best online courses for adults

Online Courses For Adults

The best online learning platforms offer a vast selection of courses you can access anytime and anywhere. They are ideal for individuals or company employees to learn new skills. Online learning has become a crucial tool for people looking to stay relevant in the current job market and for organizations who want to keep their staff up to date.

Table of Contents


Platform Focus Areas Course Format Pricing Model
Coursera Broad range of academic and professional subjects Video lectures, quizzes, peer-reviewed assignments

Free to access course materials, pay for certificates, subscription for specializations, separate pricing for degrees.

Free – $100 for individual courses, $39-$79/month for specializations, $15-$25,000 for online degrees

LinkedIn Learning

Business, creative, and technology skills Video courses


$29.99/month or $239.88/year, free 1-month trial

Skillshare Creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, and technology Project-based video courses


$19/month or $99/year, free trial available

Skillsoft Professional effectiveness, technology & developer, compliance Various formats including video, audio, books, and interactive resources


Varies widely, contact for quote

Udemy Broad range of professional and personal development subjects Video courses, quizzes, assignments

Individual course purchase

Usually $20-$200 per course

Pluralsight Technology and developer skills Video courses, Skill IQ assessments


$29/month or $299/year for standard, $449/year for premium, free trial available

Udacity Technology skills (e.g., programming, AI, data science) Video lectures, quizzes, projects

Individual course purchase, separate pricing for Nanodegree programs.

Free for some courses, Nanodegree programs usually $399/month

edX Broad range of academic subjects Video lectures, quizzes, peer-reviewed assignments

Free to access course materials, pay for certificates, separate pricing for degrees and professional certificates.

Free – $300 for professional education courses, $50-$300 for certificate programs, up to $25,000 for online Master’s degrees

Simplilearn Professional certification courses (e.g., project management, digital marketing) Video lessons, live virtual classrooms, project work Individual course purchase
Varies by course, generally in the range of $100 – $1,000+
DataCamp Data science and analytics Interactive coding exercises, video lessons Subscription-based
$25/month or $250/year for individuals, $300/year per user for business plans
Kaplan Test preparation, higher education, professional training Varied formats including video courses and books

Individual course purchase, separate pricing for degrees and courses.

Price varies by course and degree program, typically from $100 to several thousand dollars


Detailed Comparison:



Partnering with Prestigious Universities for Academic Excellence

Coursera has established itself as a leading online learning platform by forming strategic partnerships with universities worldwide. By collaborating with top-tier institutions such as Stanford, Yale, and Princeton, Coursera ensures students have access to reputable academic courses.

These partnerships not only lend credibility to the platform but also provide learners with an opportunity to learn from the best professors and experts in their respective fields. The emphasis on academic courses sets Coursera apart from other online learning platforms.

You can enroll in a variety of subjects spanning various disciplines, including computer science, humanities, business, and more. This focus on academic excellence makes Coursera an ideal choice for individuals seeking formal education or looking to enhance their knowledge in specific areas.

Specializations: Gaining Expertise in Specific Fields

One of Coursera’s standout features is its Specializations offering. Specializations are curated series of individual courses designed to provide comprehensive knowledge and expertise in particular fields.

Learners can choose from hundreds of Specializations across diverse domains like data science, UX design, entrepreneurship, and more. Each Specialization consists of multiple courses that build upon one another, culminating in a capstone project or final assessment.

This structured approach allows learners to develop a deep understanding of a subject while gaining practical skills along the way. The ability to focus on specific areas not only caters to individual interests but also helps learners stand out professionally by showcasing specialized knowledge and capabilities.

Rigorous Assessment Methods and Verified Certificates

Coursera places great importance on maintaining the integrity of its courses through rigorous assessment methods. Instructors employ a variety of evaluation techniques like quizzes, assignments, projects, and exams tailored to each course’s content and objectives. These assessments ensure active participation from learners and validate their understanding of the material.

