Online courses are widespread and have a projected valuation of 1 trillion USD in today’s market.1
And the market has responded with many options to choose from. For example, Coursera and Skillshare are well-known companies in online education.
Let’s take a look at both of these online learning platforms, and how they measure against each other for our learning needs.
Skillshare vs. Coursera: Key Takeaways
Both Skillshare and Coursera lead the online learning industry with courses in pretty much any sector you can mention.
Skillshare Benefits: Overview
- Practical and easily digestible courses compared to Coursera
- The yearly price is less than half ($168 vs. $399) of Coursera’s annual plan2 3
- A better user experience
- Well-known influencers share their knowledge
Coursera Benefits: Overview
- Partnerships with well-known universities and companies from around the world
- Their credentials can give you a leg up with their connection to top schools and businesses
- Better for non-English speakers – translations and subtitles come with many courses
- The auditing feature means you can try out and finish (without grades or being given any certificate) courses for free
Overall, both sites have benefits.
The price and course content of Skillshare might be more attractive for a self-starter looking to tap into content.
Skillshare also has an easy-to-use interface and comfortable learning environment.
Coursera, though geared towards all learners, provides high-quality certificates and specializations.
While the Coursera subscription isn’t going to break the bank, it might not be something that you want subtracting from your card on a monthly or yearly basis, especially with the audit functionality available.
But, with the reliability and notoriety of Coursera, it’s safe to say that it is one of the goes to online platforms for you to get a certificate, specialization, or even a diploma.
When overviewing Skillshare and many other sites, it is important to remember what you want out of your experience.
The cost for a yearly subscription ($168) isn’t low, but it’s also not too high.2
Skillshare Premium Plan Features
Here are a few of the key Skillshare Premium features:3
- Access to the entire course catalog of courses and lessons from industry experts
- Hands-on learning: Class projects help strengthen your skills
- Feedback from teachers and fellow students
- A network of creators and students
- Learning paths gives students the chance to monitor their journey and consider the road moving forward
Good introduction – courses are short and to the point. Often it can be easy to get lost in how long a course is. For example, a 14 hr course on social media marketing may look comprehensive. But, it also could just include a lot of fluff.
Various Topics Available – the site has a wide range of topics for both professional and personal purposes. Some examples include: marketing, business analytics, productivity, film/video, and illustration.
Free Trial – Skillshare provides the opportunity to learn for free with courses from famous instructors for 1 month before starting your membership.
Skillshare Certificate – Skillshare gives you a certificate for each lesson that you complete, allowing you to share with your wider network and potential employers.
Practical Skills – After leaving high school or college, you start to understand that practical skills can make a massive difference. When flicking between Skillshare’s pages, it is clear that they are focused on practical skills.
- They focus on people who actually do these jobs, not university professors who might be detached from a profession’s daily reality
- They find familiar faces that from YouTube, such as Thomas Frank, who have demonstrated their expertise over and over again
- After your job begins and people lose sight of your certificates, you will need to demonstrate competence. This is where Skillshare can help you out!
Interface – The interface for Skillshare courses is clearer and easier to use. It mimics many environments most people have already seen, with a Youtube-style video in front of you and the course materials directly below. There’s also a nice playlist feature on the side that allows you to easily navigate in between lessons.
Pricing – The courses at Skillshare will cost you $13.99 a month and $168 per year.2
No free courses or auditing option – one of the best features out there to get on a course site is the opportunity to audit the course. Auditing a course is basically sitting in on a course to see if you like it or not. In university, you can even audit a course for the whole semester, but you never get a grade or much interaction with the professor.
Not comprehensive – the courses are comprehensive and don’t go too deep. It can be pretty challenging to get a complete overview of a subject in 3 hours of study. However, a focus on practical skills might be the solution for you, rather than a complicated theoretical background on a subject.
Coursera has been in the online course game since the beginning of online learning platforms. As one of the first platforms to gain notoriety, it has grown from a cluster of courses to a global leader in education. It has partnerships with some of the best universities in the world, and you will have courses and even entire online degrees available on the site across a wide range of topics.
The course price is $399 for a year and $59 for a month, which is comparatively low-cost compared to a traditional course you might take at a university.3
It is important to note that the various degree programs require a specific sign-up process and separate pay scheme.
Coursera Plus Features
With Coursera Plus, you get a few key perks:
- Access to all courses and specializations
- Earn unlimited certificates
- Applied projects and hands-on labs given by experts
- A selection of 15 professional certificates from industry leaders
Auditing option – it is easy to geek out here, and it is probably something that the folks at Coursera find both wonderful and exhausting. You can audit any individual course, which means is that if you see a course on marketing, you don’t have to pay for it. Rather, you can click the audit button (which is rather small and sometimes difficult to see) and enroll in the course for free.
- A quick note here: you cannot get a specialization or a degree by only auditing the courses. Coursera requires you to pay for these. And with auditing, you also don’t get a certificate. Despite this, it’s a cool option that can allow you to try almost any subject out without the risk of losing money!
University Partnerships – your optimism or pessimism of the world may lead you to love or hate this feature. But, universities and large companies partner with Coursera to give various courses. These partnerships deliver a feeling of trust that the knowledge you’re getting is the best out there.
Certificates and Degrees – the courses on Coursera come with degrees and certificates. What makes them better than other online programs is that they are often given out by universities or large companies that have immediate name recognition and respect in the real world. This means that a student on Coursera can use their knowledge to advance professionally after completing a course, specialization, or degree.
Coursera Pricing – The pricing for Coursera adds up. This can be a hefty fee for someone in between jobs. For someone upskilling in the workplace it could be a good idea to get your employer to pay for this instruction, considering that it allows you to get a certificate in virtually any field.
Languages – Coursera has done a great job in the past of quickly spreading their course materials to other languages and cultures, which is one of the beauties of the internet. Individuals speaking other languages, such as Mandarin, Italian, German, etc., can find many popular courses translated into their native language.
Pricing – The benefits of a Coursera Plus membership depends on your situation. If you’re looking to consistently learn new skills and use them to advance professionally, then this would not be a con. However, if you consider yourself to be a curious individual, looking to dabble in various subjects, then paying this type of fee may not be for you.
Interface – The user experience on Coursera can be a little clunky. In particular, the initial course page can be confusing to the new user with users not easily drawn to course video. Transcripts can be hard to work with and download. This factor is especially relevant for anybody using English as a second language who find it easier to read rather than listen.
Skillshare vs. Coursera: Alternatives
While both Skillshare and Coursera
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.5 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.
If you’re looking for Coursera competitors and alternatives, then Edx could be a possible alternative. 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.
Compared to the other online course platforms in this article, Brilliant.org takes a different approach. They stick to math and science mostly. When entering onto the site, you see courses related to math, data analysis, computer science, programming, and science and engineering.7 So, this site is for students looking to enter this specific area.
Brilliant has a free and paid membership. With the paid membership, users get access to all guided courses on the site.
The payment plans are split into three options:8
- $24.00/month – 3 month plan
- $13.49/month – Annual plan
- $299.88/month – Groups of 3+
The free plan gives much less access, which is limited to lessons provided upon creating an account. Though the courses are not guided under the free plan, it does look like users get a great introduction to these topics and can start their learning journey.
About Upskill Buzz
There are too many courses and too little time. With this in mind, we are determined to provide a thoughtful and nuanced perspective that helps you choose the right courses, online platforms, and even degree pathways for you. Let’s keep getting better!
At the time of publishing this article, Upskill Buzz was not in any affiliate partnerships with the websites/companies mentioned.