Taking an online course is a popular way of getting both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in various subjects.
How to choose the best online courses provider having a large number of different platforms on today’s market?
I decided to go deeper into this topic and help you select your perfect option for online learning, comparing the top course providers: Lynda and Codecademy.
In this review, I’ll consider the main questions that you’ll surely ask when choosing an online education platform:
- courses categories, their amount, and quality of the content;
- types of the certificates you’ll get after completing a course;
- pricing plans;
- instructors verification;
- customer support and ways to contact experts.
More info about eLearning platforms you can find here:
Ready? Let’s go!
As its name suggests, Codecademy was created as a platform mostly for those who are aimed at acquiring coding skills.
Among its audience, there are advanced programmers as well as people with zero coding skills.
Currently, the platform offers the 14 most popular programming languages courses, which you can explore below.
|HTML+CSS||responsive design, color design, build GitHub pages, etc.|
|Python||creation of chatbots, build websites with NameCheap, data analysis, etc.|
|Java||basic applications for Android, Java algorithms, conditionals and control flow, etc.|
|SQL||databases creation with PostgreSQL, business metrics analysis, SQL for product managers, etc.|
|Bash/Shell||command line, learn Git, Bash scripting, etc.|
|Ruby||authentication with Ruby, Ruby on Rails, etc.|
|C++||introduction to variables, loops creation, C++ vectors, etc.|
|R||data analysis with R, linear regression, learn dplyr, etc.|
|C#||usage of ASP.NET for creation of applications, architect arithmetic, game development, etc.|
|PHP||PHP documentation, PHP built-in functions, loops in PHP, etc.|
|Go||Go variables, formatting in Go, main functions, etc.|
|Swift||multiple values, creation of the instance, Swift structures|
|Kotlin||data types and variables, multiple parameters, string concentration, etc.|
Each programming language is an independent category that includes separate lessons and Learning Paths (a set of related lessons for a comprehensive study of the topic).
Each lesson requires a certain level of skills (basic, intermediate, and so on).
As for the Learning Paths, there are two types of them:
- Career Paths: they’re created for those who are aimed at acquiring knowledge in the IT-sphere, data science, web development, etc. Each Path consists of a unique set of quizzes, lessons, projects, exercise files for boosting practical skills. Also, you’ll be advised about the best career for you. Usually, it takes from 6 to 12 months to fully complete them.
- Skill Paths: they’re much shorter and last no longer than 3 months. The Skill Paths are aimed at gaining highly specialized skills: i.e., for creating a specific website or achieving a short-term aim (building a chatbot using Python). Like in the case of Career Paths, here you can find quizzes, projects, and other practical-oriented materials.
Along with the Programming Languages, you can find other categories on the Catalog page. There are 11 of them and each contains a set of courses with various programming languages.
|Web development||back-end engineering, full-stack engineering, learn jQuery, etc.|
|Data science||data analyst, data scientist, design databases, etc.|
|Computer science||basics of blockchain, complex data structures, basics of regular expressions, etc.|
|Developer tools||the file system editing, the configuration of the environment, navigation of the file system, etc.|
|Machine learning||learn of Natural Language Processing, basics of machine learning, neural networks, etc.|
|Code foundations||basics of coding, web page creation, build games, etc.|
|Web design||work with Visual Studio, creation of wireframes, learn color for UI, etc.|
|Game development||learn A-Frame, work with Phaser, virtual reality, etc.|
|Mobile development||basics of the Android, applications for iOS, using Swift to build apps for Linux, etc.|
|Data visualization||learn D3, summary statistics, real data analysis with SQL, etc.|
|Cybersecurity||security of networks, cryptography, the evolution of cybersecurity, etc.|
Most of the Codecademy courses are text-based and include detailed instructions, which provide all the information necessary for starting to write code right away. Given the specifics of the material being studied, this is much more effective than video lessons.
During taking a course, you’ll have three windows on your screen:
– left window with the task and information for code creation;
– the middle window with the text editor;
– the right window where you see the results of your work.
Also, users have their personal dashboard with information about the stage where they currently are, the recommended courses and resources, etc.
From the beginning, you can take a little survey. After passing it, you’ll be provided with recommended subjects to learn, paths to take, and advice about choosing a carrier.
