Coursera is a great choice if you prefer to learn new skills more academically. Coursera works in association with world-wide renowned universities to provide high-quality courses created by professional lecturers coming from those Universities, hence any doubt about the course quality should just fade away. I can assure you guys that all Coursera professors-lecturers are time tested so they know how to engage learners and how to give them the most important and valuable material about the topic.
What is Coursera – is it legit and why is it worth it
Coursera is legit. It was founded by two professors and now it has grown to teach tens of millions of users registered on the platform. Coursera is a trusted platform that gives you the most powerful thing in the world – knowledge. You may think that it's just another learning platform on the Internet, but it is a way different from the others. It's powered by the sharpest minds in the world from university lecturers to professors to the most influential companies in the world like IBM or Google.
Let me begin with the excerpt from Wikipedia:
Coursera is an American online learning platform founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller that offers massive open online courses (MOOC), specializations, and degrees. Coursera works with universities and other organizations to offer online courses, specializations, and degrees in a variety of subjects, such as engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, digital marketing, data science, and others. As of June 2018, Coursera had more than 33 million registered users and more than 2,400 courses. As of August 2019 the number of course offerings was 3,600.
It happened to me that it was the first online learning platform that I have ever used. I took the Python specialization courses because at that time I was at university and I wanted to push my knowledge ahead, compared to other fellow students. I was glad that I could complete half of the specialization before the course at the university started. So by the time it started, I had a good understanding of what I am going to learn about and how to use Python to program real applications. I could even help other fellow students in the class! Thanks to the professor from the University of Michigan who created these courses.
That's just only one of the many courses that I have enrolled on the platform. Coursera is probably the most trusted online education platform as these courses are created and polished by professors-lecturers from world-wide known Universities. There are 200 Coursera partners, who are usually colleges, universities, big worldwide renowned companies. Please have a look at the full list of partners across 48 countries.
In case you don't want to visit the link above, here's a small list of the universities from the United Kingdom and the United States:
- Imperial College London
- The University of Edinburgh
- University of Leeds
- University of London
- University of Manchester
Sorry guys from the US, the list was just too huge to choose from and to paste it in here, but here are some universities on the screenshot. Please take your time and visit my link to check the beast-huge list of all the universities and companies from the US that work in association with Coursera. The list won't let you down!
As you can see there are a huge number of universities and companies available to choose from as well as the huge variety of many different courses (or specializations). I am sure you will find something suitable for yourself guys. Here's brief coverage of subjects available:
- Data Science
- Computer Science
- Personal Development
- Information Technology
- Language Learning
- Math and Logic
- Physical Science and Engineering
- Social Sciences
- Arts and Humanities
I found a video on YouTube that you can watch too if you want to hear more about the Coursera straight from its founder, Daphne Koller.
Pricing – is Coursera expensive
I have to admit that it takes some time until you can fully understand Coursera's pricing. In my opinion, it could have been implemented in a little bit more user-friendly manner.
I know for sure that several years ago you could take courses (at least some of them) for free. Of course, to let watch these courses for free up until now would be noble, but not feasible, I guess. That's understandable.
The good news is, Coursera gives you 7-day free-trial access, so you can access the whole library for free for 7 days. If you've used your free trial already, you'll get to know the price for the course once you click Rock'n'Roll (sorry, Enroll!). Some courses are available for just a one-off payment that lasts for 180 days.
There are hundreds of free courses too, except that you won't have access to quizzes, projects or shareable certificates.
If you want to enroll in the Specialization instead, that's going to be priced differently as it contains multiple courses. You can't see the prices until you click the Enroll button. You'll usually see it will be a subscription-based price that is around $49 (£40 or €44). You will be charged every month for only this Specialization. So, if you want to enroll in multiple Specializations, you will be charged for them separately. I'd recommend not to enroll in multiple Specializations at the same time.
What does Coursera offer and is it accredited
Coursera offers a couple of things. Here's a list of what does it offer:
- Courses. There are a plethora of courses from the world's best lecturers, professors, and universities. Courses include recorded auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, video lectures, and community discussion forums. On course completion, you will be eligible to receive a shareable electronic certificate of completion for an additional fee.
