- Top Online Learning Platforms
- Criteria for selecting a MOOCs/Online Learning Platform
- Our chosen Online Learning Platforms
- Other Emerging Online Learning Platforms
In a very simple term, MOOCs are the only easy way that lets a learner learn something at his own ease and pace and from anywhere around the world at any time. Massive Open Online Courses are known to be the most convenient, affordable and engaging source of learning a certain skills set. In this article, we are going to find out the best MOOCs and Online Learning Platforms as of now on the basis of certain criteria. Whatever the field you choose for yourself, there’s always a MOOC for it that a learner can take. Because of a wide range of MOOCs provided by a number of institutes and Universities, the number of MOOCs users as of 2019 end has reached to 110 million. This is a huge figure and it only tends to increase by each passing day.
Now there’s this question that comes to every learner’s mind before taking a MOOC.
“Is MOOC as competitive as a traditional classroom course?”
The simple answer to this question is a big YES. But how can we justify it? For that you need to scroll down a little more to find out.
- MOOCs (in most cases) carry the same credits as any University’s traditional courses.
- The learning material is instructed by highly experienced professors who are also teaching at the same university.
- The mode of learning is almost the same as in a traditional classroom except it is behind a screen.
- Quizzes, assignments, interactive sessions, videos and more are the core learning methodology in every MOOC like in any other traditional classroom.
Why are learners getting more interested in MOOCs through Online Learning Platforms rather than going to a College/University?
Getting into a college or a University has become very much expensive for majority of the students. It has been found out that the amount of student debt is increasing day by day and it has recently topped $1.5 trillion. This amount is not a small one and majority of the learners don’t have the means to even pay for their debt. This is one of the many reasons why learners are also becoming interested in taking MOOCs. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are available for FREE and their mode of learning is almost the same as the traditional classroom. On the other hand, the cost of completing a four-year public University has also increased to 3.1%. With these problems, there are other reasons too which are mentioned below.
- Strict admission requirements
- Time-management problems
- You get homesickness
- Travel and accommodation expenses
- Social problems
So all these problems can somehow be avoided with the help of MOOCs. MOOCs are free of cost and upon completion, one can also request a certificate but you need to pay some amount for it to happen. So overall we can say that these above mentioned reasons have somehow shifted majority of the student’s mind into taking MOOCs.
Top Online Learning Platforms:
It wouldn’t be fair if we don’t talk about some of the major institutes that are providing a wide range of MOOCs. Because of these MOOCs Learning Platforms, learners from all over the world are capable enough to take a certain MOOC – Massive Open Online Course and learn from it while doing a job or any other work at the same time. So here are some major platforms and the number of users that each platform managed to get as of 2018.
- Coursera has a total of 37 million users
- edX has 18 million users
- XuetangX has managed to make a family of 14 million users
- Udacity has 10 million users
- Lastly, FutureLearn has a family of 7 million users
Now we know what MOOCs are and that there are a number of Online Learning Platforms that offer MOOCs, but an important question arises here is that which MOOCs Platform is the best while taking a MOOC? Is every platform the very best and can be trusted? Shouldn’t there be any criteria for selecting an online learning platform for MOOCs? Yes you’re right, there has to be a set criteria for that. But don’t tire yourself in thinking about the criteria because we have sort this one out for you.
Criteria for selecting a MOOCs/Online Learning Platform:
In order to look for a MOOC platform, the first criteria is to do some digging and find out the number of universities and organizations that are collaborating or in a partnership with your desired Online Learning Platform. This is very important because the greater the number of universities or institutes collaborating with that particular platform the more genuine and high quality MOOCs they’ll be able to produce. Also there isn’t any way that can lead us to evaluate the instructor’s ability so we have to compare the variety and the number of institutions that are collaborating with our desired platform and providing the course instructors. The more the well-renowned the university/organization is, the more competitive course instructors they’ll tend to provide.
Checking for a particular platform’s credentials is also a very genuine way to decide whether the platform has authentic courses or not. So here are a few points that come under this heading that a person or learner must check.
