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Best Online Course Platforms and Marketplaces

Are you considering taking an online course in 2023? With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the best online course platform for your needs. In this article, we will explore the top 15 online course platforms for 2023 and discuss what makes a course platform the best for online learning. 

One of the most important decisions when creating online courses is choosing the right platform to host and sell your content. With so many options available, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate which platform best aligns to your course model, audience, capabilities and revenue goals.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep on major online course marketplaces like Udemy, specialized course platforms like Podia, LMS solutions, community sites, video hosting platforms adapted for courses, and more.

By understanding the unique positioning, features, pricing, and use cases of each, you can confidently select an online course platform tailored to your needs. Let’s get started!

Udemy

Udemy is the largest online course marketplace with over 155,000 courses and extensive student traffic. Benefits include:

Massive marketplace reach

Udemy has unmatched scale in course buyers allowing you to tap into their massive traffic base. Over 57 million students have taken a Udemy course.

Global audience

Udemy has broad reach worldwide with students in 190+ countries and courses offered in over 65 languages. This enables attracting international students.

Hosting and platform included

You can easily create courses directly on Udemy using their flexible course builder and hosting. No need for external tools.

Student tools and support

Robust learner tools like progress tracking, note taking, bookmarks, closed captioning and downloading for offline viewing improve student experience.

Promotional assistance

Udemy provides guidance on keyword optimization, attractive title formulation, and compelling video content creation to maximize market visibility.

Udemy is ideal for tapping into a huge marketplace as a new instructor. However, it has a highly competitive landscape and Udemy controls promotion, restricts external marketing and keeps a significant revenue share.

Thinkific

Thinkific offers an all-in-one online course building platform with integrated hosting, creation tools, commerce and marketing features. Pros include:

Custom branding and domains

Apply your own branding, typography, layouts, domain names and messaging for an owned platform experience rather than cookie-cutter templates.

Robust course authoring tools

Thinkific’s course builder simplifies creating and structuring courses with flexible lesson organization, multimedia uploads, assessments and custom design options.

Marketing integrations and analytics

Built-in email marketing, affiliate management, promo codes, bundle pricing and dashboard analytics streamline course marketing and optimization.

Student community and engagement

Discussion forums, commenting, progress dashboards and social learning features like study groups foster student interaction and completion.

Thinkific specializes in enabling polished branded course experiences while handling the technology backend including site hosting, multimedia delivery, and marketing tools.

Podia

Podia provides an integrated platform to create, host, market and sell online courses along with memberships. Key features include:

All-in-one business management

Podia’s tools cover course development, email marketing, affiliate management, funnels, analytics, access control and memberships on one platform.

Focus on digital products

Podia centers specifically around online courses, downloads and membership sites versus general online business hosting. The feature set is tailored for digital training products.

Great for ongoing courses

Podia makes it easy to structure dripped content, lessons, and modules over time rather than just static course library marketplaces.

Room for platform growth

Podia allows you to launch quickly then progress to more customizable sites, domains and migrations as your platform scales up over time.

Podia is purpose-built for selling digital education products and memberships with marketing automation, analytics and integrations to streamline online course creation from start to finish.

Teachable

Teachable offers powerful online course creation capabilities complete with hosting, student management and marketing tools. Core features include:

Custom branding

Apply your own branding and style using custom domains, layouts, themes and typography for a polished look and feel aligned to your business.

Robust course authoring

Teachable provides an intuitive course builder to create structured multi-module courses incorporating video, text, files, quizzes, discussion forums and live streaming.

Built-in student communication

Contact students individually and in bulk through integrated announcements, email marketing and messaging to nurture engagement.

Detailed analytics dashboard

Monitor student enrollment, participation, completion rates, revenue, referrals and other business metrics through Teachable’s insightful analytics.

Marketing integrations

Extensions and plugins enable integrating popular email, payment, webinar and marketing platforms into your Teachable course platform and checkout flows.

Teachable empowers creating comprehensive online academies tailored to your brand with robust teaching tools, analytics and marketing functionality built-in.