Coursera offers verified certificates upon completion of a course or Specialization. These certificates serve as tangible proof of achievement and can be shared on professional platforms like LinkedIn to enhance one’s credibility in the job market.

The verification process involves identity verification measures such as photo recognition and keystroke analysis, further establishing the legitimacy of these certificates. Coursera’s commitment to academic rigor, specialized learning paths, and verified credentials solidifies its position as a go-to platform for those seeking structured academic courses that provide detailed knowledge along with recognized certifications.

LinkedIn Learning

The Power of Integration: LinkedIn Learning and Professional Networking

LinkedIn Learning stands out among other online learning platforms due to its seamless integration with the world’s largest professional networking platform, LinkedIn. This integration opens up a wealth of opportunities for learners to enhance their career development and expand their professional network simultaneously. 

By leveraging the power of LinkedIn, users can showcase their completed courses, certifications, and skills on their personal profiles, making them more visible to potential employers and connections in their industry.

The platform’s integration with LinkedIn also allows learners to tap into the vast professional communities present on the social networking site. Users can join relevant Groups and engage in meaningful discussions with industry experts and like-minded professionals.

This feature not only facilitates knowledge sharing but also fosters networking opportunities that can lead to valuable connections or even job prospects. By seamlessly combining learning with networking, LinkedIn Learning offers a unique advantage setting it apart from its competitors.

Focusing on Career Development and Soft Skills Training

LinkedIn Learning is designed with a clear focus on empowering individuals in their career journeys by offering courses tailored towards career development and soft skills training. 

While technical skills are undoubtedly important, employers increasingly emphasize the need for employees who possess effective communication abilities, leadership qualities, adaptability, and other soft skills which are essential for success in today’s dynamic work environments. 

With this understanding at its core, LinkedIn Learning provides an extensive library of courses dedicated to developing these crucial soft skills.

From effective communication techniques to leadership principles and conflict resolution strategies, learners can access quality content delivered by industry experts who bring real-world insights into each lesson. 

By equipping individuals with these sought-after professional competencies through engaging video tutorials, exercises, and assessments, LinkedIn Learning ensures its users have a competitive edge in the job market.

Personalized Course Recommendations Tailored to Your Profile

LinkedIn Learning takes personalization to a whole new level by leveraging the vast amount of data available through users’ LinkedIn profiles. By analyzing their skills, work experience, industry, and connections, the platform’s algorithm generates personalized course recommendations that align with each individual’s professional goals and interests. 

This tailored approach ensures learners are presented with courses that are directly relevant to their career aspirations, helping them maximize their time and learning outcomes.

Furthermore, LinkedIn Learning offers curated learning paths or “learning playlists” which guide users through a series of courses aimed at developing specific skills or competencies. These playlists are meticulously designed by industry experts and thought leaders who understand the sequential nature of skill acquisition.

By following these recommended paths, learners can build a comprehensive skill set in a deliberate manner. LinkedIn Learning’s integration with LinkedIn provides unique networking opportunities while also focusing on career development and soft skills training.

With its personalized course recommendations based on users’ profiles, the platform offers tailored learning experiences suitable for individuals seeking to enhance their professional growth. 

Harnessing the power of both online learning and professional networking, LinkedIn Learning empowers individuals to thrive in their chosen careers while expanding their professional connections.


A Community-Driven Learning Experience

Skillshare stands out among online learning platforms due to its unique community-driven approach, democratizing education and empowering anyone to become a teacher. This distinctive feature sets Skillshare apart from other platforms as it fosters a sense of inclusivity and collaboration within the learning environment.

By allowing individuals with expertise in various subjects to create and teach their own courses, Skillshare offers a range of perspectives and knowledge for learners to check out. When it comes to the subjects covered on Skillshare, the platform places a particular emphasis on creative skills such as design, photography, and writing.

It caters to individuals looking to nurture their artistic talents or enhance their creativity in professional settings. 

Whether you aspire to improve your graphic design abilities or explore new writing techniques, Skillshare offers an extensive catalog of courses taught by industry professionals who possess real-world experience in these domains.

