The worldwide shift to online learning has changed the educational predilection of many students today. In particular, the proportion of students who want to take fully online courses has increased. Of students currently taking online courses, 88% agree that they would prefer to take more online courses in a fully online format (Cengage, 2022).
Developments in educational technology have made it possible for online learning to be as effective as it is. Leading the charge are tools like online learning systems that work as all-in-one platforms for distributing course materials, collaborating with peers, and completing classwork. In many cases, these systems also aid educators in assessing learner progress and providing feedback to students.
In this article, we list the 20 best online learning platforms in the market today. Each of these systems comes with unique features to help meet the requirements of different learning environments. Hopefully, this guide can help teachers figure out the best online learning system for their needs.
Best Online Learning Platforms Table of Contents
- Key Online Learning Statistics
- Why Online Learning Platforms Are Important
- List of 20 Best Online Learning Platforms
Online learning platforms have made it possible for students to continue learning despite the interruptions introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the sudden shift to online learning has caused problems that resulted in poor student experience, online learning platforms have proved to be useful to students from K-12 to college. Many educators also believe that the widespread adoption of e-learning will result in a new hybrid model of education that will become integral to school education (Li & Lalani, 2020).
Statistics at various educational levels indicate how online learning platforms and other digital learning tools have gained widespread acceptance and use. For instance, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 64% of fourth- and eighth-graders were enrolled in remote or hybrid instruction. Moreover, surveys also indicate that the majority of K-12 schools use digital and social media tools to communicate with fellow students and parents and facilitate collaboration.
Online learning has seen equally widespread use at the post-secondary level. According to an analysis of federal education data, 52% of college students pursued at least one online course in 2020 (Hill, 2021). Certain online learning platforms—like Canvas and Blackboard—have also distinguished themselves as industry leaders in online learning in higher education institutions.
The product list below explores some of these industry leaders to help educators and institutions learn more about these platforms. Key features and pricing details round out the picture for each online learning platform.
Key Online Learning Statistics
The adoption of online learning or eLearning has markedly increased after schools and universities used it as an emergency response to COVID-19 lockdowns. The following statistics show the steadily increasing use of online learning or remote learning among all educational levels.
- In 2020, 8.6 million students were enrolled exclusively in distance education or online courses (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 2021).
- In 2021, 74% of the 100 largest local educational agencies in the United States chose remote learning as their back-to-school response to the pandemic (Zota & Granovskiy, 2021).
- 97% of college students have switched to online instruction due to the impact of COVID-19 (Bay Atlantic University, 2020).
- 22 of the top 25 universities in the U.S. now offer free online courses (Mordor Intelligence, 2021).
- Enrollment in learning platforms like Coursera has increased since 2016. In 2021, 189 million students have enrolled on the platform (Wood, 2022).
- 85% of full-time and part-time faculty members have received training in online education (Bay Atlantic University, 2020).
Perceptions of Online Learning Among Students and Faculty
Perceptions of online learning have largely changed since pre-pandemic times. The following figures indicate how students and educators alike have changed their minds about this learning method.
- 73% of students in the U.S. want to continue taking online classes post-pandemic (McKenzie, 2021).
- 57% of students shared that they felt more optimistic about online learning now than in pre-pandemic times (McKenzie, 2021).
- Similarly, 58% of teachers now have a more positive outlook on online learning (McKenzie, 2021).
- 71% of college students felt that the biggest benefit brought to them by online learning is the reduced risk of illness (SYKES, 2020).
- 84% of students also felt that online learning can be effective (Burt, 2021).
Why Online Learning Platforms Are Important
Online learning platforms, alongside apps for productivity, collaboration, and referencing, have proved to be crucial in facilitating remote instruction. Through these platforms, instructors and teachers can provide course material through documents and recorded audio and videos. Likewise, students are able to communicate with teachers and collaborate with their peers.
- According to college students, the most useful features of online learning platforms are chat/messaging between classmates (31%) and interactive whiteboards (29%) (SYKES, 2020).
- 86% of graduate online students believe that the value they received from their online degree equaled or exceeded their investment (Wiley, 2018).
- 96% of students think their instructors have adapted well to online teaching (SYKES, 2020).
- With online learning, students retain 25% to 60% of subject or course material (University of Central Florida, n.d.).
Online Learning Platforms and Tools for K-12 Students
- 64% of middle school students used digital learning tools daily (Gallup).
- According to middle school students, the top benefits of digital learning include better grades and test scores (59%), learning at one’s own pace (56%), and the development of creative skills (56%) (Project Tomorrow, 2019).
