Last Updated on
In today’s internet-focused world, we’ve reached a point where education can be attained online with ease. With dozens of options to search for places to learn new skills and topics, it’s important to look deep into each of them and see what pros and cons they may have in comparison to one of their contemporary learning sites.
Factors such as audience and user base, prices, the focus of the site, and availability of courses are key qualities for a student to consider as they decide what website they may want to join. To that end, let’s analyze two of the most popular learning websites around right now, Udemy and Skillshare.
Audience and Resources
The first factor to look at is the audience or number of users/students that use the learning site you’re considering. “Why does it matter how many other students there are in a course I’m taking alone?” you may wonder. Well, the size of the user base can help answer many questions. For one thing, it’s a safe bet that a product or service with a sizeable audience is high in quality. It also leads to easier troubleshooting with issues, as there’s plenty of others who may have run into your issues.
There are pros and cons to this, of course. A smaller audience means that creators and instructors will have more visibility, and students might be able to contact or converse with their instructors or administrators easier due to them not having as many people to deal with more extensive service. On the other hand, a larger audience means more creators, more students to converse with and collaborate with, more resources to utilize.
With that in mind, let’s start with Udemy’s audience. As of September of 2018, Udemy claims 24 million students. For context, the United States Census says that combining undergrad and graduate, there are estimated to be 23 million students. That’s a staggering user base to boast, especially in such a context. Udemy’s website boasts 35 thousand instructors, as well as more than fifty different languages, as a result of this massive audience.
Looking at Skillshare, we see a considerably smaller user base. They boast around 7 million users on their homepage but claim only 3 million on their “become a teacher” page. Later on their sign up page, they urge you to “join over 5 million Skillshare students,” so getting a direct number on their user base doesn’t seem likely. Assuming we take the larger number, that’s still less than a third of the user base of Udemy, which leads to fewer resources. While Udemy flaunts supporting over fifty languages, Skillshare flaunts teaching them, as anyone is free to teach whatever they feel. Despite this, Skillshare’s primary language is English, while the same can be said for Udemy.
So what’s the conclusion drawn here? Udemy’s audience is over triple the size, containing more students than there are higher education students in the United States. They have more instructors, more courses, and possibly support more languages than Skillshare. Still, Skillshare’s 7 million is a significant number, and users likely wouldn’t find themselves wanting for much in support. This smaller number also provides more visibility and publicity to instructors and students.
With audience and resources out of the way, let’s compare how much of a dent in your wallet you’ll be putting in with each. With as many ways as there are to learn for free on the internet, from YouTube videos to Wikipedia articles, some users have a problem shelling out cash for a product. Skillshare and Udemy actually have drastically different pricing plans, so let’s get into it.
Let’s start with Skillshare this time. To sign up for Skillshare is absolutely free, but this level of membership is essentially just a trial. To unlock the twenty thousand courses that Skillshare offers takes a membership, billed monthly or annually. You’ll be charged $15 per month for a monthly membership, or “$8.25 monthly” for an annual membership, which is actually a once-per-year $99 dollar charge. Still, when you consider everything you’re getting access, that price is more than reasonable. After all, the average cost of a credit hour in for a United States student Is just shy of $600, so $99 a year for a massive multi-million-user learning resource is fantastic.
Udemy’s pricing methods are vastly different from Skillshare’s subscription-based method. On Udemy, the creator of the course decides the price based on whatever they feel like charging. Prices range from $9 to $300, but the dominant majority are sub-$50. This is double-sided in comparison to Skillshare. On the one hand, $15 a month gets you tens of thousands of courses with Skillshare, whereas $15 might not even be enough to purchase the course you want on Udemy. On the other, paying $15 for tens of thousands of courses is pretty obnoxious if there’s only one or two you want, whereas you could just purchase the one course and call it a day with Udemy.
Because of these different payment methods, which is cheaper depends on the user’s needs or choices. Udemy’s instructor-based pricing means that one course could cost more than an annual membership on Skillshare. Assuming the general user intends to take multiple courses, Skillshare would likely prove to be much cheaper, depending on the pricing of the Udemy instructors.
Availability of Courses
This one’s already been touched on a bit, but it’s worth going deeper into, than just naming the number of courses. As said before, Skillshare states that a premium membership grants access to over twenty thousand classes. That’s a good number of new skills to learn, and indeed, nothing to sneeze at, but does Udemy’s increased user base come with more classes?
