Fat Stacks quote from Breaking Bad by Jesse Pinkman

12 of the Best Online Course Software Options


Online learning went from small to huge over the last 15 years. Today, it is a great way to rebrand yourself and find new work opportunities, and a terrific business opportunity for anyone with valuable knowledge and skills to share. Here, we cover the 10 best course hosting platforms online.

A woman taking an online course on her laptop.

Over the last 20 years, online education has been a growing industry and an increasingly viable option for those looking to learn new skills, enhance an existing skill set, re-brand themselves for a new career, and many other reasons. Chief among these reasons is the financial crash of 2008 which sent so many looking for work and education opportunities online. Since then, the field has been growing in use and in academic acceptance. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has kept people in their homes, looking for new ways to reach out and get an education online.

The good news is that academics and employers alike have been taking the available online offerings more and more seriously. In fact, many employers respect the often compounding responsibilities facing non-traditional, online students. Often these students are entrepreneurial and work to balance work and family responsibilities by forgoing traditional classrooms. As a result of this growing acceptance and the growing market for online education, many new online learning platforms have emerged in recent years. Many of these platforms are highly innovative and find creative ways to save students time and money while imparting valuable skills and discipline.

Of course, one of the most valuable skills a person can have in today’s world is the ability to design and build a functional website to do business, reach customers, and grow a brand presence. Many enterprising people have decided to teach their skill sets to others, making online education wildly more accessible- bit not only that- it has made it a valid career option for anyone with marketable skills.

Here, we discuss the top 10 Online Educational Course Creation Platforms. These services make technology that most people have readily available at their fingertips easily accessible. But the question is, which online learning platform is right for you?

Note – when I needed a new platform for my courses, I spent quite a bit of time doing demos including Kajabi, Kartra and Thinkific.  While good (Kartra was very confusing though), I ended up going with Teachable.  Hence Teachable is number one in this list.

1. Teachable

My Pick
Teachable

I create and host all of the Fat Stacks courses on Teachable. It's an easy-to-use platform that offers an attractive interface for customers plus it handles payments, affiliates (and affiliate payments), taxes if applicable, sales pages... everything. I have no regrets setting up all my courses on Teachable.

A screenshot of the Teachable online course software homepage.

I use Teachable for all the Fat Stacks courses.

This is a robust online learning service creation platform that is very robust and has been compared to Thinkific for the way its features work and for the wide range of educational services and products you can create and make available. Teachable focuses mainly on delivering high-quality core features and offers no sales funnel such as can be found on Kajabi. You’ll be able to offer multiple types of teaching materials from videos, PDFs, quizzes, and more.

One thing that Teachable does do especially well is to let you deliver your materials to your students on a manageable drip-feed. You control the speed at which students receive new materials to study which gives you a pretty useful way to customize the learning experience to suit their needs. The course player makes delivery easy for you and palatable for your subscribers.

Teachable Pricing:

While there is no free package, the basic package is nicely priced at just $39 a month. The premium plan is $119 per month, and Teachable does charge for transactions, but the fees are nominal and not based on how much students pay, just 5% at the basic level and 0% at the premium level. These packages are more feature-rich than Thinkific’s free mode and are much cheaper than many other packages offered on other platforms.

Key Teachable Features:

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Professionally designed and user-friendly course player
  • Offers quizzes, certificates, course compliance, content dripping, and more
  • Ability to bundle courses
  • Syncs natively with ConvertKit email software (I use ConvertKit for this very reason).
  • Coupons for promotions
  • Built in email system for emailing students in specific courses.  Note, this is a very simplistic email software.  I strongly recommend getting ConvertKit and syncing it with your Teachable school.
  • Built-in affiliate portal (and Teachable handles paying affiliates)
  • Payment subscriptions (monthly or annual)
  • Has an iOS compatible app
  • Friendly sales features and support – live chat with higher level plans.

