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Overview of The Most Popular eLearning Platforms for 2020

Overview of The Most Popular eLearning Platforms for 2020

Why do we need Learning Management Systems (LMS) more than ever today? Step by step online course platforms are replacing offline learning practices. They offer the same set of educational tools and possess even a greater amount of learning materials. Teachers and instructors provide well-tailored educational programs through video, image, text, audio, and PDF files.

At the same time, students take the courses from A to Z, perform exercises, and complete exams — all of it is easily organized with the help of LMS software. As the variety of course platforms is great, today almost every student can find the best online e-learning platform that would meet all of the his\her requirements.

This market is growing at a fast pace. Research and Markets report stated that by 2025 it will reach the value of $157 billion (let’s wait and see then). The same report denounces a decline of self-paced e-learning as it turned out to be particularly not too useful. When there’s no guidance, in most cases students simply give up their courses. Hence the whole industry is turning towards more engaging ways of information delivery. That’s why we face the rising popularity of platforms that connect universities, instructors, and tutors with students.

The corporate sector fuels the development of these platforms, as enterprises profit greatly from the benefits of distance education for employees. Incorporating e-learning into the business workflow is much easier and cost-effective as opposed to standard training with a coach — you don’t break the working day schedule, your staff doesn’t squander time by listening to non-related information. Businesses receive short targeted tutorials that are filling exactly the necessary gaps. To develop an educational website that will help with this task, IT specialists are constantly looking for the best online learning platforms.

What are the popular e-learning platforms that companies and universities use to deliver online courses and training programs today? The number of those who offer advanced technologies, sufficient for e-learning process organization is large — just have a glance at the list below. We’re going to outline several popular e-learning platforms from this list and examine their functionality. By doing this we’ll try to sort out which of those are more applicable for businesses, for employees and for students and their pros and cons. Take another good cup of coffee, we’re starting the route!

Here comes the list of the best online learning platforms:

  • Academy Of Mine
  • Adobe Captivate
  • Articulate 360
  • Blackboard Learn
  • CourseCraft
  • Docebo
  • Educadium
  • Elucidat
  • Google Classroom
  • Kajabi
  • Learndash
  • Lectora Inspire
  • Skillshare
  • Simplilearn
  • Shift
  • Thinkific
  • Teachable
  • Ruzuku
  • WizIQ
  • Udemy

Each platform can be used as a reliable foundation for an educational project. And each has its unique features.

E-learning Platforms Trends Overview

E-learning Trends

The average screen time of an adult person is about 11 hours a day, more than one-third of it is spent with smartphones. Mobile applications development market constantly gets new niches as almost every industry today reaches its users via the screens in their hands. E-learning is no exception. One second access to educational materials, that are customized by the user’s requests, makes the learning process much easier and quicker.

When looking for the best online e-learning platform, a user will definitely consider those projects that have a convenient mobile version. In addition to convenient access to LMS for students wherever they happen to be, today e-learning platforms are offering more advanced and trendy features, such as microlearning, AI-powered learning, and social learning. All of the best online learning platforms today have these features. What are they and why do we need them? Scroll on to find it out.

  • Microlearning is what we all missed in schools and universities. It turned out that we perceive and remember more information when it is divided into small chunks and delivered separately. This is absolutely impossible for standard schools and universities, as you cannot hold people in a class only for 10 minutes.
    With LMS you can segment the course into small sessions and create an efficient online training platform. Each piece of information would be devoted to a certain skill and the training will be focused on results «here and now». Users can take lessons sequentially or by their individual learning paths. After each unit learners quickly see results and feel how they are progressing up their personal learning agenda. Using this approach made applications like easyten or Your Primer well-loved by thousands of users around the globe.
  • AI-powered learning makes the whole process of online education more swift and comfortable. It undertakes a huge amount of necessary routine thus both the students and administrators of education platforms can focus their attention on more important and engaging stuff. Artificial intelligence technologies help to optimize the following processes:
    • Admin task automation. AI technologies of language translation, data analysis, decision making, and speech recognition enable such features as automatic learning content tagging, course translation into multiple languages, and suggesting courses that are relevant to each student’s request.
    • Content management. AI is the most efficient way to analyze large proportions of content, neglect the parts that are not applicable to a learner’s journey, and offer only the most relevant and engaging pieces of the course. The technology finds out the formats preferable for each student (texts, games, questionnaires, videos) and shapes the course accordingly.
    • Learning personalization. To understand the needs of each student when they are studying remotely, an e-learning platform analyzes their behavior, interests, and habits. Even for 100 users, that’s already a lot of different data to consider. That’s the kind of work which is perfectly done by machines. AI technologies easily process big chunks of data, select what’s most relevant for each learner, and offer an advanced personal track of the learning process for users. That is a less linear and more effective pathway to deliver educational information.
    • Virtual learning assistants and trainers. AI-powered LMS platforms today allow platforms to interact with students using conversational UI. The educational approach reflects what students usually have in schools or universities — they get answers to questions, personal track of their progress, and further learning recommendations.

