Disclosure: Privacy Australia is community-supported. We may earn a commission when you buy a VPN through one of our links. Learn more.
Best Online Courses in Australia
A few years ago, online learning was viewed as a good secondary option for when you did not have the time or opportunity to attend normal university-level classes.
These days, however, after the pandemic and an explosion of online learning innovations, getting courses online is practically the new normal.
But the thing about the new normal is that nothing normal is new, and nothing new is normal. Even if online learning is the new thing to do, everyone and everything is still trained and designed around offline learning. This can make it exceptionally difficult to find the online courses you need.
That is why we are here to help. Together, we will go over what an online course should provide you, as well as what you should bring to an online course. Then, we will let you in on the top ten online courses that Australians can access right now. So, let’s begin.
Table of Contents:
What Should an Online Course Provide You?
When speaking generally about online courses, this is a more difficult question to answer. Tons of disciplines, from investing to creative writing to advanced mathematics, can be learned online. But to get a job in mathematics, a certification will be a lot more necessary than getting a job in writing.
So, we have separated the disciplines you can pursue through online courses into three different types:
- Fields that require a portfolio to get a job.
- Fields that require provable skills to get a job.
- Fields that require a Certification to get a job.
If you are interested in entering a field, look at some of the job postings in that field and figure out which of these they require. It might also help to contact some people that work in those fields to figure out what employers look for, as job postings are often inaccurate and misleading on purpose.
1. Fields That Require a Portfolio
These fields are the easiest to talk about at the outset, as the portfolio is an easy construct to justify. A portfolio is a body of a person’s work, usually selected to appeal to the job that person is applying to.
This means that you can only have a portfolio of certain kinds of work. The kind of work that goes into a portfolio has to be able to be made static, and it has to be verifiable. So, your ability to grow a plant cannot go into a portfolio. That is a skill that cannot be made static simply due to being too complex.
Your ability to write, draw, or code can be made static. You can have a portfolio of writing, drawings, or functional code. In the case of writing and drawing, it is easy to look up through the internet whether or not those writings or drawings are original. Fields that put an emphasis on this kind of work will usually require a strong portfolio far more than they require a certification or provable skills.
Because in a way, a portfolio is its own certification and proof of skills.
2. Fields That Require Provable Skills
Anyone who has worked a coding job probably saw it listed as a field that favours portfolios and thought, “Hey, that’s not true. Tons of jobs have coding challenges before you even interview.”
This is true. In fact, there is a strong overlap between fields that require portfolios and fields that require provable skills. The dividing line is essential whether or not you are paid for proving your skills. In a job where you are not paid for a “test article” or a “test program”, then it is a matter of proving your skills.
You have to watch out for these jobs, as it is easy for the market to exploit people looking for jobs.
With the number of coders, architects, interior designers, and other highly skilled and specialized workers out there, why even higher one? You can just make them do a “challenge” before they do an interview to “see if they can do the job”. But of course, the challenge is the work you need to be done.
After you get twenty prospective applicants to do 1/20th of the job each, the job is done, and you didn’t have to pay anyone. This is the risk of getting a job in a field that requires this pre-employment work.
3. Fields That Require Certification
In a way, the requirement of the certification is the most abstract requirement of all of them. In the case of the portfolio and the proof of work, you at least know that you are doing work similar to what the job will ask of you. But certification is usually reserved for jobs where education and work differ greatly.
A great example is medicine. You can’t be a doctor without a certified education. The education of the doctor will deal as much with the theory of medicine as it will the practice of medicine, but education in that practice will be more a part of the early stages of their employment than part of their education.
This differs greatly from other fields. If you are learning to be a welder, you learn more about what to do at your job than you learn about the science of welding. Not that welders skim over the science of welding, of course, as it is highly material to their work. But compared to doctors, less is critical.
An online course should either give you a portfolio of work, a certificate indicating your skills or education or at the very least give you the skills to demonstrate what you learned. Which one is most important is mostly determined by knowing what field you want to go into.
Online courses that focus on producing good work will relate to jobs that require good portfolios.
Online courses that focus on object examples will relate to jobs that require proof of work.
And online courses that focus on theory will relate to jobs that require certifications.
What are the Best Online Courses in Australia?
