The Top 10 Online Course Hosting Sites, & Which One is Best for Your Class

If you're an educator, or a subject matter expert in any field, there's money to be made in teaching others what you know. But where do you start? Online courses are one solution, and there are plenty of them out there. We've rounded up our favorites for

Do you have something to teach the world? A skill or area of knowledge you've mastered that would benefit someone else to know about, too? Chances are you do, and there are probably people out there who would pay you for it as well — perhaps in the form of an online course. 

But how do you get started on something like that, and where can you get help creating your course? Turns out there are numerous sites popping up offering space and help with exactly that - and we've sought out a few of the most popular ones for you to check out. 

Most sites you'll use for this type of endeavor will be referred to as a Learning Management System, or LMS, defined by Wikipedia as, a "software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs." When you're ready to see the top LMS available, and get in on the online course hosting site goods, come on in and see our favorites.

The top 10 online course hosting sites

Thinkific

Thinkific lets you create, customize, and sell online courses, as well as membership sites, under your own brand. 

With their support and training available when you need it, you can get started for free and build a comprehensive site around your course.

They offer course templates into which you can drag and drop any training materials, including video, audio, or text content — or upload it using the bulk importer. Your course site can also be integrated into another already existing site or domain once completed. 

Using Thinkific's simple course design, entrepreneurs can also create an online course around which they can grow their business. 

Set up your site's payment system to receive one-time payments, manage subscriptions, create a payment plan — or just offer free courses. 

The Thinkific reviews we examined focus on how the platform offers everything you need to create your online course, including webinars and training on how to use it, and lots of customizable features.

It even offers some free courses itself to share the process with everyone. Very meta.

Here's some more info on Thinkific:

Price:  

You can begin with a free starter page, which gets you access to all the most pertinent core features, then upgrade as you wish. Note transaction fees take a small percentage (usually somewhere between 5 and 10 percent) from each purchase, and vary with each plan:

How it works:

To get started, you create an account and take the survey letting them know what kind of course you'd like to create. 

Then you get started with either building your course or your website:

And, of course, you choose a template:

I chose 'Empire' because it looked so polished and professional. Now I'm in - and there's a short intro video to welcome me.

From my Dashboard, I can select what I want to do next: design my site, check student enrollment, preview my site, visit the help center, and more:

Now when I click on 'Design your site', it opens up the choice of 'Site builder', which walks you through each part:

You can also select a different option along the left to work on, like 'Manage learning content', and start working on your online course. Or, choose 'Market and Sell' to make coupons, create sales widgets to embed on other sites that link to your courses, and more:

And if you need help, just visit their Help Center page.

Pros:

  • Simple to use
  • Get started free with no credit card required
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Can host and provide courses at no cost
  • Can sell to students or businesses
  • No coding skills needed

Cons: 

  • No option to interact live with students or instructors (such as 'live office hours', workshops, or other live formats)
  • Paid plans cost a bit more than some similar sites

Bottom Line:

Thinkific will manage all your course content for you, and walk you through the steps necessary to create an attractive site free of charge. You can get paid directly via PayPal or Stripe, and create a sales widget to link your courses to your social media, blog, or other websites. Great for someone who is just starting out as an online course creator. 

Digital Chalk

The next of our favorite course hosting sites is Digital Chalk, where you can choose between creating corporate staff training and otherwise selling your own courses. 

With an impressive client list, Digital Chalk looks to be an experienced choice with top shelf design features like animated PowerPoint slides, HD videos, audio, quizzes, exams, SCORM content, and more:

Digital Chalk is easy to use regardless of your level of tech skills, and they let you do a "Test Drive" if you're not completely sold.

Once you create an instructor account, you're able to create your new course:

You can fill in your Course Authoring section, (i.e. who can add to, remove, or update course material), manage your Course Elements, of which there is currently nothing added, (see below):

And you can choose your course layout and delivery template:

There are of course some extras to fill out as well, like grading specifics, that you'll have to fill out as well. You can also preview your course anytime by selecting 'Preview Course' at the very bottom. 

Excellent! Now let's see how this online course hosting site measures up. In the Digital Chalk reviews we read (and by our own observation), here's what we found:

Price: 

How it works:

The basics are that you pay a fee to Digital Chalk monthly or annually (chosen from the plans outlined above), which they subtract from any course purchases you've had, and you get the remaining amount as your payout. If there weren't enough course purchases to warrant your receiving a payout, then you'll receive an invoice for the amount you owe. Details can be found here.

