Reviews of the Top Online Learning Sites
These are my genuine reviews on only the sites that I have personally used and learned from.
#1 | Skillshare
Skillshare is an affordable learning platform with more than 5,378 classes to learn from. My experience with Skillshare led me to deduce it to be a platform with a concentration in design, business/marketing, and living skills. Good-quality courses on technical skills are sparse. For people looking to learn to code, you'd be better off without a Skillshare premium membership.
Once you enroll in a class, you get access to all the videos in the class. Most classes have a duration of around 1 hour. You can also sign up for a free account and have access to the free classes, which, I dare say, are as great as the premium classes. The teachers encourage students to post their process in the Project Gallery to receive feedback and share it with the community.
Classes I recommend:
- I recommend the free design classes by Ellen Lupton. They are high quality classes and you learn a lot from her videos.
- For people wanting to take up Adobe After Effects, I would recommend Jake Bartlett's series of After Effects classes. His classes are void of jargon and confusion, and straight-to-the-point. He first shows you the project you're going to be making in his class, and the rest of his videos are steps to achieve the exact same outcome he showed in the introduction. If you really want to master After Effects, I would suggest you play around with the interface instead of doing exactly what Jake does.
- Seth Godin has intensive marketing and entrepreneurship courses that I would really recommend. The courses are really in-depth, and he has attached many accompanying files and worksheets that you might find helpful.
- Simon Sinek has an amazing course on public speaking. I personally enjoyed it because I believe I learned a lot from this course.
- James Victore's course on Radical Typography.
- Jessice Hische shows us her process of creating a drop cap book cover for a fiction novel.
Skillshare is a massive library of knowledge and experience for people who want to learn more about design. Well-known entrepreneurs and graphic designers teach there, including Guy Kawasaki and Paula Scher.
*I find that the Skillshare app could be much better. You have to manually switch Full-Screen mode on. Rotating your phone doesn't work. The helpful fast-forward option is nowhere to be found on the app. Watching the videos on a laptop is going to save you much frustration.
Price: Monthly $9.95 / Annually $96
Sign up for 3-month Skillshare Premium Membership for only $0.99 here!
My Verdict on Skillshare
5/5 (specifically for Design and Business courses)
#2 | Treehouse
Treehouse is an online learning platform for beginner coders that boasts to have 179,000+ students all around the world. I was tremendously satisfied with Treehouse's clean and simply UI and its wide variety of classes. You can embark on a track, for example, build a website, and learn the necessary skills to build a website, or learn from their courses with organized content, for example, HTML and CSS. Their forum/community are generally responsive, and the people there are always eager to help you out.
There are two kinds of subscription plans for Treehouse: Basic and Pro.
I have only tried out the Basic plan, but I have heard people saying that the Pro plan was worth the money.
Learn projects with access to 1000+ videos
Learn projects with access to 1000+ videos
Practice live with our Code Challenge Engine
Practice live with our Code Challenge Engine
Get help in our members-only forums
Get help in our members-only forums
Watch talks from industry leaders
Enjoy exclusive bonus content
Download videos for offline learning
Treehouse also offers student perks, with discounts for services such as Freshbooks, Bundlestorm, Sketch 3, and more.
Courses available on Treehouse:
- Wordpress Development
- And more!
I had little experience in HTML and CSS, but when I was doing their Build a Website track, I found their videos to be extremely slow-paced. The video qualities are great, but I have long unsubscribed from Treehouse because I find its teaching style unsuited to my learning style. If you learn best by watching few-minute long videos and taking notes, this is a great site for you.
Once I had to contact Treehouse because of an emergency concerning the payment, and their response was prompt and professional. Sometimes they do take a few days to reply, but they try their best to provide you with the best customer support you deserve.
Treehouse Android Animations and Transitions Intro
Price: Monthly Basic $25 / Monthly Pro $45
Try out Treehouse with a 7-day free trial here!
