The 8 Most Popular International Online Learning Platforms Among Chinese Students in 2021

The 8 Most Popular International Online Learning Platforms Among Chinese Students in 2021

July 8, 2021 | Janie Zhou


Online education is a teaching method that uses the Internet to carry out distance teaching activities. With the penetration of the Internet into people’s lives and work, our learning and education methods are reforming and improving. Online education gradually received recognition and pursuit from people.

In the last two years, due to the pandemic, UNESCO announced on March 26, 2020, that school suspensions affected more than 1.5 billion students in 165 countries and regions. Learning through online learning platforms has become a vital way to deal with the education interruption caused by the coronavirus.

Online education has also been a hot topic in China for a long time. Various online learning sites in China, like IMOOC, Edmodo, Icourses, are relatively mature. Yet, the resources of these online learning platforms sometimes cannot meet Chinese students’ needs, and they turn to discover other excellent international platforms.

The huge online education market also means fierce competition between online education institutions. With the monopoly of several giants, online education institutions find it hard to reduce customer acquisition costs. There is no gap between the top online education platforms in advertising efforts and strategy, reputation, prices, teachers, course content, services, etc. At the same time, users prefer to consume education products by the recommendation of friends, followed by active searches and online advertising.

Below, we present you with several possible ways for reducing the customer acquisition cost and a list of the top 8 popular online learning platforms for Chinese students.

3 Ways to Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost

  1. Design Differentiated Course Content and Bonus Products
    This is especially important for small and medium online education companies. Despite the homogeneity of the course content, those leading companies in the industry are far stronger than small and medium-sized ones in terms of traffic and capital.
  2. Create a Popular Free Course
    With the soaring cost of customer acquisition, a popular free course may be a direction, especially for small and medium-sized online education companies.
    Compared with big brand education platforms, those with small or medium size lack traffic and brand endorsement/user endorsement. Perhaps their course content is valuable, but the consumer psychology of users is often “to see is to believe “.
  3. Pay More Attention to Users in Your Community
    Whether it is a large, medium-sized, or small organisation, the community is a vital link to provide value to students/users. A high-quality community can often cultivate high-trust and high-stick student users and KOL users; they are important word-of-mouth users in hot-selling and regular-priced courses and online activities.

Therefore, services such as daily interaction, listening of concerns, and timely answers to questions of community users will only become increasingly important. Small and medium-sized online education companies should pay attention to this because they have insufficient money to advertise, and referrals (word-of-mouth communication) are vital to acquire customers.


edX is a large-scale open online learning platform co-founded by MIT and Harvard University in 2012. To date, there have been 110+ million enrollments of courses on edX. edX provides free university education online classes, and it runs as a non-profit organisation. edX offers more than 3,000 online courses and 300 educational programs, with their top partners of a total of 160 educational institutions and companies such as Harvard University and Berkeley University. Learning on this platform is free, but certification requires a fee.


What Makes edX Unique?

edX has four projects that make it unique compared to other online learning platforms.


The MicroMaster program is a series of master-level courses offered by world-renowned universities. If you pass all the courses and the final exam within the specified time, you can get the corresponding MicroMaster certification.

The design of the MicroMaster ‘s course is highly related to the needs of the workplace and recognised by many large companies, such as Wal-Mart, IBM, General Electric, Adobe, and so on. From a more practical point of view, you can get the dream school certification (such as MIT, University of Michigan, Columbia University) at home. These certificates can help you build an impressive resume. Another point is that you can get credits in the MicroMaster program. For example, you may get 9 credits for a program, and the master’s degree of this major requires a total of 33 credits, so you only need to take another 27 credits to get a master’s degree.

The length and price of each MicroMaster ‘s program vary. For example, Design Thinking has 5 courses in total. The course lasts 8 weeks and requires 8-12 hours of effort per week. The price of this item is $1345.5.

We believe that the MicroMaster program is suitable for people who want to continue their studies, but time conditions do not allow it. Besides, those who want to make career transformation may consider this way of learning as a steppingstone.