- More than 80% of parents of school-aged children think that effective technology use in school positively impacts their child’s future (Project Tomorrow, 2019).
- 35% of K-12 teachers use digital learning tools to provide immediate and actionable feedback on students’ progress (Duffin, 2022).
- The majority of high school students like using digital learning tools because these tools facilitate independent learning (71%) (Duffin, 2022).
Challenges of Using Online Learning Platforms and Tools
- 12% of American teens don’t have access to a desktop or laptop computer (Zota & Granovskiy, 2021).
- Due to a lack of preparation, two-thirds of teachers have reportedly been unable to do their jobs properly since the shift to remote instruction (Page, 2020).
- 75% of officials at higher education institutions consider faculty training as the biggest challenge to the shift to online learning (SYKES, 2020).
20 Best Online Learning Platforms
1. Blackboard Learn: Best for Student Engagement and Seamless Integrations
Now part of Anthology, Blackboard Learn is an online learning platform that supports educators in delivering engaging learning experiences. The platform allows users to pursue online or hybrid learning while giving educators the freedom to use best-practice teaching methods. More importantly, the platform serves as an all-in-one solution for streamlining workflows for both students and instructors.
- Compatible with online or hybrid learning models
- Base Navigation provides easy access to relevant course content
- Tailored views based on roles
- Activity stream of most important items that need attention
- Configurable performance indicator with different key metrics
- Send meeting invitations or messages
- Internal calendar and two-way syncs with external calendars
- Consolidated messages
- Access grading features from the dashboard
- In-line grading and plagiarism prevention tools
- Over 200 integration partners, including communication, proctoring, and teaching tools
- Compatible with SCORM, Tin Can API/xAPI, AICC< and IMS LTI
- You can contact the vendor for a demo and a custom quote
2. Coursera: Vast Learning Platform with Over 5,000 Courses
Coursera is one of the largest online education platforms today. The platform offers over 5,000 courses from leading universities and companies, making education more accessible to individuals who want to learn online and pursue professional certificates and degrees. As an online course platform, Coursera has also helped over 3,600 universities and colleges make the switch to online learning, providing faculty with features for student assessment. Courses offered span a wide range of fields of study, including business, computer science, health, and data science.
- Thousands of courses from top universities and companies
- Certificate and degree courses (master’s and bachelor’s degrees)
- Improve curriculum with high-quality content
- Job-based learning to improve career readiness
- Guided Projects to further improve students’ digital skills
- Access courses offline
- iOS and Android apps
- Guided Projects – starting at $9.99
- Specializations – starting at $39 per month
- Professional certificates – starting at $39 per month
- MasterTrack certificates – starting at $2,000
- Bachelor’s or master’s degree – starting at $9,000
3. Brightspace: The Learning Platform for Highly Personalized Learner Experiences
Brightspace is a flexible online learning platform with features for both K-12 and higher education. The platform comes with intuitive tools not only for digitizing courses but also for creating personalized learning experiences. Brightspace also supports advanced learning modalities such as mastery-based learning to meet the needs of different learners.
- Built-in, mobile-friendly course templates
- Supports multiple pedagogies and learning modalities
- Built-in virtual assistant
- Individualized learning paths
- Track high-risk learners
- Rubrics creation
- Activity Feed
- Accessibility checker for discussions, content, and quizzes
- Contextual feedback and assessments
- Video and audio feedback
- Portfolio tool for students
- Built-in badges and certificates
- Virtual classrooms
- Self-enrollment for supplemental courses
- Teacher-parent communication
- Plagiarism checker and identity verification
- Automatic release of remediation or enrichment content based on students’ progress
- Import files from Google Drive, OneDrive, and other local sources
- Mobile-responsive design
- You can contact the vendor for a free quote.
- Free trial available
4. edX: 3,000+ Courses from The World’s Best Institutions
edX is an online learning platform and course marketplace that offers an extensive selection of courses for master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and executive education. Founded by a team of scientists from Harvard and MIT, the platform provides a learning experience based on cognitive science. As a result, edX’s unique approach follows three main principles: experience, practice, and apply.
