes learning fun


  • With too many courses it can be difficult to decide where to begin.
  • Skillshare courses an be taught by anyone and there is not too many checks on the quality or standardization of the courses.

Pricing: Skillshare Premium starts from $3.29 per month paid annually.

9. Coursera


Coursera is another good place to learn new skills.

They offer a variety of free and paid courses and even online degree programs. They have partnered with technology companies like Google and IBM who want to promote the usage of their technologies by offering free courses.

In addition, Coursera also collaborates with colleges offering online degree programs. The courses offered are prepared by professionals with qualifications and skills in the subject matter.


  • Some useful technical courses for beginners are available for free enrollment
  • Easy to use platform with a relatively better quality control than similar platforms
  • Access to course materials from top IT companies and colleges
  • Takes a more academic approach to courses.


  • Upselling of degree programs offered by colleges

Pricing Varies based on the courses or programs you choose to enroll.

Which is the Best Online Course Platform (Expert Pick)

After evaluating all the popular online course platforms, we recommend MemberPress as the best online course platform to build and sell online courses.

If you’re a student looking for the best online learning platform to expand your skills, then LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare are the best online learning platforms for students.

We hope this article helped you choose the best online course platforms. If you are selling your own online courses, then you may want to see our guide on how to grow your business online without spending a fortune.

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Disclaimer: to help avoid choice paralysis, we only compared the top online course platforms. This list doesn’t include other elearning platforms or course marketplace like Udemy, Kajabi, Podia, LearnWorlds, WizIQ, iSpring, Academy of Mine, etc.

22 Places to Educate Yourself Online for Free – Take Online Courses with Certificate

FAVORITESNEWSLETTERONLINE COURSESBy Ikenna Odinaka Last updated May 27, 2021Share

It’s not just another hype. Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs and OpenCourseWare – OCW is causing a progressive movement in human development; a phenomenon in the learning experience for the workforce, gradually bridging the chasm between the educated and uneducated.

With online courses, anyone from any part of the world can gain knowledge in any field of interest for free or almost. All you need is a computer; laptop, tablet or Smartphone – internet connection, commitment and a self-made schedule. You can even get a certificate on completing the course.


ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive System Online) offers Free Online Courses, Workplace Skills, Interactive Education and Multimedia learning. With ALISON you can take online courses with certificate of completion or Diploma level, on a wide range of courses.

  1. Coursera

Coursera offer high quality courses from top universities, for free to everyone to improve your resume, advance your career, expand your knowledge, and gain confidence. This online learning platform currently host courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania.

  1. Udemy

Udemy’s goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online. It seeks to dramatically change education by empowering millions of experts around the world to teach & share what they know. Whether you want to learn excelbusiness & entrepreneurship, academics, the arts, health & fitness, language, music or technology, there is a comprehensive course for you.

  1. Udacity

When Udacity started its first courses in February 2012, the model was that all online courses are open enrollment; you can learn at your own pace and access all of the information you need at any time. Upon completion of the class, you download your class certification to demonstrate your level of achievement in the course, all for free. However in April 2014, it announced that effective from May 16, they will be phasing out certificates for free courseware completion. Students are now required to pay to complete courses and get a verified certificate. Read this comparison article between Udemy Vs Udacity

  1. Khan Academy

At Khan Academy, you learn almost anything for free. With over 3,100 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, the online academy is on the mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.

  1. Edx

EdX is a transformational partnership in online education between The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to offer online university courses with certificate to millions of people around the world. Today, several other world class universities offer online courses on edX.

  1. University of the People

University of the People (UoPeople) is proclaimed the world’s first tuition-free online university dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education. UoPeople offers Associates and Bachelors degree programs in Business Administration and Computer Science.

  1. iTunes U

If you’re a student who uses Apple devices, you will be happy to know that you have access to iTunes U, which gives you access to different educational courses from all leading universities for free! Did you dream of studying at MIT, Oxford, Yale, or Cambridge? This is your chance to learn various subjects from the best colleges and universities in the world.

  1. Saylor

Saylor strives to provide quality education for free for everyone around the world. The Saylor team hires credentialed professors to create course blueprints and to locate, vet, and organize Open Education Resources – OER materials into a structured and intuitive format. Each course culminates with a final exam, and students receiving a passing grade can download a certificate of completion.

  1. Skillfeed

If you are looking to learning a new skill, or improving on your proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator, or HTML, Skillfeed offers unlimited access to high quality video courses from a worldwide community of instructors. You have a month’s free trial which thereafter, you will subscribe to a monthly fee to gain unlimited access to *all* courses!

  1. Academic Earth 

Academic Earth has curated links to over 750 online courses and 8,500 individual online lectures, giving students of all ages unparalleled access to college courses they may otherwise never experience. Whether supplementing existing coursework, or learning for the sake of learning, anyone with an internet connection has the freedom to learn at their own pace from world-renowned experts, without the burden of rising tuition costs.

  1. OpenCourseWare Consortium

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide collaborative initiative that brings together OCW from universities across six continents.

  1. MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a permanent free web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content and is open and available to anyone around the world. The over 2100 OCW materials reflect almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.

  1. Harvard Open Courses

Online courses at Harvard Extension School have either an online video or live web-conference format. Some courses also include a weekend of intensive on-campus lectures. Online courses span a full semester and have scheduled assignments and exams. Due to the interactive nature of the web conference lesssons, you will have to pay for certain courses here!

  1. Yale Open Courses

Are you a bachelor or high school student who is undecided about your future course of interest? Yale Open Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. Discover a range of timely and timeless topics taught by Yale professors, each with a unique perspective and an individual interpretation of a particular field of study.

  1. Michigan

Open.Michigan, University of Michigan’s OCW initiative, features a giant collection of courses from 19 of the university’s schools, colleges and units. Ranging from literature to dentistry to public policy, the extensive list hosts a variety of courses — all complete with syllabi, course lectures and supplementary material.

  1. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offers comprehensive materials for dozens of courses on topics like chronic diseases, global health and injury prevention.

  1. Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School’s OCW initiative includes dozens of materials from its course catalog. It’s more of a library of resources than a list of full courses — the collection includes classes with video clips, lecture slides, notes and projects.

  1. Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon only has a handful of courses, mostly in the STEM fields. However, the courses are comprehensive and the layout is conducive to a streamlined learning experience. Though there aren’t any video lectures, the classes are laid out like online courses. All notes are completely digital, and there are interactive practice problems for students to self-check their understanding of each lesson.

  1. Tufts University

Choose from schools of dentistry, medicine, nutrition policy, veterinary medicine, arts and sciences, engineering and international relations. Each course contains a variety of materials: PDFs of lecture slides, homework assignments and exams.

  1. Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s OCW program offers courses across two dozen of its departments, from aerospace engineering and classics to mathematics and theology. Each course includes a syllabus; others have class structure outlines. Classes also include professor biographies — so you know you’re learning from an accredited source. Audio lectures, PowerPoint slides, illustrations and texts are all free to use.

  1. UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley webcasts offers a large selection of courses in a comprehensive list of departments — bioengineering, Japanese, legal studies, public health. Since the webcasts are more or less recordings of actual lectures, as opposed to courses optimized for web, they lack lecture notes and supplementary materials. However, each course has audio recordings of lectures via iTunes or video recordings of lectures via YouTube.

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