All of these features are smoothly integrated into Docebo e-learning platform. Just have a quick look over the features they’re offering its users to see how AI technologies empower distance education. Couple of examples to consider here:

Docebo e-learning platform
  • Social learning. How much time do you spend on Facebook or Instagram every day? You can hardly count as it is not something unusual for you. It’s a habit. Whatever you do, if you’re surrounded by people with the interests that you share, it becomes more engaging and with some time you get used to it (in other words, it becomes a habit). Popular e-learning platforms started to benefit from socializing too.
    When students or employees are learning with others and from others, the overall process becomes more valuable for them. What are the key tools here? First and foremost, the process relies on user-generated content. For example, students or employees can make short videos to describe their problems+solutions and other personal experiences, and these materials can be uploaded to the learning portal they use. To illustrate the point, have a quick look at Adobe platform.
Adobe platform

It has a well-structured learning community with fine segmentation by subject and a large forum. The latter one is another must-have of social learning. Students create discussion forums to discuss different topics that they need to get more information around. The third inevitable part is gamification. When users are additionally motivated by special bonuses, or they can compete with their colleagues, they are more integrated with the content.

Which one would work better for you? Maybe the combination of all the features? Let’s find out together. Click here to drop a line to our team, we’ll be fast to respond!

How to Choose the Right Online Educational Platform?

Examining the list of the top e-learning platforms, it is necessary to understand that there are different types of learning management systems. You will build an educational website on every course platform, but the difference between them is great.

Those, who need complete control of their business and user’s information, use a WordPress Plugin or hosted online course software, whereas for the purpose of getting access to an already existing audience the online course marketplaces are preferred. To puzzle out which type to use, let’s categorize them by various needs.

Basically there are four types of e-learning platforms:

  • Standalone Learning Platform;
  • Online Course Marketplace;
  • Hybrid (or Open-source) Platform;
  • Open-source CMS plugins and components.

Standalone Learning Platforms are targeting small businesses or solo edupreneurs who are building their own e-learning projects. Platforms of this kind allow to build an advanced online course with all the key functionalities, starting from materials delivery in all formats up to personal curriculums and virtual assistants. Why do edupreneurs love standalone learning platforms? They have a good hold of everything — student’s email addresses; branding, customization, and integrations of other services; control over price policy and payments.

But these platforms do not provide marketing support, thus you’ll have to think of the promotion strategy and pay for its execution. Another disadvantage is the maintenance cost, which is rather high when compared to other kinds of platforms. And the level of credibility can be lower, as it is much easier to fake student’s and client’s reviews and recommendations.

Want to see how these platforms look? Here comes a couple of examples — LearnWorlds and Thinkific.

Online Course Marketplace is a highly effective solution for teachers and instructors, who want to sell their courses online. These platforms help to connect students with tutors, who offer them personalized courses upon their requests or by interests. The learners can check their performance with the help of regular tests, and get life instructions with their tutors. It’s a faster way to get the revenue, as the teachers get access to an already existing student’s base and all the marketing is done by the platform. The student base is huge, so with a well-established online course marketplace, an instructor can get really quick access to the audience of millions of potential buyers.

As it is a highly competitive market, the platforms are interested to have the best instructors. That’s the reason why they are providing a lot of free recommendations to its trainers and building large online instructor communities. The credibility of popular marketplaces is quite high, but together with that the instructors are rather limited in their capabilities — no access to the student’s email addresses, no control over the general website rules, marketing support is quite expensive, and instructor’s name or brand will always be positioned as secondary.

To give an example of such systems, have a quick look at Coursera or Skillshare platforms.

Open-source (or hybrid) platforms. At first sight, open-source seems rather a complicated solution that requires a good IT background to handle it. This type of platform renders the basic functionality necessary to create and host an online course. Two keywords here — for free! It’s like a complicated constructor, that can give you advanced solutions if you’re capable of configuring and customizing it right.

Popular open-source platforms are constantly upgraded and from the technology standpoint, they are at the forefront of course platforms development. But to benefit from the advantages it offers a team of technology experts and developers is needed (and no one works for free). This kind of platform is a great solution for businesses that want an integrated e-learning solution being developed by an outsourced team.