- Specializations. You can enroll in specializations which means you will learn some skill for your career. One specialization usually consists of multiple courses, where you will not only watch and listen to pre-recorded videos but you will also tackle hands-on projects. In the end, you will earn a Specialization Certificate, which you will be able to share with your professional network or your potential employer.
- Professional Certificates. This is getting even more serious here! Simply put, after getting this type of certificate, they say you'll be job-ready. You will get a renowned certificate showing your expertise in one or another skill. Don't even think it's going to be easy, but it's your ticket to get your dream job, or at least, a great input toward getting it.
Now guys here's the most valuable masterpiece that you can get from Coursera
Have you ever thought it's ever going to be possible? I mean, currently I live in the United Kingdom, but now I can graduate from a university that's in the other half of the globe without physically going there and attending classrooms every day! Now is the future. To get a real degree, you are no longer needed to attend lectures on campus or how they call it a ‘bricks-and-mortar'. Furthermore, it's way cheaper, costing from around $15000. It will also save you tons of time too.
In reality, probably most people would prefer the old way of getting a degree because it's what most people are used to the most. On the other hand, we are limiting ourselves to some number of universities that are available near us and thus we are losing a better education by not relying on platforms like Coursera. It's a huge amount of money to get a degree there too, but we are giving away much more money when attending the usual universities.
People sometimes even choose studies that they don't want, but they still do a degree just for the sake of it. In this case, I would recommend looking at what Coursera has to offer and choose something from there instead and you will not only save tons of money but also will get a degree you want.
Coursera is also a good choice for someone who can't make it to a traditional classroom for whatever reasons. Coursera gives you flexibility in that there's no fixed schedule, so you can have a great balance between your life and learning for your career.
What is specialization in Coursera
Specialization is like a pre-defined set of courses. For example, specialization could be called Career Success: Build Essential Skills for the Workplace. Improve your employability and advance in today’s dynamic workforce. So in this specialization, you have all the necessary courses included in it to learn a specific skill set to build essential skills for the workplace.
Let's take a real example. Say we chose a specialization called Career Success. This specialization includes multiple courses:
- Project Management: The Basics for Success
- Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity
- Finance for Non-Financial Professionals
Along with the course information in this specialization, you also have information such as whether the courses are based on a flexible schedule, language and subtitle information, estimated duration in which you're expected to complete the specialization and the knowledge level that you should already have before you start these courses.
Does Coursera certificate have value
It is never going to be a burden on your shoulders whether you'll receive a certificate of course completion or a professional certificate. So in case you want to receive a course completion certificate, no problem, reward yourself for learning some skill to get even more motivation for future courses. They are not recognized by companies, although they prove that you are willing to learn.
Now, it's different if you earn a professional certificate. To be honest, for a novice learner I don't think it's realistic to earn such a certificate without knowing a good foundation first. A good example of the area in which you can earn a professional certificate would be “IBM Data Science Professional Certificate”. You'd be taught by the best engineers from IBM. Before you dive into learning this, I'd recommend that you should already have a good grasp in this area, or at least, know the programming.
What is the User Experience like on Coursera
Another thing that I like about Coursera is, of course, the user interface. No one would ever feel safe and reliable on the website or an application if it looks untrustworthy.
Coursera's homepage meets its visitors with friendly and inspiring design and imagery. It also highlights the most important aspect of the platform, that you will be learning from the world's best universities and companies, which instantly gives you a good feeling that you are in the right place.
When you scroll the page a little bit down you will see Coursera provides some brief description of how the platform works. As one of the busy users nowadays, I'm really glad that the Coursera thinks of me as an individual and understands all the small things that are very important to me these days – I quickly want to know exactly how does this platform work before I can make up my mind whether to stay on the platform or leave it.
So, because of this brief description, I can see how it feels like to take a course, I also know that courses will include quizzes, projects, pre-recorded videos and some sort of interactivity, which will make the learning process not boring.