- Whether the platform that you want to choose offers verified certificates or not?
- Whether there are courses offered that give the ability to gain college credit?
- What is the number of accredited degrees that can be earned through that particular platform?
- Does the platform give out completion certificates for all courses for free?
- How many specializations or learning pathways are offered by that particular platform?
One must have to check for all these points before deciding to choose the platform.
Course diversity is also a very genuine criteria that can help a learner evaluate the competence of a particular platform. One must make sure that these below points are covered by the platform that the learners is interested in.
- How many course are available in that particular platform?
- What is the number of category of courses offered?
- Are there any self-paced courses offered by the platform?
- Does the platform has search filters? If so then how many?
- Are there any scheduled courses offered by the platform?
These above-mentioned points are very important and has to be in a platform otherwise the platform is not competent enough.
When a learner is learning something online, there comes a point where he might need to get in touch with someone who can help. Though there are many platforms out there who are offering MOOCs but does each platform has a flexible and convenient support system? Does the platform has a support system that offers a 24/7 phone support? Does the platform has an extensive Library of online tutorials or there’s just a section of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) where a bunch of questions and answers are there for a user to read and then figure out the problem on its own? Does the platform has an integrated support service and other features like these are always expected by a learner? So one must make sure whether the platform that he is going to choose has a fine support system or not.
When choosing a platform, it is very important that the interface of the platform is responsive, clear and easy-to-understand and doesn’t crash often. There are many platforms that try to attract learners by making their interface very unique. They try to change the appearance of their platform, introducing unique options and try to make it look very different from the rest of the platforms. This might attract the learners at first but when a learner is not able to understand the interface, it will get really difficult for him to get used to it and all of his attention will be diverted towards understanding the interface instead of focusing on the MOOC. So a learner must make sure that the platform he’s choosing has a familiar interface and is user-friendly
Our chosen Online Learning Platforms:
Let us now take a look at the best online learning platforms that we have chosen. We are going to compare each of these platforms with our set criteria that will let us decide which platform is more suitable according to our criteria.
Coursera as we all know is a well renowned Online Learning Platform that is known to be very best in providing a number of Massive Open Online Courses. The platform was founded by two of the amazing and experienced professors named Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. It was launched in the year 2012 and it’s been 7 years since the platform has managed to provide high quality massive open online courses. The headquarters of Coursera are located at Mountain cliff, California.
Let us now compare the details of Coursera with our set criteria.
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As of 2019, Coursera has managed to be in a partnership with a total of 190 Universities or other educational institutes. Among which Coursera boasts the highest number of universities in the top 100, with 10 in the top 20 and 3 in the top 5.
Now let us take a look at Coursera’s credentials.
- Coursera is collaborating with its partners to build more valuable credentials which include becoming a premier destination for world-class degrees.
- Courser is offering a total of 3900+ courses and specializations among which 3069 are MOOCs to their students.
- It is also providing 20+ degrees and MasterTrack certificates.
- With that, Coursera is providing 13+ Professional Certificates.
- Currently offering four programs with University of Illinois and HEC Paris.
- Six new degrees will be added to the Coursera’s platform from some of the world’s best Universities.
- The free courses don’t typically offer official college credit. However, to receive a signed “certificate of completion,” a learner must pay a fee.
Following are the details of the courses.
- As of 2019, the number of MOOCs that Coursera is providing are 3,600 which was 3,100 in the year 2018.
- Coursera offers 11 academic categories to their students.
- Coursera provides 6 search filters.
- Coursera is also providing a number of self-paced MOOCs to their students that enable them to start and end the course at their own ease and pace.
In the year 2014, Coursera’s support services were not that active and they were managing all the support tickets from just a single inbox inbound queue that was also without the action-based triggers and time-based automation. Soon Coursera realized the need to change and improve their support services. So what Coursera did was switch to Zendesk Support which helped them support not only the content team but also a team of highly professional developers for taking caring of all the internal tools and systems.