Pros:

  • Students can learn anytime, anywhere from their tablets, phones, etc.
  • Can pay as you go or annually
  • Excellent customer service
  • Easy to use
  • Maintains above average to perfect scores on all reviews
  • Supports at least 7 languages

Cons: 

  • Lack of integrated discussion forum 
  • Not an extremely attractive site
  • No free option

Bottom Line:

This is a winning choice. Easy for both students and administrators to use. Course designers and instructors seem to prefer this hosting site over others, stating it's the best one they've used and "you'll never need anything else."

LearnWorlds

Students and course designers alike will enjoy the interactive features and social learning options on another of the best online course platforms we've found, LearnWorlds.

They have tons of unique, eye-catching templates for your course:

Students will enjoy learning on multilingual, mobile and tablet-ready formats, receiving custom notifications and participating with interactive videos and e-books.

Instructors will find course design is simple and fast, with a handy and intuitive drag and drop course builder.

Numerous learning formats are available on LearnWorlds, including PDFs, audio, video, ebooks, quizzes, exams, concept maps, sliders, and more. It's no wonder how LearnWorlds became a favorite among course creators and students. 

Our next step? Try it for free, of course!

With a no-risk 30 day trial, we can't go wrong. Just fill in the fields above, then localize your school & name it. Then, voila — here's your dashboard view!

So we clicked on 'Create course' from the top row, and we were asked to select what type of course we're creating.

We did so, and it then wanted to know what type of course delivery we'd be using.

So we entered some info, including a coupon off the original price, and it showed our course here:

Fantastic! We'll be back to add some more finishing touches, but for now, let's wrap up with a summary of our finds on LearnWorlds, and check the available reviews:

Price: 

You can start with a free trial of 30 days, then upgrade as you wish. If you prefer to pay monthly, rates are slightly higher as follows:

Check details here for a full pricing comparison.

How it works:

You pay your monthly fee (or pay annually) based upon which plan you choose, and receive your course payments directly through your selected payment gateway whenever your course sells. (There's a 30-day trial to check it all out, too.) For details, go here.

LearnWorlds reviews indicate a widely used online course hosting site with unlimited learners and unlimited courses.

Pros:

  • Mobile-ready options
  • 5 different payment methods including PayPal, Stripe, and Shopify
  • Easy to use
  • Above average customer support
  • Great value
  • Course designers can easily construct their course using the Course Wizard

Cons: 

  • Although available in 50 countries, LearnWorlds may not be available in all languages spoken in those countries, i.e. they have Portuguese options for students/learners, but course designers would need to understand English. (However, they are working on it!)

Bottom Line:

There are far more positive customer reviews than negative on this site. With a 30-day no-risk free trial and reasonable starter plan pricing, we think it's worth a glance if you're interested in trying your hand at creating your own courses.

Teachable

With over 34,000 active courses and 7 million students engaged, we can  see why Teachable is on every reviewer's top 10 list of sites for hosting online courses — not just ours! On Teachable it's easy to create your school, then add unlimited students and courses as you wish. You'll design your courses by uploading a range of course content, including videos, PDFs, quizzes, and more, while using custom colors, fonts, and logos. 

Auto-generated sales pages allow course creators to add testimonials, and custom blocks, and the dashboard lets you see enrollment numbers and a broad array of other course features at a glance. You can also modify aspects of your pages as you like using the Teachable Power Editor and your knowledge of code. (If you don't know code, no worries — you can still easily use Teachable!)  

To get our course off the ground at Teachable, we just clicked on 'Get Started Free', and were then asked to create an account and answer a few questions.

Here's the school dashboard I created! 

Now we'll just click on 'Create a course' to make our class, or visit the handy tutorial to learn how it's done. When you're ready, fill in the fields to add detail to your new course.

Then, you create each section of your curriculum:

And you can preview how your course will look to your students whenever you like:

When you've completed your curriculum, you can head into pricing, and if you need it, there's guidance about course pricing here.

Once you've settled on your pricing and your course is ready, you can publish it and prepare to sell!

Now let's get into our summary of Teachable:

Our research of the reviews indicate that Teachable provides an excellent platform for all types of online courses. Here are the essential pros, and cons:

Price: 

Get details on pricing here.

