During the earlier weeks of isolation, I stumbled upon free Coursera courses (aka MOOCs courses) on OzBargain. I thought, why not give it a shot. Who doesn’t love a freebie after all and a good Coursera review?
The question is… Is Coursera Good and Can You Get An Accredited Certificate?
I’ve been staying indoors for as long as I can and I’ve had a few things to do like binging on YouTube, drawing on my new Samsung Tablet, scrolling through Reddit, playing video games, working on my blog and Pinterest game.
If you have nothing to do during isolation or you’re just bored, you can check out these posts to read for later:
- 20 Things to do Inside while you Quarantine
- 51 Things To Do When Bored Out of Your Mind
- 101 List of Self-care Sunday Activities to do on Weekends
The Coursera courses will probably become expired by the time I post this as they gave away a 2 month trial (by the end of 31st May 2020) to receive your Coursera certificate (some of them with honours).
With that in mind, I decided to do you a favour and try out some of my course picks and share with you my own experience and reviews on learning online.
- What is Coursera?
- The difference between online courses and traditional university
- My Experience Using Coursera
- The Overview
- Is Coursera Accredited?
- Is Coursera Good? Are They Worth It?
So grab your mug of hot coffee (or tea) and get right into it.
What is Coursera?
Before I even came up with the idea of creating a Coursera review, I haven’t even heard of this online learning platform before. This is just basically an international (world-wide) platform for all online courses. This platform was founded in 2012 by two Stanford computer science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller.
They offer MOOCs courses (Massive Open Online Courses) from higher institutions and universities like Yale, Stanford, and more. Now you can show off to your pals that you went to Stanford university with your hoodie and all lol.
What Courses Can You Learn?
You can learn as many skills as you want to your heart’s desire as well as earn a degree as you partake in these courses.
These include IT, business, marketing, engineering, communication & language, design, psychology, health, science, economics, personal development, computer science, maths, and arts & humanities.
There’s also something I need to mention. I didn’t pay for ANY of my courses however I still gained a certificate with honours since I got this as a bargain. Of course, Coursera is still free to join and you can do courses for free without earning credits (audits).
If you want to earn a course degree such as a certificate and get access to graded assignments you have to pay (pretty much like attending an actual university).
Purchasing a Coursera course certificate is less pricey than attending a traditional university. For more information on the cost of Coursera, you can check out Class Central’s post here which goes more into detail about paying.
How Are Coursera Classes Set Up?
So let’s talk about these courses. Usually, Coursera courses last 4-10 weeks with 1-2 hours of video lectures a week. They offer weekly exercises, quizzes, peer-graded assignments and sometimes a final project or exam on the last week.
You can do as many courses as you like! Personally I don’t recommend it if you’re earning a certificate for every course. Why do I say this? You can easily get stressed out with all the assignments.
Based on what I learned from Mindshift, you won’t be able to intake and learn the information if you stack yourself with more courses in 1 week. UNLESS if you’re a fast learner or have the time in the world, you can complete one course in 1-2 days.
Similarities & Differences Between Coursera Courses (MOOCs courses) and Traditional University
So you’ve learned a thing or two about what this platform is all about from this Coursera review. But what about the similarities and differences?
- They both have video lectures, readings, graded assignments, quizzes, exams and forums (for any questions or participation needed).
- You can also keep in contact with your professors/lecturers either through social media or email.
- Both have financial aid if you’re unavailable to pay in full. You can read more about Coursera’s financial aid or scholarship here.
- With Coursera, you’re doing it online. You can’t meet face-to-face with your professors or classmates.
- On Coursera, if you miss the assignment due date you’re able to restart the due date on your own time. That means you don’t need to message your professor to give you a longer deadline.
- Your assignments are graded by your classmates and not your professors. Based on my own experience this can make it difficult for accurate or biased gradings.
My Experience Using Coursera Till The End Of May – What It Looks Like
On the start of 7 April 2020, I decided to look through and add the courses I was interested in into my list. It became one of my challenges to complete at least 3 or more of these courses until the deadline trial ends.
So the first course I did was “Introduction to Personal Branding” by the University of Virginia. My course lecturer was Kimberley Barker, MLIS.
In the introduction, you get to learn more about the professor, what the course is about, what you will learn from your chosen course and the overview of your assignments and deadlines.
Once you press “start”, you will land to your first lecturer (yay!). It could be different for some but in the first week, your lecturer will introduce themself and explain to you what you will learn in this course.
What’s great about this is that you’re able to take notes while watching the lecture. Which means you don’t have to take out your journal and watch it wherever you are.
You can do this by clicking on “Save Note” and jot down things that are important. You can also check out your notes on the side by clicking that paper icon on the right side of the screen.
If you want to catch up on key points or follow along, you can put on subtitles. You’re also able to join the discussion forums by clicking on “Discuss” and downloading the lectures to your desktop or mobile by clicking on “Download”.
You can also thumbs up or thumbs down the lecture to let them know how you thought about it.
Once you continue the course, you’re able to have a screen that looks like this:
It will show your progress throughout the week along with where you’re up to.
If you look on the left sidebar you’re able to see:
- Overview: showcase the weekly lectures, readings, assignments, quizzes and peer-graded assignments. I will tell you more about peer-graded assignments later in this post. They also show the recommended time to complete your weeks’ work.