Coursera wanted their users to get rid of the one-to-one support because it sometimes took longer time to respond so that is why they introduced community forums where people can come together and get a chance to discuss on a specific topic and exchange ideas with one another rather than getting one-to-one support. Using the APIs, Coursera easily extracts data and then uploads it to the data warehouse, where it can be parsed and displayed in forms that users can understand and take easily.
They also introduced the option of live chat helped Coursera get to their user’s problem much more easily and in lesser time rather than addressing them via email which took a lot of time.
On their website, they have an option of Learner Help Center which lets users chat in real-time with one of the Coursera’s Customer support team.
Whatever the problem that a user is facing, be it regarding account setup or payment of the course, enrollment issues or any other common technical issues, there are options for all such problems that users can click and get assistance.
According to the latest review regarding Coursera, it has been found out that the interface of Coursera is indeed very user-friendly. There are many websites and learning platforms that try to add flashy designs on their websites just to make it look more attractive but this doesn’t do any good to the visitors instead they get baffled and leave it. But the interface of Coursera is amazing.
- The website is quite stable and doesn’t crash often.
- The landing page is very simple, easy to understand and appealing.
- Each section whether it is about the programs or different courses or specializations are very clearly mentioned and also in a simple manner.
- The navigation system is too good.
edX is an amazing Online Learning Platform that comes into partnership with a number of high ranked universities and educational institutions to offer a wide range of courses in various disciplines. edX is mainly known to be the only MOOC provider that is both non-profit and open source. This well-esteemed institute was found in the year 2012. The total number of users that edX has as of 2019 are 20 million and it was created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
Do you want to know hot to take free online courses on edX? If Yes ! then Click Here
Let us now compare the details of edX with our set criteria.
edX has managed to be in a partnership with over 120 institutes among which following are the names of the institutions that have also happened to be on the 2019 QS World University Rankings List and are among top 10.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Harvard University.
- California Institute of Technology.
- The University of Oxford.
- ETH Zurich.
- Imperial College London.
- The University of Chicago.
After that, we are going to take a look at edX’s credentials.
- edX provides verified certificates in a vast majority of MOOCs to its users so that employers and schools can know that the person has actually completed the course work.
- Many of the edX certificates can be translated into college credits.
- edX offers courses across 20 different categories.
- edX offers 2000+ MOOCs to their students to choose from through it’s Online Learning Platform.
- edX offers 8 accredited degrees to their students.
edX has a help centre section where there are a number of options that might be of help to the users. They have a total of 7 sections along with frequently asked questions and these sections address different problems and their solution. If you are having any problem regarding the account setup, you can click the account basics option where there are details available for users to read and the solution. Similarly, if a user has any ambiguities regarding payments of funds or courses, certificates, programs or even about the credits then they can click on these related options and find the solution to their problem.
Still, if a person is not able to solve his problem, they can contact the support team of edX and they will reach you as soon as possible.
edX also has a section of promoted articles that are a combination of different common problems that users face on a daily basis and how to solve them. Because of this section, it is highly likely that a user is able to find the solution to his problem.
Now let us talk about the website, whether it works fine, has a user-friendly interface, simple to use and other features.
- If we talk about the interface of the website, we would say that it is for sure very friendly. If a person visits the website, he won’t get lost or get confused with a gazillion options because there aren’t such options.
- The website is very easy-to-use.
- It avoids any trivial information or any other popups that appear upon every click.
- Everything can be seen very clearly whether it is the search bar or partners list, course list or other programs offered. Everything is clearly mentioned.
- The categories and each course that is a part of a specific category is also mentioned clearly and easy to find.
- Even upon entering the course page, a user will be fed with all the necessary information that he needs to know without even have to do anything.
FutureLearn is a digital education learning platform that like any other online learning platforms aims to provide a massive range of MOOCS to the learners. The platform was founded by The Open University, Seek Ltd in the year 2012. FutureLearn has managed to make a huge circle of almost 8.7 million users as of December 2018 but this number only tends to increase each passing day.
Now we are going to match FutureLearn’s details with the criteria we have set.
