The 9 Best Online Course Platforms for Teachers

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 05/07/23 •  Teach Online

With teaching online, one excellent way to supplement your income (or even build a full time teaching business) is to offer paid courses and a community aspect on specific topics to your students. In order to do that you’ll to use an online course platform. You have a wide array of options to choose from and in this guide we’ll break down the best choices for teachers.

As teachers, we have a few specific needs that are unique to us. We need a course platform that is easy to use, cost effective, allows for quizzes, tests, video, downloadable PDF documents and a platform that we can customize to some degree to make it our own.

Course platform features teachers need

With an online course platform, we think you’ll be surprised by some of the intuitive, helpful features built into our top picks. Instead of just creating a single course, you can create a whole dedicated website that you own to host multiple courses. In addition, here are some features we loved from the platforms we’ve used:

Content lock and content drip

With a course platform you can set lesson material to become available after a certain period of time which forces students to go through each lesson in sequential order. You can also lock content behind a quiz in order to proceed as well.

A full learning management solution (LMS)

Setup quizzes, have video lessons, audio only podcasts, images, downloadable PDF’s in addition to slides, quizzes and tests. The best platforms provide a full LMS for your students so it has a professional feel that matches you as a professional teacher.

Branding an customization

With a paid platform you can truly make the site yours with regards to branding. In addition, by owning your course website and material you can increase your profit margin significantly by being able to set your own prices, coupon codes and discounts.

Best Online Course Platforms for Teachers

So what are the best platforms to create and host an online course as a teacher. We breakdown your best options (both free and paid) as well as the pros and cons of each option.

Teachable – best for a multi-course business

Teachable is the industry leading online course platform. It’s the perfect choice if you want a cost effective platform to create a dedicated website that hosts multiple courses. With Teachable you can have your own branding, custom domain name and dedicated sales pages for each individual course as well asoffer coupon codes and cross sells to students.

Plans start at $29 a month with a 5% transaction fee, but when you upgrade to their pro plan the transaction fee is removed. In addition, Teachable also offers a free plan that allows you to create a single course but the free plan has a 10% transaction fee.

One big selling aspect of Teachable compared to other platforms is that you can offer one on one coaching or lessons to students in a way that is simply not possible with other platforms. So you can build out an entire course (or courses) and then offer some sort of coaching as well.

Affiliate management is also the best with Teachable. They offer a “back office” solution and take care of all the taxes and affiliate payments so you can focus on teaching. Other platforms offer the ability to have your own affiliate program but you’ll have to manually pay each affiliate one by one. A total headache if you have a lot of affiliate promoting your courses.

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Teachable – Our Top Pick

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Thinkific – Best student engagement

Thinkific is a course platform similar to Teachable but with a much better focus on student engagement on the backend. Like Teachable students can send emails and leave comments on individual course modules. However, Thinkific has better community features built in where students can have group discussions and community posts.

The pricing point for Thinkific is a bit expensive at 74$ a month for their “start” plan. With it you get everything you need to create a course website and individual courses. They do offer a limited free plan where you can sell one course with no transaction fee (which is better than Teachable’s free plan).

One unique selling point we found in Thinkific that really stood out compared to the competition was the ability to setup live lectures for your courses using Zoom. So you can create stand-a-lone course material but also offer once a week live lessons with Thinkific.

Last, Thinkific also allows group sales so large organizations and companies can easily make a bulk purchase instead of having their staff purchase course access one by one. If you’re teaching a topic where your target audience is any sort of business, you’ll simply love the bulk group sale Thinkific provides.

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Thinkific – Best for student engagement

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Podia – Webinars, email and communities

Podia is a stylish platform for building out a dedicated website to host your courses as well as the ability to offer webinars and a backend community function for your students. Podia offers a free plan to have a single course and one community and their “mover” plan which unlocks most features starts at $33 a month.

The biggest selling point of Podia for a teacher is the webinar function. Webinars are similar to Thinkific live lesson feature in that you can host a live webinar for your students and market this webinar as a lesson. However, webinars are only available at the “shaker” plan which costs $75 a month.

Where Podia stands out however is that you can then save and resell these webinars or simply add them to your course as additional material. Of course you can market the webinar function as whatever you want. Live lessons, office hours, streams and so forth. Whatever makes sense for your classes.

In addition, you also get access to Podia’s email marketing. While not as robust as a proper email marketing service provider. It’s good enough to send course updates to your students as well as keep in touch with prospective students who are interested in your course website, but not ready to purchase yet.

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Podia – Webinars and email

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Udemy – The free marketplace option

Udemy is a course marketplace and platform that’s free to use. You sign up, create an account and then can add your course material to Udemy’s marketplace. All courses are reviewed for quality, so if your course is rejected you’ll be told why and what to change.

In addition, as it’s a marketplace it is possible to get organic sales to your course. However we’ve found that only highly rated courses that rank for specific keywords get any real natural traffic. So if you create a great course that gets highly rated, expect to make sales with no marketing effort long term.

