Our Review of Coursera: What’s it best used for?

Coursera is a world-wide online learning platform founded by computer science professors from the the prestigious Stanford University. With the rise on online learning platforms, it is in fierce competition with other online learning platforms, such as Udemy and Masterclass. This post aims to write a review of Coursera. It focuses on its value for money, its usability/site navigation and what it’s paying customers really think of it.

What is Coursera?

Coursera is an online learning platform that works with well recognized institutions, such as universities, to offer online courses, certifications and degrees. It has over 3000 different courses in a huge variety of subjects. Their most popular subjects include engineering, data science, machine learning, mathematics, business, finance, compute science, digital marketing, biology and social science!

The courses offered/the quality of the courses

Coursera is partnered with over 150 distinguished universities and colleges from around the world and therefore has a massive selection of courses to choose from. And, whats even better, is that a majority of these courses are taught by top instructors from leading universities and companies. There are a number of different types of ways to learn using Coursera, and I have listed them below:

  1. The simplest qualification to complete is a ‘course’. There are over 300 online courses at Coursera. Each course focuses on a specific area, such as ‘Japanese for Beginners’, ‘AI for everyone’, ‘Introduction to Psychology’ and ‘C++’. Courses will be made up of ‘lessons’, which are normally recorded videos. There will also be assignments that are auto-graded, peer-reviewed assignments and each course should have a group discussion forums. After completing a course, you will receive a shareable electronic version course certificate (for a fee, however).
  2. Coursera also offer ‘specializations‘. This gives you unique access to a series of courses that help you become a ‘master’ in a specific career related area. For example, you can take a number of courses in sales training, data science or career brand management. Each specialization offers a bundle of courses so you gather an in-depth knowledge of each area. Currently, there are 310 specializations available on Coursera.
  3. Professional certifications’ are training programs that prepare you for prospective jobs. They are designed to give you the necessary foundations to pass certifying exams in specific industries and to provide the required skills for your chosen career. To earn a professional certificate, you need to en-roll in the professional certificate program. You then need to meet the requirements, pay for the program and pass all required courses.
  4. Coursera also offers ‘MasterTrack certificates’, which are projects and instructions from live experts. These MasterTrack certificates are not the same as master degrees. However, they are a great way to earn advanced career credentials online at a lower price.
  5. Finally, Coursera stands out from many other online learning platforms by offering degrees. These degrees allow students to study at their own pace and then receive the same degree that students at campus universities receive. In my opinion, this is an impressive alternative for those who cannot attend university for whatever reason.

Overall, the content that Coursera offers seems to be pretty unique and special. The courses/lessons offered do vary in quality and depth of information, but this is normally reflected in the price.

The price of a Coursera subscription

There are a number of different payment options for Coursera. These depend on what level of education you intend to take.

Firstly, there are a few ways to access the ‘courses’. Some courses are offered for a one-time payment, in which you have access to the content of that course for 180 days. Other courses require a monthly online subscription that you pay until you finish the course. The prices of the courses are adjusted based on new information about the value the course has provided to its learners. Therefore, you may find that the higher quality courses are more expensive.

Some courses also ask that you pay for their unique features, such as graded assignments. You can also access some courses for free, but you will need to pay a fee for the course certificate at the end. 

If you want to do a ‘specialization’ qualification or anything higher, you can only access materials through paying a monthly subscription. You will continue to pay this subscription for as long as it takes to complete the tasks. Prices will vary dependent on course quality, but you can expect to pay between $39-79 per month, with many offering a free trial.

The other option is to sign up to Coursera plus for around $399 per year. Coursera plus gives you access to over 3000 courses, specializations and certificates. Not all courses are included, heres a list of what is and isn’t included. Online degrees are always paid for separately, but in general these tend to cost less than other online degrees.

Usability/site navigation

Overall, Coursera appears to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.  I suppose that I could see how the multiple different payment plans might become difficult to follow, but at least it makes it good value for money.

Each course has a progress bar and a week-by-week summary of the tasks which need to be completed for the course, which I think is a really nice touch. However, customers have complained that the course videos and quizzes do not load on their phone. This is, undoubtably, a draw back for those who want to learn on their commute to work

Customer reviews

Overall, Coursera has really positive customer feedback. Sure, there we a few complaints. Some people found the lack of customer service frustrating. Others complained about paying a fee for the course. But, Coursera have to make money and paying a fee is perfectly acceptable. People did quite often complain that they couldn’t interact with the lecturer. But, this is unfortunately the nature of online learning.

It has, however, been described multiple times as “one of the best E-learning platforms“. This is an achievement, as there are loads of E-learning platforms! Someone even commented “there is nothing to disllike… It provides courses at a vey low price and the quality of videos are very good

Conclusion to my review of Coursera

Overall, I feel that Coursera is ideal for those who want to learn more and improve their skills. The cost seems reasonable, especially for more advanced certificates and degrees. There is a wide range of courses offered, all taught by industry experts. These people know what they are talking about, which add excellent value for money.

Coursera appears to offer many opportunities. But, like all these things, it doesn’t quite replace one to one teaching. Online, emotions cant be understood as easily, rapport can’t be built and trust can’t be formed. However, its not a waste of time. This is a new age of learning and more than ever there is a cry for established and reliable online learning platforms, and coursera seems like a good solution to this problem!

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