My Verdict on Treehouse
#3 | Code School
Treehouse and Code School are two frequently compared coding schools online. After research and trying out both platforms for my own, I can confidently conclude that Treehouse is great for beginners and has a wide library of videos, but it cannot compare to Code School's intensive concentration on a certain programming language. Code School has significantly less amount of coding courses to learn from, but every course is explained in-depth so that you learn all there is to a programming language. Code School's slogan is Learn by Doing, which reflects accurately on that style of teaching. Code School is great for people who are mildly experienced in coding. I have heard amateurs in coding complaining that Code School was hard to catch up with at first. However, I wouldn't strike Code School out of the picture with that reason. You can always consult the forum, or contact a human Code School advisor to get help with anything you didn't understand.
Code School sometimes present a course with videos, but other times, you write your code with instructions displayed on a panel beside your workspace. I personally find this approach more engaging because I tend to lose focus when faced with videos longer than two minutes. You might find it complicated to navigate the interface at first, but once you get used to it, it won't be a bother.
Not sure if it's just me being a designer: sometimes I get bugged by the dull-colored green-screen cutaway videos, but they are not frequent, so it's not that bad. It makes the videos look low-quality though. Let me know in the comment section below if you think it's just me, or if you agree with my opinion.
You can sign up and access some of their courses for free. If you decide you like the way they teach, you can upgrade your account ($29/month) to access the rest of their courses.
Courses/Paths on Code School:
- Electives (extra courses without categorization)
Code School is the way-to-go if you truly want to master a programming language. Despite the disadvantage of not having student perks and a wide range of courses to choose from, you get the best out of each Path, and great customer support that provides a response within 24 hours.
Code School The Elements of Web Design Course Intro
Price: Monthly $29 / Annually $228
Sign up and check out Code School's free courses now!
My Verdict on Code School
4.7/5 (I still think the green-screen cutaway videos make the videos look bad, although it conveys the message just alright.)
#4 | Codecademy
Codecademy is a wonderful site to learn to code for free, with 25 million users worldwide. They had recently launched Codecademy Pro, which you can purchase for $19.99/month for additional projects, quizzes, and real time help from Codecademy advisors if you ever happen to be stuck on a level. I started off with Codecademy few years ago, where I built a foundation in HTML and CSS. I really enjoy Codecademy's courses because they don't feed you with videos. Some people wouldn't enjoy their teaching style, but I personally find it very effective. Take a look at their interface, which stays consistent throughout all their courses.
As you can see, the instructions are on the panel to the left, and you execute the code in the workspace on the right. I like how you're learning and doing at the same time. One thing great about Codecademy is their flexibility. When the instruction asks you to type in "Jimmy", you can type in your name and still pass the level. It doesn't restrict you to just "Jimmy" and instead allows you to understand the purpose of the string of code and lets you substitute "Jimmy" with whatever name you want.
If you are just starting out on coding, I would suggest you play around with it on Codecademy first, and then proceed to other websites like Treehouse or Code School. Codecademy doesn't equate with Treehouse or Code School or similar platforms because it simply doesn't exist for the same purpose. It's more like an introduction to coding.
I appreciate Codecademy's free courses a lot because it was through Codecademy that I started web development in HTML and CSS. Codecademy almost sounds too good to be true! Make great use of a free platform like Codecademy and share your experience if you enjoyed it.
Courses on Codecademy:
- Angular JS
Price for Codecademy Pro: Monthly $19.99/ Annually $199.99
Check out Codecademy here!
My Verdict on Codecademy
5/5 (for beginners)
#5 | Khan Academy
Khan Academy is the absolute life saver.
No ads, no subscriptions. We are a not‑for‑profit because we believe in a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. We rely on our community of thousands of volunteers and donors. Learn more about getting involved today.