Now that you know what you need to get out of your online course, you are probably wondering where you should be going to get your online courses. Well, we have you covered. Here are the top ten best online courses in Australia.
|1. Coursera||Best Overall Online Courses|
|2. Udemy||Best Wide Selection of Courses|
|3. Udacity||Best Computer Science Courses|
|4. Skillshare||Free Low-Cost Option|
|5. Adobe||Best Application Courses|
|6. Brunchwork||Best Business Management Classes|
|7. Kadenze||Best Art Classes|
|8. Real Estate Academy Australia||Best Real Estate Online Course|
|9. Delicious||Best Online Cooking Course|
|10. Commonwealth Education Trust||Best Young Adult Fiction Online Course|
1. Coursera – Best Overall for Online Courses
Let’s get this out of the way first.
Coursera is one of the most well-known places for online courses in the world. Which immediately invites the question: Is it well-known for a reason?
The short answer is yes, it does. Coursera is unique for being an online course hub that is provided by external institutions. That is not a unique setup for a site that provides online courses. What is unique is that Coursera’s courses are provided by real universities. This means you are getting high-level classes.
And not only that, but Coursera is free. That means you can essentially take the classes offered by big universities such as Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, and tons of others for free.
The range of courses is massive, though there is a bit of focus on the site. The main thing they provide is courses on coding and computer science. The reason for this is twofold: Firstly, they are by far the easiest to teach through the computer. Definitionally, the teachers know you have the tools for them.
But just as important is the fact that coding and computer science is one of the most lucrative fields that you can get into with just a degree provided by an online course. It is not simple, of course. You definitely need to pick a specialization in order to get a job in the field. But it is well worth it.
Other fields they cover include business, information technology, and mathematics. But perhaps the best part about all of these is the fact that the degrees Coursera offers are actually accredited degrees.
Related: Best Cybersecurity Courses
It is too easy for an online course to tout itself as offering some sort of certificate that does not really mean anything. Because Coursera’s classes are provided by actual universities, they also provide actual certificates of skill and mastery that an employer will take seriously.
Coursera has two main weaknesses as an online course provider. The first is over-Americanization. It is a company based in the United States, which means that most (though not all) of its universities will be American, operate on an American schedule, and teach skills that play well in the American economy.
Their second issue is a lack of breadth. While the courses offered by Coursera are some of the most profitable on the job market, they are not the online course provider you will want to go to if you want to seek out an artistic passion. This is most noticeable in the fact that all arts are lumped together.
Neither of these is a deal-breaker, especially since American lessons translate well to the Australian economy.
- Courses provided by big universities
- All certifications are accredited
- Offers tons of courses for high-paying fields
- Does not offer much outside the most profitable fields
2. Udemy – Best Wide Selection of Courses
When you are looking for online courses, Udemy is usually second only to Coursera in terms of offering the best courses around.
Some people consider it to be better than Coursera due to how much it offers.
This is because basically anything that has work that can be transmitted through a computer, Udemy offers a class in that discipline. These topics range from photography and music to marketing and business. But even those titles do not really paint the picture of how many courses Udemy has.
Their teachers come from all over the world, though each and every one of them has been vetted to make sure they are capable of providing you with the best lessons possible. This is why Udemy’s certifications are considered valuable, even though they are not technically accredited.
While accreditation is important, employers will start to notice if most of their employees are getting valuable training from the same place. Similarly, Udemy is a popular place for employers to send their employees for further training. In short, tons of jobs recognize Udemy even if no country does.
One question you will see a lot is whether or not Udemy is free. This is a good question, as the answer is not quite what you would expect. Udemy is free to register for and has free classes. However, educators can also make certain classes of theirs cost money to take.
As a side note to Udemy’s functionality, it is also worth noting that most of Udemy’s classes are done on-demand rather than on a schedule. This means it is good for someone who does not have a schedule that would normally allow them to take classes like these.
While Udemy’s breadth is a tremendous advantage, it comes with its own issues. Namely, the fact that there are tons of paid courses on Udemy of uncertain quality. It is important to note that “uncertain quality” does not mean “dubious quality” or “poor quality”. You can generally expect Udemy to uphold its standards for education across every individual lesson.
It more relates to how paid courses can turn a lot of people off for a lot of reasons, the main one being the fact that you never know if the course will be valuable to you by itself, or if it needs to be taken along with three other courses to be valuable. This is why the free courses are so important.