- 3,000+ courses in fields such as business and management, computer science, and the humanities
- Master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and executive education courses
- Video lectures
- Course Discussions
- Discussion boards
- Interactive media elements, data visualizations, and dynamic graphics
- Quizzes and open-response assessments
- Timed and proctored exams
- Team projects and activities
- Boot Camps
- Mobile app
- Activation fee – $5
- Verified track (certificate courses) – $50 to $300
5. GetSmarter: The Learning Platform for Bite-Sized Courses
GetSmarter has partnered with top universities like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT to deliver short courses in fields such as data science and analysis, finance and investment, and fintech and blockchain. The team behind the platform has analyzed the potential skill requirements of the future and developed courses to address these requirements. Students also get access to a Career Engagement Network, which provides tools and resources to help students establish a successful career.
- Relevant courses for the future
- A wide range of multimedia formats, including interactive video lectures
- Practice quizzes and presentations
- People-mediated learning model
- Easy-to-use interface
- Students are assigned a Success Adviser for 24/7 assistance
- Course categories include business management and strategy, digital transformation and disruptive technology, and health sciences and wellness
- Career Engagement Network
- Exclusive Job Board
- Pricing depends on the specific course and university chosen
- Different payment options available, including single payment, split payment, and installments
6. HurixDigital: A Fully Customizable, Cloud-Hosted Online Learning Platform
HurixDigital offers a fully customizable learning management platform that can be modified according to educational institutions’ specific needs. The platform also allows users to create courses that are supported by multiple devices. An important feature of this online learning platform is that it provides end-to-end services, from content management to maintenance and support.
- Supports online and blended learning models
- Easy collaboration through wikis, blogs, and chat
- Convenient assessment of student progress
- User-friendly interface
- SaaS-based deployment support
- Multilingual support
- White-label LMS with perpetual intellectual property rights
- Subscription/license-based LMS
- Support and upgrades for Moodle-based LMS
- Help desk services for instructors
- Mobile access
- You can contact the vendor for a custom quote.
7. Macmillan Learning Achieve: A Flexible Learning Platform for All Types of Students
Achieve is a flexible learning system that comes with a suite of assessment tools for supporting students of all levels of preparation. This online learning platform is designed to facilitate active learning and offers various teaching tools such as videos and simulations. For added convenience, Achieve also offers resources that are specific to courses like astronomy, geography, mathematics, and English.
- Unique, course-specific content with pre-built assessments and multimedia assets
- Support for pre-class preparation and post-class activities
- Support for self-study options and in-class active learning
- Adaptive quizzing and personalized question sets
- Goal-setting and reflection surveys for students
- Auto-graded assignments
- Meets accessibility standards
- Analytics through Insights and Reporting feature
- Can be integrated with existing LMS
- User assistance when needed from product specialists
- Gradebook for tracking student progress
- Pricing depends on the courses chosen.
- You can also contact a Macmillan sales representative for pricing on LMS integration.
8. McGraw Hill Connect: A Versatile Online Learning Platform for Every Teaching Style
McGraw Hill Connect is an adaptive learning platform designed to highlight instructors’ unique teaching styles. Moreover, the platform comes with a comprehensive suite of tools for delivering course materials, tracking student performance, and supporting student success. Connect has a built-in course builder that helps instructors save time on building and updating courses, as well as performance tracking features for identifying at-risk students.
- Course management tools
- Course builder
- Multimedia course content, with games and simulations
- Remote proctoring
- Auto-grading feature
- Create assignments, quizzes, and exams
- Application-based activities
- Question pooling
- Assignment reports, student performance reports, category analysis reports
- Pre-built assessments
- Cloud-based test creation tool
- Browser locking
- Identity verification for students
- Offline access
- Consultants for course building and implementation
- Integrations with other LMS
- A custom pricing quote is available directly from the vendor.
9. Pearson MyLab & Mastering: Tools for an Immersive Learning Experience
Pearson MyLab & Mastering consists of tools for distributing course materials and classwork and assessing student performance. With their features, these tools help educators create personalized, adaptive learning experiences. These platforms also offer data-driven guidance to help students understand and digest complicated course materials.
- Pre-built courses and assignments
- Mobile-ready Reporting Dashboard
- Actionable insights into class and student performance
- Data visualizations for metrics such as score improvement and grade distribution
- Study Plan Manager
- LMS integration
- Learning Catalytics to improve student engagement
- Personalized wrong-answer feedback
- Homework and test manager
- Gradebook tracking
- Scalable and shareable content
- Training and support for educators
- You can get current pricing by getting in touch with the vendor.
10. Persona Learning: Intuitive Learning Management with Blended Learning Support
Persona Learning is an online learning solution designed to meet the needs of various educational institutions. The platform comes with edtech solutions for K-12 schools and districts, including support for blended learning and features for parent communications. The platform also offers tools to support competency-based education and improve outcomes and completions in higher education institutions.