LearnWorlds

LearnWorlds enables building polished branded online academies with robust video functionality, community engagement and built-in marketing. Key advantages:

Video focused

LearnWorlds is purpose built for video courses with one-click video hosting, chapter embeds, subtitles, streaming and powerful analytics on minutes watched.

Community and social learning

Discussion forums, direct messaging, study groups, profiles, activity feeds and gamification fosters student collaboration and viral learning.

Lead generation and sales tools

Lead magnets, smooth payment integrations, coupons, bundles, subscriptions and abandoned cart recovery maximize conversions.

Great analytics

Detailed analytics include enrollment tracking, lesson engagement, referrals, conversions, lead quality, sales metrics and more for optimizing courses.

Mobile optimization

The platform is designed mobile-first allowing smooth course viewing, navigation and engagement on all mobile devices.

LearnWorlds excels at maximizing reach and revenue for polished video-centric online academies through social tools, conversion optimization and analytics.

Kajabi

Kajabi integrates online course hosting and sales with email marketing, membership sites and broader online business functionality. Benefits include:

All-in-one business platform

Kajabi combines course creation with email automation, affiliate and funnel management, membership sites, online communities, event hosting and other marketing tools.

Template based themes

Choose from professionally designed Kajabi themes across niches like coaching, agency services, retail and more. Extensive customization options.

Robust automation

Trigger customized email sequences for onboarding, engagement and promotions based on user behaviors and preferences. Personalize communication.

Sales maximization

Convert visitors into customers through built-in sales page templates, coupon codes, payment facilitation and subscription payment management.

Kajabi shines for already established online coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs seeking an integrated system for courses, membership sites, email marketing and more.

Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks focuses on building niche membership communities but enables selling online courses as an add-on revenue stream. Perks include:

Existing community platform

Launching courses on existing Mighty Networks leverages engaged niche member bases instead of starting communities from scratch.

Mobile community experience

The platform is optimized for members to engage through facilitated discussions, networking, events and collaborations on web or iOS and Android apps.

You can charge for the community itself then add course packages and event access as additional revenue streams on top of recurring membership fees.

Audience segmentation

Mighty Networks enables creating separate spaces, content and conversations for different member cohorts like free vs paid tiers.

The built-in community foundation, mobile experience, and segmentation capabilities help online courses thrive on Mighty Networks through engaged discussion and collaboration.

Skillshare

Skillshare allows you to publish bite-sized video-based classes while gaining exposure to Skillshare’s extensive student marketplace. Pros include:

Large audience reach

Skillshare has over 8 million students actively seeking online video learning. This provides a huge audience base consuming content.

Quick course creation

You can easily produce short online classes quickly through Skillshare’s simple video uploading and chapter segmentation tools.

Revenue sharing

Skillshare pays 50% of any premium class revenue. You earn passive income on an ongoing basis as students continually enroll.

Class promotion

Skillshare provides guidance on titling and optimizing classes for discovery on their platform. They actively promote promising teacher content.

For creators seeking the largest reach with minimum effort, Skillshare offers a tradeoff sacrificing course ownership and revenue for their unmatched audience size and ease of publishing classes.

Udacity

Udacity partners with large enterprise clients to develop robust online courses white labeled under client brands. Advantages include:

Deep corporate relationships

Udacity maintains close Fortune 500 partnerships you can leverage for huge reach into major companies offering your courses to employees.

Polished curriculum design

Udacity offers curriculum designers, project managers and programmers to help build extensive enterprise courses blended with services.

Nanodegree programs

You can develop comprehensive certification-granting nanodegree programs under your brand covering topics with graded projects.

Cohort-based learning

Courses utilize structured cohorts, mentoring and peer-to-peer learning models with group accountability based on proven instructional design.

If seeking to provide corporate training or accredited credentialing, Udacity applies its Fortune 500 program experience to help craft polished cohort-based courses under your branding.