FutureLearn has managed to partner with a number of different universities and educational institutions to offer online courses and degrees. The number of the institutions and universities that FutureLearn is collaborating with is 80 which also includes some of the world’s high ranked institutes like The University of Manchester, The University of Pennsylvania State and John Hopkins. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that FutureLearn currently partners with 18 universities listed in the top 100 including 2 in the top 20 and 2 in the top 5.
- FutureLearn offers 5 online Microcredential programs to help learners upgrade their skills.
- One can earn academic credit to use towards a degree or can be used as an independent certification.
- The number of free online courses that FutureLearn is offering 532.
- The number of accredited degrees offered by FutureLearn is 24.
- FutureLearn offers 16-course categories.
- It provides 12 programs with academic accreditation.
- Provides 5 programs with professional accreditation.
- And 20 other different programs are also offered by FutureLearn for learners.
Just like any other online learning platforms that try to provide excellent support services, FutureLearn tries to do the same. They have a whole section of frequently asked questions where majority of the common queries are being answered. At the bottom right side of any course page, there is an option of “Support” that a user can click and get help if needed. They have also provided an email address that can be used if a learner is not able to solve his problem through all the available material. They have a “Status Blog” that enables learners to know about any current technical issues that FutureLearn is trying to fix. They have a “Complaint” section where anyone who feels the need to make a complaint or give any suggestions to improve can do it.
FutureLearn’s front page is appealing and has all the useful options in it that a user has in mind when going to a specific website. Every course, program and other degrees can be easily found as they are divided into different categories and can be searched easily. The navigation system of the website also seems to be okay. The interface of the website is easy to understand and quite interactive. It is very unlikely that the website crashes. It works really well.
Udacity is known to be a well-esteemed for-profit organization that aims to provide a large number of Massive Open Online Courses in different categories. The platform was founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens and Mike Sokolsky in the year 2011 and launched in February 2012. Udacity has managed to make a big family of 1.6 million users and a learner has to register to the website in order to take a course. This platform is an amazing opportunity for all types of learners to develop different skills. Udacity offers a wide range of online courses, MOOCs, different programs, nanodegree programs and much more for the learners.
So now let us match Udacity’s details with our set criteria in order to highlight what Udacity actually has to offer.
Udacity is partnered with more than 200 industry experts to help them build quality content for our learners.
- Udacity is designing nanodegree programs as the most compact and relevant curriculum to qualify a learner for a perfect job.
- Udacity has 200 courses that are absolutely free but do not offer a certificate on the end.
- Udacity has 22 active Nanodegree programs available that are not for free but paid degrees.
- In order to get a Nanodegree totally for free, one must have to apply for a scholarship.
Udacity’s support services are great. The support team is available 24/7 to assist you in any problem. Udacity’s support team is available to help a user with any matter whether it is related to the enrollment or payment, about the courses or any other technical issue, whatever the problem is, Udacity’s support team is there to help. They have a section of frequently asked questions where solutions to all of the common problems are available that might turn out to be a problem solver for a user. They also have a section of “Content Questions” that have a lot of questions and answers regarding the course. If a user has any ambiguities regarding the courses he/she is taking, this section should address them all.
Still, if a user is unsatisfied or looking for a solution to his problem, he can submit a direct request which will be answered quickly by one of the representatives of Udacity’s support team.
The front page of the website is very informational and generic but everything is there in a very organized and simple manner that prevents people from getting lost. The whole layout of the website is very understandable and comfortable and also easy to navigate. The interface of the website is very easy to use and one can definitely say that every option available on the website is as important as any other. The whole design of the website is very simple but in a good way that prevents users from unnecessary distractions.
5. Canvas Network:
Canvas Network is the world’s fastest-growing platform that was established in the year 2011 by an organization named Instructure. But the MOOC platform was initiated through Canvas network in the year 2012. This platform is an amazing opportunity for learners from all over the world to study for free and has a huge family of 4.5 million users. The Canvas Network focuses on the following terms.
- Open entry and open access.
- Open content.
- Open platform and ecosystem.
- Open data.
- Platform neutrality.
We can say that the Canvas Network is a very trustworthy and free source for all types of learners to pick a course and start learning from it.