Keep in mind though that if you’re creating a brand new course that has no students and no reviews, in order to make sales you’ll need to promote your Udemy course yourself through your own marketing needs. In addition, as Udemy is a free platform, potential students will have to sign up to Udemy and create their own accounts. This is bad because you’re driving potential customers and students more to Udemy than for what you’re offering.

With Udemy you have a full fledge LMS with course with lesson modules, text, video, audio, PDF documents and quizzes. You can also setup the quiz as a content lock feature where students must achieve a specific score to proceed with the course lesson.

As an instructor Udemy is free to use, however expect your courses to sell for cheap. Udemy runs promotions regularly where you’re only making $3-12 per sale. However, if you have a highly rated course that ranks then Udemy can drive significant volume.

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Skillshare – The organic marketplace

Skillshare is our preferred marketplace for online courses if your topic is permitted. They do a much better job of driving organic traffic to your course and if you’re looking for a platform where you can focus more on creating courses and engaging with students and less on marketing, then you’ll like Skillshare compared to Udemy (see our dedicated guide on Udemy vs Skillshare).

Unlike Udemy however, Skillshare is much more strict on course topics (see restricted topics). You can’t just create a course on whatever you want which is why we ranked them below Udemy for teachers. You can not create content on math, sciences, engineering, dating, spirituality or making money online.

This will be a deal breaker for most teachers, but if there is a topic that is permitted where you want to create a course on then you’ll love Skillshare. They pay based on premium minutes watched and you also get a referral bonus for sending new students. So you don’t price your course like Udemy, instead you launch a course and get paid based on minutes watched.

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Learn Worlds – Complete site builder

LearnWorlds is an excellent platform for those who wish to create and sell online courses. It is easy enough to use for beginners yet powerful enough for experts. With Learn Worlds, you can easily share your knowledge with the world, regardless of your field or experience level.

Prices start $24 a month for the entry level plan that allows you to create a course website with a custom domain. If you want to unlock blogging you’ll need to upgrade to the “Pro Trainer” plan which costs $79 a month.

Learn Worlds provides you with everything required to make an online course that succeeds. Tools for engagement are pretty unique when compared to its competitors. This is a key reason why this system helps you market, sell and keep students engaged though online courses.

Overall, Learn Worlds is pretty similar in their offerings to Teachable, Thinkific and Podia. It’s a good broad platform for course creation. The singular standout feature with this platform is the ability to create a full website with multiple pages, including blog posts. So you can engage with content marketing using Learn Worlds instead of just creating strictly a course website.

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Mighty Networks – Best for community and course combination

Mighty Networks enables you to construct and own your online course, membership site, or professional network all integrated into one easy-to-use platform. You can also utilize it to power your podcast, blog, or even physical event space.

Mighty Networks makes it easy to build and grow a thriving community around your course content, no matter the topic of your online course. The only drawback is that you need to purchase the “business plan” in order to have online courses which costs $99 a month. The “community” plan at $33 a month only allows you to create a private community (think your own customized, branded Facebook group without using Facebook).

The main selling point of Mighty Networks is that it is first and foremost focused on creating a private community. This is useful because you can create a community for your class and then provide classes (paid or private) to your students.

With Mighty Networks you get native livestreaming (unlike Thinkific that uses Zoom) and video hosting. You can then add those livestreams as course material if you like or use livestreaming as a way to teach a lesson in real time.

Last, you can have cohort based classes. In a cohort-based course, students participate live with a specific group of people and have dedicated start and end dates. The community is key to success in this type of learning environment as cohorts can hold each other accountable and learn from one another more effectively.

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Skool – The simplified online course community

Skool is an all in one, community and online course platform for one price, $99 a month. They do offer a 14 day free trial as well so you can test out what Skool has to offer before purchasing.

With Skool you get the ability to setup an online community for your students, and LMS for your courses with lesson modules, gamification and a calendar to set office hours or weekly live lessons, email broadcasts so you can keep in touch with students and send updates and you can also have user profiles.

Skool is a unique option to create an online course, but it’s low on the list for us because of one key feature they don’t include and that is video hosting. You’re going to want to add video lessons to your courses but Skool does not provide the ability for video hosting. You’ll need to use a 3rd party for that.

Otherwise, Skool is a fun and engaging platform with the right mix of fun user profiles, the ability for students to message one another, you can create a community for your class and last you can send out broadcast emails for updates.

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Best Online Course Platforms for Teachers – Conclusion

So that’s it for our breakdown on the best online course platforms for teachers. You have a lot of choices so we hope you found this honest breakdown helpful.

To summarize Teachable is the best if you’re looking to make a multi-course website business. Thinkific is great for offering live lessons, Podia’s email marketing is a nice feature to keep in touch with current and potential students, Udemy and Skillshare are good free options.

Learn Worlds is a good choice if you want to build out a full website with blogging features, Mighty Networks is perfect for the teacher looking for a combination of community and course features and Skool is a great Facebook group alternative.

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.