EdX

Nonprofits and universities partner with edX to offer affordable accredited online degrees, programs, and courses to its large global learner network. Benefits include:

Official certifications

EdX helps institutions offer official verified certificates bearing university names and seals upon course completion, often for free or minimal cost.

Massive nonprofit reach

EdX offers access to 30 million+ learners in partnership with trusted nonprofit brands like MIT, Linux, Microsoft and leading universities.

High production standards

EdX provides guidance from professional instructional designers to institutions for structuring video-based lessons and assessments meeting high university standards.

Significant platform investment

The platform has received over $300 million in funding enabling advanced technology like AI grading of assignments, steady scaling and rapid video streaming even in emerging markets.

For accredited institutions, organizations and nonprofits seeking to offer verified credentialing online with an existing large learner base, edX helps develop and distribute quality curriculum.

Coursera

Coursera partners with major universities and organizations worldwide to offer certificates and degrees for low cost compared to on-campus programs. Benefits include:

Recognized university partnerships

Coursera empowers developing online accredited courses through 200+ elite university partners like Yale, Stanford, Google and IBM.

Global distribution network

Coursera reaches over 92 million learners enabling course distribution to students in every country seeking accredited programs online.

Certificates and degrees

Offer fully credited certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees and the credentials through Coursera’s vast existing reach and accreditation.

AI recommendation engine

Coursera leverages AI algorithms to recommend relevant programs tailored to each learner’s interests and goals for maximum relevance and engagement.

For subject matter experts seeking to teach practical accredited curriculum through trusted universities, Coursera provides the platform and distribution to share knowledge globally.

UReddit

Reddit communities offer built-in target audiences where you can natively promote online courses. Benefits include:

Engaged niche groups

Subreddits focus around particular topics like web design, fitness, arts etc. Full of people passionate about subjects for your courses.

Credible promotion

As an active community member, you can organically mention your own courses and content rather than blatant ads since you add value.

Direct user feedback

Get candid course suggestions and feedback by surveying subreddit members on desired class topics, formats and bundles. Iteratively improve.

Upvoted visibility

Quality contributions often get heavily upvoted and pinned by moderators, increasing visibility. Highly engaged posts attract clicks.

Subreddit word of mouth

Satisfied students will discuss and recommend your courses through posts spurring organic signups.

You can leverage highly targeted subreddit audiences aligned to course topics for market validation, feedback and promotion with credibility as an engaged member.

Vimeo

Vimeo’s robust video hosting tools, branding and community make it viable to sell online video courses. Pros include:

Strong video infrastructure

Vimeo offers high quality video streaming, speed optimization, accessibility features like captions, and detailed video analytics out of the box.

Channel branding

You can create a polished branded channel or “site” on Vimeo with logo, navigation, featured sections, customized layout and themes. Looks professional.

Engaged user base

Vimeo fosters an engaged community of over 200 million creative professionals appreciative of quality video content rather than only casual viewers.

Payment capabilities

Integrate payment processors to charge for channel access. Vimeo handles technical delivery of premium videos. You manage pricing and access levels.

While not purpose-built for online courses, Vimeo’s design flexibility and proven video delivery capabilities enable effectively providing paid video lessons and series.

YouTube

YouTube offers incredible global video reach. With adaptations, you can leverage it for online courses. Opportunities include:

Massive built-in traffic

YouTube drives over 2 billion logged-in users monthly to content. Tapping into any fraction of this viewership provides huge audiences.

Strong branding potential

Create professional looking channels with custom art, trailers, organized playlists by course topic, featured content sections and more.

Monetization options

YouTube not only shares ad revenue but also now offers channel membership monetization for exclusive content, digital goods commerce and paid channel subscriptions.

Powerful analytics

YouTube provides deep viewer demographic data, real-time analytics on virality and global consumption patterns to optimize video content.

For online video creators seeking enormous exposure, YouTube offers flexible channel customization, diverse money making options, and unrivaled data analytics.