Professional Certificate Program

The Professional Certificate Program is a career-specific course project designed by business leaders and top universities in cooperation (course tutors include corporate managers and university professors). The courses of this project are more practical. Similarly, after finishing the course, students will get the certification from the course provider, which many large companies recognise (after all, many companies have participated in the design of this course).

The course time of this program is generally shorter than that of the micro master program, and the price is lower. Take “The Science of Happiness at Work” as an example. The whole project is 3 classes, 4 weeks in length, and 1-2 hours per week. The price of this course is $537.3.

XSeries Program

edX’s interpretation of this project is to provide a deeper understanding of exciting and in-demand fields.

As far as we know, this series of courses is a boutique professional course that is different from the free public courses. Currently, there are not many courses in this project, many of which are difficult to understand, such as Microsoft Sharepoint, MathTrackX, Astrophysics.

The course length and price of this program are slightly lower than the professional certification program. You can see it in the picture below:

High School Student Course

There is a module course on edX specially preparing for AP and CLEP exams (AP is a pre-university course in the United States, CLEP is a credit test in the United States). Most courses are free, including physics, chemistry, geography, philosophy, critical thinking, etc.


Udemy is an open online education website. “Udemy” is a combination of “you” and “academy”. Unlike other online learning platforms, Udemy not only opens a variety of courses but also opens teaching opportunities. In other words, if you want, you can also become a teacher. Users can learn any course on the platform at any time, or they can create their own courses to introduce their expertise and knowledge to the world. The course fee depends on the teacher, usually ranging from US$20 to US$100.

In addition to providing a web version, Udemy also has iOS and Android versions of the App, allowing users to learn at their own pace, regardless of time, place, and equipment.

What are the Main Advantages of Udemy?

1. Changes in course pricing strategy

Before, the price of courses on Udemy was 199 US dollars at every turn. Starting from 2017, most courses only cost 9.99 US dollars or 10.99 US dollars.

2. The widest range of courses

Udemy has the most comprehensive courses in the industry, covering finance, Python, lifestyle, entrepreneurship, painting, general technology, and more.

The webpage of Udemy
The webpage of Udemy

3. Emphasise practical experience

The lecturers on Udemy are practitioners from all walks of life, not university professors. Whether this is an advantage depends on you. For many people in the workplace, the goal is to master theoretical knowledge and acquire skills and competitiveness.

4. Open course evaluation system

5. Sufficient course preview

6. Courses keep updating

7. Communicate with teachers online whenever you encounter problems

8. 30-day refund policy

This is one of the reasons why many people regard it as the best online education platform. You can have 30 days of free study time if you do not download any course, and you can still apply for a refund on the 30th day.


Coursera is one of the largest online learning sites in the world. It was founded in 2012 by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, professors of computer science at Stanford University in the United States.

Coursera’s first batch of cooperative universities includes Stanford University, University of Michigan, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and other famous American universities. The number of these universities currently exceeds 200.

According to Coursera, it is a global online learning platform that offers anyone, anywhere, access to online courses and degrees from leading universities and companies.

Introduction to Coursera
Introduction to Coursera

What Makes Coursera Different?

Coursera is different from other online platforms (such as Udacity, Udemy, edX, etc.) in that it has in-depth cooperation with higher education institutions around the world, providing several excellent courses in popular fields such as computer science, data science, information technology, mathematics, language learning, arts and humanities, and business.

The courses under the computer science and data science section cover everything from programming languages, algorithm design, web development, mobile development, front-end design to cloud computing, big data, machine learning, deep learning, and blockchain. Professors from top universities in the world record these courses and provide supporting tests and assignments. After completing the courses, students can get a certificate.

Coursera also cooperates with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), University of Michigan (UMich), Arizona State University (ASU), and other prestigious schools to provide online master’s degrees, so many people believe Coursera is the best online university-level education platform.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organisation founded by Bangladeshi American Salman Khan, and its mission is to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

This online learning site now has math, science, computing, history, art history, economics courses, and more, including K-14 and test preparation (SAT, Praxis, LSAT) content. They focus on skill mastery to help learners establish strong foundations.