The most common examples of open-source platforms are Open edX and Sakai.

Plugins and components for open-source content management systems. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and many other popular open-source CMS’s offer a wide variety of special modules and plugins that can transform websites built on these platforms into e-learning projects. By these means, e-learning is comfortably integrated into an existing corporate web infrastructure, which is a big advantage for businesses.

For example, WordPress LMS plugins feature many useful tools, like video lessons manager, coursepress, Q&A’s of all kinds, course catalogs, educators, and others. The plugins allow users to customize websites and turn them into well-established educational projects. Another plus — WordPress offers great gamification opportunities. This platform delivers true value to universities and training organizations as well as to freelancers who decided to create and sell online courses. It has several disadvantages too.

Like many other open-source CMS, WordPress is very popular and massively used, no surprise that its engine is frequently munged, and there are a lot of vulnerabilities. It can lead to serious problems for the website users and even more difficulties for e-learning platforms owners and developers.

The University of Michigan has developed an education portal using this technology.

Summarizing the point, the choice of the online educational platform depends on the exact needs.

  • For businesses or employees, open-source and standalone learning platforms would be a good choice.
  • Teachers would find more benefits on the online course marketplaces.
  • Students can benefit from any platform, as it depends more on the content they look for rather than on the technology behind the online course.

The most common request coming from businesses today is to create a perfect learning workflow, which is easily done with the help of custom solutions.

Not an easy choice, right?

Contact our team, we’ll help to sort out which one to choose!

List of The Best e-Learning Platforms

Ready to try and launch your educational project? That’s just great! Here comes our list of top e-learning platforms that you can use to create an online course.

Thinkific

www.thinkific.com

Being a standalone course platform, it is a great solution for entrepreneurs who want to start their business and create a separate website that would teach users some exact skills. The platform helps to build a website, market it, and deliver online courses. The user interface is quite simple and every piece of the platform is smoothly customized to your brand.

Advantages

  • User-friendly landing page builder;
  • Integrated sales tools;
  • Built-in marketing tools;
  • Compatible with popular software;
  • White-label options;
  • 24/7 support.

Disadvantages

  • Social features are not included;
  • Limited website design opportunities;
  • SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) and Experience API are not supported.

Prices

  • Basic rate: $49/month. It includes basic features and tools necessary to launch the first course.
  • Pro rate: $99/month. A suite of tools needed to create a complete student experience.
  • Premier rate: $499/month. A set of tools for pro-level website development. Includes all the Thinkific features + the Growth package.

Most popular courses built of Thinkific platform:

  • SuperHuman Academy — an educational platform, that counts more than 250 000 students in 203 countries;
  • Later — a marketing platform for Instagram, a #1 visual marketing platform for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest with more than 2 mln. users.

WizIQ

www.wiziq.com

Another standalone learning platform to consider. It’s a great solution for those who want to deliver real-time training and learning solutions. The platform renders both live and on-demand webinars that are well-loved by the instructors, who like to create a classroom-like atmosphere.

Advantages

  • Virtual classroom;
  • Built-in assessment tools;
  • E-commerce solutions;
  • White-label options;
  • E-learning reporting and analytics.

Disadvantages

  • No gamification options;
  • SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is not supported.

Prices

Pricing starts from 25$ fee per month. The exact budget depends on the package you choose.

Example of a website developed with WizIQ — https://maxskillfirst.com/current-openings/

Skillshare

skillshare.com

One of the world’s most popular course marketplaces admired by students all around the globe. Wherever they happen to be, they can easily access professional courses and case studies segmented by topic: animation, design, illustration, lifestyle, photo & film, business, and writing. The choice is breathtaking!

There are up to 24,000 lessons in various disciplines. Users can have both course lessons and personalized learning programs. They reach not only teachers but also have peer-to-peer communication. The platform has a great forum, where students share their experiences.

Advantages

  • Well-developed mobile applications for iOs and Android;
  • Classes are taught by real practitioners;
  • One can take multiple courses for one fee;
  • The global forum enables international experience sharing.

Disadvantages

  • No certificates of course completion;
  • Limited amount of course categories.

Prices

It uses a royalty system and special class guidelines for the instructors.

Couple examples of courses are here:
https://www.skillshare.com/browse/photography
https://www.skillshare.com/browse/web-development

Udemy

www.udemy.com

The ultimate leader among course marketplaces. Over 40 mln students are registered on the platform. The number of instructors exceeds 50 thousand. The platform boasts the broadest variety of courses that offer learning programs to almost any request a student might have. Even self-paced learning becomes not too boring or unmotivating as the students easily outreach the world’s best practices and real-life experiences.