Now we are going to match the features of this well-esteemed platform with our set criteria.
- The Canvas Network is in partnership with more than 250 educational institutions.
- The sponsoring institutions may offer a certificate against some courses but the Canvas Network itself doesn’t issue any certificate.
- The number of MOOCs provided by the Canvas network are 556.
- The number of MOOCs provided by the Canvas network along with a certificate are 116.
Other Emerging Online Learning Platforms:
Iversity is known to be a Berlin-based online learning educational platform. This platform was launched in the year 2013 and since then it has continuously been successful in providing a number of online courses and especially MOOCs for students from anywhere around the world. The platform gives users the opportunity to learn and interact with the professors through a discussion forum. Each course that a learner takes has a number of lecture videos, assignments, quizzes and much more for students to make the most out of the course. The platform is created by Jonas Liepmann and Hannes Klopper. Iversity has managed to make a family of more than 600,000 students and it aims to increase this figure by each passing day.
Now we are going to take a look at some major details of this platform and then compare it with our set criteria.
- Iversity has proudly managed to be in a partnership with a number of educational institutions, Universities and organizations making it a total of 41.
- It is the only MOOC platform that is providing courses with ECTS integration.
- The number of MOOCs offered by Iversity is 63.
- The courses are available in English, German and many other languages as well making it easy for learners from all over the world to easily take it.
- Iversity offers a number of courses which require a final exam and upon passing, a learner gets a verified certificate.
- It also offers European Credit points on many courses.
SWAYAM which is known as the Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds is a program that has been initiated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India which lets different professors and educational institutions to collaborate and provide a number of free online courses to the students. SWAYAM is a platform that only offers free courses but if a learner demands a certificate in the end then that might require some fee. Otherwise all the course offered by the SWAYAM are free of cost and anyone can enroll in it.
SWAYAM is collaborating with more than 135 Indian educational institutions. All these educational institutions are putting in their best efforts to provide high quality free online courses for learners.
- It provides more than 2,150 courses to the students.
- With that there are 8 course categories among which learners can pick courses from.
- It offers school education, out-of-school education, under-graduate education, post-graduate education.
- SWAYAM lets the students in India to earn academic credits online.
- SWAYAM is capable of hosting 2000 courses and 80000 hours of learning, covering school, under-graduate, post-graduate, engineering, law and other professional
- According to the UGC regulation 2016, Universities are advised to identify courses where credits can be transferred on to the academic record of the students for courses done on SWAYAM.
NovoEd is an online learning platform that strives to provide a social, collaborative and a mobile learning experience that enables a user to get the best online training tools. This platform was founded in the year 2013 by a professor from Stanford University named Amin Saberi along with a PhD student Farnaz Ronaghi. These two individuals manage to collaborate with other educational institutions, corporations and other foundations to work together in providing learners with blended learning solutions. The headquarters of this prestigious platform are located in San Francisco, California. With the help of these online courses, NovoEd managed to make a family of 44,000 users.
Now we are going to match the features of NovoEd with our set criteria.
NovoEd is collaborating with top universities to make a best online learning platform for learners. At present NovoEd has come into a partnership with a number of leading educational institutes and Universities which include BABSON College, Princeton University, LELAND Stanford Junior University and UNIVERSITAS PENNSYLVANIENSAS.
- NovoEd is providing more than 200 free online courses.
- Provides with a number of online learning tools like data analytics, Modern UI and Mobile app, Intuitive design and management tools, gamification and much more.
- The number of course category that NovoEd is offering is 9 which includes
- Business strategy
- Design and creativity
- Math and Science
- Social impact
So the above mentioned were some of the top Online Learning Platforms that we have compared the details with our set criteria (Partnership, Credentials, Course diversity, Support services, user-friendly interface). By comparing the details of these platforms with our set criteria, we were able to get a clear picture about what these platforms are, what they have to offer, are they popular enough, what are the credentials, course diversity and other factors. So take a good look at this whole topic if you want to know all the main details about your favorite online learning platforms.