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Short History of Online Course Platforms

The digital age has transformed the way we access education and acquire new skills, offering unprecedented opportunities for instructors and coaches to share their expertise with a global audience. The history of online course platforms is a captivating tale of innovation and empowerment, enabling educators to create, teach, and make money online. In this blog, we embark on a journey through the evolution of online course platforms, witnessing the rise of digital education and the transformation of teaching as a lucrative online profession.

Distance Learning Ventures

The roots of online course platforms can be traced back to early distance learning ventures in the 1990s. As the internet became more accessible, universities and institutions started experimenting with virtual classrooms, delivering lectures and course materials over the web. These pioneers laid the foundation for the future of online education and the emergence of dedicated online course platforms.

The Emergence of Learning Management Systems (LMS)

With the increasing demand for e-learning solutions, Learning Management Systems (LMS) entered the scene. LMS platforms like Blackboard and Moodle offered educators a centralized space to organize, deliver, and assess courses online. The flexibility of LMS platforms made it easier for instructors to reach learners beyond traditional classroom settings.

The Rise of Marketplaces

In the early 2000s, online course marketplaces like Udemy, Skillshare, and Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) disrupted the traditional education landscape. These platforms provided a space for instructors to create and sell courses directly to a global audience. Aspiring instructors could now share their knowledge, skills, and expertise with learners worldwide, and earn money online based on course enrollments. This transformative shift marked the beginning of a new era in education, where barriers of geography and time were significantly reduced, empowering both educators and learners alike.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement took the world by storm in the early 2010s. Platforms like Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn collaborated with prestigious universities and institutions to offer free and open-access courses to a global audience. This democratization of education expanded access to high-quality courses, blurring geographical boundaries and making learning accessible to millions.

Niche and Specialized Platforms

As the online education landscape grew, niche and specialized platforms emerged, catering to specific industries and interests. Platforms like MasterClass and CreativeLive offered premium courses taught by industry experts, appealing to learners seeking in-depth and specialized knowledge.

Self-Hosting and WordPress Solutions

With the advent of self-hosting solutions like WordPress, independent instructors gained the freedom to build and manage their online course websites. Plugins like LearnDash, Lifter LMS and Tutor LMS allowed educators to create custom learning experiences and retain full control over their content and revenue streams.

Expanding Learning Formats

In recent years, online course platforms expanded to support various learning formats. Podcast-based courses, interactive workshops, and live webinars became popular, offering learners diverse ways to engage with course materials and instructors.


The history of online course platforms is a testament to the transformative power of digital technology in education. From early distance learning experiments to the rise of massive online marketplaces and the empowerment of self-hosting solutions, these platforms have revolutionized the teaching profession. Educators and coaches now have unprecedented opportunities to share their knowledge and expertise, reach a global audience, and earn money online. As the world continues to embrace online learning, the future of online course platforms holds exciting possibilities for even more accessible, diverse, and impactful learning experiences.

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