Advantages

  • In-depth courses by almost any topic;
  • Truly comfortable mobile applications;
  • All possible information delivery formats are available.

Disadvantages

  • Personal branding is not possible;
  • Prices are controlled only by the platform;
  • No direct contacts with the students;
  • Marketing promotion has rather a high price.

Prices

It’s free to join, but the tutors pay up to 50% commission per each course they give. The commission size depends on how a student came to the course — through the platform’s organic search or through paid user acquisition channels.

Couple examples of courses are here:
https://www.udemy.com/courses/it-and-software/
https://www.udemy.com/courses/business/

Teachable

teachable.com

This is a standalone teaching platform that helps edupreneurs to build their own course websites. It’s quite easy to use — you upload your content, customize everything by your brand, and start to connect with your students. The platform offers a landing page editor and vast blogging capabilities.

Advantages

  • Built-in eCommerce features;
  • Integrated marketing tools and sales mechanics;
  • Built-in email marketing.

Disadvantages

  • No support of SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model);
  • Limited customization options;
  • Limited white-labeling options.

Prices

  • Basic rate: $39/month plus 5% transaction fee (includes basic features for course platform development, 2 admin-level users, course creator trainings);
  • Professional rate: $99/month (includes advanced features for course platform creation, 5 admin-level users and course completion certificates);
  • Business rate: $499/month (a set of pro-level tools for e-learning platform creation, 20 admin-level users, and group coaching calls).

Have a look at an example of how a professional uses the platform to capitalize its knowledge — https://www.melyssagriffin.com

Learndash

www.learndash.com

The platform allows transforming an existing website into an e-learning project. One condition — the website should be built on WordPress, as the Learndash is a WordPress plugin. There are numerous educational features that can recharge the existing site and make it a strong learning source or build a corporate training platform. It has a well-organized grading system based on tests and quizzes. The platform offers a bunch of gamification options which is an indisputable e-learning trend now.

Advantages

  • Drag-and-drop course builder;
  • Gradebook feature to see your students progress;
  • It supports SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model);
  • Integrated eCommerce options.

Disadvantages

  • A WordPress plugin (which is not too reliable as most open-source CMS’s);
  • It is to be self-hosted and maintained on your side;
  • It’s not easy to manage if you don’t have enough IT background.

Prices

  • Basic subscription: $199/year (1 license).
  • Plus package subscription: $229/year (Up to 10 licenses and a ProPanel included).
  • Pro package subscription: $369/year (Up to 25 licenses and a ProPanel included).

A quick example — the Keap company (sells one of the world’s most popular marketing automation software) has transformed it’s website and created an effective training for internal employees and new customers.

Kajabi

kajabi.com

An all-in-one platform that offers a wide range of solutions for pro-level digital project creation and e-learning is one of its key specializations. The platform toolkit comprises advanced solutions for landing pages creation, webinars organization, and for easy delivery of all kinds of information. This platform is most friendly to those, who don’t possess a great IT background and targets on creating a simple format educational project.

Advantages

  • A lot of nice-looking themes; Integrated marketing tools;
  • It can be integrated with popular software;
  • It has sales pipeline building options.

Disadvantages

  • Limited control of your website design;
  • A small amount of learning features;
  • Quite an expensive platform.

Prices

  • Basic Plan: $149/month (3 products, 3 pipelines, 10,000 contacts, 1,000 active members, 1 admin user, 1 website);
  • Growth Plan: $199/month (15 Products, 15 Pipelines, 25,000 Contacts, 10,000 Active Members, 10 Admin Users, 3 websites);
  • Pro Plan: $399/month (100 products, 100 pipelines, 100,000 contacts, 20,000 active members, 3 admin users, 3 websites).

An example of an education platform developed with Kajabi — https://prepwellacademy.com.

Simplilearn

www.simplilearn.com

It is a large course marketplace that provides certification training on Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Digital Marketing, and Data Science. The platform audience is focused on the corporate sector. It provides the world’s leading expertise in IT delivered by real practitioners.

Advantages

  • Learners get certificates of course completion;
  • The global community of leading IT professionals.

Disadvantages

  • Only for IT professionals;
  • No direct contact with the learners.

Prices

The company uses a revenue-sharing model that is discussed directly with the instructors.