Project-Based Learning and Peer Feedback

One of the key aspects distinguishing Skillshare’s approach is its project-based learning style. Courses on this platform often encourage learners not only to passively consume content but also actively engage through practical projects.

This hands-on approach allows students to apply what they have learned immediately, reinforcing their understanding of the concepts while honing their skills through practice. Furthermore, Skillshare incorporates a robust peer feedback system into its learning experience.

Learners can share their projects with the community and receive constructive critiques from peers who are also actively engaged in similar courses or fields of interest. This feedback loop encourages collaboration, growth, and continuous improvement by fostering an environment where learners can learn from each other’s experiences.

Skillshare’s community-driven nature combined with its emphasis on creative skills, project-based learning style, and peer feedback system make it an appealing choice for those seeking a dynamic and interactive online learning experience. 

Whether you are looking to acquire new creative skills or connect with like-minded individuals, Skillshare provides a platform promoting learning, growth, and collaboration in a truly unique manner.


Catering to Corporate Training Needs

Skillsoft, an online learning platform, sets itself apart by primarily focusing on catering to the corporate training needs of organizations. With a vast library of business-related courses spanning various domains and industries, Skillsoft offers comprehensive learning solutions to enhance employee skills and knowledge.

Whether it’s leadership development, project management, or software proficiency, Skillsoft provides an extensive range of courses designed to address the specific requirements of businesses. Skillsoft understands corporate training often demands specialized content that aligns with the unique challenges faced by organizations.

Hence, their course catalog encompasses a wide array of topics such as sales training, customer service excellence, cybersecurity awareness, and compliance regulations. 

By offering such diverse options, Skillsoft ensures companies can strategically invest in targeted learning programs that cultivate the necessary skill sets within their workforce.

Adaptive Learning Technology

One key aspect setting Skillsoft apart is its adaptive learning technology. This innovative feature can personalize content based on individual learner needs and preferences. Skillsoft’s platform utilizes advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques to analyze user behavior and gather data on their performance throughout different courses.

This data-driven approach enables Skillsoft to dynamically adapt the learning experience for each user by suggesting relevant modules or assessments based on their strengths and areas for improvement. By employing adaptive learning technology, Skillsoft optimizes knowledge retention and engagement levels among learners.

The platform identifies knowledge gaps in real-time and recommends tailored content modules or additional resources to fill those gaps effectively. This personalized approach enhances the overall effectiveness of training programs while maximizing learner satisfaction.

Partnerships with Industry Experts

Skillsoft recognizes the importance of providing up-to-date content in rapidly evolving industries. To deliver up to date educational materials aligned with current industry practices and trends, Skillsoft has established strategic partnerships with industry experts across various fields.

These partnerships ensure the learning platform continuously offers relevant and timely courses meeting the needs of both individuals and organizations. Collaborating with industry experts allows Skillsoft to tap into a vast network of professionals who bring their expertise to the table.

These experts contribute valuable insights, best practices, and practical knowledge to shape Skillsoft’s course offerings. By featuring content from industry leaders, Skillsoft ensures students have access to cutting-edge information and can stay ahead in their respective domains.

Skillsoft’s commitment to forging strong partnerships with industry experts solidifies its position as a trusted source for up-to-date and reliable educational content. 

This collaborative approach enables them to deliver comprehensive learning experiences to not only equip learners with theoretical knowledge but also prepare them for real-world challenges within their professional environments.


An Open Marketplace for Knowledge

Udemy, with its unique marketplace model, has revolutionized online learning by providing a platform where anyone can create and sell courses. Unlike other platforms which have strict vetting processes for instructors, Udemy believes in democratizing education, allowing individuals from diverse backgrounds to share their knowledge and expertise. 

This open marketplace approach has resulted in an extensive library of courses covering an incredibly diverse range of subjects.

Quality Control Challenges

While the open marketplace model allows for a vast array of course options, it also presents challenges in maintaining consistent quality. Due to the lack of stringent instructor vetting processes, the quality of Udemy courses can really vary.