Khan Academy
Khan Academy

What is the Charm of Khan Academy?

In an article in a fortune magazine, Bill Gates also called Khan “my favourite teacher.” You may wonder what makes Khan Academy stand out among so many online learning platforms.
(1)  Short video
The duration of each video is within 18 minutes. Studies have shown that the time for students to concentrate is about 10-18 minutes to achieve the highest learning efficiency to understand and care for people’s abilities and needs.
(2)  Easy to understand, by analogy, fun
The biggest feature of Khan in the video is to draw inferences from one another. Repeatedly, from all angles, to explain the knowledge thoroughly, by taking examples in life, drawing, metaphor, and so on.

Why Khan Academy works
Why Khan Academy works

(3) No pass until a perfect score
Khan thinks science knowledge is complementary to each other. Only by laying a good foundation can we learn more. Thus, students must master the knowledge they learned thoroughly before starting something new. There are ten questions for each knowledge point, and when you answer all the questions correctly, the next level is unlocked, which is like a game and brings students a sense of achievement.


MasterClass was founded in 2015. It is not so much an online education website; it is better to regard it as a paid variety show platform or Netflix where you learn knowledge with an excellent user experience.


Features of Courses on MasterClass

They divide the courses on MasterClass into three categories, academic and commercial, artistic creation (performance, music, writing, photography, etc.), sports health, and home. The average class is about 10 minutes.

Academic and Commercial

Useful for reference, but not professional. Most of them are lessons that can be read all at once. For individuals with no business background and an ordinary education level, do not expect MC to find you any related jobs after learning. If necessary, you can go to online learning platforms like Udemy/Coursera/EdX to learn.

Artistic Creation

The quality of courses in this category varies, but they generally help to improve art appreciation and understanding of art creators and creation itself.

This is the largest class of courses in MC. There are many courses. Similarly, this type, of course, is instructive, but it will not urge you to practice. Business and academic classes do not even have practical guidance. If you do not take the initiative to practice after you start these courses, MasterClass cannot make you a real writer, actor, singer, or director.

Sports, Health, Home

Although it is impossible to learn the content taught in these courses after reading them, each lesson can give you some small inspirations. After reading it, you will feel that you love life a little bit more.


TED (referring to the abbreviation of Technology, Entertainment, Design in English) is a private non-profit organisation in the United States known for its TED Conference. The slogan of this conference is “ideas worth spreading”. TED was born in 1984, and its initiator is Richard Saul Wurman.

TED Talk
TED Talk

Every March, the TED conference convenes many outstanding figures in science, design, literature, music, and other fields in North America to share their thoughts and explorations about technology, society, and people.

If you want to improve your English-speaking skills or want to know the latest views of the world’s top people, then look at the video on TED.


Udacity is the earliest MOOC platform. Compared to Coursera and edX, it is obviously different in that almost all its courses are related to technology. But because of this, its number of courses is the smallest among these three online learning platforms。


The courses on Udacity pay great attention to practicality and real-time interaction. For example, every 10 minutes, it will ask you a question or let you write a piece of code. In the course, many teachers use American humour, dialogues, interviews, etc., to make it not boring and friendlier to students with zero foundation.


Codecademy is a free online interactive programming learning website. It does not provide traditional programming teaching videos, nor does it have any “teacher” to teach. Instead, it disassembles the complex courses into simple sections and guides users by various prompts to learn.

After a knowledge point, there are corresponding practical exercises. CodeCademy has a complete set of algorithms to detect whether the answers you submitted are correct and prompt you to make changes until you qualify.

Codecademy wants to create a world where anyone can build something meaningful with technology, and everyone has the learning tools, resources, and opportunities to do so.


Online education is a powerful supplement to traditional education. After years of development, it has become a mature and huge industry. Those listed above are all excellent online learning platforms and manage to attract Chinese students. If you want to find out more about your platform getting into the Chinese Market, book a consultation here:

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