Patreon

Patreon enables instructors to offer exclusive patron-only online courses and private teaching through recurring membership payments. Perks include:

Direct membership model

Patreon allows you to sell access directly to courses rather than using a middleman marketplace that takes revenue share.

Recurring patron income

Patreon pays you ongoing income through recurring monthly or per piece payments from loyal patrons. This provides predictable cash flow.

Private tiers

Patreon enables offering course access or personalized services privately to patrons only rather than publicly listing.

Flexible patron rewards

Offer course access or exclusive materials using any patron reward level structures and pricing. No set tiers.

Patreon inherently focuses on building direct creator-patron relationships through recurring payments, exclusivity and access. Well-suited for niche online courses.

Fedora

Fedora provides an open source course authoring platform and LMS for institutions seeking greater control and customization developing online programs. Benefits include:

Open source flexibility

As open source software, organizations can fully customize Fedora for their needs with branding, code extensions, integration and more.

Self-hosted option

You can either use Fedora’s hosted cloud or self-host the LMS yourself on internal infrastructure for maximum ownership and data security.

Course authoring tools

Fedora enables creating and structuring online lessons and modules with assessments, multimedia, interaction options and accessibility accomodations.

Student tracking

The platform supports student registration, progress dashboards, grading, cohorts, resource management and detailed reporting on participation and performance.

For organizations like governments, schools and universities seeking greater control over technology and data through open source and self-hosting, Fedora provides flexible and fully customizable course delivery.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom leverages GSuite tools tailor-made for education to streamline setting up online classes at scale. Benefits include:

Tight GSuite integration

Enable video chat through Meet, distribute assignments with Docs, give feedback in Sheets, foster Q&A through Groups and manage workflows in Gmail seamlessly.

Saved time through automation

Classroom automates creating student accounts, organizing submissions, providing templates and forms, and progress tracking.

Free and affordable

The free version works for 100 students or under. Larger institutions can upgrade affordably to Enterprise edition.

Mass familiarity with Google

Both students and teachers are already familiar with navigating Google apps, lowering the learning curve.

For primary schools up through universities seeking efficient online tools tightly integrated into Google services, Google Classroom streamlines launching and scaling classes.

Schoology

Schoology offers one of the most popular learning management systems tailored specifically for K-12 and higher ed institutions to deliver online courses. Core features:

Curriculum building tools

Schoology provides tools to create lessons and structured courses incorporating assignments, quizzes, multimedia, peer collaboration, grading, calendars and more.

Grade sync and SIS integration

Two-way grade sync with school student information systems along with assignment score imports from Excel simplify grading at scale.

Discussion forums

Created monitored discussion groups, workgroups and messaging for teacher-student and peer-to-peer communication and community.

Parental access

Give parents portals to track student progress reports, grades, assignments upcoming and intervene if necessary while controlling permissions.

Schoology streamlines delivering at-scale curriculum for existing educational institutions through purpose-built tools addressing unique needs like SIS integrations, gradebooks, assessments and parental oversight.

Canvas LMS

As one of the most widely adopted learning management systems, Canvas offers proven education tools tailored for domestic and global institutions. Key features:

Mobile optimization

The Canvas app enables access to courses, groups, notifications and assignments on iOS and Android seamlessly from phones.

Plagiarism detection

Built-in integration with anti-plagiarism services like TurnItIn scan student work for originality and authenticity without leaving Canvas.

Intuitive gradebook

The gradebook enables both manual grading and Excel gradebook imports along with progress reports and weighted grading options.

Discussion boards

Customizable discussion forums with robust threaded conversations and enhanced Q&A interaction improve student collaboration.

Over 35+ language support

Canvas can be fully translated to support global student bodies and universities through their network of worldwide language partners.

Canvas LMS provides proven tools purpose-built for institutional education programs like plagiarism detection, native mobile experiences, internationalization and seamless gradebooks.

Choosing the Right Platform

The ideal online course platform for your needs depends on: 

Your audience and goals

Consider whether you are targeting individual students for supplemental learning or enterprise clients for employee training. This impacts platform fit.

