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User experiences with Coursera, Udacity and edX

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What experience do participants have with the online courses offered by the major providers? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the platforms?

The international education startups Coursera, edX and Udacity are among the largest providers of university courses (MOOCs) and other high quality video learning courses.

We already appreciate that more than 1 million users from Germany Have taken courses from these three providers. (There are more than 50 million online learners around the world.)

Anyone who has ever taken a video course at a top university will appreciate the quality and flexible learning method.

But which positive and negative experiences are there with the online course providers in practice?


Important information on all online course portals:

  1. High differences in quality: There are big differences between the providers and courses. There is often a connection with the awareness of the university: Harvard also shows good quality content online.
  2. Course language: Most courses are offered in English. This is not a problem for many learners. Only the English of some lecturers from Asia or Russia can be a challenge. The text scripts are helpful here to read along.
  3. Free learning: Is possible with many courses. Anyone who takes entire series of courses or needs a certificate will be asked to pay (see this overview on the subject). The prices are mostly below 100 EUR.
  4. Certificates: Online certificates are not a college degree. However, they can be useful for applications and for your own motivation ("What do the certificates and nanodegrees bring?")
  5. Discussion forums: Communicating with other participants can be helpful. This works well for popular courses; for niche courses, the forums are less frequented.
  6. Course duration: Some courses are artificially stretched by the providers. Some MOOCs, which are set to last 4-5 weeks, can easily be completed in a few days. Never let the length of the course put you off!
  7. User support: With many providers hardly available (except for standard FAQs). Individual questions are rarely answered. The Reddit communities for Coursera, Udacity and edX are an alternative. Of course we are also happy to help!

Experience with Coursera

  • Positive about Coursera: Shows many high quality university courses from US top universities like Stanford, Princeton, Yale and European institutions like LMU Munich and University of London.
  • The Prices of individual courses are unfortunately not initially visible on the Coursera course website. To do this you have to Enroll or. Log In Click and register for the platform, then the exact costs will appear (for courses that are subject to a fee).
  • Who a course free of charge without a certificate want to take, many courses can use the Audit-Choose a variant (you can do this when you enroll in the course).
  • The course series from several online courses are called Coursera Specializations. These are chargeable (monthly fee, don't forget to cancel!). However, you can often do the individual courses of the series without a certificate also free of charge.
  • Those who register for a paid course or specialization receive access to one 7-day trial period. If you learn quickly, you can sometimes complete a course during the trial phase (and thus possibly even receive a certificate free of charge!).
  • Some of the courses in the Personal development / career area have been criticized by users in the past as being rather superficial. Those who are already working and have an academic degree may learn little new there.
  • One advantage compared to other course platforms: The clear one navigation within the courses. Videos, tests, discussion forums and further reading are easily accessible.
  • For some courses a final exam is included Assessment by other learners intended (Peer assessment). This often works well, but for smaller courses with fewer participants it can take a while until sufficient assessments of your own work are available.
  • Users with German browser settings are partly automatically translated web content displayed. That can be confusing. However, the courses themselves are available in the original language.
  • Conclusion: Leading course provider with good training content and an increasing trend towards paid offers.
  • Popular courses at Coursera: Among other things, Machine Learning, Learning How To Learn, Introduction To Mathematical Thinking.
  • Our detailed provider profile contains more information about Coursera.

(Straight to the Coursera courses.)

Experience with Udacity

  • Udacity focuses on computer science courses, including in the field of artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.
  • This means that Udacity as an education provider is in very well known in this area, however, also has a strong limited range of topics compared to the other course platforms.
  • There are individual free courses and paid course series (Nanodegrees). Sometimes it is best to start first Try a free course to get to know the platform better (e.g. Java Programming as a test course for the longer Android Nanodegree).
  • Udacity users report that the course programs are significantly more practical programming work included than other video course providers. There is also support from mentors for the fee-based Nanodegree programs.
  • Disadvantage with Udacity: The prices for nanodegrees are compared to the course series from other providers often more expensive. For this, the learning content is strongly focused on practice-relevant topics and will together with companies like Google, Bosch or Zalando.
  • In the past it has also been about suddenPrice increasesreported, for example, from around USD 500 to around USD 1,000 for a nanodegree.
  • Conclusion: Professionally usable, but somewhat more expensive content in an innovative programming environment.
  • Popular courses at Udacity: Among other things, Intro to Computer Science, Intro to HTML and CSS, Intro to Artificial Intelligence.

(Straight to the Udacity courses.)

Experience with edX

  • Founded by the US universities of Harvard and MIT. In contrast to the other course providers, edX is one Non-profit organization. Lots of good and free courses from one wide range of topics.
  • The navigation is within the courses a bit more awkward than with the direct competitor Coursera, especially within the discussion forums. Ultimately, however, this is a matter of getting used to.
  • The Video lectures most courses are also available on YouTube or even for Download for offline learning available.
  • Many courses are free of charge without a certificate accessible (Audit-Select option when registering).
  • First-time users of the edX platform can use theconfusing variety of course series start little (MicroMasters, Professional Certificate, XSeries, Online Master's Degree and Global Freshman Academy). Most of the differences, however, lie in marketing. The MicroMaster and the Master's Degree also allow credit towards academic degrees at US universities.
  • Also the temporal course availability is often misunderstood by learners. Many edX courses are "archived" at some point (archived). The course is then still available, but is no longer supervised by the respective university (no more exams and certificates possible).
  • In some cases it has been criticized that the Issuance of certificates can take a long time. If the exams are assessed manually by the course team, it can take several weeks.
  • Conclusion: Non-profit provider with academically high-quality content, but somewhat cumbersome to use.
  • Popular courses at edX: Among other things, Introduction to Computer Science, Justice, The Science of Happiness.
  • Our detailed provider profile contains further information on edX.

 (Directly to the edX courses.)

This user wrote a short review of the 3 big providers:


What do you think of Coursera, Udacity and edX?

As an independent search portal for online courses from all major providers, we are often asked about experiences with individual course providers. So we have this here positive and negative feedback from userscompiled. Of course, the subjective assessments of the online learning enthusiasts of the Edukatico team are also included in the assessment.

We dispense consciously on a ranking the provider. This would not be easy to create according to objective standards and would also turn out differently depending on the user, learning goals and preferences. Due to the free learning offers, you can often test providers or courses without obligation.

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