Online education is catching up fast as a practical and viable medium. The reasons are obvious: easy availability over the Net, freedom to access the courses at any time, and flexibility of taking up trainings at a time and place of one’s convenience. And, given that the online medium is truly global -although its penetration in some parts of the world is still low -a few platforms come with a bouquet of courses. They are what may be called “general specialists”, i.e., they offer courses on almost any topic without focus on any particular one.
The test of the value of an online course platform lies in a few factors:
Spread of courses: Most online platforms have a wide range of topics on which they offer learning. Some specialize in only some subjects like say, web development or coding. But overall, it makes sense for these platforms to offer courses in as many areas as possible, mainly because of the economies of scale. It costs them a lot lesser to scale up to more areas of learning and reach out to more geographies than to specialize in one or two areas, for which too, they have to use the same marketing efforts to sell their courses.
Value of trainings: It goes without saying that the courses that people take should offer them something concrete that goes beyond just the learning. Many platforms offer certificates on completion, which gives them some credential to take into their next interview. A more qualified person is definitely preferred in any organization.
Flexibility: Another key factor in online platforms is the flexibility of learning. No going to classes at set hours, no carrying study heavy material, no need to force oneself in the maddening traffic. These are the benefits an online course provides.
A look at the leading platforms
Now, who are the leading providers of online trainings? Many companies have leveraged technology to finesse their online education offerings into courses that come with the benefits we just mentioned. These are the top five online course providers for all courses:
Khan Academy: One of the popular providers of online education for all courses; Khan Academy specializes in the many, and is a prime example of the general specialist. Its courses span many IT and non-IT areas. A not-for-profit provider of courses in both IT and non-IT, Khan Academy is known for the spread of topics it offers and its user friendliness.
Simpliv: Simpliv is a platform for online video libraries for a stunning range of topics. Whether it is IT or non-IT, anthropology, pottery, medicine, yoga or simply anything that one can think of, Simpliv has it. It wants to establish itself as a complete destination that wants to make a difference into education across the globe. Its panel of experts complements its reach and expanse.
Udemy: Another comprehensive platform for all courses in the IT and non-IT areas; Udemy is known for the thousands of courses it offers, and for its partnerships with various educational institutions.
Coursera: An agglomeration of many courses crafted by well-known universities and institutions; Coursera offers many courses in IT and non-IT areas. Its courses in IT and non-IT are quite popular among learning communities around the globe.
Lynda: A platform known for the spread of its courses; Lynda has established a partnership with LinkedIn, which means that millions of professionals have access to its courses.
Conclusion: With online education being here to stay; one can expect a number of players in the market to come up with innovations in the online learning space. Competition and the large global market are the primary driving forces for this kind of explosion in this market. We don’t when in the future online education will completely phase out traditional education, and if it ever will.
But one thing is for sure: this is a market to watch out for in the years to come. The list of five best online course platforms for all courses, IT and non-IT, is a shifting one. It could keep changing with time and with the wide-ranging changes that keep taking place in the industry. As the online teaching industry undergoes major changes, we can anticipate major shifts as technologies grow further and impact this field.