While many instructors offer engaging and informative content, others may lack essential qualifications or teaching skills. As a learner on Udemy, it is important to carefully evaluate course reviews and ratings before enrolling to ensure a satisfactory learning experience.

Affordable Learning Opportunities

One of the advantages of Udemy’s marketplace model is its affordability. Compared to other platforms that charge monthly or yearly subscription fees or individual course fees, Udemy often offers courses at reasonable prices, frequently running sales promotions as well. 

This makes it accessible to learners on tight budgets who may not be able to afford more expensive platforms or certifications from traditional institutions.

With the flexibility and affordability Udemy offers, individuals can pursue their passions or develop new skills without breaking the bank. 

In a world where access to knowledge is increasingly vital for personal development and professional growth, Udemy’s open marketplace model provides exciting opportunities for learners worldwide.

While there may be challenges in ensuring consistent quality due to limited instructor vetting processes, the platform’s affordability and diverse range of courses still make it an attractive option for those seeking knowledge enrichment and skill acquisition. 

With a discerning eye and careful evaluation, learners can take advantage of the vast array of courses available on Udemy and embark on a fulfilling learning journey.



A Path Paved by Excellence

Pluralsight, an industry-leading online learning platform, boasts a rich background and history propelling it to the forefront of technological education. Founded in 2004 by Aaron Skonnard, Keith Brown, Fritz Onion, and Bill Williams, Pluralsight emerged with a mission to provide great training content for technology professionals. 

Over the years, the platform has grown exponentially and acquired various other online learning providers to expand its course offerings.

Fueling Technological Ambitions

Pluralsight caters primarily to individuals seeking to enhance their proficiency in technology-related fields. Its course offerings are meticulously designed to cover a variety of IT skills demanded in today’s dynamic job market. From programming languages like Python, Java, and C++, to data analysis tools like SQL and R, Pluralsight ensures students or “learners” are equipped with the necessary expertise for success.

With an unwavering focus on technology and IT skills development, Pluralsight continues to push boundaries by regularly updating its extensive library of courses. 

Whether you aspire to become a cybersecurity expert or master cloud computing technologies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, Pluralsight provides comprehensive resources that cater to both beginners and experienced professionals alike.

An Immersive Learning Experience

Pluralsight distinguishes itself through its engaging learning experience backed by innovative features. The courses primarily consist of video-based content taught by industry experts who possess real-world experience in their respective domains. These expert-led videos not only elucidate complex concepts but also provide practical insights into their application.

To ensure hands-on learning, Pluralsight incorporates interactive exercises within its video courses. Learners can actively engage with coding challenges or perform simulations related to their chosen field of study.

This experiential approach facilitates a deeper understanding of the subject matter and reinforces practical skills. Furthermore, Pluralsight offers skill assessments and interactive quizzes to gauge learners’ progress and knowledge retention.

These assessments provide valuable feedback, allowing individuals to identify areas of improvement and tailor their learning journey accordingly. By incorporating these features seamlessly, Pluralsight fosters an immersive and dynamic learning environment driving continuous growth for its users.


Background and History as a MOOC Provider

Udacity is an online learning platform founded back in 2011 by Sebastian Thrun, a former Stanford professor and co-founder of Google X. Originally, Udacity began as an experiment in offering “Massive Open Online Courses” (MOOCs) to make quality education accessible to a global audience. 

With its roots firmly planted in the realm of free education, Udacity quickly gained recognition and evolved into a powerful platform that combines academic rigor with industry relevance.

Emphasis on Career-Focused Education

One of the key aspects that sets Udacity apart from other online learning platforms is its strong emphasis on career-focused education. Recognizing the evolving needs of the job market, Udacity aligns its course offerings with high-demand fields such as data science, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), autonomous systems, and more. 

By collaborating with leading companies like Google, IBM, Nvidia, and Facebook, Udacity ensures their curriculum is up-to-date and aligned with industry standards.

