The online learning market is projected to grow by 29% over the next five years according to MarketWatch. This steady growth in popularity means that a lot of different companies are trying to grab a piece of the pie. But which of the many platforms is the best option for you?
Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are an excellent way to learn a new skill or topic at a much lower cost than brick and mortar classes. MOOCs provide on-demand video lectures that you can fit into your schedule, and tackle at your own pace. The best of them provide interactive exercises and progress evaluations to keep you engaged in your learning process. Some platforms even offer authorized continuing-education credits to maintain your professional certifications.
The problem is that there are so many different platforms, and they all seem to be offering pretty much the same thing. How do you make a choice?
Different MOOC platforms for different learning objectives
There are tons of different options out there, and many of them offer legitimate, unique advantages. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses and each serves a different audience.
Udacity and Coursera, for example, deliver university-style courses in a formal learning setting. Most of the courses offered on these platforms are structured, formal courses with homework, class projects, and the whole nine yards. These types of courses are often intended as modules within a larger degree program or other traditional education track.
If you’re exploring MOOCs as a learning option, that probably means you want flexibility, and focus on a specific skill. You don’t want the formality of a university setting, and you don’t have time for the rigid schedule of a traditional course. You want to learn the skills you need as quickly as possible, and without having to put the rest of your life on hold to do it.back to menu ↑
Skills-based training with MOOCs
Pluralsight and Udemy are the two most flexible and prolific MOOC platforms available. They each offer countless courses ranging from absolute beginner to advanced skill levels. They each provide in-depth video lectures accompanied by some interactive elements. And each of these platforms offers continuing education credits for a variety of professional certifying organizations.
So which MOOC platform is right for you? Is Pluralsight better than Udemy, or vice versa?
In this guide, we’ll compare some of the key features of Pluralsight and Udemy. By understanding what makes these two platforms different, you will be able to draw your conclusions about which is better for your learning style and objectives.back to menu ↑
Before you can decide which MOOC platform is best for you, it’s important to understand what your specific learning objectives are.
One of the biggest things that makes Pluralsight different from Udemy is its focus on a specific target audience: the tech industry. Knowing what your goals are before you dive into learning will help you choose the right platform and make the most of your MOOC experience.
Udemy serves diverse audiences
A glance at Udemy’s course catalog will tell you that there is more to learn here than software development. Courses on Udemy range from university-level courses in quantum physics to tutorials on how to start a dog walking business.
If you want to learn a lot of different things all in one place, Udemy is the right choice. On Udemy, it’s easy to find a course on just about any topic and at any skill level.
The instructors are diverse as well. Udemy courses are submitted by users, and anyone can do it. This makes the platform incredibly democratic. Udemy allows people with a huge range of experience to offer their skill and insight in a way that would be otherwise impossible.
There are some downsides to Udemy’s open format. All that diversity can make it difficult to find a high-quality course on your subject. Since there is no explicit vetting process for instructors, the quality of courses is determined by students. Courses and instructors are ranked in an open marketplace with higher-ranked course filtering to the top of the list.
The democratic approach to instructor evaluations and the diversity of course offerings make Udemy a great option for casual learners interested in a variety of topics.
Pluralsight is designed for technology professionals
If you’re looking for a more focused approach to tech training, guaranteed professional instruction, and courses that are expertly designed to get you up and running fast on a new skill, Pluralsight is the MOOC platform for you.
Pluralsight explicitly serves tech industries
From just looking at Pluralsight’s homepage, it will be clear that this is a tool designed with technology professionals in mind. In fact, a lot of people find all the corporate training and development language intimidating. You might not even realize that Pluralsight is available to individuals.
Once you get past the jargon and start reading about Pluralsight’s core functionality, it’s clear that this MOOC platform is ideal for individual learners.
Some of Pluralsight’s most useful features for professionals are:
- Skill and Role IQ assessments to quickly identify your proficiencies and share them on LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, and Twitter
- Interactive courses with real-time feedback
- Practice projects that put you in a real-world development scenario to reinforce what you’ve learned
- Progress reports and skills tracking for corporate teams and training managers
Curated learning paths
Pluralsight goes beyond ensuring quality courses and effective instructors. They also put a lot of effort into making sure the courses on their platform are relevant and practical for tech professionals.
One of the ways the Pluralsight can help you achieve your learning goals is their curated learning paths. Paths are collections of courses that lead to a specific valuable skill set. Paths can be used to plot a course through your learning experience on Pluralsight to achieve specific training goals. They can also be used by training managers to track your progress toward learning the skills necessary for a specific role.
Paths are put together by Pluralsight staff, team leaders from member companies, and other professionals.back to menu ↑
Quality of Instructors
Another big factor in setting Pluralsight apart from Udemy is the way these platforms vet their instructors. There are pros and cons to each approach, but the differences are important.
Udemy is open to anyone with something to teach
Udemy is a democracy. Anyone who wants to teach can create a course and post it on the platform. The only quality control is the user rating system. Students are prompted at intervals throughout each course to rate the effectiveness of the course and the instructor. This is an effective way to filter out unskilled teachers over time, but it places the burden of quality control on users.
Pluralsight guarantees professional instructors
Where Udemy is open to any aspiring teacher who wants to submit a course, Pluralsight auditions potential instructors. Pluralsight instructors are evaluated on their knowledge of the topic, as well as their teaching skills.
Pluralsight’s high standards for instructors mean that any course you take on their platform is taught by a top industry professional with at least passable teaching ability. That means you won’t have to waste time hunting through a bunch of courses on the same topic until you find a good teacher.back to menu ↑
Cost may not be an issue when you’re taking a single class on how to knit wool socks. It can become a serious concern, though, when you need to take a series of courses in a new programming language. The pricing models of Udemy and Pluralsight are the biggest deciding factor for some learners.
Udemy bills separately for each course
On Udemy, each course sets its own tuition and is billed separately. A typical course is usually listed somewhere between $20-$300. The good news, though, is that almost no one pays full price for Udemy courses. There seems to be a perpetual last-minute deal on Udemy that reduces the price of the average course to somewhere around $11. Still, if you need to take seven or eight courses to learn a new skill set, tuition adds up fast.
Pluralsight charges a flat subscription rate
If you know you’re going to need a few courses to achieve your learning goals, Pluralsight is much more cost-effective for tech learners. With a single subscription fee (billed monthly or yearly), you get access to the entire course library. You’ll also get access to all the interactive features associated with your subscription level. When you pay yearly for a Pluralsight subscription, the cost breaks down to only a couple dollars more than tuition for a single course on Udemy. That’s a pretty good deal!back to menu ↑
Now that you’ve seen some of the key features, you should have everything you need to decide between Pluralsight and Udemy.
Udemy is a great choice for learners interested in diverse topics, and those looking for the most flexibility in learning style. But, for tech professionals who want to add valuable new skills, Pluralsight is the clear winner. Pluralsight’s reporting, social media integration, and skills tracking are ideal for professional learners.
Ready to begin exploring Pluralsight’s courses? Sign up for a free trial today!