best online learning sites

Best Online Learning Sites

Best online learning sites for your career

Looking for the best online learning sites offering free or low-cost learning to boost your knowledge and skills? Online courses are a great way to keep learning throughout your life both personally and professionally.

Although non-accredited, online courses are not a replacement for recognised qualifications, there are many benefits to online learning which I’ve outlined in an earlier post. By far the biggest advantages of online learning are convenience, accessibility and the sheer number of courses on offer.

With hundreds of thousands of online learning providers around the world, it can be difficult to find a quality, affordable courses to boost your knowledge and skills. Here are four great online learning sites to get you started on your online learning journey:

Coursera launched in 2012, boasts of being one of the largest providers of MOOCs (massive open online courses) in the world. Whether you’re looking to take a short, introductory course or take your career to the next level with a master’s degree, you’re bound to find something of interest.

Coursera offers courses on a range of topics from universities and organisations around the world from The Science of Wellbeing at Yale, to Mathematics for Machine Learning at Imperial College London.

You can audit a course for free or pay a certification fee to gain a certificate of completion. This can be a great way to enhance your CV and LinkedIn profile (Coursera certificates are directly shareable to LinkedIn).


FutureLearn is a UK-based online learning platform launched in 2013 offering teaching by world-class universities and organisations. Many students start with FutureLearn’s short courses which allow you to gain bite-sized training on a specific topic or dive deeper into more substantial learning.

Like other online learning sites, you can study a single subject, a course, micro-credentials or even take an online degree. Short courses allow you to get a feel for a university’s certified programs like micro-credentials or post-graduate programs. FutureLearn offers three levels of access to learning through its ‘free’, ‘upgrade’ or ‘unlimited’ options. 

Edx was founded by scientists from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. Since then, it’s become one of the most popular MOOCs in the world offering university-level online courses from universities such as Harvard, MIT and Berkeley in the US and many other universities across the globe.

Like the others, you can ‘audit’ a course (take it for free) and only pay a fee if you wish to receive a certificate. With Edx, this involves choosing the verified track where you sit exams at key points throughout the course.

Whether you want to learn Agile Project Management or Python Programming, or study Climate Change Education or Microeconomics, you will find quality learning from reputable institutes from around the world to advance your career.

Udemy, established in 2009 and officially launched in 2010, is one of the oldest online learning platforms. Udemy offers over 100,000 courses on a wide range of topics including business and entrepreneurship, technology, the arts, language, music, health and fitness. While you can learn job-related skills via the Udemy online learning platform, it also offers a lot of hobbies and personal interest courses you might take for enjoyment rather than to enhance your CV.

One of the downsides to Udemy is that anyone can publish a course there. So you need to understand if it is going to meet your needs particularly if you are looking to take a course professionally.

Udemy can be a good option for those looking for general learning. For instance, if you’re looking for introductory courses or hobby courses, it can be a great option. But since Udemy courses don’t publish as many professional courses as Edx and Coursera do, it’s probably not the best choice if you’re looking for online learning to boost your career.


No matter what you want to learn, there’s bound to be a course on offer at one of the above online learning sites to suit your needs. As you have discovered, some of the best universities from around the world offer a broad range of courses from a short introductory course through to micro-credentials and master’s level qualifications.

When looking for a course, be clear about your motives. Are you learning for fun or are you looking for a course that will enhance your career prospects? If you’re looking to gain a recognised qualification, make sure you choose a reputable and registered training organisation, college or university.

Take time and do your homework. Check course reviews and rankings before deciding on which course to take. Think about how you learn best as course design and delivery methods vary. If (like me!) you’re a keen lifelong learner, be careful of biting off more than you can chew. It can be tempting to sign up for several courses at once. Take it one step at a time and only take on what you can realistically manage. Learning should be enjoyable and life-enhancing rather than a burden.

If you’re unsure which course will suit your needs either contact the course provider directly or speak with a qualified and registered career coach to make an informed decision that will help you reach your personal and career goals. 

Picture of Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev,  RCDP, MAC

Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, RCDP, MAC

Career Coach, EMCC-Accredited Master Practitioner Coach and CDI-Registered Career Development Professional with more than 20 years’ experience helping achieve successful and fulfilling careers.



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