Another interesting option of interaction between a learner and course provider is called “Beta Content”. The Codecademy experts upload raw materials and unfinished courses to get feedback from students and adjust the course flow to the learning needs in the early stages.
Unlike Lynda, this platform comes up with courses taught in English only.
If you want to learn courses on the go, you’re welcome to upload a handy mobile application that is called “Codecademy Go” that works on Android and iOS.
First of all, I should say that in 2015 Lynda was merged with another platform: currently, this platform is called LinkedIn Learning and provides users with more than 16000 expert-led courses.
However, even now Lynda still has its website and works as a separate platform.
If you decide to purchase a course, you’ll be redirected to LinkedIn Learning. Like Codecademy, Lynda comes up with well-structured courses, which you can find by clicking a “Library” button at the top of the home page.
When you hover on one of the 12 categories, you can see what kind of lessons they contain. Also, users can explore the software that’ll be studied and sets of the related lessons, united by the same topic.
Such sets are called Learning Paths and each category contains a different number of them.
The table below shows a list of 12 categories with examples of lessons, software, and Learning Paths (the full information you can see on the “All subjects” page.)
|3D modeling and animation||Textures, game design, creation of visual effects, etc.||Blender, Unity Mudbox, 3ds Max, etc.||Improving Vector illustration skills, become a 3D character animator, etc.|
|Business||Productivity, data analyses, marketing using social networks, etc.||Sharepoint, Google Ads, File Maker, etc.||Become a project manager, develop your presentation skills, etc.|
|Audio and music||Live performances, how to start a music business, etc.||Logic Pro, Sibelius, Cubase, etc.||Become an EDM producer, improve your songwriting skills, etc.|
|Computer-aided design||Building information modeling, CNS+CAM, how to create prototypes, etc.||MODO, Alias, Rhino, etc.||Become a civil engineering CAD Technician, improve your SketchUp skills, etc.|
|Design||Design of websites, logos, work with colors, etc.||Painter, Dreamweaver, Sketch, etc.||Become a digital painter, design a comic book, etc.|
|Development||Design of mobile and desktop applications, game design, usage of databases, etc.||Android, Java, C++, etc.||Become a Java programmer, master Swift, etc.|
|Online learning||Learning management systems, K 12 education, educational systems, etc.||Captivate, Prezi, Google Apps, etc.||Become an Instructional developer, become an L&D professional, etc.|
|Internet technologies||Cloud computing, network administration, geographical information systems, etc.||Linux, SharePoint, GIS||Become an IT support technician, get ahead in data science, etc.|
|Marketing||Search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, analytics, etc.||YouTube, Google Ads, LinkedIn, etc.||Become an SEO expert, master digital marketing, etc.|
|Photography||Lighting, compositing, high dynamic range photography, etc.||Nic Software, Camera Raw, Flickr, etc.||Become a portrait photographer, improve your mobile photography skills, etc.|
|Video||Film directing, visual effects, animation, etc.||After effects, Avid, SpeedGrade, etc.||Become a video editor, improve your video lighting skills, etc.|
For ease of use, each course has a short overview, information about authors, comments from other users, duration, number of included lessons, required skills (basic, intermediate, advanced), etc.
Also, you can check when a course was released, updated, and how many people viewed it.
During passing the course, you can make notes in a special window with a text editor that is located on the right side of the page.
Usually, Lynda’s lessons aren’t very long: the maximum duration is about 10 minutes.
The platform incorporates an in-built messenger that allows you to communicate with other users.
Also, the platform comes up with a desktop application and a mobile version to learn on the go. Since Lynda is a multi-language platform, you’re allowed to choose among the 7 languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese.
The instructors of Codecademy are industry specialists, who are hired only after a thorough check.
To become part of the Codecademy team, you need to fill out a special form and attach a resume or CV.
Job posts can be checked on the Codecademy Careers page, where you can also find information about the requirements & responsibilities.
When you sign up for a course you can be 100% sure of the content quality. The expert team has strict requirements for the candidates’ experience. That’s why, among Lynda’s lecturers, there are many industry experts and university faculty members.
To become instructors and publish materials, a candidate has to fill an application and share information about their professional skills, achievements, and more. Only after verifying this information, one becomes an instructor.To apply for a teacher’s role, you should go to the menu called “LinkedIn for Teachers”.
In some cases, you can get a certificate and add it to your resume, CV, or download it as a PDF file.