How it works: 

Once you get started using Teachable, if you use their payment gateway, you'll be paid at the beginning of each month for course purchases over 30 days prior (this allows them to honor their 30-day money back guarantee). If you use a custom payment gateway, you'll be paid for purchases (almost) immediately - this option is included in their Professional and Business plans.

Pros:

  • Fully optimized for tablet and mobile
  • Very user-friendly
  • Advanced customization options
  • Each plan includes unlimited video and course content
  • Lots of helpful links and ways to reach support staff

Cons: 

  • Some didn't like the pricing for Basic plans on Teachable
  • Limitations on design

Bottom Line:

Teachable maintains a 4.5-5 star rating on all review sites. It's easy to use, has numerous features to choose from, and their blog offers lots of helpful tips. Modern layouts and easily customizable. Probably the most popular option for online course hosting.

Academy of Mine

Academy of Mine offers a complete course creation and learning management system. You can utilize the site to create a course online with your choice of chapters, units, assignments, videos, timed quizzes, printable certificates, and much more. If you're ready to check out Academy of Mine, there are a few free demos available, like this, or if you prefer one in Spanish try this, to see what this online course hosting site has to offer.

Here are a few of their main site features:

If those aren't enough, you can also use Academy of Mine on any almost device:

You also get a course builder that's super responsive, a selection of pre-built layouts, translations into many languages, an integrated dashboard, and plenty of options for customization.

If you want to start off slowly, you can make use of their 15-day free trial to familiarize with their features, and then jump directly into a pricing plan. 

As I'm considering whether to sell my online courses here, I'd love to visit their free trial for starters - but unfortunately this site won't let us play with their features without committing to a plan with our credit card, which we aren't quite ready to bust out right now. So let's break things down into our summary instead:

Most Academy of Mine reviews agree that it's one of the best online course hosting sites available. 

Price: 

You can start off with a 15-day trial — after you enter your credit card information. Then they take a few hours to create your setup, and will notify you by email once it's done.

For an in-depth pricing comparison, go here.

Pros:

  • Provides an all-in-one solution for course creation
  • Lots of excellent, convenient features for course creators
  • Has live chats and discussion forums for students
  • Offers additional marketing features like an affiliate program and email marketing

Cons:

  • Very expensive pricing packages, even the starter plan is $199/month (starting after 15-day free trial ends)

Bottom Line:

If you don't mind the price and you're confident your course will sell well, this is one of the best course hosting sites available. According to ecommerceplatforms, this is THE best site to use if you want to build a community around your courses.

Ruzuku

Ruzuku walks you through setting up your online course step by step, from dreaming up your title to creating your lesson plans. Upload video or audio, docs, links, and more, and customize it all exactly as you wish.

You'll enjoy browsing around and reading about Ruzuku's many features, and finding out how easy it is to create your course on their site:

You'll see how they can help you stay engaged with your students:

They'll also show you how to run your own webinars and help students track their own progress, and you'll be able to receive payments directly via PayPal or Stripe.

You're able to create coupons to give your students a great deal, too:

When you've seen enough, you can start a 14-day unlimited use free trial here. Just create an account, and voila — you're ready to start creating your course!

If you're new to this, don't worry. They'll walk you through each part:

Easy! And if you need a little extra help, you can take Ruzuku's free 5-day guide to creating your first online course, available in the Learning Library:

Fantastic! Now let's wrap things up with our summary on Ruzuku:

Ruzuku reviews indicate it's a satisfactorily simple site to use when creating your first (or second or third!) online course, with all the helping features you'll need to get it all done.

Price: 

When your free trial ends, you can choose from these pricing deals if you agree to pay annually:

And these if you prefer to pay monthly:

For further pricing details, go here.

How it works:

Like with many other online course hosting sites we've reviewed, you can set up monthly or annual pricing for yourself (you can compare above, and notice the amount you'll save by paying annually), and then be paid out by the month for purchases of your course, minus any amount you owe for that month. 

