Since the turn of the century online learning has exploded. An industry that was essentially non-existent 30 years ago is now worth tens of billions of pounds, with hundreds of millions of eager learners worldwide queuing up for classes on a plethora of online learning platforms. One popular platform for e-learning is skool.com.
Read on to find out what’s great and not-so-great about skool.com and to learn about 7 popular alternatives to skool.com you should consider.
Who is behind skool.com?
Sam Ovens (founder of skool.com and consulting.com) had a simple goal with skool.com: to create a platform that would allow those with something to teach to set up their own classes, and those in search of educational opportunities to sign up and join as many different classes as they like.
What is skool.com?
Essentially skool.com is an educational marketplace and one-stop-shop for both educators, learners and communities. The variety of communities available is impressive and covers everything from auto mechanics to international relations, art and more. Skool gives anyone the ability to join and create private learning communities.
Joining skool.com is free for students. However, each teacher or community owner sets their own pricing schedule for their classes, so learning itself is not free. Likewise, prospective educators will need to pay a monthly fee to present classes on the platform. Miss a payment and your classes are taken down.
What does skool.com do well?
There is no doubt that having so many different educational opportunities available in a single location makes it easy for those who want to learn. There’s no need to jump from website to website and conduct endless searches for the kind of classes that interest you. Chances are you’ll find it on skool.com. And that’s great. But the platform is not without its downsides.
Where does skool.com fall short?
Some will find skool.com to be a good launching pad for their teaching career or a great place to find the courses they want to take. However, when you compare it to some other online community building options the cracks begin to appear in the skool.com facade.
For instance, skool.com will not host your videos. This by itself will take many people by surprise, and rightfully so. Coaches in particular often depend on video to buttress their lessons, making videos an integral part of online learning. But apparently, skool.com didn’t get the memo explaining that.
In addition, if you want to upload PDFs for your students you’re out of luck. No native PDF hosting on skool. Also, skool offers no option for creating an email marketing campaign. You’ll need to find another way to do that. And, there is no checkout page if you want to sell ancillary content to augment your online earnings.
7 alternatives to skool.com
Now that you have a better idea of what skool.com is about let’s look at 7 alternatives.
If you are intent on creating a vibrant, responsive online learning community with nearly unlimited growth potential that is able to offer your students an array of leading-edge tools to optimise their learning experience, Disciple is the way to go.
The Disciple Media community app is not just a decent alternative to Skool but a superior option that should be first on your list when considering learning platforms. Disciple is feature-rich, offers rock-solid security, provides a variety of ways to communicate with community members, offers robust content moderation and even allows you to live stream classes to as many or as few people as you see fit. Whether your learning community consists of 100 or 100,000 the Disciple community app has your back.
Disciples offers live chat, messaging, threaded comments, video hosting, in-app purchases, push notifications, membership segmentation and a host of ways to earn money online you simply won’t find at skool.com.
- Livestream classes
- Easy to create a mobile student portal
- Direct messaging, push notifications, polls and more
- Centralized control
- Whitelabel web, iOS and Android app – this sets Disciple apart from all other options on this list
- A host of monetization options, including tiered subscriptions
- Costs more than some other skool.com alternatives
Average review score: 9.5
Of all the alternatives to skool.com that we’re highlighting here Teachable is the only one specifically designed for building online learning courses. What it does it does very well, but it’s not without its drawbacks as we will see in a few moments.
Teachable is designed to handle the hard work of building and maintaining an online learning course That means it does a bang-up job enabling you to distribute materials, manage customers and track everyone’s training history no matter where they might be or what platform they are using to access your courses.
Setting up your Teachable courses is typically a straightforward proposition that involves very little muss and fuss and does not require the user to be particularly tech-savvy. All that said there are a few notable downsides that take some of the bloom off this particular rose.
First of all, there is a real lack of customer support available. Second, setup tends to be quick and easy because there are very few customization options. So your online course is going to look like a lot of other online courses. Third, and perhaps most importantly, while Teachable is great for hosting courses, it is not designed for building a community of learners. So if that is a priority for you, you’ll need to explore third party integrations which can make Teachable a significantly more expensive option.
- Built-in email marketing
- Integrated payment processing
- Programme generates course completion certificates
- A variety of payment options
- Not designed for community building
- No free plan available
- Limited customization options
- Limited customer support options
- 5% fee on the Basic Plan
Average review score: 9.3
Bettermode (formerly Tribe)
Bettermode (formerly known as Tribe) built its reputation on being an easy way to create a brand community. Fortunately for creators with something to share it also happens to be a pretty easy way to build a learning community. Among the positive features of this community platform are multi-language support, robust moderation tools and integrated gamification.
In addition, Bettermode makes it relatively easy to share content among users, to generate polls in order to obtain community feedback and to ask questions. In essence, this widget-based platform with its automated workflow provides a multitude of features anyone interested in imparting knowledge wants to see.