- Offers a massive number of high-quality courses
- Teachers’ skills are always confirmed by Udemy before they start teaching
- Everything is on-demand
- Has many paid courses, not all of which will be as good as their price tag
3. Udacity – Best Computer Science Courses
Most people who are looking for online degrees are looking for degrees that deal with computer science in some way. That means programming, software development, data science, and other skills that fall under the same “computer science” umbrella.
So, how does Udacity stand out in that field?
Well, to begin with, you may have noticed that all of those skills we listed are quite different. In fact, it is rare for any one person to have all of them. Most of the time there will be a person assigned to each skill. Having that skill in a company will be their full-time job. Playing to this is what makes Udacity great.
Udacity focuses on the different specializations in computer science. Most industries reward specialization, but it works a bit differently in computer science. Poorly run companies are looking for one person to do six jobs. This is because many specializations are based on similar principles.
But a well-run company will employ a team of people with different focuses. An app might need to be fast, power-efficient, and intuitive. It is technically physically possible for a person to learn how to make an app for all three of those things. But companies that make software know that they will get the best results from a team made up of specialists in processing speed, power usage, and interface design.
Udacity builds its courses to focus on both the core fundamentals as they appear in different situations, as well as building those skills out into the more unique skills that are more niche.
The instructors at Udacity are generally industry professionals, meaning you will get a few great things out of your classes. The most obvious is good instruction, but their feedback will also be based on what is going on in the industry. This is important, as it will help you build skills that will get you a job.
It also means you will get some good connections from the classes.
Many of the fundamental courses at Udacity are free, but the most important classes they offer can cost a lot. Of course, “a lot” is relative here. Many professional-level courses are more than $1000. That is much more than $0, but these are courses that will very much contribute to your employability.
And at the same time, it is much less than a normal computer science college’s tuition.
All the same, many users will be turned off by the cost. As you go through a computer science course, it might not be clear that it is not the career path for you until after you have already taken some courses. This is especially true for computer science compared to other industries.
Look up some videos on the kinds of things you will be doing in the jobs you want to get before you pay money to get the skills for those jobs. The more you know beforehand, the easier it will be to choose the right courses and get through the programs without spending money you do not need to spend.
- Great at digging deep into computer science knowledge
- Instructors are industry professionals that give great feedback
- Lots of free courses for learning the basics
- The paid courses within specializations mean you can pay for a course that you don’t enjoy
4. Skillshare – Free Low-Cost Option
Online courses’ main competition is existing universities. Even if a university is completely online, having experienced professors and a pre-made curriculum is so important to get a good education.
One of the main things online courses have over universities is their cost. Universities are expensive.
But while online courses are cheap, they are usually cheap with a few footnotes. One of the most common is, “These courses are free (though later courses in the curriculum cost money).” Or “These courses are free (but they are not enough to get you a job).”
If a course gives you something that makes you employable, it is going to cost you money. So, who charges the lowest amount of money relative to the value they provide to you?
The answer is Skillshare. The number of different courses on offer by Skillshare is staggering. There are thousands of courses covering dozens of subjects. These are all taught by confirmed experts, with reviews present for each of them so you can get an idea of the quality level they are outputting.
Skillshare is available for a $14 a month fee. This fee gives you access to all of its courses. From the fundamental courses to the courses that cover the most desirable skills on the market, this fee includes everything. This pricing model allows it to compete with many other competing online course hubs.
No single course costs $1000, but it also gives you access to the skills you need to get a job. Because of its size, you might think it is hard to navigate. But it actually has lots of tools for narrowing down your search to find exactly what you need.
The one thing Skillshare is really lacking in is legitimacy to its credentials. Its teachers are often industry professionals, but not always. It does not pull any resources from existing, accredited institutions. And most critically, it spreads itself too thin to be immediately recognizable to employers.
In short, no one is going to be immediately impressed by the certifications you get from Skillshare courses. Obviously, the skills themselves will be impressive enough. But many people are extremely skeptical of teaching and learning resources that do not give them an accredited certification.
If your priority is getting certified in skill rather than building a skill over time, then Skillshare is not the place for you. And since many jobs will look for certification, this is a legitimate concern.
