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For those of us who were in school 15+ years ago, our options for getting a little extra help outside of the classroom or even learning about a subject that wasn’t being taught in school were extremely limited compared to the availability of information today.
Hiring a tutor was expensive and often inconvenient, and going to the library was tedious and time consuming.
But now, whether you want to learn more about history or you’re trying to gain some cooking skills to impress your family, help is available at your fingertips through online course platforms. That's the beauty of virtual learning!
In this article, we are going to compare two of the leading websites for e-learning that both offer a wide range of courses taught by professionals Skillshare (read the full review here) and Udemy (read the full review here).
We will look at the pros and cons of each site and a guideline you can use to determine which site is best for you.
Let’s get started by looking at a quick overview of each site and then we will delve into some side by side comparisons considering various factors.
Skillshare is a web-based learning community that has been around for 10 years. It has grown to offer thousands of courses geared toward creative people, on topics such as animation, illustration, design, film, photography, and more.
However, the site also offers courses on lifestyle, technology, and business. The majority of courses are taught through educational videos and focus more on interaction than lecturing, with the main method of learning being through completing both group and individual projects.
Udemy is also working on its 10th year of business. It is aimed at professional students and adults, and currently employs 57,000 instructors and teaches over 50 million students in over 65 languages.
Udemy courses are largely focused on improving job-related skills, which is why over 80% of Fortune 100 companies offer Udemy classes to their employees. With over 150,000 courses offered, Udemy aims to attract corporate trainers who are looking to create coursework for their employees.
Skillshare offers both monthly and annual subscriptions. When you purchase an annual membership, the cost comes out to about $8 per month, and with a monthly subscription, it is $12 per month.
This cost allows users to have unlimited access to all of the courses offered by Skillshare. Once a member, you can access the courses both online and offline with no third party advertisements. The site offers support for teachers as well as scholarships for students.
Udemy courses are offered a la carte, and range from being free to costing $200, with the cost being determined by the instructor. However, Udemy is notorious for offering promotions and discounts for their courses. Users can often take courses for 80% or 90% off the listed price.
Once you’ve purchased a course, you can learn at your own pace, as you’re granted access to the course material as long as your Udemy account remains open, even if the course becomes unpublished.
Because Udemy’s mobile apps are owned and managed by the Apple and Android operating systems, the prices may vary on these platforms. This is because while mobile providers choose the pricing tier that’s closest to the price set by the instructor, they aren’t always exactly the same.
Also, users can’t enter coupon codes on mobile apps. You have to purchase a course on the website if you want to use a coupon code and then you can access it through the app.
The courses on Skillshare are taught using a project-based approach to help students learn. Every course has at least one project to complete, so students are able to learn in a hands-on way.
Project-based learning is great for learning subjects such as programming, design, and illustration, where having kinesthetic experience is key.
Having a project-based approach helps students develop real-world skills that they can apply in their profession.
Most of the courses are under an hour, meaning you can learn efficiently without spending hours listening to lectures. Skillshare also offers an online community setting for students to share ideas and inspiration about what they’re doing for their projects.
Some of the courses offered on Udemy take about 5 hours to complete, which can be difficult for some students to see their way through.
And, while Udemy doesn’t teach through assigning projects like Skillshare does, it does offer quizzes and manual assignments for students to turn in for feedback from the professor on how their work could be improved. This makes Udemy less interactive than Skillshare tends to be.
Now, if you want to learn quickly, then the key to mastering a new skill is to only focus on the information that can be immediately applied. The video below provides an overview of just-in-time learning and the steps you can use to master any skill in a short amount of time.
If you have a subject in mind that you want to learn about, both Skillshare and Udemy are likely to have a course that can meet your needs.
The biggest difference you will find between the course offerings on the two platforms is the duration of the classes. Some Skillshare classes are as short as 10 minutes, while Udemy courses run at least 30 minutes in length.
