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5 Online Learning Platforms That Won't Break the Bank

Woman waiting in an airport with a cell phone, laptop and suitcase
Online learning platforms are an essential part of the career growth and development of employees.

While some organizations still use traditional, instructor-led classroom models for training, this method can be time-consuming and inconvenient. E-learning models allow individuals to learn on-the-go from any connected device. Employees can access these platforms between work tasks or when they need information quickly.

So, what does it take to implement an online learning platform for your small business? Fortunately, it doesn't have to be a big expense. Here are five low-cost — yet effective — online learning platforms your employees can benefit from:

1. Lynda.com

Lynda.com (which has been acquired by LinkedIn) is a popular choice when it comes to learning a variety of business, government and technical skills. For example, the website offers a nine-course specialization in becoming a manager.

With more than 20 years in the business of teaching adult learners, Lynda.com has a track record of providing quality educational content and career-specific training. Users can start with a 30-day free trial, then move into a subscription plan starting as low as $19.99 a month. Team rates are also available.

2. Coursera

Coursera is another popular choice for many adult learners and companies looking for affordable on-demand learning. This online learning platform partners with colleges and universities around the world (such as Berklee, Stanford, John Hopkins University, Princeton, University of Paris, University of Geneva, Yale and more) to provide high-quality, career-relevant content. A top-selling course is Excel to SQL, which is facilitated by Duke University instructors.

At the enterprise level, costs are nominal and include full access to learner analytics and tracking information to ensure ROI. Small organizations can access the platform at no cost for 14 days, then choose between a one-course plan for $100 per employee/per year or an unlimited course plan for $400 per employee/per year.

3. Udacity

Udacity has a long history of offering a wide range of technology courses. This easy-to-use online learning platform shares free and paid courses on everything from data analysis to designing self-driving cars. Udacity was developed with career building in mind, which is why companies like Google, Facebook, AT&T, IBM and GitHub have partnered with it to build Nanodegree Programs.

These programs prepare employees for real work experiences. Your company can take advantage of this by providing courses that align with specific career paths, such as the Digital Marketing program. The cost of accessing Udacity's courses range from $0 to $999 per person, depending on their goals.

4. Skillshare

Skillshare is an open marketplace for online learning content. Currently, the organization offers more than 16,000 classes on many small business and career subjects. The company was founded in an effort to close the skill gaps that exist in many industries. For example, a comprehensive course on presentation essentials helps employees prepare to effectively communicate in front of others. The cost to access all courses begins with a free 30-day trial, followed by plans starting at $99 a year per user.

5. Udemy

Udemy is an online learning platform that started out as a source of knowledge for individuals but has since branched out to include organizational learning support. There are 2,000 business courses available, on topics ranging from personal well-being and office productivity to information technology and business finances. The platform also transforms into a fully-functional LMS, so companies can develop and add their own content as well as monitor learner progress. Small companies with as few as five employees can request a 30-day free trial. Following the free trial, the cost is $240 a year per user. However, there is a discount for larger groups.

Online learning platforms can be the perfect solution for training contractors, new hires and seasoned employees alike to take on new skills and tasks. Most platforms offer certifications for completing courses, which can prove your employees have what it takes to lead your company into the future. As your company grows, an online learning source like one of the above can prove useful. Consider a free trial to evaluate the suitability of these and other e-learning platforms.