Coursera is one of the biggest names in online education. There’s no refuting that.
When some sites and services get really big it can make them forget what made them great in the first place, and while Coursera definitely has some strikes against it, they hold a pretty good rating among the general public.
If your goal is to learn a new skill, advance a job skill, or proliferate effectiveness in a hobby, Coursera offers plenty of options to give you the tools you need to succeed.
This Coursera review will teach you that a few bad apples don’t spoil the bunch, because, with the hundreds of thousands of students that Coursera has hosted, you’re going to run into some less-than-ideal situations.
We’ll discuss pricing, the freemium plan they have, how easy they are to use, and everything in between.
What is Coursera?
Coursera is an online education platform that acts similarly to a portal, giving you access to multiple courses from leading universities.
There are over two-hundred partners from nearly fifty countries that are part of the Coursera network.
Coursera is designed to make the at-home online learning experience affordable, and intuitive, and get you on a career track that pertains to your field. You have access to over 2,000+ courses developed by some of the best educational minds in the world that lead educational efforts in dozens of countries.
On your own time, in the skills that you want to learn, from higher minds that is what you can find in most online learning institutions. With new courses added frequently, you can find an intuitive way to learn a marketable skill that you’ve always wanted to know more about.
Why Use Coursera?
Coursera was developed by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, two Stanford University professors in computer science.
Not only do they know what it takes to provide top-tier, quality education, but they’ve taken all the necessary steps to make Coursera emulate a real college experience (the learning part, not so much on the party scene).
That’s a great origin story, but it’s not enough to get someone to just join Coursera because accredited people made it. The thing is, Coursera is one of the very few online learning platforms that offer you accreditation.
Upon completion, you will receive a certificate with the Coursera stamp of approval on it, which is recognized by over two hundred leading universities in America, including Stanford (it would be pretty ironic if they didn’t recognize it).
For all intents and purposes, you could learn a skill online (see ‘Best Skills You Can Learn Online‘) with Coursera at your own pace, and use that like an associate’s degree (not the same thing, but it does mean something) to try and get into accelerated learning courses from a major university or educational institution.
You can not only save time with Coursera and turn two years of learning into six months of learning, but you can save five figures on major college tuition at the same time.
Even if you don’t plan on transferring to a college, you can take your accreditation as a personal sign of achievement, and apply yourself in whatever field you received the certificate. The skills and everything you’ve learned don’t go away, and as of recent years, most entrepreneurs don’t exactly care about degrees as much as universities would have you believe.
Coursera Ease of Use
It’s one of the easiest online education platforms to learn from. They make it as intuitive as possible, so you just sign in, sign up for a course, and hit the ground running.
You’ll be able to kick off your courses throughout multiple start points of the year, unlike traditional college semester start dates, or opt into a class as a no-credit student until the next roundup begins.
Navigating the site and understanding the material is very straightforward with Coursera.
What Types of Courses Does Coursera Offer?
Coursera offers courses in math and logic, computer science, arts and humanities, data science, language learning, social sciences, personal development, and physical science and engineering—any critical, core college-level skill/educational material that you could expect from the likes of Duke and Stanford.
Coursera has tons of available courses in these fields that do not fall in those categories, though, such as psychological first aid, writing in the sciences, financial markets, introduction to psychology, and more, many of which are available for free.
Coursera’s free courses are introductory courses and in a way a free trial that gets you used to an instructor and their teaching style in the hopes that you will then sign up for their other courses, which cost money.
With Coursera, your online courses are pre-recorded. These are done by individual universities or the slew of lower-tier free courses they offer as well.
All courses are pre-recorded, though you can still have access to contact information from instructors, who answer mostly at their leisure.
A specialization is a course that is made up of classes from other courses, often referred to as a micro-credential course. These are stitched together from multiple courses to give you a varied learning experience, and arguably more knowledge on a subject than someone who takes on a course exclusively.
When you work on specialization, you’re still working towards a professional certificate (and in some cases a full degree), but it’s definitely a disjointed learning experience compared to their linear class structures. That’s not a bad thing, by the way: it gives you a unique opportunity that an in-person university can’t.
Professional certificates can be used to make you job-ready in a short time frame. When applying to jobs, you can include these under your credentials.
Even some businesses that require an Associate’s Degree may look favorably upon a professional certificate, so these can be degree alternatives that cost less money and require less time, while still getting you into a career field of your choice.
MasterTrack certificates allow you to take one full college semester online and get on the fast track to mastering a specific skill of your choosing.
Consider this to be the first stepping stone to a full Master’s Degree, since most of these programs allow you to transfer credits to actual college Master’s Degrees. The fine print can get a little dodgy, but these are great ways to even see if, by the end of the semester, this is a skill you still want to pursue based on your streamlined knowledge of it.
Coursera isn’t Udemy, and it isn’t
This is what you can expect from their pricing.