4 Online Learning Alternatives To Coursera

Learning has been a key theme for me the past few months. I wanted to spend my sabbatical productively so I set some goals to improve as a marketer (main reason why I took my Hubspot and YouTube courses). Thankfully, there are many online training courses out there.

With the rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), lifelong learning is much more accessible. Coursera usually comes to mind and it’s a great site, but they didn’t have many Marketing-related courses that I was interested in. So I started looking around.

Learning Has Never Been Easier

I discovered a number of websites with free Marketing courses. These sites may require payment for accreditation though. Some courses are affiliated with local universities and even industry partners so you’re actually learning from legit lecturers and trainers.

Topics range from programming to economics to business and many more. You want to learn about coding? Pick up creative writing for the web? Understand what Game Theory is about? Figure out Ableton Live? Learning has never been so easy. The only limitations are how much time and attention can you spare.

What I like is that you can study at your own pace. However, some courses need to be completed within a stipulated time otherwise you have to re-take the entire program. It’s annoying, but it’s a good idea. You don’t stretch the learning period too long and it forces you to make time to study.

Below are 4 online learning sites that I’ve tried which I would recommend for Marketing or Business-related courses. I’d like to reiterate that it’s not that I dislike Coursera, it’s just that they didn’t have Marketing courses I was keen on. Thus these alternatives. Leave a comment or drop me a message if you want to recommend any other websites.


Open2Study_CertOpen2Study offers both free courses and accredited courses (for business certificates, diplomas and bachelor degrees) through Open Universities Australia. For each free course, they will also upsell you accredited courses to try.

One of the courses I took with Open2Study was a free Online Advertising course. It covered the evolution of the industry and a bit about display, search, social and digital campaign planning. Understandably, it wasn’t very detailed but if you’re new to digital, perhaps it’s an okay introduction.

It was a bit too basic for me though. I scored 90% overall without really trying too hard. After each lesson, there’s a short quiz (to check if you paid attention) and an assignment at the end of each module. Successful participants get a certificate of completion.

They have forums to connect with other students and discuss the subject you’re taking. Participation isn’t mandatory but you earn badges for being part of the community.

Google Analytics Academy

Google Mobile App AnalyticsDid you know that Google provides a lot of learning resources? Their Google Analytics Academy is great for anyone in digital marketing whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced practitioner.

It’s essentially a hub that trains you in the fundamentals of digital analytics. For any modern marketer, I’m sure you can appreciate that skill. I tried a few of their courses – Digital Analytics Fundamentals, Google Analytics Platform Principles and Mobile App Analytics Fundamentals. Certification is only available during a limited window of opportunity.

I found the video lessons to be informative. For the most part, I didn’t have a problem following the lessons although for the GA course, it would be useful if you have an account so you can try it out as you go along. It does get too technical to understand without the proper context.

The courses are self-study with assessments at the end of each Unit. If I remember correctly, you need to hit a minimum score to complete the course. Google provides additional learning support through Hangouts where the trainers answer common queries from students. If you need more help, you can join the rest of the learning community on Google+ (obviously).


Alison - Dip_EBusinessWhat’s interesting about ALISON is that they offer free online learning in the form of short courses as well as longer Diploma courses. I signed up for a Diploma in E-Business which was published by Google. Other publishers providing lessons on ALISON include MIT Media Lab, Stanford, British Council and University of Western Sydney among a long list.

The entire syllabus was basically how to use Google and its products to market your online business. You learn about Webmaster to Adwords, Google Analytics, Adsense and conversions. Some of those modules I have learnt before in separate Google self-study learnings, but overall I think it’s worth signing up if you’re looking for a crash course on different Google products. Everything’s aggregated for you very conveniently.

I graduated from the course after completing their assessments and scoring over 80%. Unlike the other sites I’ve highlighted, the only way to get the actual cert (or even a digital version) is to pay. You can order the parchment or a framed parchment and they’ll deliver it to your home. I didn’t bother since this wasn’t going to be a recognised diploma. Still, the course itself was useful enough.

General Assembly

General Assembly_Mobile AppGeneral Assembly focuses on technology, business and design courses. Main subjects include digital marketing, web development, mobile development, UX design and coding. Their key offerings are full-time and part-time classes (conducted in Hong Kong) but you can still sign up for online tutorials and an online Web Design circuit.

I am currently going through their online tutorials on mobile app marketing. Though I am yet to complete the vids (it’s not a course per se), I see a lot of relevance for modern marketers in the sectors they cover. It offers a lot of potential learning especially if you’re interested in this intersection of design, tech and marketing.

You need to sign up for their Front Row membership to access their videos – both on-demand and live streams. It’s just like creating a YouTube playlist – just select the topics you want to watch and you can delete them or add more to the queue. If you’re in Hong Kong, maybe you should sign up for their classes or workshops.