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An In-Depth Review of Coursera – the Good, the Bad, and Everything in Between

Platform Reviews

  • Nov. 10, 2018

You’ve probably heard about Coursera by now. After all, it is one of the biggest and most comprehensive online catalogs of higher education courses. It offers students the possibility to select between self-paced courses or timed classes. Generally, one course lasts at least one month but some of them tend to go up to twelve weeks. It is true, however, that the platform comes with certain downsides: enrollment fees, lack of proper customer support, etc. But, feel free to read more about Coursera in today’s review.

Screenshot Coursera Homepage
Screenshot - Coursera Homepage

What Is Coursera?

With the risk of repeating myself, I am positive you’ve heard about Coursera which is a well-known education platform. The company is sustained by a venture and provides a huge array of online courses. Some of them are free but most of the courses require you to cover a small fee. The platform collaborates with plenty of universities and learning institutions. The most popular Coursera courses are linked to topics like computer science, engineering, medicine, mathematics, business, digital marketing, etc. Coursera was launched in 2012 and it is currently serving over 22 million learners.

What Does This Platform Provide?

  • Coursesaround 1600 courses, to be more exact, in more than 700 topics. Still, 40% of them are discussing business, computer science, management, and data science subjects;
  • Foreign languages – Coursera provides lectures in 8 different languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, etc.;
  • Course types – the platform offers a wide specter of specializations such as technical courses, business lectures, and even biology and humanities classes;
  • Instructors – Coursera teachers are experienced professionals from all over the globe. They are either university professors or specialists who work at global organizations. There are over 4'000 instructors on Coursera.

Ratings

Coursera has received a wide range of ratings and reviews, based on the consumer satisfaction level of thousands of users. It all depends on which website you enter because on some platforms you will see a rating of 4.8 stars out of a total of 5 while on other platforms Coursera has received lower ratings and a higher number of negative reviews related to billing issues, a very expensive subscription, and other complaints.

Screenshot - Example of searching for online courses about Digital Marketing
Screenshot - Searching for online courses about Digital Marketing

What’s It Like to Enroll in a Coursera Course?

Taking a course on Coursera is easy and it can be a pleasant experience. However, to fully enjoy a course and benefit from everything it has to offer, you need to commit to its lectures and review all the materials provided on the platform. I have taken several courses on Coursera, in subjects such as Marketing, SEO, Google Analytics, and even foreign languages and I must confess that most of them were really useful.

First and foremost, you need to create an account and sign in to gain full access to all of Coursera’s courses. Still, I recommend you to avoid enrolling in multiple courses at a time because, after a while, you will feel overwhelmed and not able to complete all those topics. So, make sure not to exceed three courses at once. Another thing I like about this e-learning platform is the fact that many courses are held or created by college professors. As time progresses, you will need to take tests and quizzes which will make the course more challenging but also more rewarding. Fortunately, Coursera courses come with a complete package: video tutorials, written and downloadable materials, exercises for practice, etc.

Some courses require you to take notes and the difficulty of the final exams may vary, depending on the course’s format and how complicated the topic is. These final exams have the purpose of solidifying the information and knowledge you have gone through.

Things Contained by a Coursera Course

  • An introduction as well as a brief outline of all the topics or things the course will cover;
  • A series of lectures (on average, a course has between 3 and 6 videos and each tutorial lasts for about 20-30 minutes, but there are also exceptions). At first, students will also be encouraged to address any difficulty they encounter in the Forum section;
  • Then, there’s the quiz/exercises/assignments part that you must submit to go to the next level or chapter;
  • Some courses will even grade your progress and only after that, you will be able to receive the following lectures;
  • In the end, you must pass the Final exam. Luckily, these exams are pretty flexible (you can take them in a predetermined range of time).
Screenshot - Example of a certificate you get after completing a Coursera course
Screenshot - Example of a certificate you get after completing a Coursera course (might be charged extra)

Things to Consider Before Enrolling in a Coursera Course

  • Select the right course – pick a topic you truly enjoy;
  • Don’t rush anything – spend the time you need in learning the course’s tutorials. After all, a course requires you to pay attention, study, and concentrate;
  • Review old materials – this will help you pass the Final exam and you will also retain all the concepts a lot easier;
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – the forum is a wonderful place for people who want to clarify some concepts and discuss the lectures.

The Best Coursera Courses

How to Enroll in a Coursera Course

  • First, you must access the course’s information or home page by clicking on the title – you will find all the courses in the platform’s catalog section;
  • Then, you must click on the button that says “enroll;”
  • Finally, all that’s left to do is follow the guidelines provided and benefit from the courses’ free trials.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The courses are open to all those who want to learn something new;
  • Many courses can be taken for free while also providing high-quality content;
  • The teachers are usually well-trained professors;
  • New lectures and courses are added on a regular basis;
  • After completing a course, you will receive a certificate.

Cons

  • Too many courses are dedicated to beginners;
  • Most courses focus primarily on popularity;
  • There is a limited pool of languages to select from.

How Much Does a Coursera Course Cost?

Videos are typically free of charge on the platform. However, for most courses, users must pay a fee to enroll or to become subscribers. On the other hand, when it comes to certain courses, one must only pay to achieve the final certification or to gain access to graded assignments. Recently, Coursera has introduced a monthly fee that all users must pay. This fee ranges between $40 and $90, depending on what type of qualifications and courses you enroll in. For those people who truly want to achieve a certain certification but they cannot afford the course, Coursera offers the possibility to apply for Financial Aid.

Bottom Line

Coursera is an excellent online resource for learning, gaining new skills, etc. It provides plenty of different valuable resources like a discussion forum, a Wiki page with additional resources, and many others. Despite the fact that Coursera is not free from flaws, it is definitely one of the best academic platforms out there. One thing that differentiates Coursera from many other similar platforms is its ease of navigation. Users will find it very easy to browse among its courses, tests, reading materials, and other resources. It is definitely a leading course provider that offers valuable content. Still, it tends to publish more and more courses that require an enrollment fee.

Images source: Coursera.org

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