Cons

The only major con with Teachable is that you cannot create a renewal or subsequent subscription prices different than the original purchase price.  For example, if year one you set the price to $97, the renewal or subscription cost for year two is also $97.  I’ve asked repeatedly for the ability to create custom subsequent subscription prices but it’s not yet available.

Am I happy with Teachable?

Yes, I am. It’s not perfect, but it’s easy to use from a creator perspective and it’s easy for students.  I know because I’m a student of other courses on Teachable.

My Pick
Teachable

I create and host all of the Fat Stacks courses on Teachable. It's an easy-to-use platform that offers an attractive interface for customers plus it handles payments, affiliates (and affiliate payments), taxes if applicable, sales pages... everything. I have no regrets setting up all my courses on Teachable.

2. Kajabi

A screenshot of the Kajabi online course software homepage.

Kajabi is an all-inclusive online learning platform creation and hosting service that enables you to design and build a beautiful, functional learning website. There, you’ll learn how to host all manner of online content from video, text, and more. You’ll be able to market your courses professionally and effectively. Many users say that Kajabi offers more than any such platform, enabling creators to host their own blogs, manufacture whole work flows, and even supports a sales pipeline to help you to manage your subscriptions and optimize the ways your customers and potential customers interact with your brand.

Kajabi Pricing

Pricing for Kajabi starts at $149 per month. The more comprehensive packages run as high as $199 per month. The great news is that the platform doesn’t charge transaction fees, which means you do not have to pay to earn money through the service.

Special Features:

  • All in one platform; so everything you need is in one place
  • More than 10 available prefabricated themes make starting fast and easy
  • Works with an iOS/Android app
  • Offers useful tools like learning paths and community assessment
  • Features a built-in sales pipeline and marketing automation toolkit
  • Offers proactive 24/7 support

3. Thinkific

A screenshot of the Thinkific online course software homepage.

This popular online course hosting site lets users build and sell online learning materials under their own name and/or brand. It does not include sales funnel features as Kajabi does. It is more focused on delivering high-quality features, which make your educational products feel more professional and more polished- which is pretty nice.

Thinkific lets you offer a wider range of online educational materials than most sites of its kind. You can add videos, quizzes, surveys, text, PDF, and more. All of your material can be professionally delivered using the built-in course player, giving your learners a seamless learning experience.

Thinkific Pricing

You can use the core features of the service for free. If you want a more feature-rich experience, the more advanced packages cost $49, $99, and $499 a month respectively. Starting with the free package is a great way to get used to the way the platform works, and chances are, moving to one of the paid packages will be worth the investment. Once again, Thinkific does not charge you to accept payments from your customers.

Special Features:

  • Multiple site themes and an easy to use page builder
  • Built in support for creating advanced learning products
  • Users can create a stand-alone community for their subscribers
  • Flexible course compliance features
  • Sell in bulk and manage students through cohorts
  • The $0 per month package is a fantastic introductory mode that you do not have to upgrade from

4. Podia

A screenshot of the Podia online course software homepage.

Previously known as “Coach,” Podia is a more or less newer contender in the online course material hosting world. Podia lets users build and sell courses as well as other online products like e-books and membership packages. Podia does a great job of helping you to create engaging content like audio, video, PDF, text, and more. Best of all, Podia’s course player is one of the most seamless and attractive course players in the online course hosting industry.

One of the features that really makes Podia stand out is the building assets for membership sites. It lets you make individual posts that are ideal for delivering one-time content for an entire group of student subscribers. Use it on a regular basis to keep your classes engaged and learning new things all the time.

Podia Pricing:

As one of the most reasonably priced platforms of its kind out there, Podia offers its basic, “Mover” package for just $39 per month and its premium “Shaker” package for only $79 per month. With the exception of Thinkific’s free starter package, you’re going to have a hard time finding more value for your buck in this space.

Podia Features:

  • Very easy to use
  • Access a storefront and student area
  • Post individual one-off posts to your student community
  • Free migration from other platforms is available
  • Friendly and helpful customer support

5. LearnWorlds

A screenshot of the LearnWorlds online course software homepage.

