According to a report by Renub Research from late 2019, the global online education market is projected to reach a value of over $350 billion US by 2025. As online learning services have improved, people have shifted to an online learning environment.
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Coursera is already one of the big players in this field, offering university-style education from leading academic institutions and multinational corporations from around the world. One of its older rivals is Pluralsight, which has carved out a niche offering on-demand assessment and training for the most in-demand skills for the technology industry.
So how do they stack up against each other? Which one has the courses and features you want? And why pick one over the other? We’ll cover all of that as we pit Pluralsight vs Coursera.
What is covered in this article
Let’s start with a quick look at some of the basic features these two e-learning platforms have to offer.
Pluralsight vs. Coursera overview: comparison table
Coursera and Pluralsight differ in a few key ways, such as their pricing structures, areas of topic focus, and style of delivery. As a result, they are targeted at different audiences.
Coursera is more like traditional post-secondary education, with more accessibility and subject options, but a more fixed course structure. So it tends to attract global learners who are okay with studying something over an extended period of time — especially because courses don’t always cost money.
Pluralsight is much more focused on cutting-edge technology. Its courses are also less time-sensitive; they’re ready for you whenever you’re ready to learn. Finally, it requires you to pay to use it, although it comes with a 10-day free trial. Taken together, this means that Pluralsight is aimed at tech enthusiasts who want to learn as much as they can in a limited period of time to jump-start, get ahead in, or stay on top of their careers.
Compare Pluralsight and Coursera at a glance below:
|Brief Summary||Skill training, assessment, and management for current or aspiring tech employees||Online post-secondary-style learning from top universities, colleges, and corporations|
|Best Uses||Gaining skills towards pursuing a tech career, or improving the skills of your current tech workforce||Supports a broad range of learning goals, from passion projects to skill acquisition to professional or academic accreditation|
|Educators||Mainly industry professionals who apply||Mainly university & college professors; some industry professionals|
|Course Structure||On-demand||Somewhat fixed|
|Languages||English||English, French, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Chinese|
|Accreditation||None||Certain courses and programs|
Pluralsight: the best for budding technology and technical workers
Pluralsight.com is the better pick if you’re looking to break into – or move up in – a career in emerging technologies. It’s definitely the more specialized of the two learning platforms, and it’s also more business-oriented — it’s geared towards giving people the skills to land top tech jobs, as well as helping current technology-based companies train their employees to be better at their careers. And you have to pay to use it, so you’d better be getting ahead with it.
What is Pluralsight and what are its benefits?
Best for: Assessing and improving skills with new and emerging technologies
Cost: $25-$37 per month for individuals; $48-$65 per month for teams (per user)
Pluralsight brands itself as “the technology workforce development company”. As such, it’s where you want to be if you’re looking to learn the skills to land a job with (or move up in) a business that deals frequently with computers, software, and other cutting-edge technologies. It also has some training programs for trades-based skills, such as manufacturing, architecture, and construction. Courses are on-demand, so you can take them anytime, anywhere, at your own pace.
In addition, Pluralsight has a product called “Flow” that helps to analyze and optimize workflows, helping business teams – especially those who do computer and software engineering – operate more efficiently.
Top benefits of using Pluralsight
Pluralsight aims to give you the skills you need to succeed in the technology industry, and its stand-out features are modeled around that goal. Here are a few highlights:
Skill IQ & Role IQ: Quickly find out how much you know about particular tech skills, as well as which ones you need to know to succeed in a specific tech job.
Learning Paths & Channels: Follow a curated course structure to build on what you already know, or mix and match courses to meet your specific goals — it’s up to you.
Resources to help you succeed: Weigh in on discussions with peers and course instructors, access helpful reference materials, and take short untimed quizzes to check how well you’ve retained what you’ve learned.
Learn on the go: Pluralsight has apps for desktop PCs, mobile devices, and even smart TVs. What’s more, they work offline, so you can even learn in places where you don’t have an Internet connection!
