Our Coursera Review
Because you want to learn a new skill, you go to your old pal Google, type in the search bar something like “popular courses” or “best online learning platforms,” and find that Coursera is one of the best.
Now you need an in-depth Coursera review, to make sure your time and money spent will be worth it before you jump to their platform.
– “They have thousands of courses, but how can I find one for me?”
– “Is Coursera recognized & accredited? Is it legit?
– “How does Coursera grade the assignments? How do I know the experience they provide is good? Are Coursera courses even worth it?”
All good questions. If you are looking for clear answers on how Coursera works and if it will be the right online education platform for you, you’ve come to the right place.
Here at Gradehacker, we are the non-traditional student’s most trusted resource. Whether you want to expand your academic knowledge base or develop valuable career skills to access new opportunities, we want to help you find the best educational platform.
That’s why we are sharing our honest, no B.S. Coursera review.
In short, what do we think about Coursera?
Wanna know how we came to this conclusion? Keep reading!
What Is Coursera?
Coursera is a massive open online education platform that offers all types of courses taught by top professors and industry experts from around the globe. They are partnered with major universities and companies, like Google and Yale University, and offer top-quality courses for anyone.
We included them in our list of Best Online Learning Platforms, which we highly recommend checking out if you are looking for different alternatives with popular courses.
Who Is Coursera For?
From university students who are currently pursuing a college degree and want to learn skills to add to their resume to experienced people looking for new hobbies that have nothing to do with their field of work.
You can access their entire course catalog by creating an account on Coursera. The only cases where you’ll find admission criteria will be with their online degree programs.
Coursera's Types of Courses
In Coursera, you’ll find a wide range of courses, from specialization programs to online degrees fully recognized by an accredited institution.
Coursera's Catalog of Courses
Is Coursera Legit?
Because Coursera is an educational platform and not an accredited institution per se, many people have questions regarding its legitimacy.
Coursera is 100% legit.
First of all, it was created by two Stanford University professors, and since its launch in 2012, they have helped more than 107 million learners worldwide.
Plus, they are backed up by more than 275 world-class universities and companies such as:
These partner institutions are the ones responsible for offering each specific course.
Our Coursera Experience
How To Choose The Perfect Coursera Course
So, now we are ready to start our journey with Coursera.
Creating an account is as easy as it can be. You can register for free; you only need an email or a Google or Facebook account to sign up. Once you are done, you can go to the “Explore” option and look for your ideal course.
We highly recommend using the filters, as you can find individual courses based on their subject, skills you’ll learn, level of education, length, and language.
Now, if you don’t know where to begin, you can add your personal information, like the company where you work or the career you are pursuing, and Coursera will give you a personalized experience that suits your skills and goals.
In our case, to find our program, we searched among the most popular courses, and one that caught our attention was “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects.”
Before enrolling, you can find all the important details about the course you are interested in.
This one has an overall rating of 4.8 (with over 82,000 reviews), it’s for beginners, and would take approximately 15 hours to complete.
They state that we’ll learn skills like Meta-Learning and Test Preparation, and we see that it’s offered by industry experts. We can even click on the instructors’ profiles and read a short bio about them, find which other courses they teach, and even see their LinkedIn profiles.
Finally, we can look at its syllabus with all of the content we’ll learn. The content is divided into four weeks, with video lectures, quizzes, and discussion forums to promote discussion and conversation.
We can also read detailed reviews written by people who have already finished it and clear any doubts with a Frequently Asked Questions section. Here we see that normally, this is a paid course that anyone can take for free by choosing the Coursera audit option, which grants you access to all of the content but doesn’t give you a certificate accreditation when you finish it.
However, this individual course is 100% available (with official certification included) for every Coursera user until December 20, 2022.
If you are looking for free Coursera courses, we highly recommend you check out this program. But if you don’t find it interesting and you want something more related to your work, here you can find more free popular courses on Coursera.