- eLearning and blended learning support
- Content authoring
- Communities and portfolios
- Parent communications
- Compliance with Common Core standards and other state standards
- Support for instructor-led and self-paced learning and competency-based education
- Compatible with SCORM, LTI, and xAPI
- Cloud-hosted platform
- Customizable interface through CSS, including a unique URL
- Full-service, 24/7 support portal
- Current pricing is available from the vendor.
11. Domestika: The Learning Platform for and by the Creative Community
Domestika takes its place among the best online learning platforms for its course marketplace designed for creatively inclined students. All courses are produced in-house and taught by a carefully curated roster of inspectors. Aside from fields such as graphic design, illustration, and photography and video, popular course categories include marketing and business as well.
- Self-paced learning
- Courses taught by top experts in the creative sector
- Unlimited access to high-quality videos
- Subtitles are available in English, Portuguese, German, Italian, and French
- Students can ask questions and request feedback
- Students can create profiles and follow other students
- 9 course categories centered around the arts
- Android and iOS apps
- Prices vary per course
- Users can sign up for Domestika Plus, which adds up to around $7 per month when paid on a yearly basis
- A Domestika Plus account comes with discounts on courses and bundles, one free credit per month, open courses, an option to buy extra credits, and exclusive content.
12. Udemy: The Online Learning Platform with the Biggest Course Collection
Udemy is known for its huge collection of courses, which number 185,000 as of 2022. New additions are also published each month so students are sure to find the course they need at Udemy. Popular course categories at this online learning platform include design, development, marketing, IT and software, and personal development.
- Courses for developing hard and soft professional skills
- A wide variety of course topics
- High-quality video presentations of about 10 minutes
- Speed controls, video controls, closed captioning, and resolution options
- Q&A page for feedback
- Subtitles in multiple languages
- Support and resources for instructors
- Supports self-paced learning
- Pricing varies per course (anywhere from $11.99 to $199.99 per course)
13. Edmodo: The Online Learning Platform for Easy Classroom Management
One of the most popular online learning platforms today, Edmodo makes classroom management easy and ensures that learning is accessible. Through Edmodo, educators can conveniently communicate with students through tools like Posts and Messages. The platform also makes it easy to create quizzes and digital assignments so instructors can assess student performance.
- Posts and messages
- Online classroom discussions
- Digital assignments, quizzes, and polls
- Achievement badges for students
- Teacher community
- Welcome Note and Agenda
- Built-in moderation and safety features
- Built-in planner and class folders for students
- Supports blended learning and remote learning
- Edmodo accounts are free to create
- Edmodo also offers a paid plan for school districts with at least 200 users. You can contact the vendor to get current pricing.
14. Alma: The Learning Platform for Better Student Outcomes
Alma is an online learning platform and student information system designed to be versatile enough to meet any school’s unique needs. Alma provides valuable insights into valuable school management metrics such as student performance and attendance. The platform also supports progressive education models, allowing educators to grade student performance according to their preferences.
- Supports competency-based learning
- Instructional Dashboard
- Assignment management
- Attendance tracking
- Enrollment history
- Flexible gradebook rubrics and weighting
- Incident tracking
- Progress reports and report cards
- Bulletin boards
- Group messaging
- Parent/student portal
- Teacher messenger
- Custom and standard reports
- Mobile app
- Interested schools can contact Alma directly to get information on pricing.
15. Canvas: An Open Learning Platform Trusted by the Ivy League
Canvas offers learning solutions for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. The Canvas LMS is designed to provide equitable access to every student while serving as a centralized platform for content delivery and personalized learning. Built-in collaboration tools also ensure that teachers and students can easily communicate.
- Supports in-person, online, and blended learning
- Course materials
- Participation tracking and grades
- Built-in communication tools
- District-wide curriculum sharing through Blueprints
- Personalized learning through MasteryPaths
- Hundreds of integrations
- Chat and video messaging with students, groups, or classes
- Unlimited file size
- Course analytics
- Mobile app
- Free trial available
- Contact the vendor for more details on pricing of Canvas LMS.
16. Agilix Buzz: The Learning System for Teaching Better
Buzz is a learning platform designed to enable educators to improve instruction styles while supporting online and blended learning environments. The software also comes with intuitive tools to improve students’ and parents’ engagement in the learning process. For added convenience, Buzz seamlessly integrates with other learning platforms and student information systems.