The answer is a massively resounding “yes.” offers over 100,000 courses roughly five times what Skillshare offers, and tags their website with “the world’s largest selection of courses.” It’s safe to assume that means that they offer a higher variety of subjects as well as varying degrees of difficulty, simplicity, and complexity. It’s worth mentioning again that each of these courses are individually purchased, so offering that many classes certainly doesn’t mean accessing that many. Still, that’s more languages taught, more subjects offered, more instructors to learn from.
What about the focus of topics taught? With so many courses offered by both, it’s safe to say they both flaunt a little bit of everything. Both offer creative courses in subjects such as art and photography, as well as business-related courses, design, productivity, and the list goes on and on. The vast majority of subjects are covered by the two. The two even both offer courses on dating, religion, and other miscellaneous subjects.
That said, Skillshare seems to have more of a focus on creative-minded topics. Sorting by all classes has “Creative” pop up as the first topic, with the featured and trending courses offered being classes focused on photography, art, writing, and freelance work. Udemy primarily focuses on learning coding, development, design, and similar business-based subjects. To find a creative-based course, you have to click through multiple sub-categories to discover it first, except for photography which has its category.
So, what’s this mean to the average user? Mostly that you could learn anything on either of them. Still, Skillshare focuses more on artistic and creative subjects, which means that there’s likely more of a support group for these subjects as well. Udemy offers the same subjects as courses, but there seems to be less of an emphasis for them.
This means that it falls to the average user to decide on their focus. Those wanting to learn creative writing might be better off going to Skillshare, whereas those that want to learn coding and development might be better off on Udemy.
The massive asterisk in it all, however, is that it all goes course by course. Skillshare emphasizes creativity, but you might find the best coding class you’ve ever taken. Udemy emphasizes business and development, but you might find the most thorough and amazing music lesson you’ve ever partaken in there as well. It all goes by a case-by-case basis.
Quality of Courses
Speaking of going course by course, could you measure the quality of the coursework? Of course, you can! Skillshare is often applauded for its interaction-based courses, whereas Udemy typically has more lecture-based courses.
The reasoning for this is two-fold. For one thing, Udemy rewards instructors for pushing out more and more courses, as the more courses they have, the more earning potential they have – there’s even Udemy courses on how to earn more on Udemy, interestingly enough. Skillshare, in contrast, pays instructors a flat rate plus royalties for viewership.
That means that Udemy instructors are more likely to lecture on camera for fifteen to thirty minutes and then publish it, rather than take weeks creating interactive videos, experiments, and activities to do. Skillshare instructors are more likely to take that time creating interactive, rewatchable videos, as they’re being paid per view. Their reliance on viewership turns to high-quality work to get their courses shared and viewership up.
There’s another factor as well, which goes back to the focus mentioned above that each site boasts. As stated before, Skillshare focuses on creative subjects and skills, which is much more likely to be interactive. If you’re teaching someone to paint, you won’t just lecture about it, you’ll show your student how the technique being discussed applies.
Udemy has the opposite. A course offered on design, business, stocks, or any similar subject, will be more dependent on lecture and explanation. There are always going to be interactive or “do-it-yourself” parts of the discussion, but much of it can be done in lecture. This combined with the Udemy format of “more courses, more pay” for instructors leads to a surplus of discussion rather than interactivity.
Supporting the User Base
This one has been touched on a bit as well, but as it’s easily one of the most important, it bears going a bit deeper in. For this, it’s vital to look not just at help wanted section, but at how the courses offered might work for the student. Once a purchase has been made, does the company wash their hands of you and go about their business, or are they there to help?
It can’t be measured, sadly, but there are some telltale signs to look for. What’s the overall approval rating from students? This one is near impossible to measure for certain, as it goes on a course by course basis. So, with that in mind, let’s look at refund policies for sub-standard courses.
With Udemy, since you pay by course, it’s important to know what happens if you purchase a course and find out it’s nothing like what was advertised to you. Udemy allows refunds by certain guidelines: If it’s within 30 days and the student hasn’t downloaded the offered content, they’ll consider your request, but can’t guarantee it, and if you’ve purchased from third party then you’re flatly not eligible.
This is a good thing, overall. This sort of refund policy helps protect instructors from abuse or fraud, as students can’t simply purchase the course and then download it before getting their money back. It also cuts down on piracy and the illegal distribution of the courses that others have paid for and instructors might be making a living from. It also promotes high-quality work from expert professors.
What about Skillshare’s refund policy? Is it applicable for a subscription-based form, in case a student was to purchase an annual subscription and then discover that the twenty thousand premium courses don’t boast anything they might need?
