The 15 Best Learning Apps for Adults (2023)

After performing a search for online learning on Google, you’ll find 7 billion results and just a few hundred years ago, individuals would write new books over top of old ones because there wasn’t enough paper. Learners today are in a great position to advance their skills from the comfort of their own home.

In this article, we list the best general sites out there for you to learn on. When we say general, we mean that they are offering courses in many disciplines from humanities to engineering, rather than just one or a few, like you’d find on Codeacademy. This means when you subscribe (if you need to subscribe) that you can easily go between many types of courses.

Let’s go through the best learning apps for adults. We’ll take a look at some of the key features that make them special and some of the important things you know before trying them out.


Coursera has been in the online course game since the beginning of online learning platforms. As one of the first learning platforms to gain prominence, it has grown to a global leader in education, with a valuation of over 1 Billion USD (source).

It has become a portal with courses and partnerships available with some of the best universities in the world. After signing up for an account, which is free, you will have courses available on the site across a seemingly infinite range of topics. 

You can audit courses for free on Coursera, which is the equivalent of sitting in a college course (and not paying for it!). Of course, there’s a catch. You can’t earn a certificate or get your assignments graded. If you want to get a certificate, you can pay to take part in a course, guided project, specialization, or even a degree. Coursera is setting the tone for online learning.

What makes it special?

  • Course auditing
  • Courses by top universities/companies
  • Name recognition


With a course catalog that spans thousands of topics, Udemy offers the chance to take a course with less stress. 

Prices are transparent and often come with a discount. Unlike Coursera and Skillshare, the courses on Udemy are purchased individually. This means you don’t have to commit to a monthly or annual plan. On the other hand, committed users may miss out on the lower prices if they wish to take multiple courses.

Moreover, users get the chance to see reviews right below the course and the number of ratings. As a result, users get a transparent view of the courses they can take. 

Udemy has a similar feel to Skillshare with practical courses from the folks who are doing these things every day. The user interface is also clear and easy to use, and you do have the opportunity to get certificates of completion at the end of your courses.

What makes it special?

  • Low cost
  • Many courses
  • Industry professionals lead courses (maybe more practical)

LinkedIn Learning was an online learning platform offering a vast library of high-quality video courses taught by industry experts. Founded in 1995, the platform was acquired by LinkedIn in 2015, and its courses were integrated into LinkedIn Learning.

LinkedIn Learning courses on a wide range of topics, from software development to photography, design, marketing, and more. You get a one-month free trial of LinkedIn learning. Users can learn at their pace, with access to course materials and exercise files that could be downloaded and saved for later use. The platform also offered certificates of completion for each course, which could be shared on LinkedIn to showcase new skills and knowledge to potential employers.

What makes it special?

  • Courses are short and quick
  • Easy to add certificates to LinkedIn
  • Plenty of course options – mostly focuses on practical subjects

YouTube for learners

YouTube is the most popular social network out there, with almost everyone seeing it as a source of entertainment and even a way to learn new things. 

In fact, 86% of users indicated that they use YouTube to learn new things (source). And, think about the scale of that statement! For example, YouTube has about 122 million daily users (source). That means that YouTube could very well be one of the most popular learning sites out there.

What makes it special?

  • Free access – all you have to do is sign-up with your email
  • New content is constantly uploaded 
  • Universities, industry experts, and other institutions use YouTube as a way to get more notoriety 

It’s worth giving it a chance. One thing I love to do is type in: (X topic) Lecture. Usually, you’ll come up with something interesting! 


MasterClass is an online learning platform with video-based lessons and courses taught by experts. The platform was created in 2014 and has since grown to offer courses in disciplines, like business, STEM, wellness, and more. 

The brand is well-known, with the term, Masterclass, being a popular way of saying that someone is showing their deep expertise. Their notoriety has increased further with plenty of celebrity instructors, such as Michael Pollan, Naomi Campbell, and Stephen Curry, teaching courses.

Each course features high-quality video lessons, exercises, and downloadable materials to help students learn new skills. MasterClass also has a mobile app for learning while traveling, as well as an annual subscription with access to all courses (source).

What is special about this?

  • Courses taught by thought-leaders
  • Exceptional quality 
  • Well-known brand recognition


Simplilearn has come on to the scene in the past few years with high-quality content and courses. The company describes itself as “The world’s #1 online bootcamp and one of the world’s leading certification training providers (source).” 

Simplilearn offers courses in fast-developing industries, such as digital marketing, project management, AI & Machine Learning, and more. To offer meaningful courses in these areas, they have partnered with universities and industry leaders to offer courses that can help you upskill quickly. 

What makes it special?

  • Simplilearn offers certificates that can help adult learners to skill up quickly
  • They give away a lot of free content on YouTube
  • They partner with top institutions, such as Purdue, Microsoft, UPenn, and many more


Skillshare is an online learning platform that offers over 30,000 courses taught by industry experts. The courses are primarily focused on creative fields such as design, photography, illustration, animation, and other creative fields. Skillshare offers a subscription-based model where users pay a monthly or yearly fee to access all courses. The platform also offers a free trial period, allowing users to try the service before committing to a subscription.

What makes it special?

