Published by: Julia
There are several really good online learning platforms available. But, which one is the right for you? Here we compare two of the best; Skillshare and Masterclass.
Both online learning platforms have a lot to offer
Perhaps a little annoyingly, I am not going to tell you that one platform is outright better than the other. This is because they both have something different to offer. Which one is right for you depends on what you want to learn and how you want to do it.
However, if you were to purely look at how many courses you get for the money, Skillshare would be the outright winner.
They also cover subjects Masterclass does not yet offer. For example, nutrition, crafts, personal fitness, alternative medicines and improving your mental health.
Masterclass has the edge when it comes to quality
On the other hand, when it comes to the quality of the information shared, Masterclass gets my vote. The people teaching their classes are world-renowned experts. Oscar-winning actors or directors, Olympic athletes, billion-dollar business owners, famous musicians, and Michelin-star chefs.
Which is right for you, Skillshare or Masterclass depends a lot on what your aims are and, to some extent, what subjects you want to learn. Below, I tell you a little bit about my experience of both Masterclass and Skillshare and do a practical comparison of the features each one offers.
If it is just an overview you are looking for, just skip to the end and review the side-by-side comparison tables. They cover the pricing models and things like the functionality of the videos. Plus, whether you get a workbook, captions, one on one support and other important things.
Directly below here, I cover things like what the instructors are like, usability, support, subjects covered, and which platform offers the best value for money. There are also a few course examples to give you a taste of the sort of thing you can learn on both platforms.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Skillshare and Masterclass platforms is the type of teacher you are going to be learning from. On the Masterclass platform, you will be learning from the likes of Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese.
On Skillshare, the standards are a little bit more hit and miss. All kinds of people have had a go at creating courses, including a few that probably should not have done so.
But, their peer review system makes it relatively easy for you to find and focus on the higher quality courses. Plus, the very low monthly payment means it does not matter that not all of the courses are of the highest possible quality.
Within a few minutes of looking at the first video of a course you know if it is a good one or not. If it isn´t you just move on to the next one. So far, on every subject I have tried, I have been able to find something half decent on Skillshare.
The standard of teaching on both platforms is good. Of course, there is some variation in the approach that each tutor takes. Some people make better teachers than others.
Plus, when you find a good tutor, you can easily take all of their courses. So, don´t let the mix of teaching standards put you off of signing up for Skillshare.
But, when it comes to the quality of the information being offered, Masterclass has the edge. Their teachers are world-renowned and working at the very top level of the industries that they are involved in.
Learn the basic skills from Skillshare, but if you want to excel, Masterclass is the better choice.
Which is the most user-friendly?
On both the skillshare and masterclass platforms, most of the content is delivered in video format. Studies show that most people learn better with visual stimulation.
But, to use them effectively, you need to be able to follow them easily and find what you want when you need to refresh your memory. Both platforms are clearly aware of this. That is why they offer bookmarks and workbooks, all of which help you to go back over your course, find the relevant section and review what you have learned.
The only problem is that they are both pretty hit and miss about how these useful tools are delivered. On both platforms, bookmarks exist only for some courses.
Every Masterclass has a workbook. Most of which are really good quality, but some do not reference what is in the videos enough to make it easy to find something you want to go over again. With Skillshare, sometimes there is a workbook and other resources, for example, checklists. But, most of the time, there isn´t.
However, when it comes to usability Skillshare has the edge. There are two key reasons for this.
Firstly, the videos are typically far shorter than they are on Masterclass. The fact that they are broken down by subject more makes it far easier to hone in on the one you want.
More importantly, you can also add your own notes/bookmarks. This ability to annotate the videos means that you can mark at which point of the video a certain point is made or method shown. It is, therefore, far easier to find what you want.
The subjects covered
When it comes to the subjects that are covered, Skillshare wins. It is huge, so covers a lot more topics than Masterclass does. For example, digital skills, alternative medicine, various fitness regimes, and unusual subjects like how to make vegan cheese.
The fact that Masterclass only uses famous people as tutors inevitably means that the course material is heavily weighted towards the arts and entertainment industries. Although that started to change at the end of 2018 when they began to add more business and science-related courses.
How in-depth is the training?
The other thing you will notice is that a lot of the Skillshare courses are quite short. Many are less than an hour long.
This can be both good and bad. Skillshare is perfect for when you just want an overview of a subject. For example, if you want to know what a particular acting technique is, e,g, the Adler method, you can quickly find out. But, if you want to know how to apply it, you are unlikely to find that information on Skillshare. Whereas, you definitely can on Masterclass. On that platform, Actors like Helen Mirren walk you through all kinds of practical skills and show you how to apply what you have learned when working on set.
A few course examples
To help you to understand the difference between the two platforms let´s look at some of the cooking courses I took. At the time of writing this, there were 15 culinary arts courses available on Masterclass. I took them all.
My teachers were mostly Michelin-star chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, and Dominique Ansel. Their classes were between 3 and 6 hours long and they taught numerous cooking techniques and recipes, in particular, fine cuisine.
One of my favorite classes was the French pastry one by Dominique Ansel. He taught me how to make classic French sweet treats like fruit tarts, tiny chocolate cakes, croissants, eclairs, chocolate shells, ganache, mini-meringues, and mousse. I made some of them and took a few in to give to a friend of mine who owns a local cafe. She was impressed.
I wondered if I could learn something similar on Skillshare, but was disappointed to find that they only offered classes that would teach me how to make chouquettes, cream puffs, croissants, chouquettes, eclairs and cheese puffs. Basically, I could only learn two French pastry-making techniques on Skillshare, how to make choux and butter pastry.
