Ultimate Comparison: LinkedIn Learning vs Coursera

There has been an explosion of interest in online learning lately, and there is an ever-expanding universe of providers competing to offer the best experience for users looking for such services. LinkedIn Learning and Coursera are two of the industry leaders in this space, and as such people normally want to see how they stack up against one another. These platforms are both popular among professionals for offering a wide variety of courses to further existing skills or learn new ones. They even provide the chance to earn professional certificates to further their bona fides while doing so.

But what makes these platforms different from one another? Below we will compare the two companies’ strengths and weaknesses in an effort to help you decide which one is right for you.

Quick Comparison: Which is better? Linkedin Learning versus Coursera

LinkedIn Learning is the better choice for those that are interested in courses about management or technology and also filling in gaps in their personal or professional knowledge. A big difference, and advantage, is professional networking features, which it also leverages with its own social media platform, LinkedIn. This enables students to connect to job opportunities related to their career through the already popular LinkedIn platform, something no other competitor can truly offer.

Coursera partners with top universities to create its courses. It may be better for those looking for courses that have more personalized features and can give them accreditation. Coursera achieves this by providing certificates and degrees that students can use while looking for work in their industries. The cost of a course differs by the provider, however, and the expense can quickly add up if you are taking many courses for certification.

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For Who (and When) Does LinkedIn Learning and Coursera Work Best?

While you can’t go wrong with either platform, (seriously, they are two of the best) they may be even more ideal for certain individuals. This is because they share a set of characteristics common with all online learning platforms:

  • The ability to sample the services with a free course or trial period.
  • Affordable pricing, especially compared to conventional education providers.
  • The ability to remote learn from some of the best instructors anywhere in the world.
  • A course catalogue that offers more variety and more classes than any individual could ever finish themselves.
  • Motivational aid by way of accountability tracking tools and goals to achieve in the form of certifications.

Of course, if you are looking for a deeper review of online learning platforms, you can start by checking out my LinkedIn Learning review here.

In short, platforms like LinkedIn Learning are best for professionals who might already have a degree and a good amount of experience in their vocation. This is not strictly necessary of course, just helpful as a means of focusing one’s studies. That is because these platforms work best as source of supplemental or additional knowledge to complement your existing skills.

This is not to say that you can’t pick up a totally new skill from either platform, of course you can, but if you are an individual without a degree or an idea of a career the courses offered will have little benefit as they aren’t designed to replace those necessary aspects.

This leads us to when these programs are best utilized by individuals and this answer is much more broad. They can be just as useful to those looking to move up the corporate ladder as the newly graduated. For most, though, the best time to start online learning is when you notice gaps or blind spots in your own professional abilities that you would like to shore up.

Now that we know what the two platforms have in common, let’s look at what advantages they have over one another.

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Where Does LinkedIn Learning Best Coursera?

LinkedIn Learning has many clear advantages especially in these specific areas:

  • Education for business professionals, specifically those with a background in marketing or business management.
  • A quality and varied curriculum and great video player.
  • The ability to leverage its own professional social media platform for its students.

The above shouldn’t surprise anyone given the company’s background. What may be more surprising is the sheer breadth of courses on offer, something for almost everyone. For example, course like “Figure Drawing: Tonal Rendering” may appeal for those interested in the arts or “Learning Python” for computer science enthusiasts.

Giving it a try couldn’t be easier thanks to LinkedIn Learning giving everyone a 1-month free trial, which can be cancelled at any time before they charge, no questions asked.

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For those looking to bone up on their soft skills, LinkedIn Learning also has great courses on topics such as leadership skills, developing your emotional intelligence and personal effectiveness. While encyclopedic, there are some bare spots in the library, for example, anything outside of the greater business sphere or lifestyle adjacent such as gardening or physical fitness. Though to be fair these aren’t the type of courses offered by many of its serious competitors either.

The platform also has one of the best video players of any online educator I have used, and they have filled it with content that is easy to digest and informative. It is a good thing that the video player is so competent, because LinkedIn Learning relies on video as its primary communicative medium. One feature I especially liked was the ability to watch at different speeds, a useful feature when scrubbing through a video you have watched before.

Lastly, the ability to leverage LinkedIn is a unique feature to this platform and a clear advantage that none of its competitors can claim.

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Where Does Coursera Best LinkedIn Learning?

Coursera has the following advantages over its competitors:

  • Unique instruction and curriculum thanks to partnerships with some of the world’s leading universities.
  • The ability to obtain certifications and professional accreditations by completing courses and tracks called “specializations.”
  • The ability to obtain a full degree.

While this won’t be an in-depth review of Coursera, if you are interested in that please check out my full review here, we will look at some of the advantages the platform has.

Coursera is unique between the two companies in that it turns over the creation of its education content to the companies and universities that they partner with. These are companies like IBM and Google along with top universities such as Penn or Stanford; some of the most respected business and universities in the world shaping the instruction and curriculum of the courses you take. You are paying, in part, for the trust that people have in these brands. So, while it isn’t cheap, you know that you are getting a good education and product.

While Coursera has some free courses, the majority cost money if you wish to obtain a shareable certification. This lends the platform an academic feel that is furthered by the ability of students to complete pre-ordained groups of courses for something called a “specialization.” This is a more rigorous program of study that moves past passive learning and requires the completion of hands-on experiences. Getting a specialization requires a monthly subscription, usually around $49, and gives the user access to the full range of necessary courses.

The last and best advantage this platform holds over its competitors is the ability to matriculate your courses towards (and achieve!) a degree. While this requires a fair amount of work and planning, the accessibility of this ability is something no other 3rd party online learning platform can offer. While not for those that prefer a more traditional college experience, the cost can’t be beat at roughly $15,000 total. This is also a great option for those that would never have the ability or opportunity to attend some of these world renown universities in their physical locations.