Stay ahead of the game: Earn badges as you reach learning milestones, watch recordings of the latest tech conferences to see what’s going to be big next, and more!
Pluralsight is better than Coursera when…
- You’re looking for training on a specific aspect of technology
- You want to know what tech skills you need to succeed at a particular job
- You want to learn something to forward your career, and not just for a hobby
- You want flexibility in when and where you learn
- You run a tech company and want to improve your team’s competence and efficiency
10 top Pluralsight courses to try
Here are some of the most popular courses on Pluralsight, as of the writing of this article. Remember, Pluralsight courses are often geared towards specific aspects of a particular technology, and some may be more advanced than others. You may want to try one of their Skill IQ assessments to see how much you know about a certain subject, and/or follow a curated learning path to make sure you’re learning the basics before moving on to something more difficult.
- Network Interface Layer and Ethernet Operation for Cisco CCNA 200-125/100-105 – by Ross Bagurdes
- Information Systems Auditor: Operations, Maintenance, and Service – by Kevin Henry
- Linux: System Security (LPIC-2) – by Andrew Mallett
- Ethical Hacking: Hacking the Internet of Things (IoT) – by Dale Meredith
- Prepare for the ARE Vol. 2: Project Management – by Kevin Griendling
- SCCM Current Branch: Deploy and Maintain Operating Systems – by Greg Shields
- Managing Cisco Products Using Advanced API-based Methods – by Nick Russo
- Introduction to the Automating Cisco Enterprise Solutions (ENAUTO 300-435) Exam – by Nick Russo
- Demonstrating the Business Value of Power Automate – by Vlad Catrinescu
- Conducting Passive Reconnaissance for CompTIA PenTest+ – by Dale Meredith
Coursera: the best for general learning from accredited institutions and businesses
Coursera.org is much more of a mixed bag than Pluralsight is, featuring a wider variety of topics for study and supporting a broader range of learning goals. You’ll find courses on art, healthcare, math, social sciences, and language alongside the sorts of technology training lessons you’ll find on Pluralsight. Coursera also allows you to take courses simply as passion projects, right up to earning a genuine academic degree online.
What is Coursera and what are its benefits?
Best for: Getting university-level education online as if you were actually on campus
Cost: Free courses available; $40-$100 to get a course certificate, $40-$90 / month for Specialization course packages or Professional Certificates; $2000+ for MasterTrack certificates; $9,000+ for Online Degree
Coursera is a learning platform that features thousands of courses sponsored by leading academic institutions and corporations from around the world. Many courses cost no money to take, though you can pay to get assessed on your performance in a course and receive a completion certificate if you pass. Some courses and programs even give genuine academic or technical accreditation, but they are rare and usually very expensive.
Also, because many courses on Coursera are based on real-world university programs, they often run concurrently to those programs when they’re being taught on campus. So courses often have specific time frames for when they’re available for enrollment, and when they should (reasonably) be completed by.
Top benefits of using Coursera
Coursera’s M.O. is to recreate traditional post-secondary education in an online format. So it’s not as flexible as Pluralsight in terms of when you learn, but its features give you more options when it comes to what you learn, how you learn it, and why you wanted to learn it in the first place.
Get the university experience at home: Courses on Coursera are structured like real-life university courses, and many are taught by the same people who teach their on-site counterparts. So you’re learning from professionals in academia and other leading multinational corporations in a similar way to if you were on campus yourself!
Show off your hard work: For many courses, you can pay to have your assignments evaluated and receive a completion certificate if you pass. It’s a nice thing you can add to your résumé or portfolio to demonstrate your skills. Some programs can even give you real academic or technical certifications!
Mobile support: Did you miss a lecture, or are you on the go when one’s happening? Don’t sweat it! The Coursera app for iOS and Android lets you stream lessons anywhere, or download them to view offline later.
A community there to help: Whether you need academic help with your studies or technical support in actually using the website, Coursera delivers. Get peer review, talk things out in open community forums, or contact the Learner Support team.