Pros:

  • Easy for first time course creators; plenty of customization options for more seasoned users
  • Flexible course delivery options (drip content in intervals, or make available all at once)
  • Helpful student discussion forums can be set up
  • Live webinars can be hosted within the site

Cons:

  • Cannot create custom domain name
  • Free trial is limited to 14 days
  • No way to create or distribute certificates within the platform

Bottom Line:

This is a great option if you've got a limited budget, limited number of students taking your courses, and don't need a way to mass produce certificates for everyone (Ruzuku does not create nor distribute completion certificates, so if you want those for your students, you'll need to create a way to work around this missing option).

Podia

If you like, you can register for a webinar to see how Podia works, or follow along on-site to create your online course easily. For our purposes today, we'll focus on creating online courses:

Your course will make use of 'unlimited everything' on Podia, meaning you'll have no limits on bandwidth, number of courses created, customers, etc. You can also drip your content in gradually, upload any size file, and send emails out to gauge course interest pre-launch:

Not sure what you want to do yet? Take a peek at how the 11,000 other creators have used the site:

When I'm ready to create my online course, I can start with a 14-day free trial and use this course guide to help out:

Once I clicked on 'Create an online course,', I saw this:

So you make your choice of product (online course), give it a name and description, and then:

Next, you'll decide on which type of course content to add, like files, links, or text:

You can add whatever you like, make changes, preview the course page to check how it looks, visit your dashboard, editor, products page, and more. And then there's even more help if you get stuck:

Now that we've peeked at the features, we know for sure we'll be back to set up the rest of our class!  For our purposes today, however, it's time for the wrap-up summary:

The majority of Podia reviews indicate this is another excellent choice for hosting online course creators. Let's start with the pricing:

Price:  

After your initial free trial, you'll have your choice of plans:

How it works:

Generally, the pricing works the same as the others we've covered, but Podia offers a full 2 months free if you agree to the annual billing instead of monthly.

Pros:

  • Attractive, clean design options
  • Great community-building features
  • Simple checkout process
  • Podia will import content from elsewhere free of charge

Cons:

  • Won't allow more than one creator per account
  • No quiz format available just yet

Bottom line:

Podia offers a very user-friendly option for course hosting. Simple navigation, great for both novice and advanced course creators, and a helpful, responsive customer support team.

CourseCraft

CourseCraft is ideal for both beginners and advanced course creators. Are you also into how to create an online course for free? This site offers a free basic plan where no membership dues are charged, but instead there's a transaction fee taken at the time of course purchase.

CourseCraft is the simplest site we've covered so far for course hosting. You can start by set up a sample lesson and start collecting emails to get a group ready for when you've prepared your course:

Unique colors and accents are available to customize your work:

And you can track, schedule, and manage everything in one spot: how many views your landing page received, how much you've grown in sales, how many students are enrolled in your courses, etc.:

Lessons are simply created and easily edited. As CourseCraft states, "If you know how to use a keyboard and a mouse, you can build a course using CourseCraft." That's our kind of site!

Not only can you sign up to try a sample course free, you can also get started on building a course free of charge:

So, let's do it! First we sign up, and get started with our first lesson.

First, the editing menu, where we can set up our title and details, landing page, lesson list, pricing, and advanced options:

Then the next menu, is promote, which has the mailing list, promo codes, pre-paid seats, and more. In the manage menu, you'll find info on your course's activity, stats, leads list, participant list, etc.

CourseCraft will keep a checklist of which sections have and have not been completed:

Once these sections are all completed to your liking, it's time to publish your course. Nice! Now let's get to our wrap-up on the CourseCraft site:

CourseCraft reviews are primarily positive with an emphasis on it's user-friendly features and low prices.

Price: 

Aside from the free options, here's how their pricing structure breaks down:

Note that transaction fees on each purchase are 9 percent, but are only taken off purchases made while using the Basic plan. Also, the annual plan offers 20% off the monthly rate of the Basic plan.

How it works:

You set up your course, establish pricing for your course, and then each transaction fee is taken out at time of every course purchase (for the Basic/freeplan). Also for the Basic/free plan, you are paid out monthly for transactions; for the other plans, you are paid out instantly.

Pros:

  • Instant payout for two plans
  • They offer a free plan (although there is a transaction fee)
  • Lots of helpful how-tos, walk-thrus, and reminders on completing your course
  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • 9 percent transaction fee for the Basic/free plan will take a chunk of your pay

Bottom line:

This is a great site if you want to try out your course creator skills, then move up to a higher priced plan once you gain confidence. If you know for sure your course will sell like hotcakes, you may as well go for the Society plan. There's no transaction fee taken at all, and if you pay the annual amount, it only comes out to $47/month.

