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Courses

10 Best Online Course Creation Software Options for 2024

Looking for the best online course software but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it, we’ve got your back.

By Mighty Team

October 13, 2023

18 min read

IN THIS ARTICLE

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    Online course creation has gone mainstream. With a projected value of $65.17bn by 2027 and projected revenue of $78.30 per student, it's a market that's worth entering.


    In this article, we'll...



    • Introduce you to online course creation concepts

    • Define and give examples of online course software and elearning authoring tools.

    • Rank the best course creation software to help you build a course that transforms lives.


    If you want more support in building your online course and community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established course creators! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!


    ((toc))


    What is online course creation software?


    Online course software gives you virtual pedagogical and technical tools to design, build, and deliver course content to students. While there are different kinds of online course software, all of them can organize and transmit learning content.


    Most online course software has two different parts: elearning authoring tools and the learning management system.


    The best online course software will do four things:



    • Allow you to organize your content in an engaging and easily digestible way.

    • Enable you to build and foster a engagement around your online course where your participants can connect with each other.

    • Give you the tools to manage a course business and gate behind a paywall.

    • Customize your course to fit your needs.


    And they should let you do all of the above with ONE program – not 10.


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    What are elearning authoring tools?


    Elearning authoring tools are the in-course features that let you create the course content and serve it to members. It's the actual content engine of the course.


    For example, a course module you can add text and video to is an elearning authoring tool. A course sales page is not.


    Mighty Networks - Graphics - MC Courses Paired Dark


    Common elearning authoring tools



    • Content-building: Course content is instructional, it needs a learning format. At a minimum, course authoring tools need to host text and images.

    • Video capability: Most courses are multimedia and require video. Pre-recorded is common, but livestreaming is becoming a must-have feature for cohort-courses.

    • Assessment tools: Test students with quizzes, exams, dripped content, and offer feedback.

    • Member progression tools: The ability to enroll, track progress with analytics, and content members.


    Mighty Networks - Graphics - Courses and live streaming - Galaxy DAO


    What is online course software?


    Online course software is the combination of elearning authoring tools and a learning management system. While elearning authoring tools give you the ability to create and deliver course content, the online course software it lives in is what lets you run a course-based business.


    It's okay that these are confusing! Since most modern course platforms just put these two together, it's more common to talk about "online course software" than "elearning authoring tools."


    The only place you'd really see the difference is with institutional-built courses. For example, a qualified instructional designer might focus on elearning authoring tools, while a course manager handles the operations of the course (sales, tech support, community management, etc.)


    Most online course creators do both. And most course software combines the two so effortlessly you don't really think of the differences.


    Mighty Networks - Challenge Fam - Feed Paired Dark


    Common online course software tools


    In addition to the tools to deliver content, here are some of the other tools you can find in online course software. We'll start with the most common on top and move to the less-common features (depending on the online course software).


    Human connection tools
    Many elearning authoring tools and course software also have these features.



    • Chat & messaging: Be able to reach your students, support questions, etc.

    • Online communities: Enabling connection and collaboration between students and experiencing member-led growth.

    • Virtual events: Tools to support events or a cohort course.

    • Discussion forums and activity feed: Host discussions and keep members up to date.

    • Have an app: Course members should be able to access a course in different places. Course platforms that haven't created their own app are lacking accessibility.


    Mighty Networks - Graphics - Discovery Course


    Member management & sales


    Not all course authoring software can support sales and payments. Unless you're with an institution or offering a free course, choose a platform that lets you handle payments all in one place. It will save you a lot of headaches.



    • Member profiles Create member profiles and track member data (members can also often see each others' profiles)

    • Collect payments: A payment gateway that lets you build paywalls for your course and collect payments (ideally in different currencies).

    • Create bundles and plans: Courses can be sold with access to events, coaching, a community, etc., and abilities to offer discounts and custom sales.


    Mighty Networks - Challenge Fam - Members - Paired Dark


    Branding features


    Finally, elearning authoring tools that offer branding features let you deploy under your brand instead of someone else's. The minority of course creation software has what could be considered real branding features.



    • In-course branding: Giving the LMS and relevant software the look and feel of your brand including light & dark mode.

    • Custom urls: Owning your domain name for the course.

    • Customized landing and sales pages: These help to sell your course.

    • Branded apps: Deploy your course under your brand in the App Store and Google Play Store.


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    Mighty Networks - Graphics - Achievement Academy SingleEvent Paired Dark


    What can you do with online course software?


    It's important to think about online course software as more than just elearning authoring tools, because ultimately everything can tie together to create amazing pedagogy.