However, both sites offer courses that are much longer as well. Overall, Udemy courses go more in-depth with the material, while Skillshare’s classes are shorter and more concise.
I don’t believe one option here is better than the other, it really depends upon your own learning preferences and time constraints.
Anyone can sign up to be an instructor on either of these platforms and create their own courses. Experts in their respective fields offer up their experiences to teach others who are following in their footsteps.
While most teachers on either platform don't have Ph.D. credentials, most do have unique and valuable experiences to share with students on the subjects they're teaching.
However, the downside to both of these platforms is that the course quality can vary greatly from one instructor to another.
While one course may offer insight from someone who has one or two years of experience doing project management, another may be taught by an instructor who is 25 years into their career and has done project management in a wide range of circumstances.
This is less of an issue on Skillshare because of the subscription-based pricing structure. If you start a course and find that you don’t find it to be of any value to you, you can switch to another course at no cost to you.
However, when you purchase a course on Udemy that you aren't too fond of, you've already paid for the content.
Accreditation and Certificates
Neither platform is an academically accredited institution. And, while Udemy offers completion certificates once you’ve completed a course, the skills learned through this site aren’t necessarily valued by companies, as anyone can sign up for them.
Skillshare does not offer certificates. You only walk away from courses with any projects you have completed and the skills that you’ve learned.
Because of this, neither platform is very effective in helping you gain education or experience that is appropriate to add to your resume. If you’re looking for certification or credentials, you’ll want to look at other options.
However, if you’re just looking to sharpen your skills, either site will provide you with practical information at a relatively low cost and time investment as compared to a traditional educational institution.
Both platforms require very little time commitments, especially when compared to classes at a typical university. After purchasing a course with Udemy, you have lifetime access to it and you can go through the material at your own pace.
Because of the monthly subscription aspect of Skillshare, you have to keep up with your monthly payments to maintain access to the material, so there's some pressure to get through it if you don’t want to continue your subscription. However, courses are short and will likely take you under a month to complete.
But just because some courses are short doesn't mean they aren’t high quality. They offer the most critical information you need to know regarding the topic and leave out some of the excess fluff information that isn’t imperative to know in order to have a solid grasp on the subject.
Both platforms value efficiency in their methods of teaching.
Here is a review of Skillshare and Udemy that lists some of the top selling courses on each site. Let’s take a look.
Best-Selling Courses on Skillshare
This free course is aimed toward anyone who is seeking to complete a goal. Taking this course will show you how to break your larger goals down into smaller, more achievable tasks, overcome self-doubt, and learn how to prioritize the most important things.
The instructor, Kate Arends, is the founder of a Wit and Delight, a lifestyle website, and she shares ways to maintain your motivation so you can power through when things get tough.
The course includes 12 video lectures and lasts 48 minutes.
This free course teaches the basics of Photoshop from an Adobe-Certified trainer. It offers 87 lessons to bring your Photoshop skills from nil to superstar in no time at all.
The course covers tasks such as layering, retouching, masking, color enhancements, etc. Students also complete projects to practice hands-on learning with Photoshop.
This free beginner course is for aspiring photographers. It teaches the basics of photography by simply using an iPhone or similar smartphone.
It is great for those who want to develop their own portfolio without having to fork out a fortune on photography equipment.
Dale McManus, the course’s instructor, is one of the creators of WANDR, which is a travel film company. He is also an award-winning professional photographer, videographer, and YouTuber.
Best-Selling Courses on Udemy
This Udemy bestseller is for aspiring financial analysts. The full cost to enroll is $194. It’s instructed by 365 Careers, who is a common provider of financial courses on the site.
Upon enrollment, you will be granted access to 17 hours of lectures, 3 related articles, and over 460 resources available for you to download.
To complete this course, you will need to have access to Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.
This bestseller is for beginner-level photoshop users. The instructor, Christian Doru Barin, has taught over 180,000 students using the Udemy platform and this course is among his 5 top-rated options.