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Which Online Education Platform Is a Better Value?

Let’s get down to dollars and cents now by looking at the cost and value that each platform provides. This is a great time to remind you that both platforms offer some sort of free service and in particular about the 1-month free trial that LinkedIn Learning gives everyone, which can be cancelled at any time, no questions asked.

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LinkedIn Learning has both yearly and monthly subscription options:

  • $29 a month for the personal premium membership.
  • $299 a year for the personal premium membership, which comes out to roughly $24 dollars a month.

Coursera has pricing that varies by course or if you want a certificate etc., for this reason it is hard to give a universal price, but they do offer the following subscription options:

  • $39 to $79 dollars a month for “Specializations,” which are curated groups of courses detailed above.
  • $296 a year for an annual subscription, with unlimited access to all courses and certifications, which is a little more than $24 dollars a month.

Other factors to consider are that LinkedIn Learning may be available through your employer if they have a corporate account. Also, Coursera has many free courses available if you don’t need to have all the features or certifications they offer.

The value that each platform provides will largely be dictated by personal circumstances and choices. This is why we would recommend taking a free trial of the service you are considering, so that you can better judge its value for yourself.

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Praise and Complaints Common to Both Platforms

It is important to note that, though these providers are some of the best in their field, neither platform is perfect. In fact, there are criticisms that the two share and can be common throughout the entire online educational community. We will detail a few pros and cons they share below.

Keeping up with the pace of technology when you are an educator can be a challenge.

This is true for all educators, online or not, because often the pace of technology outpaces the ability to create a curriculum about it. By the time the curriculum for a course on web development is finalized the pace of technology may have already made it obsolete. While this is a negative for sure, it is something that online learning platforms are actually more adept to handle; because they don’t have to wait for legacy products such as textbooks to be updated like they would be at a traditional school, for example. Besides, online learning platforms are motivated to keep their curriculum as up to date as possible because they know their business depends on successfully giving you new skills.

Another potential negative criticism that both share is a no refund policy. While this is common practice in education, done to prevent abuse from simply using the materials and asking for a refund after attaining the knowledge, it is also a less severe policy than it first appears. This is due to the free trial options both Coursera and LinkedIn Learning offer, options that we wholeheartedly recommend you try first to see if it is worth your money.

linkedin learning vs coursera complaints
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Practical Differences in Study Environments for Both Platforms

Up until now we have discussed some easily identifiable differences between the two platforms, next we will look at something more concrete, what the study environment looks like on each platform.

Studying on Learning LinkedIn:

For those that are unaware, before this platform was purchased by LinkedIn, it was named Lynda.com, after one of its creators, Lynda Wienmen. Lynda was originally focused more on computer science education, and you can tell in how well the technology that runs the learning environment is put together. If you want to see the content library for yourself, you can check it out here. The user experience is very linear and straightforward when taking a class and almost all instruction takes place by video. The most notable difference is the course recommendations the platform will give you. This is often in an attempt to help you achieve greater professional success and pulls from information gathered from your LinkedIn profile. With a steady stream of recommendations, it is nice that the subscription model allows you to take as many different courses as you can handle.

Studying on Coursera:

Much like what was said above, the best way to see what the learning environment on Coursera is like, is to sample it yourself by taking a free course. They also provide a helpful overview of how the platform works here. The curriculum consists mostly of videos that can be watched on-demand or scheduled as you prefer. These videos are free to audit, but if you want access to homework, discussion sections and tests, along with other materials, for most courses you will have to be a paying student. The most unique aspect of Coursera’s learning system is the aforementioned “specializations,” these courses often must be taken in a certain sequence, something fun is that they often end in a cumulative class experience called a “capstone.” If you are looking for an example of this in practice, here is one from a Specialization on Salesforce Fundamentals.

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A Closer Look at Different Instructors

One of the benefits of online learning is it enables you to take classes from instructors you never would be able to learn from otherwise. These aren’t just top academics from some of the best universities in the world, but often titans of business as well.

For example, on LinkedIn Learning they offer courses with instruction from Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, or Neil Blumenthal a co-founder of Warby Parker.

Coursera, on the other hand, is currently offering courses taught by well-known professors from Northwestern University and Princeton University, to single out just a couple institutions. If you are interested in the full list of over 200+ educational partners follow this link.

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Final Verdict: Which is Worth Your Time?

We will put it off no further and instead give you the final judgment on which platform is worth your precious time and money. Yet if you are looking for a cut and dry answer you may well be disappointed, as saying there is a one-size-fits-all solution to this question would inevitably lead someone astray. Both platforms can be very good, depending on what you’re looking for specifically. With that hedge out of the way we can note clearly the following:

LinkedIn Learning is great if you are an established professional looking to supplement your skills or new to the workforce and looking for a way to help differentiate yourself. It is especially great for those that already have a LinkedIn profile, so that they can make use of all the features the platform provides. If you are unsure of what specific skills or knowledge you are looking to gain, the ability to try as many courses you want as part of the subscription should also be a clear benefit.

Coursera is the best option for those looking for a more academic experience. If gaining certifications and interacting with the material in a more rigorous fashion is important to you it is the clear choice. Don’t forget, however, that you often must pay for each course individually, so Coursera is not as good of an option for those that think they may want to explore many different subjects.

linkedin learning vs coursera decision
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Conclusion

This concludes the Ultimate Comparison of LinkedIn and Coursera; we hope you have found it enjoyable and informative. If you have learned a lot, but still wish to know more, don’t forget there is always good information here at IQ Unlock. In fact, we have a handy guide on just about every online learning platform there is waiting just for you.

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