Required features

Audit must-have functionality like custom branding, commerce options, community forums, or assessment tools based on your course model.

Your production bandwidth

Assess your ability to create content continually over time across formats like on-demand video, live sessions, assessments and collaborative projects.

Monetization model

Marketplaces take a revenue cut but provide traffic while self-hosted platforms require drawing your own customers in exchange for full sales revenue.

Budget

Compare platform pricing models – free tiers, flat monthly fees, revenue shares, scalable subscriptions, enterprise quotes etc.

Support and updates

Research the responsiveness and continuity of ongoing platform feature improvements, bug fixes and customer assistance.

Technical capabilities

Evaluate whether you require capabilities like API access, single sign-on, custom integrations, course data portability or self-hosting options.

Choosing the ideal online course software aligns platform strengths and models to your specific audience, content, business goals, budget, features and technical needs. Prioritize must-haves over nice-to-haves.

What are the best online course platforms for 2023?

Which online course platforms should I consider for 2023?

What are the top 15 online course platforms for 2023?

What makes a course platform the best for online learning?

When choosing an online course platform, there are several factors you should consider. Firstly, you need to think about the features offered by the platform. Does it have the necessary tools for course creation, such as a course builder and a page builder? Is it an all-in-one platform that provides all the functionalities you need, or is it better to choose a standalone online course platform?

How can I sell my online courses?

What are the steps to sell an online course?

Is there a course marketplace where I can sell my courses?

How can I create and sell online courses on my own?

If you have created an online course and want to monetize it, there are several options available. You can choose to sell your courses on a course marketplace, where you can reach a wide audience of potential students. Alternatively, you can create and sell online courses on your own by setting up a course website using an all-in-one platform.

What are the key features of a successful online course?

What should be included in the course content?

How can I build an engaging online course?

How can I provide value to my students through my online course?

A successful online course should have high-quality course content that is relevant and valuable to the students. It should be well-structured and cover the necessary topics in depth. To build an engaging online course, you can use various techniques such as multimedia elements, interactive quizzes, and discussion forums. It is important to provide value to your students by offering practical knowledge and actionable insights.

How to create an online course using the best platform?

What are the steps to create an online course using the best platform?

Can I use WordPress as a platform to create an online course?

What are the advantages of using an all-in-one platform for online course creation?

Creating an online course using the best platform requires careful planning and execution. The first step is to decide on the course topic and outline the course content. Then, you can use a platform like WordPress or an all-in-one online course platform to build your course. Using an all-in-one platform offers several advantages, such as having all the necessary tools in one place and seamless integration of different components.

How to become a successful online course creator?

What are the best practices for online teaching?

How can I promote my online course and attract students?

Are there any popular online course platforms to showcase my courses?

Becoming a successful online course creator requires a combination of effective teaching practices and strategic marketing. You should focus on delivering high-quality content, engaging with your students, and providing timely feedback. To promote your online course and attract students, you can utilize various marketing strategies such as social media advertising, content marketing, and email campaigns. Additionally, showcasing your courses on popular online course platforms can help you reach a larger audience.

Key Takeaways

Here are some top considerations when evaluating online course platforms:

  • Assess audience reach, brand control, feature set, revenue split and support offered by major course marketplaces.
  • For customizable branded course sites, investigate optimized self-hosted solutions with integrated creation tools.
  • Compare specialization around video courses, cohorts, or niche communities that complement core course capabilities.
  • For large enterprise training needs, explore platform relationships with major corporations.
  • Consider community sites where you can natively promote courses as a member providing added value.
  • Evaluate adapted use of robust media hosting platforms optimized for high quality video delivery.
  • Research education-centric platform strengths like accreditation, parental controls and SIS integrations for K-12 and higher ed.
  • Match platform models and structures to your audience, content, budget, production and goals through thorough diligence.

Choosing the ideal online course software is a highly strategic decision critical for attracting students and enabling your educational vision. Hopefully this guide illuminated the diverse ecosystem of specialized and generalized options available.

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By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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