Over 50 million learners worldwide are making use of popular online platforms like Coursera, Udacity, edX, and others – which are considered to be the best online course platforms – to train in varied subjects from arts to photography and science to business. Any person who has taken a course from a top university on the Coursera platform is sure to appreciate the high quality and excellent flexibility of this style of learning. In our in-depth Coursera review, we will do a deep dive and discuss the Coursera learning platform in depth and speak about the various aspects of the platform, its features, pricing and pros and cons.
So, what is Coursera? This is one of the most renowned online educational platforms that offer MOOCs (massive open online courses) on various subjects and topics. Coursera offers courses on any topic practically, be it related to humanities and arts, data science, information technology, computer science, language learning and business among many others.
This is an excellent learning platform for people who cannot take up regular classes in brick-and-mortar classrooms because of varied reasons. Coursera offers a high level of flexibility that allows you to juggle your lifestyle, job, etc. because it does not have a fixed schedule to learn. Coursera’s courses can be accessed anytime or anywhere on your laptop, tablet or smartphone by making use of the platform’s mobile apps.
Another key reason why people do not opt to attend classes is due to the cost factor. All the courses on Coursera are free unless you require a certificate of course completion. And, even if you want a certificate, these Coursera courses will not cost a bomb. The platform also offers a forum that gives you an opportunity to participate and interact with your fellow learners and peers across the globe and share your ideas, making this very helpful in putting to practice what you have learned in your projects.
Coursera was started by the Stanford professors of Computer Science, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in 2012 with the objective of sharing their knowledge and skills with people across the world. The professors put up their courses online, which was free for anyone to take. Since then, the Coursera platform has grown to a huge online resource, where anyone from anywhere in the world can learn and get credentials from some of the world’s topmost universities and other education providers.
Coursera does not create its own coursework. It works very closely with top universities, educational institutions, government agencies, etc. to facilitate online courses that have been expertly crafted.
Today, Coursera has partnered with over 150 universities from over 29 countries. Its top partners include universities such as Stanford, Duke, Princeton, Yale, Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Peen, HEC Paris and many more. Coursera also has partnerships with tech conglomerates such as IBM, Google, PwC, MongoDB, etc. involving industry experts in the designing of relevant course material for the platform.
Coursera offers over 2,700 courses, more than 250 specializations and more than 4 accredited degree programs via more than 2,000 classes to over 35 million learners across the globe. The Coursera courses are generally free to take; however, if you want access to their graded assignments and also get a certificate after you complete the course, then you will need to pay a fee, which is definitely worth the money. Many courses are part of the Coursera Specializations that are essentially a series of courses which are related and sometimes, they involve a capstone project that must be done at the end of the Specialization.
The offerings from Coursera are aimed at both individuals and organizations who are looking for programs to train their teams. Coursera offers courses in languages including English, Spanish, French, Russian, Turkish, Chinese, traditional Chinese and Portuguese, enabling people from all over the world to access the high-quality Coursera courses without facing any language barriers.
Just like many small- and medium-sized colleges, a wide variety and range of subjects are covered by the Coursera curriculum and you can check out the entire catalog of Coursera’s courses here.
Coursera’s free courses consist of video lectures and assignments; however, these free courses do not offer college credit. You need to pay a fee to get a certificate of completion signed by the particular college. This certificate can be shared with potential employers and for other purposes and so, it is recommended that you opt for a paid course. You can also find several courses which are completely free on the platform, which also has graded assignments.
Typically, the Coursera classes run from 4 to 6 weeks and include many hours of video lessons every week, reading materials, quizzes, graded assignments and there is also a community that allows you to participate in peer-to-peer interactions with other learners. Some courses end with a final exam or you may have to complete a Capstone project.
You can opt to enroll into a Coursera Specialization if you want to excel in a specific skill or a topic. The platform offers over 250 Specializations such as business foundation, MySQL, advanced machine learning, graphic design, data structure and algorithms, etc.
A Specialization from Coursera is essentially a micro-credential which combines many different courses, typically 4-5 courses in a single group.
Some Specializations require you to complete a capstone project as part of the final course, which is usually assessed by your fellow students. Some short specializations include around 3 courses and can take up to 4 to 6 months to be completed, while some specializations can have as many as 10 courses and can take even up to 1 year to complete.
If you need a certificate of completion of the specialization, then you must pay for all the courses which are included within the particular specialization. While you have the option of taking each of the courses separately, you cannot jump right into the Capstone projects without finishing all the courses in the Specialization.
All the data, information, case studies and lectures for the Specialization is provided by industry partners who Coursera works with. Some of the industry partners also work with Coursera and help to develop the course material and also offer rewards to the students who deliver an exceptional project.
The Coursera Specializations are available on a subscription basis and cost between $30 and $79 per month. You can avail of a free trial of 7 days, after which you will be billed. If you want to continue with the Specialization, then you can pay and complete the course, for which you will receive a certificate. Or, you have the option of canceling your Coursera subscription within the free trial period of 7 days.