- Grades: you can check your past results from the quizzes or/and assignments you did. This is also a good shortcut to repeat what you didn’t pass.
- Notes: remember when I mentioned that you can take notes during the lectures? You can look back on notes for key ideas or if you’re studying a quiz or exam for the course.
- Discussion Forums: a place where you can meet your fellow “classmates” who are also taking the same course as you. I found so many people from different countries engaged and giving out information that is useful! You’re also able to ask questions by creating your own forum as well.
*I should note that forums are also part of your course but it’s optional if you want to partake in it or not. I recommend it because you can share your thoughts, ideas and opinions.
- Messages: I haven’t used this feature yet but I think you can communicate with your peers or professors through this. Don’t count me on it and check it out for yourself if you do plan on using Coursera.
- Course Info: All the information you need in order to complete your courses such as deadlines and any other questions you wonder about. Every course has different structures so make sure to read what you need to know about completing your course.
Quizzes, Assignments & Passing
With quizzes and assignments, there should be a “passing score”. This is shown on the top before your quiz “TO PASS #% or higher”. It should also say it in your assignments as well.
You need to pass a certain percentage in order to receive your end grades and certificate. If you don’t reach your passing score, you’re unable to complete your course or receive your certificate.
If you pass it should show you a green-tinted “Congratulations! You passed!” with your passing grade on the right side.
There are peer-graded assignments. As I mentioned early your professor isn’t correcting your assignment but your classmates will.
Once you completed and uploaded your assignments, you have to wait until you get enough people correcting your work.
It’s also necessary to correct other peers’ submissions as well so that no one is missing out on grades.
The negative thing about this system is that this isn’t accurate. I failed a majority of my assignments and reuploaded the SAME ONE to see if I can pass. Eventually, I ended up passing without changing ANYTHING.
The moment you pass this course, you should be able to receive this:
You can also check out all your grades from the “Grade” bar on the left side.
Is Coursera Accredited and can you earn an Accredited Certificate?
Some courses are NOT accredited and some are. You must take that into consideration when looking for a course on Coursera as well as do your background research on these universities.
Those courses which are accredited by global universities allow you to earn a verified certificate and real degrees.
Let’s Take At Two Accredited Courses I Did…
Introduction to Personal Branding
As shown in the earlier screenshots, I did a course in “Introduction to Personal Branding”.
I was able to earn a certificate (no honours) and do a few quizzes (which were actually easy).
However, it doesn’t go in-depth with what “Personal branding” was all about and there was a lack of information given during the lectures. A few readings were ages old and some links need to be updated to keep up with the latest trends.
There weren’t any exams however it is still considered accredited because this course was created by the (hold on for the long read) “University of Virginia’s Claude Moore Health Sciences Library’s Digital Initiatives Librarian”, Kimberley R. Barker. You can also check out her Twitter in her bio and as of now have over 4k Twitter followers.
One of the courses that I enjoyed doing is Social Psychology. Now I can tell you from a Psychology major at a verified University in Australia that this course is exactly what I do in a traditional university.
- The readings (that are offered for free in a PDF on Coursera) which are similar to the textbooks I read in my class.
- The full version of the psychology experiment documentaries that are shown during the lectures.
- Given the full access to the Social Psychology website (one of the verified psychology sites talked about in one of my major’s units) which is maintained by the course lecturer Scott Plous from Wesleyan University.
There was also an exam on week 7 (the final week) along with a chance to be selected to travel (yes for free) and meet inspirations once you earn the certificate with honours.
Professor Scott Plous actually shared photos with past Coursera students (who did this very same exact course) and earned a trip based on the “Day of Compassion” assignment. Here is one photo that he showed us in one of the lectures:
Is Coursera Good? Are They Worth It?
I can’t say for sure for everyone since I got it for free rather than pay a subscription. In my personal opinion, I’d say it’s worth it because I learned so many things from these courses and use them in my everyday life. I can also confirm that these courses are legit.
The lecturers were easy to understand and kept me paying attention by being entertaining. Although some courses were the opposite you just need to dig in deep to find those “treasure” courses like Social Psychology.
Another thing to consider if you’re looking into purchasing a Coursera course is to read the course reviews. Again, I didn’t pay for the courses I did as it was like a 2-month trial to receive the certificates so it didn’t worry me about the courses that “weren’t worth the money”. However, I still read it just in case it was “worth my time”.
For some of you who missed out on the Coursera bargain and are willing to purchase, DO check out different reviews before pressing the “buy” button. I’ve recently found out while doing research that people are having issues with Coursera billing based on ConsumerAffairs customer reviews.
You’re at the end of my Coursera review. So based on my own experience, how did I go? I completed 3 Coursera courses with certificates by the end of May. You can check all my verified Coursera accredited certificate on my LinkedIn page.
You learned pretty much what this MOOC offer based on my experience and Coursera review.
Are you up to learning sweet courses in your free time? If you’re still wary of paying for Coursera courses, you can try doing free online courses at CreativeLive instead.
If you’re willing to learn more about Coursera and to look for more Coursera review, check out this post for more in-depth info as well as user reviews.
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