    For example, people do learn from the course material--obviously. But they also learn from...



    • The friendships and accountability they get from an online community.

    • The energy of a live event.

    • The challenge and ideas from a mastermind group.


    We see that course transformation is most effective when we think beyond the elearning authoring tools and view the course creation platform as a whole picture.


    For those building a course business, seeing the whole picture will change the way you teach. Instead of focusing just on the course material, watch how it interacts with every experience in a course software.


    Here are some of the awesome business results we've seen from courses.



    • A podcaster and author sold 5,000 seats to a $997 course in 10 days.

    • One community launched a 13-week add-on course and generated an additional $100k in revenue in 2 months.

    • One personal finance community generated $130K in five days with their latest course.

    • An entrepreneur moved their courses and memberships onto a branded app and hit $10k.

    • A course community grew to 3,000 members in 10 days.


    These are the stories we hear all the time when we think about an education business outside of the course material.


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    5 things to watch for when choosing online course software


    We've covered a lot of the features above, but we can simplify this a bit. These are the things to look for in the best online course creation software.



    • Customization: You want an online course platform that offers you flexibility and customization. When you have the option to grow your course content as you learn more about your community, it will lead to more interaction and revenue.

    • Community: The best online course software will allow you to host more than just a course. It will help you foster a community. Look for online course software that provides a wide variety of community-forward features (small groups, discussion boards, direct messaging, etc.) to help interact with your students, but more importantly, for your students to interact with each other.

    • Monetization: People pay attention to what they pay for. You’ll want to be able to provide flexibility for payments (think monthly, annual, or one-time fees) and charge not only for your courses but potentially for access to the community itself. And you want to make those transactions seamless for your members.

    • Pricing: Just like your members, you too, should care about what you pay for. Many online course creation software solutions will offer similar features and it can be hard to discern which is right for your needs. The pricing structure of the platforms will be a key deciding factor in the end.

    • Availability: The best online course software will make your content available in as many ways as possible. If your members can access the community or course from a variety of places they will be more invested. Online course software that can be built for and across the web, iOS, and Android is a must.


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    The best online course creation software options


    All that said, here’s a list of what we consider the best software for building online courses and communities that thrive and build revenue.


    Mighty Networks - Graphics - Livestream Paired Light


    1. Mighty Networks


    Best all-in-one with community





    Mighty Networks is a unified member platform that's the ultimate online course creator, community, content, and commerce together in one place, under your own brand and domain name, instantly available on web, iOS and Android.


    Mighty builds human connection like no other platform. Here's how it helps you build the ultimate course:


    Course platform features



    • Intuitive content options let you build text, video, or audio courses, adding in PDFs, Photos, etc. And you can teach pre-recorded or live (asynchronous or synchronous).

    • Flexible course Spaces can integrate community features and courses together, toggle on or off course-related events, discussions, chat, assignments, etc.

    • Community-centered focus with discussion forums, activity feed, and G2's top-ranked community platform. Members can post, comment, and cheer each other on.

    • Engagement everywhere with questions on every course module, Q&As, polls, videos, live streaming, and even live events.

    • AI Tools Mighty Co-Host™ is the people magic that boosts human connection and creativity (NOT replace it!). Think course outlines to get you started, auto-create sales pages, member profiles, and discussion prompts.


    Mighty - Dynamic Spaces GIF


    On top of the course tools, you've got comprehensive member management tools: build bundles, sell in 135 different currencies, create plans and discounts, and more.


    And Mighty gives you branding power too, so your course can reflect your creative vision. Light and dark mode, lots of customization features, build on your own URL, or even on your own branded app (below).


    Mighty Networks - Graphics - Discovery Course


    Mighty gives your members notifications in the palm of their hand, with an app for every device. Or, use our easy ConvertKit integration and mix the best course and community platform with the best email platform.


    Don't take our word for it. It's free to try for 14 days.


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    Pros



    • Powerful LMS

    • Build live or pre-recorded courses

    • Add your own brand

    • Add in livestreaming, live events, private Spaces, etc.

    • Use AI to boost human connections

    • G2s top-rated community platform


    • Sell in 135 different currencies


    Start Your Free Trial


    SEO Image - ConvertKit


    2. Mighty Pro


    Courses and community on branded apps


    SEO Image - Pro


    When you take the power of a Mighty Network and build on your own branded app, that's Mighty Pro. With Mighty Pro, your course is under YOUR app in the App Store and Google Play Store (not ours).