With Coursera, you have an excellent opportunity of pursuing a degree program from some of the top universities in the world such as University of London, Imperial College, London, HEC Paris, Arizona State University, University of Michigan, Penn, Macquarie University and Penn without having to relocate to a new city or quitting your current job. Coursera offers high-credential and affordable university degrees by partnering with some of the top universities in the world.
Coursera offers degree programs in the following areas:
- Computer Science and Engineering: Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, Bachelor of Computer Science, Master of Computer Science, Master of Computer and Information Technology
- Business: MBA, iMBA (Master of Business Administration), iMSA (Master of Science in Accountancy), MSc. in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Global MBA
- Public Health: Master of Public Health, Global Master of Public Health
- Data Science: Master of Computer Science in Data Science, Master of Applied Data Science, Master in Computer Science, MSc in Machine Learning
Coursera’s degree programs usually take around 1 to 3 years to complete and at the end of the program, you’ll earn an accredited Master’s degree that is just like a regular degree from the university. And, the cost of an online degree from Coursera costs around $15,000 to $25,000.
Getting Started with Coursera
- To get started with Coursera, you need to get sign up on Coursera.org and you can start browsing all the courses available on the platform.
- Once you choose a course that you like, you will get a popup asking you to get enrolled for a free 7-day trial.
- Or, you will see options to either make a one-time payment to get the course and a certificate (after completing it) or to audit the course.
- Many courses also have the option of “Full Course, No Certificate” and for these types of courses, you will receive access to the entire course content and assignments, without the course completion certificate, free of cost.
- All Coursera courses have a start date and an end date and these courses are synchronous, meaning they are available only during that particular period. Asynchronous courses are those that can be taken anytime by the students.
- If you want more details about a specific course, you can click on the title of the course. The course page offers details of the course, syllabus, FAQs, creators of the course and instructors, pricing, reviews and ratings and the commencement and end date.
- If you like any course, you can simply click on the “Sign Up” button or “Enroll” button to take the course.
Highly Interactive Learning
All the courses on Coursera depend heavily on reinforcing learning by doing. For instance, the video lessons interrupt the students several times to ask questions about what they have learned until that point while doing the course. Students receive immediate feedback on their assignments and the lessons are designed in a highly interactive way and keep the students attentive, engaged and motivated.
The Coursera website is extremely easy to use and it has a highly intuitive and user-friendly interface, which makes it very easy to navigate through the Coursera website, even if you are a first-time user. The students’ essays and quizzes are graded promptly and they also receive timely feedback from the professors, which is quite significant because the enrollment fees for each course is quite high.
The best part is that you can take Coursera courses anytime and anywhere. The courses on the educational platform can be accessed via your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet via the Coursera mobile app.
A Coursera course typically includes the following components:
- An introduction along with the syllabus and a basic outline of the topics that the course will cover.
- A set of 3 to 6 video lectures or lessons of around 20 to 30 minutes each that introduce the concepts and basic issues. The learners are encouraged to discuss any problems that they may be having in the forum.
- An assignment or quiz that you need to submit, which reinforces the topic introduced in the video lectures. Some of the courses allow discussions in the forum about the topics, while other courses do not.
- The assignment grade is given in the following week and there is a new set of lessons which are released and the above process is repeated all over again.
- At the end of the course, which is usually after a period of 8 to 10 weeks, students have to write a final exam. The exam is flexible and you can take it in a certain number of days. The exam counts towards your final grade along with the quizzes, assignments, problem sets and tests.
Coursera Pros and Cons
- The courses are backed by accredited universities.
- The courses are taught by university professors and industry experts.
- You can take the courses free of cost and pay only if you require a certificate.
- Coursera’s courses can be accessed via their official website or through the mobile app.
- You can enroll in the self-paced/on-demand classes or the timed classes that have a duration of between 4 to 12 weeks.
- Specializations and verified certificates offer proof of participation and can be shared through LinkedIn.
- The video lectures are interactive.
- New courses are added to the platform on a regular basis.
- Most of the courses available on the platform are for beginners.
- The courses are available in limited languages.
- The assessments are inadequate, especially for humanities courses.
Final Thoughts on Coursera
In conclusion, Coursera has more than 2,700 courses designed and delivered by expert professors and industry experts from some of the world’s top-notch universities and organizations and it is the place to go to if you want the biggest and most heterogeneous catalog for online learning. It is among the few online platforms that offer courses, specializations and degree programs for academic purposes, as well as professional development.
Moreover, the courses are affordable, have reasonable durations and the courses provide the flexibility of self-paced learning without compromising your job, lifestyle and schedule. Overall, Coursera makes learning easy, accessible and fun to students worldwide and after reading our Coursera review, you’re sure to agree!