An online platform is a digital service that uses the Internet to enable communication between two or more distinct but related users, who can be either businesses or private people. Platforms are locations where electronic demand and supply collide. Successful digital platforms include Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Knowledge platforms like StackOverflow, Quora, and Yahoo! Answers. Media-sharing platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Vimeo. The leading online learning platforms are Moodle, Coursera, Skillshare, Udemy, Codecademy, Edx, and Pluralsight. We also have online course platforms like LearnWorlds, Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, and Podia in addition to online learning platforms.
What is an Online Learning Platform?
An online learning platform is an information system that offers a secure learning environment for students to take online courses. These online learning platforms are frequently called online course marketplaces because they enable students to search for and purchase online courses directly. While some of these course marketplaces are used to showcase your custom online courses, the bulk are more educationally focused and only provide college-level instruction.
What is the difference between an online course platform and a learning management system?
Online teachers can create, host, deliver, and sell courses using an online course platform, a learning management system (LMS). An LMS is a more advanced type typically used by businesses for onboarding, customer education, staff training, and academic institutions to assist with instruction. However, the entire category can occasionally encompass WordPress plugins or even course platforms SMEs use to develop and market online courses.
In contrast to online learning platforms, online course platforms are cloud-hosted programs that let teachers construct online classes or individual lessons by uploading instructional content they have produced using text, photos, video, PDF files, and audio. But, rather than selling their courses on well-known platforms like Udemy, Edx, MagnetBrains, or Skillshare, individuals or small businesses can use a course platform to create their course marketplace. They can retain all the sales and user information they would otherwise be unable to.
What Are the Benefits of Online Platforms?
- Online platforms allow ordinary people to showcase their skills and provide services independently from businesses, creating an online service economy.
- Essentially, online platforms support the gig model.
- This new gig economy provides ample work opportunities for individuals who want to sell their skills to the public and other businesses.
- Because of its need for online platforms, the gig economy is also referred to as a platform economy.
- Independent contractors and freelancers aren’t the only people that benefit.
- Businesses, large and small, get value from this platform economy.
- Companies can hire workers as needed without the stress of training, benefits, or payroll problems.
- Additionally, ongoing relationships with independent workers provide consistent value when a business needs it.
- New jobs form from these online platforms and will continue to increase within the immense gig economy.
6 Types of Online Learning Platforms
- Learning Destination Sites.
- Traditional Commercial Learning Management Systems.
- Open Source Learning Management Systems.
- Modern Learning Management Solutions.
- Learning Management Ecosystems.
- Custom Built Platforms
Learning Destination Sites:
Learning destination sites allow you to author your courses using an authoring tool or a learning management system and then either upload or link the approaches to the site. The sites usually handle learner registration and eCommerce for you. Common areas include Udacity, Udemy, Coursera, and edX.
A learning destination site (LDS) allows you to access various courses in one place. Udemy, a popular LDS, offers over 185,000 video-based lessons on multiple topics. The following online learning platforms are also categorized as learning destination sites: Coursera.
Traditional Learning Management System:
A traditional commercial Learning Management System platform provides the basic functionality to develop and host an online course. It allows course designers to author courses, store them, manage learning profiles, report grades and progress, and provide other simple functionalities necessary for online courses.
Over 700 learning management system suppliers exist in the market, and most focus on corporate learning & development by creating their solutions for internal training. However, some have “extended enterprise” features, making repurposing content for external audiences easier.
Open Source Learning Management System:
An open source Learning Management System is a platform that provides the basic functionality necessary for developing and hosting an online course — much like the commercial LMS solution.
The difference is they are typically free of charge and can be customized. For each platform, there are usually communities of vendors who can configure, host, and customize open-source learning management systems for a fee. Common open-source learning platforms are Moodle, Sakai, and Open edX.
Modern Learning Management Solutions:
With the well-documented frustration that users often have with traditional learning management solutions, a new wave of modern solutions has emerged. These companies focus on learner experience and sometimes on specific pedagogies that traditional LMS solutions don’t support well. Vendors in this category include companies like Docebo, Totara, Litmos, Motivis, and NovoEd. It is unfair to list just these; there are many more, and the landscape continually changes.
Learning Management Ecosystems:
Another type of online learning platform is the learning management ecosystem. With this model, organizations look to use best-of-breed “point” solutions and knit them together into one platform. Course authoring software, assessment tools, adaptive learning engines, eCommerce sites, and learning content management solutions (to name a few features) are integrated and presented to the learner as one solution.
They are often built with a custom front end, creating the illusion of a single system. An example of a learning management ecosystem is the University of Notre Dame’s Nexus platform, which has Open edX (an open-source LMS) at its core. The platform integrates over a dozen other software tools and has a custom front end.
Custom Built Learning Platform:
The last of the online learning platforms is the fully custom-built learning platform. With this solution, you build all or most of the technology you need from scratch by focusing on serving the business, learner, and pedagogy. This solution takes the most time and, in many cases, is the most expensive, but you get exactly what you need and have complete control over the experience and direction. A good example of a full custom learning platform is HBX, built for Harvard Business School to deliver very high-end business certificate courses.
Choosing an Online Learning Platform
As you can see, many options are available for online learning, and each has strengths and weaknesses. While you may find it time-consuming to go through every small bit of detail that describes each platform and tool, conducting some research on those you are most interested in is highly recommended before finalizing your decision. Remember that most platforms allow you to have a test drive before you buy their products, so try it and see how it works with other tech tools! Ultimately, the best option for you is to choose the one that best accommodates your needs and works well with your budget.