- Pricing is cheap and covers absolutely everything
- Tons of subjects and courses to choose from
- Great interface for narrowing your search through the huge selection
- Not accredited or recognized
5. Adobe – Best Application Courses
Adobe is a name that you have probably heard before. It is a company that has either developed or come to own a huge variety of different applications that are used in various industries.
That is an incredibly broad description, so let’s narrow it down: Photoshop is the most well-known.
It is used in both art and photography. After Effects is its video editor, though it also has Premiere. There are web developing apps, 3D art apps, and in general too many to name individually.
In short, while Adobe is only one company, it still has a lot of education to offer. That is why its tutorials are so good: On the surface, you are learning about how to edit video in Premiere. But most of the knowledge they give you can also be applied to just about any other video editing software.
This is mostly because of the way the courses Adobe provides are structured. You will rarely actually see or get to know your instructor through their courses. Instead, they are focused on the solving of individual problems. This makes them great for people who are already in a given industry and faced with a new obstacle. It also means that most lessons can stand on their own.
Adobe’s courses are part of its Creative Cloud bundle. Whether you are getting an all-encompassing plan or an individual program, you get access to all of their course material as a bonus. This is actually a ton of valuable and industry-relevant information to offer up as what is essentially an extra feature.
Adobe’s courses and lessons are focused on their programs, but because their programs are so varied in their functions, you can be sure to get some amount of information out of them that is useful.
These issues with Adobe’s lessons sit comfortably adjacent to its advantages. The first one that many people spot just from having the courses described to them is the fact that they are focused on Adobe’s products. And yes, the information about using those products can be carried over. But it is still limiting.
This is the central tension of Adobe’s online courses. They focus heavily on using and solving problems within very specific apps. This means that if you do not use these apps, then it does not matter how enticing the rest of the knowledge they offer is to you.
On top of this, the lack of direct interaction with instructors cuts both ways. You will not have to negotiate with someone’s personality to solve a problem, but a beginner will also not be able to ask questions directly. In short, these courses are great for solving problems, but not learning the basics.
- Highly direct and intuitive courses
- Great for solving problems in a huge suite of applications
- Comes bundled with one or more widely used tools
- Not friendly to beginners due to being so tightly focused
6. Brunchwork – Best Business Management Classes
In the world of online classes, business management is second only to computer science in terms of profitability and availability.
This is because it is highly sought after in higher positions at a company, and easy to teach in the format of an online course. Brunchwork is focused on supporting that synergy.
Brunchwork offers its online courses in three forms: The first is object examples. These are situations where you examine a real-world business challenge within its context and try to find a solution.
The second form is through expert instruction. These are lectures given by industry leaders that teach you how to run teams, communicate with managers yourself, and organize finances. In short, they cover everything you would need to start, run, and profit from a business venture.
The third form is focused on smaller groups than lectures. This is essentially where the object examples and the expert instructions meet, and you get to have your problem solving critiqued by professionals.
There are two target audiences for these educational tools: The first is people looking to start a business. This is the main focus of the courses, as crossing the boundary from never having run a business to running a business is one of the biggest hurdles a person can make in their life.
Focusing on this group means helping people understand the many nuances of business ownership. If you have ever been confused as to what a business owner does, Brunchwork will teach you in certain detail, from paperwork and taxes to hiring employees and project management.
Naturally, the second target audience is people who have already started a business. Because their problems are a lot more present than the first group’s, Brunchwork makes sure that their courses never last more than two months. These are high-impact courses, so be careful to not get left behind.
And while we are on the topic of high-impact courses, let’s talk about a problem they tend to have: While Brunchwork pays ample heed to people already running a business, it is not the easiest to schedule around. These are online courses, but you still have to show up for class. It is not on-demand.
This can be an inconvenience to the very people Brunchwork is targeting. For people who have not started a business but want to, problems are present there as well. The main one is the price of the program– $1500. As we have mentioned before, this is fair compared to a college course.
But there will be plenty of people working low-paying jobs that will not be able to afford this initial investment. Lacking a free or discounted option, they are excluded completely.
Brunchwork is also not an accredited course. It is a truly unique and valuable experience, and the connections you make in the course can be life-changing. But just be sure you are ready for it before you commit to it. If you pinch your pennies for six months to get into the course, you do not want to fail it.
