Eleven Platforms for Hosting Online Courses in 2021

Platforms for hosting online courses are part of a booming industry in online learning. If you have expertise in a particular area, online courses are a great way to monetize your site.

This article reviews 11 different platforms for hosting online courses. The products reviewed fall into two categories: (1) third-party platforms, and (2) WordPress LMS plugins.

platforms for hosting online courses

These course platforms can be divided into two categories:

    A) Third party platforms
    B) WordPress plugins

Third party platforms are a complete solution: they allow you to upload your videos (and other instructional material), they allow you to create sales pages using include drag-and-drop editors, and they handle payment for your courses.

WordPress plugins, on the other hand, are only part of the solution. They allow you to upload your course material (videos, Word docs, PDF files etc) and they organize your material into a curriculum.

But you still have to find a payment gateway. In the best cases, these plugins are already connected with payment gateways in a fairly seamless manner.

Third Party Platforms for Hosting Online Courses

These third party platforms host your course content (videos, PDFs etc), provide a curriculum structure, and provide you with a checkout page. They also give you a sales page and a page builder to create it.

#1 - Teachable

Teachable is the granddaddy of course creation platforms.

Features

  • Build online courses using video, images, text lessons, and PDF files
  • Course Compliance
  • Organize your content into schools, courses, and lectures
  • Create a site for your courses with built-in website builder and Stripe or PayPal payments
  • Use quizzes, discussion forums, and blogs to engage students
  • Use segmented student lists to send info that helps students through your courses
  • Activity grading
  • Certificate management
  • Survey Engine
  • Learning Paths (Curriculums)

Pricing (annual):

  • Basic: $29 p/month
  • Professional: $79 p/month
  • Business: $399 p/month

#2 - Thinkific

The closest competitor to Teachable, Thinkific offers much the same as Teachable.

Features:

  • Full video & content hosting
  • Create courses with any content type
  • Built-in content creation tools
  • Embed 3rd party tools and sites
  • Student course reviews
  • Student discussions
  • Quizzes
  • Student surveys
  • Prerequisite lessons
  • Assignments
  • Brillium exams integration

Pricing (annual):

  • Basic: $39 p/month
  • Pro: $79 p/month
  • Premier: $399 p/month

#3 - Podia

Podia is a full-featured platform for creating, marketing, and selling online courses.

Features:

  • Online courses and digital downloads
  • Customizable branding
  • Bundle products
  • Upsell
  • Pre-launch courses
  • Quizzes
  • Drip content
  • Payment plans
  • Integrated membership site
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Affiliate marketing campaigns
  • Instant payout with no transaction fees

Pricing (monthly):

  • Mover: $39 p/month
  • Shaker: $79 p/month

#4 - LearnWorlds

LearnWorlds is an interactive online school for creating, hosting and selling online courses

Features:

  • Unlimited courses
  • Landing and sales pages
  • Course builder, video uploads
  • Certificate management
  • Activity grading
  • Attendance Tracking
  • Assignments Engine
  • Learning Paths (Curriculums)
  • Digital downloads
  • Course Discussions
  • Online testing engine
  • Dashboards and Graphic Reports
  • Interactive engagement
  • Built-in social network
  • Custom domain

Pricing (annual):

  • Starter: $24 p/month
  • Pro Trainer: $79 p/month
  • Learning Center: $249 p/month

#5 - Teachery

Teachery is a platform to build, launch, and sell your online course.

Features:

  • Embed Video, Audio, Images, and Slide Presentations
  • Course Style Editor
  • Payment Pages, Recurring Payments (Payment Plans or Memberships), and Promo Codes
  • Sales Pages, Landing Pages, and Email Capture Pages
  • Email Integration with MailChimp and ConvertKit
  • Zapier Integration and Easy Customer Exporting
  • Custom Domains
  • Custom Course Homepage
  • Tracking Code and Analytics
  • Comments and Community
  • Course Lesson Scheduling (aka Drip Content)
  • Welcome Emails and Course Completed Emails
  • Affiliates for Your Courses

Pricing:

  • Monthly: $49 p/month
  • Annual:  $470 p/year

#6 - BrainCert

BrainCert is a cloud-based online training platform.