  • Course from well-known educators
  • Many courses from various disciplines
  • Low-cost subscription is an online learning platform that makes education affordable, effective and engaging with short, fun video lessons created by subject-matter experts. There are plenty of courses that you can access on the site, and many that you can even access for college credit. Using, you can save on college tuition and learning skills. 

One of the best features for adult learners is that has a program just for you. The Working Scholars® program allows users to complete up to 75% of their college credit through, which can add up to big savings. 

What makes it special?

  • Commitment to affordability
  • Access to tutors
  • Working Scholars®

MIT Opencourseware

One of the first-movers in online learning was MIT with their free lectures and courses. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology isn’t just any university – it’s a global institution offering courses from the brightest minds in the world. And, they offer these courses for free. 

You can comb through the courses without any need to sign up on the website. You can find courses across disciplines and not just in technology. For example, you can access courses in mathematics, history, brain and cognitive sciences, and many more. 

What makes it special? 

  • Access courses free with no sign-up 
  • Course materials are available for download, along with assignments 
  • MIT is a top-ranked university globally 

Khan Academy

Khan Academy was started by a single person, Sal Khan, who wanted to provide a free and quality means to get a world-class education. And, for the most part, he’s succeeded! An online learner accessing Khan Academy can join courses for free. 

Khan Academy requires you to sign up, but after doing so, you get access to course videos in topics mostly in STEM (Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Technology), but also in economics, arts & humanities, computing, and more. 

For adult learners, Khan academy offers a chance to return to the basics. Though the site is geared towards younger students, it offers great instruction that can help you dust off the cobwebs in your education. 

What makes it special? 

  • Access courses free with no sign-up 
  • Course materials guided by video – stop and start at your leisure
  • The lectures are broken down for younger learners, which can be extremely helpful if you’ve struggled on remedial topics in the past


Edx is a provider of MOOCs (massive open online courses). They’ve also taken the route of attracting universities and top companies to their platform. Similar to Coursera, they offer certificates for individual courses, professional certificates, and even degree programs.

When it comes to pricing, you’ll find that users pay a cost of between $50 and $300 for the verified track, which means that you receive a certificate at the end.6 Similar to Coursera, you can also audit courses. Of course, auditing on Edx comes with similar drawbacks: 1) You can’t get graded assignments, 2) You don’t receive a certificate.

What makes it special?

  • Audit courses
  • Courses by top universities/companies
  • Professional certificates


FutureLearn partners with top universities and institutions to help learners develop new skills and attain their personal and professional goals. They offer various types of paths to learn skills, such as Short courses, ExpertTracks, Microcredentials, and Degrees. With the unlimited plan, users can take a wide range of courses and get certificates to improve their CVs.

What makes it special?

  • A clear commitment to bringing a university education to you
  • Relatively low cost
  • Micro-credentials help learners upskill in a short timeframe. 


Domestika is an online learning platform that offers courses mainly focused on creative fields such as design, photography, illustration, animation, and more. The platform offers a mix of free and paid courses, with some courses requiring a one-time fee and others requiring a subscription. Domestika also offers a range of classes, which are in-depth courses taught by industry experts and require a higher fee.

What makes it special?

  • Upskilling for creatives
  • Relatively low cost
  • Has an online community for knowledge-sharing


Alison wants to give you the chance to educate yourself and empower yourself in the process. Similar to other online course platforms, they provide courses with top institutions and industry leaders. However, they differ from the others with a more holistic approach. 

Alison offers assessments on mental health and workplace personality assessments that can help you get a more in-depth understanding of yourself. This understanding can help you save time and money by helping you avoid courses and career paths that lie too far outside your comfort zone.

You can find courses on Alison across the spectrum. For example, they offer personal development, IT, sales and business courses, among many others. 

What makes it special?

  • Shows courses relevant to career areas
  • Offers ways to learn about yourself
  • Tutors can be hired 


Udacity is an online learning platform that provides courses and nanodegrees in various fields, including artificial intelligence, programming, data science, digital marketing, and more. The platform was founded in 2011 by Stanford University professors and has since expanded to offer hundreds of courses and programs with industry partners such as Google, IBM, and Amazon.

Udacity’s courses feature interactive video lessons, hands-on projects, and personalized feedback from coaches and mentors. The nanodegrees are more intensive and provide a more comprehensive learning experience that includes real-world projects and career services. Udacity also offers a free trial for many courses and programs, as well as flexible payment options.

What makes it special?

  • Nanodegrees offers a 3-month journey to a new skill set 
  • Focused on the most widely demanded skills in the market
  • Has its own schools with a focus on practical skills

Education Apps for Adults:

Well, there you have it. It’s important to consider what your interests are before selecting an educational app as an adult learner. Whether it’s upskilling quickly, getting a degree, or learning for fun, each learning app offers something different for your needs.

The Author

Mike is US professional interested in online learning and self-directed learning. He got his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree but left both with debt and an unclear career path. Mike has spent 4 years working in education non-profits dedicated to youth education and helping people learn how to start their own companies. He currently works in a financial services company and spends his spare time reading, learning languages, and taking online courses.

Learn more:

Developing a Passion for Learning: 7 Tips to Get Started

Domestika vs. Skillshare Comparison (2023)

Skillshare vs. Coursera: Which is right for you? (2023)