- Some of the best and most prestigious guest speakers of any business course that is online
- A rigorous, three-step lesson plan that gives you practical information and experience
- Responsive and professional feedback
- Cost and scheduling can be prohibitive to some people
7. Kadenze – Best Art Classes
While many people are using online courses to supplement their careers in some way, others are using them to enrich their lives in a much more relaxed manner.
This is the main motivation that drives people to take art classes online. And easily the best place to get these art classes is Kadenze’s online courses.
Lots of people have lots of opinions on the value of going to a university for art school. Such institutions are expensive, and while the education you get can be highly enlightening, dedicating 100% of your time to it can yield diminishing returns if you are more of an observer of art than a producer of it.
Kadenze offers tons of classes provided by prestigious institutions. These include Princeton, the School of Art Institute Chicago, the Paris College of Art, and many more. These are on-demand classes, meaning that you do not need to set aside scheduled time to attend them, and they will not have assignments.
They will, however, be taught by some of the wisest artistic minds in the world. The programs range from highly practical skills, like how to do graphic design in apps like Photoshop, to more abstract things.
Probably the best part of Kadenze’s online courses is its pricing. Taking the classes themselves is actually totally free. You have to pay a monthly subscription to get a certificate of mastery (which, due to the prestige of the institutions doing the teaching, can go quite far).
But because the lessons are on-demand, mostly listenable, and high quality, you can treat them like educational podcasts. This will not work for everything, especially the more practical skills. But more abstract topics, like the history of certain artistic trends, are extremely open to this way of consumption.
Kadenze’s focus on art is an obvious limitation, though a relatively easy one to parse. Nobody is going to go to Kadenze when they need business or coding knowledge. The real shortcoming of the platform is the fact that it is designed to be so easily consumed in a passive manner.
Consider how it lacks assignments or a schedule. Since it essentially does not demand that you do anything, Kadenze’s classes are easy to put off or neglect. Naturally, this fits in well with their styling as a more relaxed and casual style of learning. But given the institutions providing the classes, some people might understandably expect something more rigorous. Kadenze does not always provide that.
There will be classes that are more focused than others, and they have programs that offer direct guidance. But most of the site is dedicated to a highly indirect way of learning that some people will be turned off by, particularly those who want an art education that will get them a job.
- A vast resource of art knowledge from prestigious institutions
- Mostly listenable content
- Free to take most of the lessons, cheap to pay for the programs that give you certifications
- Undemanding in most respects
8. Real Estate Academy Australia – Best Real Estate Online Course
Real estate is an interesting industry to get into.
Hearing about professional real estate agents is a lot like hearing about professional oil salesmen: If you hear about them, you are hearing about the most incredibly rich and powerful people in the world.
But what does a working-class real estate agent do?
The Real Estate Academy Australia is here to answer that question. They are acutely aware that real estate is a business that people get into so that they can make money. There is no overindulgence in some abstract “love of the game”. When you apply to a class, you are applying to get skills to pay bills.
To that point, the most important question is: Does Real Estate Academy Australia offer classes that lead to a real estate license? Yes, they do. They have beginner courses that are discounted, courses for prepping for the license exam, and then offer the upgrade to the license itself.
They take you all the way from start to finish. But that is not all they have. They also offer courses in business management and finance. After all, both of these are critical to running a start-up real estate business. You have to know how to get a loan, know how to find clients, and know-how to sell to them.
In short, Real Estate Academy Australia does not just get the license into your hand as fast as possible. What it really does is prepare you for the world of real estate. There are tons of pitfalls that can cripple a business before it even has a chance to grow. Real Estate Academy Australia educates you on them.
Real Estate Academy Australia’s real weakness is the cost. They have good discounts for your first few courses, but you will need to take every course if you want to get the license and be properly prepared to start a real estate business. It is still cheaper than a university, of course.
Most classes are in the $1000 range, with discounts bringing them down to half of that. But later classes can exceed $2000. This will be prohibitive to most people, at least all at once.
- Takes you all the way through the real estate licensing process
- Helps you understand how to set up and support a business
- Easy to navigate and schedule
- Classes are on the more expensive end altogether
9. Delicious – Best Online Cooking Course
Cooking is definitely not a subject you would naturally think of as being taught online, at least not in the way coding and mathematics are taught online.