Nanodegree Programs in Collaboration with Industry Partners

Udacity’s Nanodegree programs are highly sought after in the online learning landscape due to their unique collaboration with industry partners. These programs are designed to equip learners with specialized skills required for specific job roles through hands-on projects and practical experience. 

For example, the “Self-Driving Car Engineer” Nanodegree program was created in partnership with companies like NVIDIA and Mercedes-Benz to train professionals for careers in autonomous vehicle technology.

Strong Focus on Emerging Technologies like AI, VR, etc.

Udacity recognizes the importance of staying ahead of technological advancements and provides courses tailored to emerging fields such as AI and VR. This forward-thinking approach enables learners to acquire cutting-edge skills that can greatly enhance their career prospects. With a keen focus on emerging technologies, Udacity’s goal is to prepare their users for jobs of the future.

Unique Learning Experience

Project-Based Approach with Real-World Applications

Udacity’s learning experience revolves around a project-based approach that immerses learners in real-world scenarios. Rather than just focusing on theory, learners are encouraged to apply their knowledge to practical projects. This hands-on approach allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter and gain valuable experience.

Personalized Feedback from Mentors

To further enrich the learning journey, Udacity provides personalized feedback from industry experts and mentors. Learners receive guidance and support throughout their courses, with mentors providing constructive criticism and valuable insights. This mentorship aspect enhances the learning experience by offering individual attention and fostering a stronger connection between learners and professionals in their chosen field.

Udacity stands out as an online learning platform due to its strong focus on career-oriented education, nanodegree programs created in collaboration with industry partners, and emphasis on emerging technologies like AI and VR. 

The unique learning experience offered by Udacity through its project-based approach with real-world applications coupled with personalized feedback from mentors ensures students are equipped with practical skills needed for success in their chosen fields.


Background and Partnership between Harvard University & MIT

EdX is an online learning platform founded in 2012 through a collaboration between two prestigious educational institutions, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

The partnership aimed to bring high-quality education to learners worldwide, leveraging the expertise and resources of these esteemed universities. This unique alliance has allowed EdX to offer a diverse range of courses from universities around the world, making it a prominent player in the online learning space.

Variety of Courses from Renowned Universities & Institutions Worldwide

One of EdX’s standout features is its vast selection of courses offered by top-tier universities and institutions across the globe. Learners can find an extensive range of subjects available for study, including humanities, science, business, technology, and more. 

This wide selection ensures that learners have access to educational opportunities that align with their interests or career goals.

Inclusive Approach with Free Access to Course Materials

EdX strongly believes in making education accessible to all individuals regardless of their financial means. As part of its inclusive approach, EdX provides free access to course materials for most courses offered on its platform.

Learners can enroll in these courses without any fees and gain valuable knowledge at their own pace. However, if they wish to obtain verified certificates or take advantage of additional features like graded assignments or exams, there is typically a fee associated with those offerings.

Interactive Learning Features

To enhance the learning experience for students, EdX incorporates interactive elements into its courses. Virtual labs and simulations provide learners with practical applications for the concepts they are studying.

Through hands-on experimentation within a digital environment, students can develop a deeper understanding of complex topics while gaining valuable experience. In addition to virtual labs and simulations, EdX fosters collaboration and discussion among learners through its forum feature.

These forums serve as an online community where students can interact with their peers, ask questions, and engage in meaningful discussions about course material. This interactive aspect not only enhances the learning experience but also provides a supportive environment for learners to exchange ideas and perspectives.

EdX’s commitment to providing a diverse range of courses, an inclusive approach to education, and interactive learning features makes it an excellent option for individuals seeking top-quality online education from reputable institutions worldwide. 

Whether you aspire to study humanities or gain expertise in cutting-edge scientific discoveries, EdX offers an educational journey catered to your specific interests and goals.