It costs $199 to enroll, which will give you access to 176 lectures condensed into 14 hours of video that you can watch at your leisure, 2 related articles, and 182 resources that you can download. You’ll also gain access to over 250 Photoshop Document files.
For those interested in IT ethical hacking and penetration testing, this course teaches students how to hack and secure wired and WiFi networks.
This is helpful for those who want to become an ethical hacker that can secure computer systems in the same ways that security experts do. Students also learn how to recognize vulnerabilities in web applications and intercept network traffic.
The course costs $195, but as of this writing, it is on sale for $11.99. With this cost, you will gain access to 137 lectures combined into 14.5 hours of video that you can watch at your leisure, 2 related articles, and 22 resourced that you can download.
Before enrolling in this course, it is important to have a basic knowledge of IT skills. You’ll also need access to a computer that has at least 4GB of ram/memory, as well as a Windows, OS X or Linux operating system and a wireless adapter that allows you to work in monitor mode.
Let’s start summing this up by looking at the pros and cons of each learning platform.
Pros and Cons of Skillshare
- The high-quality video content offered from Skillshare is often more valuable than what is offered on Udemy.
- The platform is straightforward and easy to navigate–it is user-friendly.
- With your monthly subscription, you can take unlimited online classes. You can easily get your money's worth when trying to gain new knowledge and acquire skills.
- Skillshare offers offline course access, so if you aren't able to access the internet at all times, having access to offline courses may be a critical feature for you. Skillshare is among very few online educational platforms that allow users to download course material to be able to access it offline.
- Courses on Skillshare can be as short as 10 minutes long, so some may leave you wanting more information. Some instructors tend to cram a lot of information into short videos that don't go into much depth.
- Skillshare is more focused on creative content. They offer fewer non-creative courses than Udemy does.
- It’s true that Udemy's certificates aren't accredited, but they’re still offered. Skillshare doesn't provide you with any proof of completing a course.
Pros and Cons of Udemy
- Offers thousands of courses, and even offers several different courses for popular topics that are taught by various experts, so you can decide which one most appeals to you.
- After purchasing a Udemy course, you will always have access to the course material. You will also get any additional content that the instructor adds to the course for free in the future.
- Udemy’s mobile app allows you to learn on-the-go. Because courses are segmented into sections, you can quickly work through a module if you have 10 to 15 free minutes here and there.
- Udemy’s large library of courses means there may be many courses that you wish to take, in which case, the costs can add up.
- Udemy does offer completion certificates when you finish a course, however, because they’re not accredited, a future employer may not find the certificate to be of any value. Udemy is better for learning skills for yourself rather than for adding educational information to your resume.
- Because anybody can create a Udemy course, the quality varies. You have to do your research before buying a course to make sure it has received good reviews.
Final Thoughts on Skillshare vs. Udemy
Both Udemy and Skillshare let you learn new information at your own pace and choose which courses are applicable to your interests or needs. Either platform will help you learn about any topic that is related to your passion and potentially broaden your career prospects.
While Udemy has a large community of learners, Skillshare has an advantage if you’re looking for a more tight-knit community of both students and instructors. This sense of connection is created by the interactive and group projects created by the instructors.
This certainly doesn’t mean Udemy is inferior. The interface is simple and user-friendly, as evidenced by a wide range of content and learners on the site.
If you want a large selection of classes and don’t mind the higher price for learning, Udemy is a great option. If you’re working for a company and are looking for a platform for many people to use together, Udemy is the better option, as it is a great tool for organizations.
However, Skillshare is likely the better option for the average student who is trying to gain new knowledge without having to spend a lot of money. This is also the superior choice for those who want a more “boutique” option that allows you to connect with other people who are eager to learn.
And if you're looking for other online resources, check out these reviews:
- Coursera Review: Are Coursera Certificates Worth It?
- Masterclass Review: Is Masterclass Worth the Money?
- Babbel Language App Review
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.