It seems everything is going virtual these days, from work to doctor's appointments. While the jury is still out in some cases, such as remote work, virtual education -- or e-learning -- has proven itself a success and is increasingly popular with employees and employers alike.
The advantages of electronic learning go beyond the obvious convenience. When learning was confined to a physical classroom, choices were limited to what was within driving range.
In the business world, that meant traveling to get trained, which also meant the expenses of training and time out of office for the employee. Now you can get an education from someone on the other side of the country. This puts many more classes and educators within reach and saves time and money.
What are e-learning content providers?
An e-learning content provider supplies the essentials for workplace training, such as courses, multimedia, exams and reporting tools. By offering ready-made learning materials, content providers let you focus on the actual training and not the menial work of preparing materials.
The best e-learning providers are innovators who have designed their curriculums around modern technology. They don't just provide educational materials. They also offer course management and support, including course creation, course libraries, automated delivery and notifications, and complete reporting and analytics.
Many content providers offer what is known as a massive open online course (MOOC). They're usually accessible to anyone in the world and typically offered by universities and other educational institutions, but they can also be provided by corporations and other types of organizations.
MOOCs often offer free enrollment but may charge a fee for certification or other benefits. They live up to their massive branding, with thousands and even millions of enrolled students. By offering classes at scale, they pass on the savings to their students.
MOOCs use video lectures, interactive exercises and discussion forums as well as quizzes and other assessments to see how students are progressing. Some MOOCs are self-paced, which means you can learn at your own speed and convenience, while others require live attendance on a fixed schedule.
Here is a list of nine notable e-learning content providers. There are many others to choose from, mostly smaller and niche players.
Udemy is the largest MOOC provider, with over 213,000 courses on a wide range of topics, from programming to business and marketing, and that's just on the technology side. Courses are created by instructors from all over the world and can be taken at your own pace and schedule. Udemy courses are typically affordable, with many starting at $9. All Udemy courses have user reviews, so you can read what other students have said about the course before buying it. The provider offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its courses.
2. LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
LinkedIn Learning offers more than 16,000 courses covering a wide range of profession-related topics, from business and technology to creative and design skills. LinkedIn Learning uses AI to recommend courses based on your interests and career goals and the courses can be taken on your schedule.
LinkedIn Learning courses are created by experienced instructors with deep knowledge of their profession and specialty, using a variety of teaching methods. Many of the courses offered by LinkedIn Learning offer industry-recognized certifications, which can help advance your career.
Coursera is another MOOC provider that offers 3,000-plus courses from more than 200 top universities and institutions around the world that also confer degrees, which is its main claim to fame. Because Coursera offers specializations and degrees, its classes are more structured and rigorous than that of most MOOC providers. Specializations typically consist of four to six courses that go in depth on a particular skill or subject.
EdX is a nonprofit MOOC provider that offers over 2,000 courses from 15 top universities and institutions. Like Coursera, EdX emphasizes specializations and degrees, which are more structured and rigorous than the content from typical MOOC sources. Some of EdX's programs are accredited, which can be valuable if you are looking to earn a degree for hotly in-demand jobs, such as data science.
OpenSesame has a massive library of courses -- over 12,000 -- covering a wide range of topics, from IT and business to personal development and hobbies. Many of the courses on OpenSesame offer industry-recognized certifications. It also provides curation expertise to help you choose the right courses, and features discounts for businesses that want to use its platform to train their employees.
EdApp is a freemium platform, meaning that you can use it for free to create and deliver courses, but there are also premium features you can buy for a monthly fee. EdApp's courses are designed in microlearning format, which means they are short and concise. EdApp uses gamification techniques to make learning more fun and engaging, with features such as badges, points and leaderboards. It also provides detailed analytics on how learners are interacting with the courses.
7. Learning Pool
Learning Pool uses AI to recommend courses and provide personalized learning based on your interests and career goals. Many of the courses on Learning Pool offer industry-recognized certifications. It also offers learning paths, which are collections of courses designed to help you learn a particular skill or subject, and gamification. Learning Pool also provides detailed reports and analytics on student performance.
8. Infosec Skills
Infosec Skills has a wide range of courses with an emphasis on cybersecurity topics, covering everything from ethical hacking to cloud security. It offers flexible learning so you can study on your own schedule and hands-on learning through cloud-hosted labs, projects and assessments so you can learn by doing. Prices are affordable and you can pay monthly or yearly, with discounts available for students and businesses.
AllenComm specializes in creating and delivering e-learning courses for businesses of all sizes. Its courses are designed to meet the specific needs of businesses, such as compliance, sales and technical training. The courses are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, which means they meet the same standards as traditional brick-and-mortar courses. AllenComm also partners with a variety of organizations, including businesses, government agencies and educational institutions.