Focus on Professional Certification Training

Simplilearn stands out among online learning platforms for its specialized focus on professional certification training. Recognizing the growing demand for industry-specific skills, Simplilearn offers a multitude of courses in areas such as project management, digital marketing, cybersecurity, and more. 

Whether you are seeking to enhance your career prospects or pivot to a new field altogether, Simplilearn provides comprehensive training programs tailored to your needs.

Collaboration with Industry Experts for Course Development

One of the key strengths of Simplilearn lies in its partnerships with industry experts for course development. Through collaborations with leading professionals in their respective domains, Simplilearn ensures its course content remains up-to-date and relevant to current industry trends and practices. By learning from industry practitioners themselves, students gain valuable insights into the real-world applications of their chosen fields.

Blended Learning Approach: Online Self-Paced Videos Combined with Live Virtual Classrooms

Simplilearn employs a blended learning approach combining online self-paced videos with live virtual classrooms. This unique combination allows learners to benefit from both flexibility and interactive engagement.

The self-paced videos provide a solid foundation of theoretical knowledge, while live virtual classrooms enable students to clarify doubts, participate in discussions, and receive personalized guidance from instructors.

Hands-On Projects to Apply Theoretical Knowledge

As any educator will attest, true mastery comes not only through theoretical understanding but also through practical application. Recognizing this principle, Simplilearn incorporates hands-on projects into its courses to provide learners with opportunities to apply their newfound knowledge in real-world scenarios. 

By working on these projects independently or collaboratively with peers under the supervision of instructors, students can strengthen their skills and develop the confidence needed to excel in their chosen fields.


All of these companies provide online access to knowledge and skills development resources from anywhere in the world. Whether you’re a professional seeking to advance in your career, a student looking to supplement your academic studies, or a lifelong learner with a broad range of interests, an online platform that suits your needs.

Coursera, edX, and Kaplan shine when it comes to offering academic and professional courses from reputable universities and organizations. For those interested in the creative arts and lifestyle subjects, Skillshare provides a unique, project-based approach. LinkedIn Learning and Skillsoft are fantastic resources for career advancement and upskilling in business and tech, while Udemy’s vast catalog covers a broad range of both professional and personal development subjects.

Udacity and Simplilearn stand out for their tech-focused, career-orientated programs, with Udacity’s Nanodegree programs and Simplilearn’s certification training particularly notable. For those focused specifically on data science and analytics, DataCamp’s interactive, hands-on approach to coding offers a highly specialized learning experience.

Pluralsight is a go-to platform for comprehensive technology and developer skills, and with its Skill IQ feature, it allows learners to assess their proficiency levels and learn at a suitable pace.

In a nutshell, while each platform has its own strengths and unique offerings, they all share a common goal: to make high-quality education accessible, affordable, and convenient. As we move further into the digital age, the importance of lifelong learning cannot be overstated. These platforms serve as valuable resources, empowering us to take charge of our personal and professional development, continually acquire new skills, and adapt to the ever-changing world around us.

Choosing the best platform is a matter of understanding your individual learning goals, preferred learning style, budget, and the time you’re willing to commit. By weighing these factors, you can find the online learning platform that is just the right fit for your educational journey. Click the links above in this article to see more details about the courses each company offers.


Q: Where can I find the best free online classes in 2023?

A: You can find the best free online classes in 2023 on various websites including Coursera, edX, Khan Academy, and Udemy. Additionally, many universities and colleges offer free online courses through their websites. Check out Linkedin Learning

Q: What is adult education?

A: Adult education refers to any form of learning or education that is specifically designed for adults. It includes courses, programs, and learning opportunities for adults.

Q: Can I earn a college degree online?

A: Yes, it is possible to earn a college degree online. Many universities and colleges offer online degree programs that allow students to complete their coursework remotely. These programs provide flexibility and convenience for working adults who wish to advance their education.

Q: Can I get a certificate of completion for online courses?

A: Yes, many online courses offer a certificate of completion upon successfully finishing the course requirements. These certificates can prove you have mastered the skills taught by the course and can be included in your resume.



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