    On top of your branded course platforms, Mighty Pro gives you:



    • Proactive updates and App Store & Google Play Store submissions

    • Branded apps, splash screens, and push notifications

    • Access to the Mighty Pro community

    • VIP support from the Mighty Pro Team.

    • Premium Mighty Co-Host™ AI features including moderation tools and the Infinite Question Generator.


    Mighty Pro has built course apps for TED, Cambridge University, Fortune, Jim Kwik, Mindbody, Ashley Fox, and Zach Bush MD.


    Listen to our customers talk about how Mighty changed their businesses.





    We take care of the building AND you get strategy support from the Mighty Pro team--Account Executives and Community Strategists who have scaled 7-figure creator brands and 8+-figure subscription businesses.


    Book a call with us and we'll show you the course app we could build together!


    Book a Call


    3. Kajabi


    Kajabi is a well-known online course creation platform with a focus on marketing tools. Kajabi has good elearning authoring tools, with different content types dripping content, quizzes and assessments, and insights.


    Kajabi app


    Kajabi's course creation software is definitely the strongest for marketing, with website builder, marketing sequences, landing pages, up- and down-sells, coupons, and more. You can also use Kajabi's email tools to build and launch your sales emails. It has really solid business tools for marketing and selling courses.


    Kajabi 2.0 - app screens


    Kajabi also recently launched a community feature, Community 2.0. It's an improvement from the old Kajabi community feature--which was basically a limited-function forum. Community 2.0 adds some meeting and video tools and a more comprehensive forum. BUT the log-on is separate from your Kajabi course and the community exists in a different place, making it tough to bring course and community together. Kajabi even runs its Kajabi Heros community on a Facebook Group.


    Kajabi also doesn't have a branded app option for your course under your own brand. And, finally, it may be cost prohibitive for some online course creators; the marketing tools drive up the price/


    Kajabi Monthly Pricing


    4. Teachable


    Teachable is an online course creation platform that sells itself as having “painless” customization and focuses on “easy-to-use features and fewer tech headaches.” It’s a popular course platform and is known for its custom landing pages and affiliate program.


    Teachable course image


    Teachable boasts robust customization features on its platform. They have a “power editor” that allows creators to build engaging multimedia lectures, videos, and coaching sessions. In addition to live meeting and coaching features, you can post quizzes and third-party surveys to interact with your members.


    Making it simple for your members to subscribe to your course and pay is important to the growth of your business. Teachable offers analytics for you to track your sales and members’ activity, and a variety of options for designing sales pages. On top of that, if you’re looking for ways to pay members in leadership positions, Teachable has features for that too.


    While Teachable has a number of great features to customize your course, they have less of an emphasis on building a community with their online course software. You can schedule live sessions with students, but as we said above, adding a community gives a huge boost to course completion and member satisfaction.


    If you choose Teachable, you could be paying more for less. While their low introductory price of $29 seems reasonable, this doesn't take into account the money you'll spend on integration to create an online community to supplement your courses like Circle ($39-99/month).


    While Teachable does have an app, they describe it as ”supplementary” to the website and it’s only available on iOS. That’s not great: Your members’ ability to access your online course anywhere they are is important. And choosing an online course creation software platform that offers a native app should be a top priority in your decision-making.


    5. Udemy


    Udemy is another course creation software that’s also a course marketplace. Like Skillshare, which we talked about above, this model has pros and cons. The elearning authoring tools are basic, but work fine for most course creators.


    Udemy- Course snip


    Again, Udemy doesn't have an exceptionally good marketing platform. But it does have a bunch of people showing up who want to buy courses.


    And while the monetization isn't exceptional, Udemy does have a better structure than Skillshare. With Udemy, creators keep 37% of revenue from students who find the course via the marketplace, and the creator keeps 97% of revenue if students come direct (e.g. through a link shared on social).


    The Udemy app is great, and works well for all devices. It can even stream directly to Chromecast or Apple TV.


    Udemy app


    Although Udemy is the better of the two course marketplaces on this list, it's still a tough tradeoff that online course creators have to give up such a huge chunk of their income. And as with any course marketplace, you own very little. These are Udemy's customers, not yours. You can barely even contact your students, and you definitely can't build thriving engagement around your course.


    6. Thinkific


    Thinkific is an online course creation software that comes with a drag-and-drop website creator and a set of course marketing tools. It has good elearning authoring tools, with opportunities to customize Thinkific sites and courses, with a drag-and-drop builder and lots of templates to work off of. You can also customize course delivery options, like dripping content.


    Thinkific is reasonably priced, and even has a (limited) free option to start with.