- Clean, user-friendly interface
- Achievement badges
- Multiple grading strategies
- Supports project- and mastery-based learning
- Progress tracking
- Formative assessments
- Custom Clipboard
- Course management
- White-labeled platform
- Single Sign-on
- Self-assigned tasks and self-assignment
- Discussion boards
- Peer assessment and peer help
- Individual Education Program tools
- Contact the vendor to get a demo and detailed pricing information.
17. itslearning: A Cloud-Based Learning Platform for Empowering Teachers and Students
itslearning is a cloud-hosted platform with an intuitive interface and task automation capabilities that help teachers save time. The platform also comes with a wide range of communication tools that facilitate better connections between students and teachers. itslearning also supports mobile learning through its mobile app and browser-based access.
- One-on-one and mass messaging
- Video conferencing
- Group Assignments and Projects
- Individual Learning Plans
- Mobile app
- Works on all modern browsers
- File upload
- Multimedia support
- Self-marking tests and quizzes
- Online annotation
- Set learning objectives
- Online gradebook
- Course Level Reports
- Custom Reports
- Pricing depends on your organization’s unique needs, so it’s best to contact the vendor directly.
18. Schoology: The Complete Learning Suite for K-12 Schools
Schoology comes with comprehensive features to support K-12 schools and school districts in boosting student performance. For instance, the platform helps educators and school administrators analyze student performance data from multiple sources, including benchmark assessments and classroom behavior. The platform also makes it easier for school districts to collaborate on instructional strategies and professional development.
- Build course content
- Course resources
- Create assignments
- Student assessments
- Individualized instruction
- Support for self-paced learning
- Assessment reporting
- Public Groups and teacher community
- Proficiency-based grading
- Interested users can contact the vendor for pricing information.
19. Otus: All-in-One Learning Tool for Improving Student Engagement
As a learning management platform, Otus combines a comprehensive set of teaching and assessment tools into one platform. Through the platform, educators can design engaging activities while keeping everything organized. Communication tools such as Class Boards, blogs, and Mailbox also make it easy to share information and resources with students and parents.
- Design activities
- Add images, videos, and documents
- Assessment activities
- Create, assign, and grade assessments
- Pre-built questions
- Class Board
- Blogs and mailbox
- Supports social-emotional learning
- Communication Log
- Up to six custom cohorts for each report
- You can contact Otus for demo and pricing information.
20. NEO LMS: AI-Powered Learning Management Trusted by K-20 Institutions Worldwide
NEO LMS is an all-in-one learning management solution with a user-friendly interface. One unique feature of NEO LMS is that it uses advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence to recommend learning paths based on students’ goals. The platform also ensures inclusive e-learning through its accessibility features and mobile app.
- Intuitive interface
- Fully responsive design
- Support for 40+ languages
- Customizable public profiles
- Instructor-led, self-paced, and blended classes
- Content authoring and navigation
- Certificates of completion
- Student class dashboard
- Closed captions for videos
- Multiple question types
- Quiz results analytics
- Gradebook, rubrics, and point grading scales
- Personalized assignments
- Support for mastery and competency-based learning
- Badges gallery and badge builder
- Chat, forums, wikis, blogs
- Built-in messaging system
- Micro classes
- Support for learning paths
- White-labeled platforms
- Ad-hoc reporting
- Canned reports
- Compliance management
- NEO LMS is available in three plans: Free, Pilot, and Premium.
- The Free Plan includes features such as a graphical class catalog, gamification, competency-based learning, and mobile responsive interfaces. This plan is available to schools with up to 400 students.
- Meanwhile, the Pilot Program includes a branded website, content migration, demo classes on request, analytics and reports, and help desk access.
- Lastly, the Premium Plan adds support for adaptive learning and learning paths, integrations with SIS and web conferencing.
What is the best online learning platform?
There’s no simple answer to this question since the best online learning platform is the one that meets your educational institution’s particular needs. Most of the applications that made it to this list of the best online learning platforms are designed as all-in-one solutions to make it easier for you to create engaging courses, assess student performance, and gain data-driven insights into learners’ progress.
Most of these platforms are highly flexible, so you can work with vendors to have a learning platform that’s made specifically for your institution. As such, it’s also important to consider features such as gamification, white labeling, and built-in tools for communication and collaboration. With these features, you can ensure that educators have everything they need to improve learning outcomes.
If you are interested in learning more about the future of online education as well as auxiliary tools like the best timeline makers, video editors, reference management tools, and the like, check our article on top online education trends.
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