Taking a Course in Coursera
So, now that we have chosen our course, we can start its video lessons.
First, Coursera recommends that we set our goals, as according to them, students who do it are 75% more likely to finish the course. You can set how many days per week you can join: 2, 3, or 5. This way, the platform can track your progress and suggest which classes and assignments you should take each time you enter the portal.
What’s great about Coursera is that its layout looks very similar to a college’s portal, like Canva or Blackboard. It’s super easy to navigate and find what you are looking for. You can access all the courses’ content, review your grades, participate in discussion boards, and take a look at the grades you got (yes, you can do that).
They even have a resources section with specific FAQs that weren’t included on the courses’ main page, extra reading material, and recommended books if you want to do more research on your own.
Assignments In Coursera
The assignments you’ll have to complete will vary depending on your individual course. But generally, there are three types:
Just like in college, the content of these activities will be based on what was included in the video lessons or reading material.
This “Learning How To Learn” course has easy-to-do assignments that aim to give the student a better idea of how people struggle with critical learning issues, like procrastination, recognizing key elements of learning a subject, and preparing for tests.
In this case, they mostly grade you with different quizzes throughout the course modules. There are also small quizzes integrated into the course videos, which will help you discover if you understood the concepts correctly but won’t be taken into account in the calculation of the final score.
Only the rated quizzes are taken into account; you will find one in each module and a final quiz at the end of the course.
They also have an active discussion forum. It’s not necessary to participate to complete the course, but you are encouraged to do it if you want to share your insight with fellow students. Here you can also find relevant tips and stories from people that add valuable information to the content of the course.
Now, it’s important to clarify that not all discussion forums can be like that. If you choose a popular course, it’s likely that more people will be participating and sharing their experiences; but if not many are enrolled, then it’s possible to find forums with very few posts.
Finally, we have peer-graded assignments, which as its name so clearly explains, require you and your classmates to grade each other’s work.
Our chosen course has two, where we have to apply the concepts learned to objectives that are important to us.
These assignments are one of Coursera’s most important issues. And to explain why we’ll have to answer two main questions:
1) How does the Coursera schedule work?
Well, they give you suggested due dates so you can organize your schedule and avoid coursework from piling up. But you can submit quizzes and other assignments late, and there won’t be any problems with it!
Still, we highly recommend attending to these due dates, as a late submission could mean you won’t be graded.
To discover why we have to jump to our second question.
2) How Does Coursera Grade Assignments?
As we explained, you’ll have to review some of your peer’s assignments while they will grade yours. The course instructor sets how many activities you’ll have to review.
If you submit your assignment by the suggested due date on Coursera, you’ll likely get your grade within a week, as Coursera students usually review activities within three days of their deadline.
So, you and your classmates will be asked to provide a score for each part of the assignment. Final grades are calculated by combining the median scores you received for each section.
To finish the course, you’ll need to pass your peer-reviewed assignments. If you submit them on time, you’ll need at least one review from your classmates, even if the class asks for multiple reviews. For example, if throughout the week you upload your assignment and only one peer reviews your work and grades it, that will be your final grade.
And here is where the problems begin.
If you submit an assignment late, you’ll need all of the peer reviews that are required by the instructor to pass the class. And this is an issue, because depending on how late you upload it, there is a chance there won’t be enough active users to grade your work.
Meaning, you won’t be graded and will have to re-upload it.
And there is a secondary issue: you are not being graded by an industry expert but by someone who basically has the same level of knowledge as you!
Plus, you rely 100% on how your classmate wants to grade you. Even if your work is good, and would otherwise be approved by a teacher, if your peer wants to fail you just because they want to, there is nothing stopping them!
And while Coursera users usually try to do their best and grade peer-assignments fairly, there is a chance you have someone with the dishonored intention of poorly grading your work regardless of its quality.
Let’s say this is something that happens to you. What do you do next? Well, because you can re-attempt assignments and quizzes as many times as you want, you can always try again if you submitted it late and no one graded it or because you want to improve your score.