I believe the target audience is high school students, because of their massive library of high school subjects. Khan Academy has also partnered with College Board to provide free SAT test prep. If you're a high school student and you're not using Khan Academy to its fullest potential, you are missing out on free gems. I particularly like the math section because they explain everything clearly and thoroughly in a way that a person who sucks at math can easily understand how the solution is formed.
For people interested to learn coding, Khan Academy also has a computing section (web development), though I didn't like the way they teach through boring videos. If you know Khan Academy, you know their trademark black screen and colorful words. It might be for some of you, so try it out to judge for yourself.
Sal Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, and he believes that education should be free for everyone. Now Khan Academy has accumulated millions of students globally, and provided free education to all of its students. I believe in Khan Academy's cause. This online learning site has made a mark bigger than itself, reaching so many students all around the globe, all while having less than 100 employees.
Khan Academy lives off donations, so if you enjoyed the lessons and believed it has helped you a lot, be sure to donate (if you can afford it) as a token of thanks.
If you cannot understand a lesson, you can leave your question in the discussion section below. Members and students are generally responsive and you get tons of helpful answers (if you ask a reasonable and clever question).
Khan Academy Punctuation Excerpt
Head over to Khan Academy now to start learning for free!
My Verdict on Khan Academy
5/5 (for the quality of high school, particularly math, lessons)
#6 | Udemy
By far Udemy has the widest variety of courses, with over 10 million students, and 40,000 courses altogether. Udemy used to be overpriced, but now it has restricted their course pricing to $20-50 per course. After purchasing a course and deciding it wasn't the course for you, you can ask for a refund within 30 days of purchase (eligible for purchase as long as you have not viewed most of the lessons in the course). There are also tons of free courses on Udemy, though their quality cannot compare to Skillshare's free courses'.
Udemy courses normally has a duration of around 3 hours. If paired side by side with learning sites that offer subscription plans, which gives you access to their unlimited resources for a month for the price of one Udemy course, it might sound like Udemy is not worth the buck. I noticed a lot of courses on Udemy are also available on Skillshare, so before you purchase a course on Udemy, go ahead to Skillshare to check if they have the same or a similar course before splurging your money on Udemy.
However, there is bound to be an instance when you cannot find a course you're looking for elsewhere, then Udemy is the place you should look for. Their gigantic library of courses is unrivaled for.
Categories of courses:
- IT & Software
- Office Productivity
- Personal Development
- Health & Fitness
- Teacher Training
- Test Prep
Personally, I cannot seem to watch through all the videos in a Udemy course with discipline and focus, even the free courses! Somehow I am bound to get bored with continuous clips of videos. A lot of tutorials are video-taught, so I do try to at least concentrate through one video. I have refunded a few Udemy's courses because I find that I simply don't pick up any knowledge after watching the videos, but this is just me and my inclination towards kinetic learning. And because the duration for a course is generally pretty long, my attention is always fleeting.
The great thing about Udemy is that the instructors of the courses you take are responsive and they are always there to guide and help you out with anything you didn't understand from their videos. Some courses also have worksheets at the end of each chapter, or a pop quiz. I took Shani Raja's journalism class. I would complete the assignments he gave, and post it on the discussion section. He would then give prompt feedback on my essays that I really appreciate.
Personally, I would prefer subscription plans over purchase of individual courses, and I would never use Udemy if I can help it. But it's a learning and teaching platform for millions all over the world, so by all means, don't take it from me if you don't want to. Try it out, and who knows? Maybe you like that kind of teaching style. Everyone has different ways of learning.
Master Persuasion Psychology: Udemy Course Trailer
Price: $20-$50/course (tip: you might want to wait for their promotion deals before you purchase a course if you are not financially abundant)
Go to Udemy to check out their enormous library of courses!
My Verdict on Udemy
Which learning site do you enjoy learning from the most?
If you have any questions or an opinion you'd like to share, please leave a comment below! Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this piece. If you did, I'd appreciate it if share this post and follow me for more!