This popular online learning service creation platform has a marked focus on giving you the ability to deliver interactive learning materials to students. This is one learning creation platform that has really embraced the idea of “gamification,” the injection of competitive play as an integral part of the learning experience. Your students can compete for top of the class actively and in a way that is fun and rewarding for them.

You will be able to engage your learners with LearnWorld’s interactive video player, advanced quiz and examination features, the interactive e-book reader, and more. Here’s one thing few other such services offer; Copyright protection! That’s right. With LearnWorld, you don’t have to worry about your subscribers copying your content and making their own learning services based on your hard work. It could give you a great deal of peace of mind to know that you won’t be fueling your own competition as you teach your subscribers.

LearnWorld Pricing:

The basic package starts at the low price of just $29 per month, and the premium service is $99 a month. There is a $5 transaction fee for every sale you make, which is a downside. But with all the valuable features and capabilities, it might be worth it to you if you really commit to the platform.

LearnWorld Features:

  • Supports interactive content of all kinds
  • Offers certificates and compliance
  • Edit videos on the fly easily
  • Access the powerful community builder
  • Benefit from invaluable Copywrite protection

6. Academy of Mine

A screenshot of the Academy of Mine online course software homepage.

This online learning hosting service is sorely under-appreciated. Academy of Mine allows you to built a fully-featured website where you can host all of your online learning materials and sell access to products and services. One useful feature that makes Academy of Mine unique is its robust LMS features. These support the creation of gamification features, certificates, discussion forums, and more.

Academy of Mine Pricing:

The basic package is pretty pricey compared to other similar platforms, but you get the value back. Pricing starts at $199 per month and goes as high as $299 per month for more features.

Academy of Mine Features:

  • Powerful LMS features
  • Inbuilt support
  • Share revenue with other teachers on your site

7. LearnDash

A screenshot of the LearnDash online course software homepage.

This online program hosting platform’s WordPress LMS function is THE most popular LMS function on WordPress- and that’s saying something. It is used by many top businesses, universities, and training organization websites. The core plugin is very robust and easy to use, which is why it is so popular. Best of all, it gives you access to all of the core features of LearnDash such as the drag and drop course builder, exams and quizzes, course dripping, prerequisites, forums, badges, and certifications.

Learndash has lots of free and premium add-ons that let you extend the capabilities of your online teaching service. Best of all, even if the feature you want doesn’t work with the main plugin, you can easily find one on WordPress that does what you want to be done.

LearnDash Pricing:

Get one learning site licensed for only $159 per year, or access the premium features package for only $189 a year.

LearnDash Features:

  • The nearly universal LMS plugin for WordPress
  • Very affordable annual based pricing
  • Do everything through WordPress
  • Nearly universal acceptance among employers

8. AccessAlly

A screenshot of the AccessAlly online course software homepage.

This all in one WordPress plugin offers all of the features you will ever need to build and sell online learning materials. The drag and drop course builder is probably one of the easiest to use in all of the online learning creation and hosting space. It lets you craft quizzes, assignments, track user progress, generate certificates, and more. It also features a complete membership management tool set.

When it comes to e-commerce, AccessAlly is easily one of the most functional services of its kind. You’ll be able to process one-time and recurring payments, create conversion focused order forms, and more. For a simple to use WordPress plugin, you really cannot beat the sales features of this product.

AccesAlly Pricing:

The basic service is $99 per month, and premium access costs $129 per month. As such, it is one of the most expensive such services put there, but you’re paying for ease of sales management and accessibility through the user-friendly WordPress plugin.

AccessAlly Features:

  • The feature-rich WordPress plugin
  • Track user progress
  • Robust e-commerce support

9. LifterLMS

A screenshot of the LifterLMS online course software homepage.

Yet another on the list of terrific options for building online learning assets via WordPress, LifterLMS is designed for those who want to use WordPress to build all of their online learning sites. As such, it is a very popular service, since WordPress is well known for making it easy for anyone to make any kind of website.