However, just as with everything else in life, Bettermode is not without its downside. For starters, the interface, particularly the mobile interface, seems unnecessarily cluttered. In addition, customization options are frustratingly limited as you are forced to accept the old default Tribe layout. And third, the cluttered UI can make finding the information you’re after a bit of a chore. Finally, for some reason only the people at Bettermode understand, they do not offer a mobile app.
- Automated workflow
- Modular app integration
- Plugable widgets
- Bug-free operation
- Cluttered interface
- Default layout only
- No mobile app
- User experience can be confusing
Average review score: 8.9
Kajabi has a lot going for it and has amassed an impressive user base over the past few years. It’s easy to see why so many have decided to hitch their wagon to this particular star given its dependability, relative ease of use and the straightforward way it facilitates the process of designing and delivering course content.
The downside is that your customization options are far more limited than they are with, say, Disciple. As a result, your Kajabi learning community is likely going to look a lot like other people’s Kajabi community. In addition, it’s apparent that the platform was not originally intended as a vehicle for selling ancillary products (books, t-shirts etc) because there is no way to add shipping costs to such products.
- The all-in-one nature of the platform facilitates course management
- It’s easy to create professional-looking pages
- The course builder is easy to use and effective
- There is no way to test changes before enacting them
- No central media library
- No way to easily export content
Average review score: 8.6
A lot of people look at Slack and wonder what all the fuss is about. That’s because on the surface it seems like just another messaging app that lets you share files. But behind that humble exterior lies the heart of, well, not a champion, but of something more than a glorified messaging app.
The Slack interface is actually slick and sleek with good security and intuitive navigation. And if you look closely you’ll discover a variety of add-ons that will enable you to extend usability and turn this messaging app into an option for hosting an e-learning community. Add a free option and you begin to understand why many cash-strapped instructors have taken to Slack.
But while Slack has a lot going for it, it’s far from ideal for those wanting to set up a learning community. First off, if you’re drawn to Slack because it’s free you’re going to run into problems due to storage and message limits. Also, the default configuration can be more than a little overwhelming, meaning you’ll need to spend significant time tweaking the settings to make it a more agreeable learning environment.
Finally, once your community reaches a certain size you’ll have little choice but to opt for paid plan, and neither one is particularly affordable. That leaves some people in a tough spot.
- Free trial period
- Easy to conduct internal polls
- Public, private and shared channels available
- Real-time sharing with others is easy
- Conversations are automatically deleted after 14 days
- Limited storage space
- Plethora of ongoing discussions can be distracting
Not designed as an e-learning platform, and so lacks course functionality
Lacks community building features
Average review score: 9.0
Discord was never intended to be in direct competition with Skool. Instead, it was designed for and used primarily by gamers for most of its existence, until recently. In the past few years, the people behind Discord began to expand its functionality and market it to anyone and everyone, including teachers.
The fact that it’s free has certainly gotten a lot of people’s attention. And we would be hard-pressed to find fault with that feature. But, in all honesty, those hoping to use it to create an online learning community will find it adapts to the purpose somewhat awkwardly: like a passenger car being used to make package deliveries. Sure, it can do it. But just as surely, there are better ways.
Nonetheless, those working with limited budgets will find it hard to resist this free social app. How well they succeed will depend on their imagination and level of persistence.
- Compatible with a variety of platforms
- Video, audio and text chat
- Easy access to public servers
- Simple live screen sharing
- Basic plan is quite affordable
- Basic plan is very basic
- Higher cost for high-quality audio and video
- Originally intended and designed for gamers
Average review score: 8.3
You would have to go pretty deep into the Siberian steppe or the Amazon rainforest to find people who haven’t heard of Facebook. That alone makes this platform an automatic contender for those looking to create a community around their online classes.
Take that global name recognition and combine it with the fact that almost all mobile devices come with the FB app pre-installed AND the fact that a Facebook Group can be set up for free and you begin to understand the powerful lure of the world’s best-known social media platform.
For a lot of people, however, Facebook Groups are a mixed blessing. Because, while it’s familiar and easy to use, the community founder has precious little control over the community they create. And many people are well aware that Mark Zuckerberg’s pride and joy has a habit of allowing hackers to make off with users’ personal data without putting up much of a fight.
Facebook Groups Pros
- It’s free
- There are somewhere between 1 and 2 billion Facebook users
- Everybody already has it on their smartphone
Facebook Groups Cons
- No control over monetization
- Facebook can ban one of your members without asking you
- As a social media platform, Facebook isn’t set up for automating or delivering course content
- Facebook is prone to massive data leaks
Average review score: 8.2
How to make your decision
In this case, deciding on the best skool.com alternative is a pretty simple exercise. The Disciple Media community app provides everything you need to present your information to learners in the most efficient and effective fashion, along with monetization options you just won’t find at skool.com.