If a teacher gives you an assignment in an online cooking course, how are they supposed to grade it? Are you going to mail it to them?
Well, of course not. But if you think of yourself as the grader of your own assignments, then it becomes clear how it can work. After all, you might not know how to grade a math paper. But you do know whether something tastes good or bad, or whether or not it is undercooked.
You can find cooking classes in lots of places online, but Delicious is the place to go if you want to learn from the pros. Perhaps the best part is that Delicious is not wholly focused on these online courses. They are a part of the site, but the rest of the site is focused on the appreciation of food as a whole.
This makes Delicious come off less like a place trying to get your money and more like a hub of food information. It is organized around delivering the information on how to make food, where to find it, and what you use to make it. These topics are not highly centralized, keeping them from being used as ads.
And that is a big draw of Delicious. Many food blogs are essentially elaborate commercials. But you can always tell what products they are advertising. Delicious is so much more about making things yourself and finding things to make things with that it gets away from that toxic internet norm.
Of course, that lack of centralization comes at a cost. In general, the site is not terribly easy to navigate. It is also, rather obviously, not formal education. Delicious is very much an attempt to make a food-centric TV network, but online. This lends itself less to formality and more to spontaneity.
Essentially, Delicious focuses on the outcome of food making more than the process. You are not going to learn how cooking works in a complex sense. You are going to learn how to make certain foods.
This means that there is no cost to using the information on the site, and the professionally guided courses range from cheap to completely free. But that also means that professional guidance is the main draw of the site, while everything else can be found in another form elsewhere.
- Casual, easy-to-read instructions
- Video lessons designed to be followed along
- Huge amount of professional guidance
- Most of the site is information you can find anywhere
10. Commonwealth Education Trust – Best Young Adult Fiction Online Course
“Young Adult Fiction” seems like a rather narrow region of creative writing to focus on. So, why seek out a course in it? The answer comes in one word: Turnover. There is a big difference between young adult fiction and the works of, say, Fyodor Dostoevsky.
While it is true that many literary greats were paid for their work, they were rarely paid well enough to make their efforts into a career. This is especially true of modern pay rates for creative writers. In order to make a living doing the writing, it is important to know how to produce volume as well as be creative.
The Commonwealth Education Trust offers courses in exactly those techniques. Through them, you will learn the basics, like story structure and scene crafting. But you will also learn how to turn those basics into what is essentially a machine that has scenes to write themselves.
Young adult writers, you see, will often support themselves through a number of different ventures. Some will ghostwrite, some write under multiple pseudonyms, and others write for hire using treatments provided by publishers. The possibilities are endless. But only if you have the turnover.
That is what Commonwealth Education Trust teaches you. It is not just about having the most clever or original ideas, though those can certainly help. So little of the writing is actually original; the key is making it feel original. That is the goal of the Commonwealth Education Trust’s lessons.
As you might be able to tell from the name, it is a state-run venture. Not only that, but it also features feedback from other writers and lectures by professionals. These are critical to a good writing course.
Young adult fiction writing is much more of a business than other genres and styles of writing. Looking to make a career out of it very much runs the risk of sucking the fun out of writing for some people.
The Commonwealth Education Trust offers just about everything you would need to get started in the course, including certification and connections to people in the industry. But there is a reason why you do not hear about people making millions of dollars writing young adult novels.
Not everyone wants to do it, and of those that have an interest, not everyone ends up able to do it. But that is not to say it is completely without artistic merit. The simple fact of the matter is that some products are more fun to consume than they are to produce, and you should be aware of that.
- Gives you everything you need to get started with a job
- Totally free
- Opens the doors to a creative field
- Even if the job is accessible, it is not for everyone
Online courses can provide a lot for you. They can open the way to new jobs, whether in your current field or completely new ones, as well as enrich your life in ways that money can’t account for.
But you have to know what you are looking for. These ten online courses cover only a fraction of what is out there. These are simply the best online courses for what might be considered “general consideration”. That is interests that are both technical and artistic.
You do not have to break the bank or schedule out every minute of your week to find time for an online course. All you need is to know what you want, why you want it, and where to get it. Between these online course hubs, you are practically bound to find something that’s useful to you.