LifterLMS features an easy to use course builder to create coursework that supports the creation and dissemination of quizzes, assignments, certificates, learning paths, dripping, community forums, and more. Better still, you always have the option to add new features by applying the many compatible WordPress plugins that are designed to enhance the LifterLMS user experience.

LifterLMS Pricing:

This service is easily one of the most expensive services of its kind with the basic bundle priced at $299 per year and the “Infinity” bundle at just under $1000 a year. That said, LifterLMS is widely used and accepted by academics and the business community alike. This means your job-seeking learners will enjoy better employability based on the certificates and achievements they accumulate on your site. That is an important selling point which can mean better sales and better return patronage for you.

LifterLMS Features:

  • Useful e-commerce features
  • Wide acceptance in academics and business
  • Robust customer support
  • Very well integrated with WordPress
  • Advanced features and interactive content

10. SkillShare

A screenshot of the SkillShare online course software homepage.

Many would say that we have saved the best for last, as SkillShare is one of the most popular such programs for those who seek to learn salable skills online and those who simply want to enrich their lives by onboarding valuable knowledge. This platform seeks to encourage creators to make learning courses that come in bite-sized segments with videos around 10 to 25 minutes in length.

The idea with SkillShare is to make online learning easily accessible to the busy professional or executive who doesn’t have a lot of extra time to commit to studying. As such, it is a very successful and popular learning platform for high-powered executives and successful business people.

The one big drawback is that you have to have a class size of at least 25 students before SkillShare starts to pay. Once you get that number of enrollees, SkillShare pays $1 to $2 per student. That being said, SkillShare is very popular and attracts a fairly wealthy customer base. So, if you create high-quality materials, you can be sure to attract learners. Also, the simplistic payment program is able to be simple due to the fact that the site keeps the number of small transactions down through its learner number requirement.

SkillShare is one of the newer such platforms out there, but its student population is highly loyal to the brand, which is good news for anyone who decides to teach through this platform.

11. Kartra

I gave Karta a real shot.

On paper it sounded perfect.  It offers every feature you could need – email autoresponder, sign up forms, landing pages, funnels, course creation software, payment gateway, robust affiliate program for affiliates and more.

I thought I’d found the holy grail of online course software.

I signed up and that’s when the dream died.

It was ridiculously difficult to figure out.

I truly gave it a solid effort. I set up a course, emails, etc.  I simply could not figure it out.

I should preface this with the fact I’m not the most intuitive when it comes to learning software.

I prefer simple over bells and whistles.

I’m sure someone more adept at figuring out software interfaces could make Kartra work great.

For me, I had to bail and go with something simpler.

That simpler was Teachable.

12. ProProfs

ProProfs training software

Training Maker by ProProfs is an award-winning learning management system. It is a one-stop online training solution designed for businesses of all sizes. It supports end-to-end task management – from creating online courses to sharing and tracking them.

The LMS comes integrated with a virtual classroom software for a centralized and scalable classroom experience. You can also embed different types of quizzes to make learning engaging and simplify testing.

ProProfs Training Maker is used by more than 4 million learners all over the world, and users have created 100,000+ courses and tests so far.

Key Features

  • Course Authoring: Create online training courses and tests in minutes. Upload existing materials or use ProProfs library of customizable templates.
  • Collaboration: Collaborative tools enable learners to put their minds together on group assignments. Support for Q&A-based online community and social sharing.
  • Integrations: Training Maker integrates seamlessly with a number of productivity tools including email marketing software, CRMs, and CMSs.
  • Reporting & Grading: Automatic reporting and grading in the tool provide you learning data on demand. It saves you from the pain of manual evaluation.
My Pick
Teachable

I create and host all of the Fat Stacks courses on Teachable. It's an easy-to-use platform that offers an attractive interface for customers plus it handles payments, affiliates (and affiliate payments), taxes if applicable, sales pages... everything. I have no regrets setting up all my courses on Teachable.


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