    Thinkific- Course Builder


    Thinkific's limitations are in the engagement features. For example, Thinkific does have an online community feature, but it's limited in terms of functionality. It’s basically just a simple forum, and missing comprehensive community-building features like polls, articles, or live streaming.


    Thinkific doesn’t have a mobile app, which makes it a lot more difficult to serve your course members and help them finish.


    7. Podia


    Podia is a membership and digital downloads platform that also gives you the option to sell a course. It has many of the same features as Kajabi, but it's definitely a lot more basic.


    Podia email campaigns


    Podia comes with a good set of marketing features, including built-in email, special offers, and funnels. It's sort of like a most basic version of Kajabi; the marketing systems aren't quite as good.


    Podia also has good monetization features, and makes it easy to sell memberships, digital downloads, courses, and coaching, and to easily connect a payment system.


    Podia Course


    A few downsides to Podia's course creation software. The LMS is very simple, and doesn't have a lot of room to add your own flavor. The community option is basically a simple forum that gives you a few options for posts and adding videos. It lacks many of the features that a more comprehensive all-in-one like Mighty Networks has.


    And finally, it doesn't have a mobile app.


    8. Skillshare


    Some creators are looking for a place to build a course that has an audience built-in. We call this a course marketplace. While there are many disadvantages to course marketplaces, which we'll talk about, the one advantage is that they come with their own online course software.


    Skillshare snip


    One of the best-known course marketplaces out there is Skillshare. Skillshare is especially popular for creative courses.


    Skillshare makes it easy to build and deliver a course. Although the course creation software is very simple, it does the job. It doesn't give you much in terms of marketing, but it does come with a built-in community of people looking to learn.


    And finally, it comes with an app for all devices.


    Skillshare Snip 2- course


    The main limits on Skillshare come from the fact that you own nothing. you can give your course to Skillshare's students, but other than uploading your projects and giving and receiving feedback, there's very little feedback or engagement.


    And it's unlikely you'll earn much on Skillshare. It basically takes a portion of the revenue and divides it among creators based on the hours people watched their course. This might sound fair in theory, but it ends up punishing new course creators, especially when Skillshare already has more popular courses or "recommended" courses in your niche that outrank yours.


    9. LearnDash


    If you’re building on WordPress and looking for a plug-in solution, LearnDash is a WordPress LMS that can be used to add a course to your site.


    LearnDash


    As far as the best online course creation software goes, it’s far from the top. But it IS WordPress specific – which some users might be looking for. It probably also needs to be integrated with another plugin for content gating and sales.


    LearnDash is customizable. But we should point out that you’ll probably need to do a lot of custom development to actually get the look you want.


    The single biggest advantage to LearnDash is its cost. It’s cheap, starting from $159 per year, which is about what Kajabi charges monthly.


    On the downside, LearnDash is really just an elearning authoring tool. It's missing the features of online course software. For example, if you want to monetize your course, you'd need a checkout plugin like Easy Digital Downloads. It needs WordPress itself as a content manager or to build landing pages. And there are no other engagement tools; community, events, livestreaming, apps, those are all things you need different WordPress tools for.


    Again, you might be looking for a developer to tie all this together, and it can slow down your site a lot and introduce longer load times.


    10. WizIQ


    WizIQ is an LMS and virtual classroom that gives users tools to build a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous courses. It’s more advanced than many of the options on this list, and more comparable to Mighty Pro in that it provides customization and white-label branding.


    With white-label options and use cases for a bunch of different verticals, WizIQ can be customized to fit a lot of different scenarios. That being said, the branding is often very corporate. There are also a lot of course-delivery options, and you can add tests and assignments, and other advanced LMS features.


    And WizIQ can be adapted to custom, white-label mobile apps.


    But WizIQ is expensive for a course creation software that's really not that great. Many of the features you’d want with a WizIQ course either come as upsells or are really expensive.


    Conclusion


    The best online course software gives you customization and control.


    That might seem like A LOT but choosing the best online course software is an important part of building a course business you’re happy with. Finding a platform that provides you with a lot of customization and control over your online course and brand is going to save you a lot of headaches and make you more money.


    Mighty Networks - Graphics - Live streaming


    If you want to get started launching your online course, come launch with Mighty! You can blend your course creation with an amazing set of engagement tools, PLUS the powerful business tools for marketing and selling courses and bundles.


    Better yet, all of our features work across the web, iOS, and Android which gives your members more flexibility and availability to how they interact with each other and your content.


    And you can try it totally free for 14 days – no credit card required.


    Ready to start building your community?

    Start Your Own Mighty Network Today!No credit card required.

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