However, not all courses imply certificates, so don’t forget to check this info in the course overview or syllabus. Also, getting a certificate is possible if you have Pro access that allows you to use quizzes, lessons, articles, and other course content.
Like Lynda, this platform isn’t accredited so certificates can be officially recognized by third parties.
After passing a course, you can get a certification of completion that you can add to your CV, resume, or account. Like in the case of its competitor, Lynda doesn’t come up with the certificate of skills. Plus, certificates of completion can’t be recognized by third parties because the platform isn’t accredited.
The platform offers Basic and Pro Plan for individuals, and Business Plan for teams.
The Basic Plan allows you to get access to the course base and get peer support.
If you get a Pro Plan subscription, you’re allowed to get access to more options, for example:
- exercise files, quizzes, and other member-only materials;
- access to thorough step-by-step guidance;
- ability to take part in real projects, get certificates of completion, etc.
The Pro Plan costs $15 per month in case of an annual subscription or $19 for a monthly subscription.
The Business Plan includes everything listed above, plus:
- detailed reports about the progress of your team;
- changing dates of the beginning of the course, etc.
If you’re not sure about purchasing the subscription, you may get a free trial according to the type of your account:
- 7 days for the Individual Plan;
- 14 days for the Business Plan.
The platform offers its users a subscription model of payment. You can choose either to pay $29.99 per month or $299.88 for an annual subscription.
Anyway, both variants of subscriptions imply unlimited access to the whole course base. This opportunity gives you more freedom in selecting the subject you want to learn and determining the length of your study.
If you’re not sure about what subscription to choose, you may use a trial that lasts 1 month.
The platform comes up with a thorough knowledge base that you can find in the Help Center.
Also, you can use a chatbot for getting answers quickly, or visit the Codecademy blog or forum to join discussions and share your experience.
Besides, it’s possible to follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and subscribe to their official YouTube channel.
The platform provides users with an extensive knowledge base, where you can find popular topics and articles about subscription, billing, certificates, course recommendations, and so on.
If you face problems using the platform, you can use support tickets (this option you can search on the Support page).
Also, Lynda has its official communities on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Is there any way to contact Codecademy’s experts directly?
Yes, you can become a member of the Codecademy Discord community and ask for help in real-time.
What would happen if I decided not to upgrade my subscription plan on Codecademy after the trial period?
The progress you’ve made will be kept, but you’ll lose access to learning materials, exercise files, quizzes, projects, etc.
Does Codecademy allow the accounts to merge?
Currently, this option is unavailable: you’re offered only to delete your account and create another one. If you don’t want to lose your projects, you may use GitHub or simply save them to your laptop.
What payment methods can I use to purchase a subscription on
Codecademy or upgrade it?
The platform supports credit, debit cards, and PayPal. If you decide to change your payment method, you need to cancel your subscription and sign up again.
Can I contact Lynda’s expert by phone?
No, this option is unavailable, as well as using a chatbot.
Is it possible to reactivate my subscription on Lynda if I delete my account?
No, it’s impossible: if you decide to reactivate it, you’ll be redirected to LinkedIn Learning and offered to start a trial as a new user.
Can I connect my Lynda & LinkedIn accounts?
Yes, it’s possible. In this case, all information (history, projects, achievements, etc.) will be merged.
Is the functionality of Lynda’s desktop and mobile applications the same?
No, using a mobile version, you can’t have video transcripts, download exercise files and tasks, and make bookmarks.
Reviewing the e-learning platforms, the first and most important feature drawing my attention is a significant difference in the base of offered courses.
Codecademy is focused on users willing to get the IT practical skills (like coding, machine learning, web design, cybersecurity, etc.).
In turn, Lynda comes up with completely different sets of lessons and Learning Paths, which also include art (photography, video, music, etc.), as well as technical courses.
Talking about the education quality, I know for sure that you’ll get access only to high-quality content created by industry field specialists, purchasing a Lynda’s or Codecademy’s subscription.
The certificates you get after the completion of a course and requirements for instructors’ skills are also the same.
The second significant difference between the platforms lies in pricing plans. Offering a similar set of options, all of Codecademy’s subscriptions cost less than Lynda’s.
If your main goal is to learn how to code, then this price difference may be the key reason for choosing Codecademy.