Features:

  • Integrated E-commerce
  • Subscriptions and Recurring Payments
  • Video and Content Hosting
  • Custom Certificates
  • Blended Courses
  • Tests and Assessments

Pricing (annual):

  • Basic: $36 p/month
  • Pro: $91 p/month
  • Business: $238 p/month

WordPress Plugins for Hosting Online Courses

These WordPress LMS (Learning Management Systems) plugins act as platforms for hosting online courses. They integrate with various different payment gateways (such as PayPal, Stripe, SamCart, 2CeckOut, WorldPay etc).

Note that if you use a WordPress plugin to sell your online courses, you would need to sign up for a video hosting platform. Some of these are free (YouTube, Twitch, GoogleDrive) and others are paid services (Wistia, Vimeo, DailyMotion).

#7 - Thrive Apprentice

Thrive Apprentice is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create online courses. Thrive Apprentice integrates with Thrive Cart (no relation to Thrive Themes) which handles payments. With a combination of Thrive Apprentice + Thrive Cart you can offer one-time purchases, subscriptions, free trials, one click upsells and order bumps.

Features:

  • membership options
  • Integrates video from third party software
  • Design flexibility
  • Course progress monitoring
  • Drip fed content

Pricing:

Thrive Apprentice is part of Thrive Suite ($90 per quarter)

#8 - Zippy Courses

Zippy Courses is the brain child of Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers, Zippy Courses is a full featured WP plugin that lets you create and sell online courses.

WordPress plugin that allows you to create and sell online courses

Features:

  • Unlimited Courses and Unlimited Students!
  • Drip according to schedule
  • Self-directed (unlock next module as student completes previous)
  • PDFs, slide presentations, and audio files may be directly uploaded (for downloading by students)
  • Stripe, PayPal, and Infusionsoft
  • Payment plans
  • Discount coupons
  • Integration with major email service providers
  • Multiple choice quizzes

Pricing (one-time payment):

  • Standard: $199
  • Deluxe: $299

#9 - LearnDash

LearnDash is probably the best known WordPress LMS (Learning Management System) plugin. It can be sued by solopreneurs but it's designed for educational institutions, such as colleges, academies, and universities.

Features:

  • Course Builder
  • Advanced Quizzing
  • Drip Feed Content
  • Set course, lesson, and quiz based prerequisites
  • Grading
  • Course Points
  • Certificates and Badges
  • Easily add Shopping Cart
  • One-time fee or recurring payments
  • Detailed re[porting
  • Assignment management
  • Works on any theme
  • Mobile compatible

Pricing (one-time payment):

  • Basic: $159
  • Plus: $189
  • Pro: $329

#10 - Lifter LMS

Lifter LMS is a WordPress powered learning management system for course creators and membership site entrepreneurs.

Features:

  • Multimedia Lessons
  • Quizzes
  • Course Builder
  • Drip Content
  • Prerequisites
  • Course Tracks
  • Assignments
  • Quiz Timer
  • Student Dashboard
  • Course Reviews

Pricing (annual):

  • Core LifterLMS plugin: $99 p/year
  • Universe Bundle: $299 p/year
  • Infinity Bundle: $999 p/year

#11 - WP Courseware

WP Courseware is a WordPress plugin by FlyPlugins that lets you create and sell online courses and turn your knowledge into profits

Features:

  • Drag and Drop Course Builder
  • Drip Your Content at Custom Intervals
  • Classroom Grade Books for Each Course
  • Powerful Quiz and Survey Functionality
  • Set Required Course Prerequisites
  • Certificates of Course Completion
  • Built-In Shopping Cart Support
  • Sell Courses as a One Time Purchase
  • Set Up Recurring Subscription Payments
  • Offer Affordable Installment Payments
  • Use Your Own WordPress Theme
  • Customizable Course Styling

Pricing (one-time payment):

  • Teacher: $129
  • Professor: $149
  • Guru: $199

Conclusion

Creating and selling online courses is a booming industry, as you can tell from the number of platforms for hosting online courses, all competing with each other.

The main choice facing you when choosing an online course platform is whether to self-host your course (using a WordPress plugin) or host your course on a third-party platform.

There are pros and cons to both options.

Third party solutions (such as Teachable and Thinkific) handle everything associated with selling online courses. Whereas with a WordPress plugin you would still need a video-hosting platform and a payment gateway.

Last updated on August 16th, 2021 at 05:39 pm

Rob Powell
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