WizIQ

Named among the top Learning Management Systems as well as receiving an Excellence in Technology award for 2017, WizIQ is well-positioned to provide interactive online course hosting.

From their wide selection of gorgeous templates to their easily customizable banner, logos, urls, and more, educators and course creators will fall in love with their design options at WizIQ:

You can get a spot in their weekly webinar to learn about getting started, how to create courses, and how to use all the features WizIQ has to offer for free:

Or, if you'd rather skip the webinar, you can still sign up for a 14-day free trial here. We signed up for the free trial, and waited a few minutes — then we had our starter account. Sweet!

From here, you can start creating your course, or learn from the Knowledge Base by choosing from the options presented, such as how to set up your Virtual Classroom:

You'll also learn how to create a scheduled course, how to create a self-paced course, how to set up tests and assessments, and a look at some administrative tasks.

From there, you can visit the Community, which has 2 forums for questions and discussion:

If you still need help, you can submit a ticket to the support specialists from the Home screen, or ask in the chat box in the lower right corner.

Brilliant! We'll be back to set up our course another time - but for now, let's get into our wrap-up summary on WizIQ:

Most WizIQ reviews indicated it's a solid LMS with lots of great customization options and helpful customer service. 

Price: 

After your trial period ends, you may choose from these Virtual Classroom-based plans:

How it works: 

You'll sign up for the plan you choose (note: the prices above are broken down per month for a full year's annual billing), and then WizIQ takes an additional 5% transaction fee per course enrollment.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to reach support team
  • Plenty of customization options
  • Students can attend live sessions on phones or tablets
  • Simple process for enrollment and testing

Cons:

  • Some reported slow audio/video in some parts of the world; others had trouble when a larger number of students logged on at the same time
  • Some had trouble searching the course directory

Bottom line:

This LMS has received recognition for their technology and is considered one of the largest cloud based training service providers worldwide. It appears to be excellent for smaller groups, with fewer people needing to be logged in at the same time. 

Be sure all your questions are answered during your trial period before committing to a purchase. If you have a large number of participants needing to use the platform at the same time, this may not be ideal for you.

Pathwright

Reach students around the globe with your own branded, online school, using Pathwright.

A popular course hosting site, Pathwright is used by companies like Hitachi, allrecipes.com, Krista King Math, and the Princeton Theological Seminary.

Set up the best learning space for your class, using customizable themes:

Their highly intuitive platform keeps you updated and informed on student progress, setting schedules, offering feedback and delivering discussion prompts.

When you've seen enough, you can start free with no credit card necessary, by going here and creating your account. Then you can choose from helpful tips available for setting up your class:

And when you're done with that, you'll come to your dashboard:

Here, you can begin preparing your course by selecting 'Teach a course' (on the left), and your teaching page opens up:

When you select 'Create a new course', they'll ask you for your course title, and then you'll see this:

You can add more courses to 'everything you're teaching' and build them as you wish. Excellent!

Now we'll definitely be back to spruce up our classes, but for now, let's get into our summary of Pathwright:

Who is Pathwright best for?

Pathwright reviews indicate that this LMS is best for the presentation of academic or highly specialized business topics.

Price: 

Once your free trial expires, you can choose from the following plans:

If you pay annually, you'll save 10% off monthly rates as shown below:

How it works:

Each plan varies slightly, but all plans allow up to 1000 active learners and unlimited courses. (see details of each plan here). Pathwright does not charge any e-commerce or transaction fees off your course purchases, though your gateway (PayPal, Stripe, etc.) may charge a fee.

Pros:

  • Design the outline for your entire course within minutes
  • Add videos, projects, discussions, quizzes, and interactive options
  • Set up either immediately available or scheduled content
  • Ease of use for both course creator and student
  • Teachers can may choose from several live streaming services in their course

Cons:

  • Maybe expensive for single users not looking to build a community

Bottom line:

Playwright is ideal for people who want to set up a complete school with lots of courses, but is available for everyone. Easy to track progress, enrollment, and other stats from one place. Reaches students worldwide.

2 comments

Add a comment

0 answers +0 votes
Post comment Cancel
Sandy Johnson
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 29, 2014
beauty 2O14
0
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Mar 9, 2014