In case you do this and there aren’t enough active users to grade you, you’ll have to keep submitting your assignment until there are.
That’s why it’s so critical that you keep up with Coursera’s suggested deadlines, so your classmates have enough time to review your work.
How Much Does Coursera Cost?
And finally, the question anyone interested in taking one of the Coursera courses has: how much do their lessons cost?
Well, it depends on what types of courses you are interested in.
As we previously explained, they offer many free courses. Thanks to their Coursera audit option, you can watch all of the video lessons included in these programs, but you won’t be able to complete the assignments or receive an official certification.
But you can finish the course for free first, and if you like it and find a good use for it, then pay for the certificate.
Now, if you are willing to invest in Coursera, here are their prices:
However, if you aren’t looking to enroll in an online degree program and rather want top-quality courses where you can develop marketable skills, we highly recommend checking Coursera Plus.
What Does Coursera Plus Include?
Coursera Plus gives you unlimited access to more than 7,000 Coursera courses and professional certificates, all for a monthly subscription of $59 per month or an annual subscription plan of $399, which has a 14-day refund guarantee.
If you are hesitating, you can also use their 7-day free trial and see if the Coursera Plus experience is right for you.
We recommend Coursera Plus if you plan on taking more than one course. If you have the time and the motivation, you can end up saving hundreds of dollars; but if you are looking for a one-time course, better pay for it or even choose the Coursera audit track first.
So, what do we think about Coursera?
In our opinion, Coursera is one of the best online learning platforms to go to if you are looking for courses with professional certificates.
If you want to learn marketable skills and earn an official certification to include in your resume, Coursera is the platform for you.
Here, you’ll find a wide selection of top-quality courses in many areas, especially in the business industry and machine learning fields. Most of them are offered by major universities like the University of Michigan, Google, IBM, and Yale. When completed, they will give you a certificate accreditation that proves your new skills to your current or future employers.
It’s great that anyone can access relevant courses for free with its Coursera audit option. While it’s a letdown that they don’t give any certificates this way, having all the course video and lecture portions can be useful as a completion diploma.
We do believe that the courses’ individual prices can be a bit expensive, especially if we consider that some of them take 1-6 months to complete. Suddenly, a $59 course turns into more than a $300 investment.
That’s why we mainly recommend subscribing if you have the time and inspiration to take advantage of Coursera Plus. You get unlimited access to thousands of top-quality courses, including professional certificates and specialization.
Pay for the monthly or annual subscription plan, and you have the opportunity to earn as many certificates as you can.
Now, we wouldn’t recommend Coursera if you need human interaction when learning.
All its courses are 100% online, and you don’t even get to communicate with the industry experts teaching the class. The closer you’ll get to speak with someone going through the same experience will be with the optional discussion boards or the peer-graded assignments.
And since we are talking about them, these are other Coursera issues.
Someone with the same knowledge level reviewing your hard work won’t have the same effective result as the one an experienced professor would give. Whether these people grade your assignment better or worse than they should, there is nothing guaranteeing you that their review is trustworthy.
In Coursera, you need to keep track of yourself. If you actually learned something or not will only depend on you; there won’t be a professor or classmates checking that you have understood. So, if you enjoy a shared learning experience with real people involved, it would be wise to avoid online courses.
But if you have the motivation to keep yourself on the right track and the goals to learn something new, then we highly recommend you try Coursera.
Learn Something New With Coursera
Are you ready to master a valuable career skill in Coursera?
They have thousands of great courses and will surely have one that has what you are looking for. Coursera will be most useful if you want to learn skills for business or machine learning, but they also have courses about other topics, like social sciences or the development of creative skills.
And if you don’t think Coursera is for you, but are still looking for other alternatives to a traditional university, remember you can find more online learning platforms in our list.
We hope this review helped you better understand how Coursera works and if it will be your ideal option. If you want to find other useful apps, check out related blog posts: