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edX vs. Coursera - Which Platform Is Better?

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Since the MOOC (massive open online course) phenomenon started to rise a few years ago, numerous platforms have emerged that you can try out. Among them, Coursera and edX pretty much dominate the conversations about MOOCs. But which one is better? Let's take a closer look at them and find out!

edX - an Overview

edx screenshot

edX was founded in 2012 at Harvard and MIT and offers a broad range of courses (over 900 in total) through their more than 90 global partners, many of which falling in the science category. They have timed and self-paced classes, a great feature for busy persons, who can go through the courses at their own pace. The classes usually take 4 to 12 weeks, and they are aided by cool tools such as gamified labs, videos and other gadgets, including a 3D virtual molecule builder!

You can earn Honor Code Certificates free of charge, which confirm your completion of the class, or get Verified Certificates for a fee (around $50-$100), which will also confirm your identity through IDs and photos. What's more, you can even get university credit.

Coursera - an Overview

courser screenshot

Coursera offers more than 1900 courses from over 140 partners. They, too, have timed and self-paced classes, as well as courses on-demand, and they even offer financial aid. While most of the classes are free, in some cases, you will need to pay a fee to participate in specializations and certificate programs.

One of Coursera's top features is peer assessment, allowing students to review each other, making learning easier and more interactive.

Quality vs. Quantity

With over 1900 courses and more than 140 partners, Coursera is certainly the winner if lots of choices is the factor that means the most to you. However, compared to edX, the platform seems to have a bit of catching up to do in terms of the rigor and complexity of their programs, as many are rather an overview of the subject, rather than a comprehensive course. edX's courses go more in-depth usually and feel much more like a full-fledged college class, so where the platform lacks in quantity, it compensates through quality.

Study Areas

Both edX and Coursera have at least a couple of courses in almost every field that universities would usually offer their on-campus students. However, edX is focused more on technology, science and medicine - maybe due to their partnership with MIT? They do offer classes in social sciences, arts, humanities and public health, too, though.

Coursera's catalogue, on the other hand, is a bit more balanced, while it seems to lean more towards the business field.

Foreign Languages

If you're looking to study in languages other than English, you can find a lot of courses on Coursera that will be of use. However, note that in just a few of them are the lectures actually delivered in a foreign language. Most of the times, just the written materials and video transcripts are translated.

edX, too, has a few classes in foreign languages, but not as many, and you can't search for them using the language criterion, so it may take a bit of work to find them.

Discussion Forums

None of the two MOOCs can really brag too much when it comes to their discussion forums, as both formats are quite difficult to navigate and the scale of enrolment can create big noise, leading to a somewhat chaotic experience. However, between the two, we have to give Coursera the edge, as itsdiscussion forums are relatively more intuitive to work with than edX's.

The Verdict

Both platforms have their pros and cons, and there doesn't seem to be a clear winner - and maybe there shouldn't be one.

Both Coursera and edX have a lot to offer, and it really depends on what you are looking for. If you want variety and less complex courses fit for students who don't have a lot of time to study, Coursera is the best match for you. If you're looking for more rigor and in-depth learning and especially if you're interested in science and technology, you will want to opt for edX.



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