Course example here: https://www.simplilearn.com/big-data-and-analytics/machine-learning-certification-training-course

Online Learning Platforms Comparison

All of the platforms described above have many advantages and nice features that can help in creating a highly competitive e-learning website. Before you make your choice of the most suitable platform, have a brief look at a short comparison of these products.

Platform Target Audience Platform type Benefits
Thinkific Solopreneurs, small/medium businesses and online trainers Standalone Learning Platform Easy to build your own website
Full control of your business
WizIQ Enterprise employees, individual teachers, trainers, universities Standalone Learning Platform Great live and on-demand webinars opportunities
Detailed e-learning reporting and analytics
Skillshare Specialists and instructors from the creative field Online Course Marketplace Big number of registered users
Easy to join and quite fast to start your own course
Udemy Teachers, instructors and practitioners, who want to sell its expertise Online Course Marketplace The most popular online course marketplaces on the web
A well-established system of cooperation with teachers
Teachable Edupreneurs and online trainers Standalone Learning Platform Built-in affiliate, marketing and sales tools
Easy to use solution for uploading your learning content
Learndash Owners of WordPress sites who intend to turn them into an educational platform WordPress Plugin Easy to transform and enrich the existing IT infrastructure
Big choice of e-learning components
Kajabi Digital entrepreneurs, small businesses, freelancers and creators who want to sell simple format courses Standalone Learning Platform Strong built-in email and marketing tools
Simplilearn IT professionals who want to capitalize on their skills and knowledge Online Course Marketplace Well-targeted audience
Course completion certificates

 

What if You Want to Create Your Own e-Learning Platform?

E-learning is really a very promising industry that has great growth prospects. The market will continue to increase as more and more people experience the benefits of online studying. Starting your own e-learning business is a good idea.

The moment your intention turns into some real-life plans, we suggest you consider your project from different perspectives and double-check the technology side of it. To help you with this endeavor, we’ve prepared a short checklist of the key points to be figured out. These basic questions will help you to get a clear picture of your future e-learning business!

Questions come as follows:

  • Who are your target customers?
  • Are you selling an exact course that you master, or you want to sell multiple e-learning units made by other professionals?
  • Is your content new or unique?
  • Why is it relevant and how would you position it?
  • What matters more — access to the user’s contacts or fast access to a million audience?
  • Which IT background do you have and do you need additional IT support?
  • How will you position your educational project?
  • Corporate training; university content-based course, one-topic tutorials?
  • Is branding important?
  • Does customization matter much?

When you’re done with the project positioning and you know which platform to use, it’s high time to start the project planning. Based on the HuskyJam team’s experience of e-learning website development, each project can be summed up in several milestones. The very first step is the business need definition followed by outlining the key objectives and desired results. You should be very clear with your KPI, as the website structure should form the business model that will lead you to your goal. Passing on to step-by-step project description, we’ve developed a task list that might be useful for you too. Here it comes:

  • Customer journey map creation;
  • Key features enumeration;
  • Development process measuring (time and required resources);
  • Necessary content search and its preparation process examination;
  • Process segmentation and figuring out the exact tasks and releases;
  • Design sprint (sequence of development stages, where each stage starts only when the previous one is finished) and the exact tasks list for the nearest future outlining;
  • Project team creation;
  • Development stage;
  • Website testing;
  • Project release;
  • Traffic attraction and web analysis.

To illustrate the point, have a look at a couple of e-learning projects developed by HuskyJam team:

  • «Open Academy» — an e-learning platform for one of the largest banks in Russia called «Otkritie». The platform offers free training for entrepreneurs or those who want to start doing business, new digital marketing tools, business automation, and process optimization in companies. For more information click here.
  • «Business class» — an educational project for Google Russia and Sberbank, that offers free courses on various aspects of business development with the leading practitioners as instructors. More details here.

Conclusion

Is it possible that e-learning will replace the classic system of education? It’s unlikely to be so, the future scenario looks different. E-learning follows us not only in schools or universities. Today it begins to accompany us everywhere, where we need skills and knowledge (at work, in everyday life, etc.). E-learning becomes a platform for the world’s most massive information exchange and experience sharing.

Thousands of professionals are registering at course marketplaces to get the broader outreach of students and gain additional profit from their knowledge. Together with that the number of e-learning websites constantly grows. The market experiences a great rise and it’s a good time to join in! The list of the best e-learning platforms will grow. A well-tailored educational project not only brings revenue but helps to make the professional lives of millions of people much better.

No need to worry that you might not have enough knowledge or experience. Let our team help you to best present your knowledge on an educational website and share your expertise. Feel free to tell us about your idea and project by filling this form.

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