Nope. A purchase with Skillshare is final, according to their terms and conditions. No purchase of premium membership, any sort of fee, or any other purchase is eligible for a refund. That means that if that same hypothetical student spends just shy of $100 dollars and then finds that the comparatively limited platform doesn’t offer what they want, they’re just out of luck.
Is this a symptom of Udemy’s courses being demand-driven by instructors making courses while Skillshare’s is a company with teachers making a somewhat flat rate with royalties for minutes watched? Probably. Would a student want to be told that when all they want is their money back after being displeased from a purchase? Probably not.
What about availability? There is, after all, much more to customer service than refunds. Both platforms offer their services on Apple, Android, and Google products, so that’s a nice convenience for learning on the go.
But what about globally? Udemy wins this one outright, as they boast their support of so many languages. Their global marketplace is named aptly, as members around the globe use it. Skillshare, to its credit, is global as well, but considering that it has much less extensive language support, it’s clear to see where the limitation would lie.
Finally, one of the most important things to think about when gaining an education is the credibility of whoever you’re learning with. Is a class on Udemy going to matter in a job interview? Can you flaunt your Skillshare completion rate when you’re applying for a Doctorate program? Is it possible to earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s from one of these institutions?
No, it isn’t. Udemy is not an accredited educational facility. You can earn a “certificate” from them, say in marketing, but no employer is going to recognize the print-out that Udemy awards you. Furthermore, no college is going to take your hours spent learning to code as credit hours.
For its part, Skillshare doesn’t even offer those certificates. Skillshare isn’t accredited either, so their courses won’t be giving you credit towards employment or formal education either.
That also means that anyone who thinks they’re qualified is qualified. An instructor teaching a course on the stock market could be someone who’s been trading on the stock market long enough to know their stuff, or it could be someone translating and focusing all of the stuff that they learned online and selling it to you. It could even be a fully qualified Doctorate-holding professor that thoroughly and competently knows the subject. It’s a mixed bag on Udemy, so you never know unless you research the professor.
Does Skillshare hold their instructors to higher standards? Is it more difficult to become an instructor with them? Absolutely not. Literally, anyone can write and create a course and have it published with them. Skillshare instructors are no more (and no less!) qualified than Udemy professors are.
So what does that mean for the quality of education for a student? It means, in summary, that you could very well be learning an immense and incredible amount of knowledge. You could, theoretically, become an expert in a given field using courses from Udemy or Skillshare. However, you won’t be able to attain proof of those skills in degree form, nor will employers heed your claim in an interview.
That isn’t all bad. Some skills that you learn are independent of degrees – freelance artistry, writing, and programming are rapidly growing fields, and your ability will speak for itself. It’s also drastically cheaper for a reason, and one of those is the lack of accreditation, which translates to you paying less to learn an equal amount to a college graduate. True, you may not be able to put your coursework on a resume, but your heightened ability and newfound skill will speak for itself.
If the question we started with was “which is better?” our answer reached is “both.” Ultimately, the best one to go for depends on the student at hand. The most we can do is narrow them down to each.
For one thing, non-English speaking students should almost certainly go for Udemy because of the drastically improved language support. That means that globally speaking, Udemy will likely be more user-friendly, or ultimately the only one even usable without translation.
With that considered, creative-minded (or at least, creative-seeking) students would likely find a better experience and breadth of knowledge with Skillshare. Those that want lecture-oriented classes that they can listen to rather than have to sit down and interact with would likely prefer Udemy, and those that want do-it-yourself “follow along” courses would likely prefer Skillshare.
Costwise, Udemy’s by-the-glass model makes it more expensive but might be preferred for those that intend to only take a few classes in a year. Skillshare’s subscription-based model would likely be preferred by those that intend to take multiple classes at once.
In terms of classes offered, Udemy wins by a massive landslide with nearly five times more classes than Skillshare. As a consequence of that, Udemy can boast more instructors and a larger audience, which would likely translate to easier troubleshooting and ease of contacting fellow students. The smaller audience gives Skillshare’s instructors and students more visibility, but one is left wondering if Skillshare would be able to reach a similar audience if it began to support more languages.
There’s a handful of places that both are equal. Each has a similar amount of mobile options and are offered on the major platforms of Android, Apple, and Google devices. Neither of the platforms is accredited, and students won’t be furthering a degree or earning a valid certificate with either.
All in all, the most a class-seeking student could do is look through the offered courses and decide which they’re going to take. The avid student looking to take multiple classes, the creative-minded student, and the student that doesn’t want to spend much money would all three likely prefer Skillshare. The business-minded student, the audio-related lecture learning student, and the student that intends only to take a few classes a year would almost certainly end up preferring Udemy.