On Skillshare I had a choice of thousands of courses. But, they were mostly single recipe courses lasting around 25 minutes. In some cases, they were not dissimilar to what you could find on YouTube. Although, they were a hundred times easier to navigate, which makes it super easy to find exactly what you want.
Both platforms, offer some level of community engagement and the chance to interface with your tutors. But, how useful these facilities are depends on your tutor. Some are better than others at engaging with their students.
But, both Masterclass and Skillshare give you the chance to leave comments, ask questions and interface with other students. They also both encourage you to complete assignments to cement what you have learned.
Personally, I think Skillshare has the edge. This is largely because of their workshops facility. I am still learning how to use it. But, it is definitely a good feature, that Masterclass does not offer.
On Skillshare, some tutors also run workshops. They are tricky to describe. But, I think of them as specialist courses, that include milestone assignments. The instructional videos and courses are delivered over the course of several weeks. So, you learn, implement, then do the same for the next step. Plus, usually, there is also a fair amount of interaction with your tutor.
Skillshare workshops are a really good way to push yourself to follow through and actually do something with what you are learning.
Currently, they are included in the price. If you have a premium membership, you can access all workshops. Free members can also get workshops, but, understandably. only for the free courses.
Course access limits
Both platforms enable their students to access their courses anywhere, any time, without limits. You can watch them as many times as you like. All you need is an internet connection and a device to watch on.
When you look at things from a purely monetary point of view, Skillshare offers you the best value for money. If you read our full Skillshare review here you will see that this platform offers a lot for what is a very small upfront investment.
If you want to learn from the most successful people in business, the culinary arts, music and many other sectors the Masterclass platform is the better option.
Some of their courses, even come with something called office hours, which gives you a direct line to your world-famous instructor. It is pretty cool to be able to get Gordon Ramsay or another famous person to directly answer your question. If you want to know more about how this feature works, you just need to read my in-depth Masterclass review.
So, once again, I have to sit on the fence here. They are actually both great value for money. Which offers the best value depends 100% on what you want to get out of your learning experience.
Both platforms offer a range of ways for you to buy and enjoy their courses. The table below summarises the pricing options that were available at the time that I wrote this article.
|Permanent Access to Free Courses||No||Yes – a few thousand selected courses|
|Free Trial||Occassionaly available||Premium Membership free trial – for 3 months|
|Monthly Membership||Yes – All-Access Pass – $15 to access all 70+ courses||Yes – $15 to access all 22,000+ courses|
|Annual Membership||Yes -All-Access Pass – $180 for all 70+ courses||Yes – $99 access to over 22,000 courses|
|Buy an Individual Course||Yes – $90 – lifetime access to one course||No|
|Special Offers||Occassionaly – e.g. Buy One Gift One for Free||Rarely available, but you can get big discounts off of a range of software tools|
|Refunds||Yes up to 30 days after purchase||Yes, for annual memberships only up to 7 days after purchase|
|Team Learning Option||Yes – 2 formats available, including one that offers tailored courses and in-person events||Not available|
The video and course features compared
Below I have compared the features of each platform in a side-by-side format. It is very basic information. But, if you want to know more about a specific feature, you can do so by reading what I have written above.
|Variable speed playback||Yes||Yes|
|Captions||Yes – All classes||Yes – Most classes|
|Continue where you left off||Yes – at video level only||Yes – at the right point within an individual video|
|Professional studio recordings||Yes – All classes||Yes – some classes, but the standards are still high|
|Accessible on various platforms||Yes – PC, Phone and Tablet||Yes – PC, Phone and Tablet|
|Download videos for offline access||Yes – for around 40 courses. But, only for viewing on a phone using the app||Yes – for all courses, to be viewed with the Skillshare app.|
|Language options||English only audio and captions. A few classes include subtitles in Spanish and German.||English only videos and captions.|
|Tutor video bookmarks||Built into some videos||No|
|Ability to add your own bookmarks and notes||Not possible||Add your own notes to easily find things later.|
|Downloadable workbooks||Yes – for every course, standards are usually very good.||Yes – for some courses.|
|Comments below videos||Yes – answered by other students and sometimes support or the tutor||Yes – answered by other students and teachers, but how often varies greatly.|
|Peer reviews||Yes – simple star rating system||Yes – peer ratings and written reviews|
|Community forums||Yes – for each course||Yes|
|New courses included in price||Yes – an average of 12 per year||Yes – hundreds per year|
|Further course recommendations||No||Yes – this provides students with a really easy way to maintain momentum so that you are constantly updating and improving your skills.|
|Accredited courses available||No||Some courses are advertised as providing accreditation, but, I have not taken any of them and are not sure if employers would value the accreditations on offer.|
Both learning platforms are excellent. Which one is right for you, really depends on what you are looking for, how many courses you are likely to take each year and your budget.
My personal recommendation is that you sign up for both.
For Masterclass, sign up for the all-access pass. For the price of taking just 2 individual courses, you can gain access to all 70+ courses. So, it really makes sense to do it that way.
With Skillshare, go for the Premium rather than the free membership. The fact that you get access to so many more courses, means that finding a high-quality one that teaches you exactly what you need to know is usually not difficult.
Besides which, to be able to afford an annual subscription to both platforms, you would only have to forgo, two coffees every week. A very small price to pay for a world of knowledge and opportunities.
Both Masterclass.com and Skillshare offer you a great way to invest in yourself and your future.