To convince you further, Coursera provides some of its bigger clients' brand names that are currently using the platform for their employees' education. By exposing this kind of information, Coursera wants to earn your trust and to prove that the platform is legit and worth your try. Coursera sort of mentions that it's for businesses, but it is for everyone interested in learning or updating skills.
Now, how easy is it to find a great course for yourself? It's as easy as selecting the subject you want to learn in the top left menu called Explore. For the sake of example, I chose Personal Development courses and Coursera has brought me a lot of courses and specializations to choose from. They were all compartmentalized by numerous aspects, such as these:
- Most Popular Certificates
- Most Popular Courses
- Trending Courses
- Top Rated Courses
- Achieve Work-Life Balance
- Motivation and Career Success
- Better Health and Healthy Lifestyle
- Increase Your Parenting Skills
- Develop Your Career
- Boost Your Happiness
- Getting What You Want
To be honest, I am getting excited from just reading these headings and want instantly dive deep into some of these courses, because I think learning is fun and interesting.
Again, for the sake of example, I chose a course to enroll in Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. Once clicked the Enroll button, a popup form appeared asking to choose whether I want to commit to earning a trusted and shareable certificate as well (which is for an additional fee) or not. Although I would recommend you to do otherwise, I chose not to commit to earning a certificate as this is an example for this post. Good thing is that I will still have full access to the course material.
And here we come to the most interesting part when we've enrolled in the course. We got a welcome screen where we can see the Syllabus described in detail so we can see how much time are we going to spend approx in watching/reading material, we can see quizzes we will need to tackle, etc. Once we start watching/reading course material we can also see the progress. How fun is that!
I couldn't wait and so I clicked the Start button and I got to the following screen where a professor has welcomed me and kindly started the course.
Speaking about the user interface side of things: as you will see in the screenshot below, it looks well thought out: in the middle of the screen, of course, the learning material itself, on the right-hand side you can put notes for yourself, underneath the video there's a transcript followed in real-time as the lecturer speaks, and on the left-hand side there's modules and lessons. White color dominates on the user interface and in my opinion, this is what makes the design to look professional and intelligent (scientific too?).
Now we go back to the beginning, where the Overview is, we can see information like summarized grades, notes, discussion forums, messages, resources (resources can be any downloadable material mentioned in the course) and the detailed course information, which is very similar to what's provided on the Overview page, but in here it's got some additional information, such as details about the lecturers, related courses, etc.
Coursera features that stand out
Coursera stands out mainly because it is tied-up with the world's top universities and companies like IBM, Google, and many others. What does all that mean to a user? Well, an end-user will get high-quality education in various subject areas, including cutting-edge technologies. What I like about Coursera the most, is that you don't need to think whether the course is good or not, it's just trustworthy because courses are not created by anyone, but professors.
Furthermore, Coursera provides you with the ability to earn a world-wide recognized degree from a top university. 10 years ago I wouldn't believe it would be possible, but we are now in the future and that is now possible from the comfort of your own home.
Lastly, you can take Coursera courses at any time that's suitable for you, no matter what. There are Android and iOS apps available so you have courses at your fingertips, anytime.
Can I become a Coursera author
Everything's possible, in this case, it's just going to be a bit harder. First, you will need to become a professor at a participating university. That is because Coursera is tied-up with some of the top universities or companies. So, to become an instructor on this platform won't be easy, but it's possible, nobody said NO, it's just not for everyone.
In my opinion, Coursera could be a choice of those people who prefer a more academic way of learning as the majority of courses are coming from professors from top universities. I have to admit that the courses are a little bit limited, so you won't be able to find every latest technology covered in here. On the other hand, what I liked the most about Coursera is that the course quality is superb.
What I have noticed that there are courses for beginners as well as for more intermediate level professionals. I must admit that the beginner level courses dominate this platform, so if you are an intermediate or an advanced professional in some area, you might find it hard to find the right courses for you. But again, it's not the case for all areas/subjects.