Best Online Learning Sites: Pros and Cons

Though we may have painted a pretty picture of all these online platforms, nothing in life comes without cons.

They truly are some of the best online course platforms, but as expected, these portals still have a few drawbacks that can be improved on in the future.


Let’s start with Coursera. Though the platform is the biggest MOOC provider available in the market, it has a narrow offering of courses, offering only 11 categories, which is a major shortcoming, especially when you compare competitors such as edX (20 categories and constantly growing) and Udemy (13 categories) or even Treehouse (12 categories). Additionally, though it’s great that Coursera allows institutes offering the courses to price them, this creates a lack of consistency in the pricing, meaning that’s it not really a non-discriminatory platform that treats everyone equally! Though there is the option of a free 7-day trial, specializations are available only on monthly subscriptions ranging between $39 to $89 per month and some material of certain courses are accessible only on purchasing the course.


Though edX offers 20 different categories of courses, their shortcoming is in the fact that they only offer 8 degrees that are accredited (Coursera offers 12). Users have also complained of its substandard social features, such as the lack of recognition of students who have contributed to the community; this feature can be found in both Coursera and Udacity. The wide variety of programs they offer can also be confusing for first-time users. There have also been complaints that receiving course completion certificates can take a long time; usually because some in some courses, the team performs a manual evaluation before the certificate can be issued. Financial aid is also very opaque and, some users have reported, unfair.


Udacity, on the other hand, can be slightly expensive with regard to its Nanodegree programs. Additionally, it’s more focused on job-relevant studying, which could alienate casual learners. Lastly, the courses on the portal fall on extreme ends of the price spectrum. Monthly subscriptions are around $300 and Nanodegree programs are around $1,000, creating a huge price gap. The website is also known to suddenly increase prices of their courses by huge leaps.


Though it’s great that Udemy is a platform where everyone can sell their courses, it makes it difficult for an average person selling their course to compete with renowned experts or institutes. This is especially hard because sellers have to market themselves with Udemy’s limited branding options; Udemy doesn’t do this for them. Additionally, the pricing of the courses is handled by the Udemy team and boy, do they slash prices like crazy! What’s worse, they seem to do this on various occasions and sellers don’t really have a say in this. They also take a substantial amount of their income from the course, despite a decent revenue share on paper.


Like Udemy, it’s great that Skillshare allows anyone to sell their course on its platform. However, the portal doesn’t seem to set any eligibility criteria for its teachers. Additionally, even qualified teachers may not make a lot of money from their course, as income depends purely on how many students enroll in the course and how many times the teacher’s videos get watched. With free websites like YouTube that provide also provide high-quality educational videos, this could be a serious problem to consider (this also applies to Udemy).


One of the main cons of Treehouse is that it’s still a work in progress, especially its library. Additionally, it’s aimed at beginners, making it unsuitable and unnecessary for anyone who already possesses basic knowledge of the course.