Accommodating diversity: Coursera’s main interface is available in over 10 languages, and its lectures are subtitled in over 40 languages, so it’s more suitable for learners all over the globe.
Coursera is better than Pluralsight when…
- You’re interested in topics other than technology
- You want to be able to learn for fun, and not necessarily for your job or career
- You’re okay with having fixed times to study in class and complete assignments
- You are looking to get professional accreditation for the things you learn
- You want to learn from real university professors and experts from leading companies
10 top Coursera courses to try
These are some of the most popular courses on Coursera as of the writing of this article. Remember that some courses are part of bundles that can get you ready for professional certification, earn you credit towards your Master’s degree, or even give you an authentic Bachelor’s or Master’s degree online! So if you like what you’re learning, you might be able to take it even further — maybe all the way to a new career!
- Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life – from the University of Michigan
- Understanding Medical Research – from Yale University
- Japanese for Beginners – from Saint Petersburg State University
- Introduction to Cloud Computing – from IBM
- Foundations of Mindfulness – from Rice University
- Fundamentals of Finance – from the University of Pennsylvania
- Machine Learning – from Stanford University
- The Science of Well-Being – from Yale University
- Introduction to Psychology – from Yale University
- Predictive Analytics & Data Mining – from the University of Illinois
5 alternative e-learning services to Pluralsight & Coursera
Of course, there are many more online learning platforms out there besides just Pluralsight and Coursera. Each has their own specialties and quirks, so it may be worth looking into a few of them before you make your decision. Here are some popular ones:
Best for: Learning niche subjects, often at low prices
Cost: $20-$200 per course (lifetime access)
Udemy is the largest open education marketplace on the Internet today. Almost anyone can be a teacher on Udemy; with over 130,000 courses, you can find lessons on some subjects here that can be difficult to find anywhere else. Prices are also set by instructors on a per-course basis, but are often subject to numerous sales and discounts. Purchasing a course comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, and gives you permanent access to that course as long as it’s up on Udemy.
Best for: People who want to learn by doing
Cost: $12-$20 per month; some courses are free
Skillshare is for those who believe actions speak louder than words. Specializing in creative industries like animation, photography, and graphic design, Skillshare puts less emphasis on simple reading and lectures. Instead, they prefer that you practice what they preach, from completing daily challenges to working on group projects together with other users. Whether you want to learn how to put together a website or even build a business from the ground up, Skillshare can teach you how to make something you can be proud of.
Best for: Learning from successful people who have the star power to prove it
Cost: $180 per year
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to do something the way your favorite celebrity does it, then MasterClass is for you. MasterClass features nearly 100 courses (and counting!) taught by some of the world’s most recognizable professionals in their fields: music icon Alicia Keys, skateboarding pioneer Tony Hawk, award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood, science guru Neil deGrasse Tyson, and even gourmet chef Gordon Ramsay. Follow along with video lessons anytime, anywhere, and then complete assignments in a downloadable workbook to submit for peer review and critique. You may even get a chance to have your work assessed by the course instructor themselves!
Best for: Learning both professional competencies and job-specific skills
Cost: $25-$35 per month; one month free trial
The website formerly known as Lynda.com is now part of the business-oriented social network LinkedIn. That should give you a hint as to what LinkedIn Learning is all about: over 15,000 courses geared towards equipping you with the skills to thrive in the modern working world. These include not only skills specific to certain jobs or industries, but also those that generally help you look and act like a professional: critical thinking, emotional intelligence, time management, habit-building, body language, and more. You can then display completed course certificates on your LinkedIn profile to show off your work.
Best for: Learning computer coding through practical application
Cost: $20-$40 per month; free plan available
That wraps up our Pluralsight-Coursera comparison! If you want to see details of how Pluralsight stacks up against some of the other alternatives we’ve listed here, give our Udemy vs. LinkedIn Learning vs. Udacity vs. Pluralsight review a read. You can also check out our list of websites like Coursera for a few other suggestions that we haven’t included here. Now get studying!