Pluralsight and Udemy are among the most popular e-learning platforms for programmers. Both platforms offer thousands of tech-focused courses that teach some of the most in-demand programming skills.
Although both platforms share a lot of similarities, there are a few features that give either platform an edge over the other.
So, if you’re planning to kick-start a career in programming or simply need to improve your skills, which of these platforms is best for you? Here’s a side-by-side comparison to help you make a decision.
Udemy is one of the largest e-learning platforms on the internet. A search for “programming” or “coding” on Udemy turns up 10,000 results covering a wide range of programming topics, taught in dozens of languages.
In comparison, Pluralsight is a relatively smaller player. Although the company existed long before Udemy, it gained massive traction at a much slower rate. A search for “programming courses” on Pluralsight turns up around 2,000 results. This is significantly smaller than Udemy’s offer.
However, it’s important to note that Pluralsight is heavily tech-focused. This means quite a number of the courses that aren’t explicitly labeled as programming courses are still very relevant, if not necessary, for learning programming.
Winner: In terms of the sheer number of courses and topics covered, Udemy wins.
Quality of Courses and Instructors
After randomly sampling courses from both e-learning platforms, it’s evident that content creators on both platforms put a lot of work into their content.
What Pluralsight lacks in quantity, it makes up for it in quality. Although you won’t easily run into poor courses on Udemy, there are quite a handful of them. The scale heavily favors Pluralsight in a quality comparison.
Udemy simplifies the path to becoming a course creator on their platform. While this creates room for diversity and improvement in sheer numbers, it also leaves gaps for a lot of average course creators, and by extension, low-quality courses, to slip through.
You might not notice the quality problem immediately. Udemy reduces visibility for low-quality courses while increasing visibility for the highly-rated ones. However, this doesn’t take away the problem. There are still a lot of poor courses on offer.
Pluralsight takes a less liberal approach towards admitting instructors. The platform markets itself as the go-to destination for “expert-led” courses. To live up to its mantra, Pluralsight has a strict requirement for course creators. One of those requirements is being an expert of some sort on the topic they want to teach. There’s a dedicated team to ensure courses are of the best possible quality.
Also, while Udemy has a good vetting process for published courses, it isn’t as airtight as Pluralsight’s methods. Every Pluralsight course is published through some form of collaboration between course creators and the platform. In the system, courses are created, taught, and peer-reviewed by a community of subject-matter experts before going live. Udemy is a bit lax in that area.
Winner: In terms of quality of courses and instructors, Pluralsight wins.
If you are planning to build a career in programming, then how the learning process is structured is very important.
For instance, an MBA course will need some relevant foundational and compatible courses to be completed. Udemy probably has those foundational courses scattered around the platform. However, there’s little effort to lay them in a logical order for learners. Pluralsight excels at this—at least in the programming niche.
With Pluralsight’s “Learning Paths” feature, learners have a clear path to achieve their learning goals. They have a clear idea of which courses they need to learn and in what order.
Pluralsight provides learners with:
- Skill assessments to gauge their knowledge level.
- A curated list of interdependent courses that align with their knowledge level.
- Holistic guidance towards putting the acquired skills into real-world problems.
The platform doesn’t just offer a bunch of isolated courses—it’s the whole package.
Winner: in terms of course structure, it’s nearly a flawless victory for Pluralsight.
Growing your programming skills hinges a lot on practice. Practicing as you learn can significantly improve your skill retention rate. Not even the best programming videos can replace the effectiveness of getting hands-on.
This is why programming courses are designed to be hands-on. The method by which the practical components of a programming course are delivered is what makes it a hit or a miss.
Part of Pluralsight’s appeal is its extensive use of labs and sandboxes, which are essentially interactive coding playgrounds for learners. For instance, if you’re learning about Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure, Pluralsight provides you with a sophisticated virtual environment to practice every new skill you pick up as you learn.
This eliminates the need to install software on your local machine or pay to try out some services. There are also coding playgrounds for dozens of programming languages available on the platform. This introduces an aura of consistency and makes the whole learning process so much easier.
Similarly, a select number of Udemy courses come with practical exercises you can complete using Udemy’s interactive coding playground. Although Udemy’s interactive coding environment could use a few upgrades, it still packs a lot of power.
Learning programming requires a lot of attention to detail. Even the slightest of deviations could blow you miles off course. This is why it’s important to have a direct communication channel with your instructors.
Udemy courses feature a Question and Answer (Q&A) page as well as a direct messaging feature. On the Q&A page, learners can ask their instructors questions regarding challenges they encounter during learning.
Learners can also send course creators a direct message if they have an urgent problem that’s too specific to ask on the Q&A page. This breaches the communication gap between instructors and learners, a recurrent problem on some popular e-learning platforms for learning programming.
On the Pluralsight platform, learners get access to a Q&A page and a discussion forum. However, there’s some level of disconnection between instructors and learners, especially due to the absence of robust in-house messaging channels.
Winner: in terms of instructor-learner interaction, Udemy has the upper hand.
Unlike most e-learning platforms, Udemy doesn’t create its content, nor do they fix the prices for them. Instead, content and pricing of content are left to independent course creators. As a result, the prices of courses vary extensively. You’ll find courses going for as little as $20 and others that are priced as much as $200. It all depends on the course creators.
However, Udemy courses are typically heavily discounted. It’s not uncommon to find a $180 course going for as low as $15. Of course, Udemy also features a lot of top-notch but free programming courses.
On the other hand, Pluralsight runs a subscription model. Instead of paying for individual courses, learners can pay a monthly access fee of $19 for access to around 2,000+ courses or $29 for access to 7,000+ courses. The platform also offers a team plan that’s priced between $399 to $799 per user per year, depending on the features included in the deal.
Winner: in terms of pricing, Udemy seems less pricey at first glance. However, from a holistic point of view, Pluralsight is the cost-effective option, especially if you want to take more than one course.
Pluralsight vs. Udemy: Where Should You Learn Programming?
Out of the six metrics considered, Pluralsight comes top in 4 while Udemy wins in 2.
However, Pluralsight seems to be purpose-built for learning technology skills. It might not have the popularity and sheer numbers that Udemy pulls, but it has the right features to be the smarter option.
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