Very few of us want to go back to college. The constant due dates, caffeine-fueled study nights, and cafeteria food have lost their appeal. But not wanting to go back to college doesn’t mean we want to stop learning. We still want to expand our knowledge, or equip ourselves for our careers. But how can we do that?
That’s where online learning sites step in. These aim to democratize learning—making it available for anyone anywhere that has an internet connection. By taking courses from these online sites, you’re able to keep learning with the comfort of your own pace, in your own home, with your own kitchen. (Though you might still end up studying in Starbucks.)
But which site is best? If you thought choosing what college to go to was difficult, try picking when distance and dorm set-up no longer matter. But we’re here to help. Today, we’re going to compare two of the top learning sites, edX and Coursera, and see which one is better. Without anything further, let’s get started with this comparison of edX vs Coursera.
edX Vs Coursera: Meet The Sites
EdX was started by a college professor in 2012, after an excellent online class. However, edX is much more technology-related. Its main partner universities are Harvard and MIT. EdX is listed as a non-profit, and offers over 3,000 courses, 257 programs, and is partnered with over 150 universities.
The majority of edX’s courses are also purchased individually, though there are some that are bundled together in special tracks. Their courses are again academic ones, with the slightest hint of being more technology-leaning than Coursera. But edX also offers some unique and fun courses, like “Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology.” Each course is made up of videos and text learning.
With edX you can also audit most of their courses for free. However, the site often urges you to be a “verified” learner, where you can earn grades and a certificate of credit.
Coursera was born among universities. In 2012, two Stanford professors ran a free experimental online course—and received over 13,000 attendees. This led to the birth of Coursera, an online library of video courses, that partners with universities like Yale and Rice to offer more than 3,900 courses.
It makes sense that most of the courses on Coursera are very academic. Each course is created in partnership with colleges, and while there are a variety of topics, most of them are in Public Health, Business, and in Computer and Data Science.
You can purchase each course individually. With it, you’ll receive several hours of video lectures, along with reading assignments and quizzes. But don’t let the exam-panic set in—the quizzes are only to help cement your learning, and you can retake them as many times as you wish. You do have to write peer-reviewed papers though. Once you complete the course with a passing score, you’ll receive an official certificate you can proudly display.
But purchasing courses isn’t the only way. Coursera also allows you to audit most of their courses for free. You can watch lectures, learn from the videos, and read from the assignments—all without spending a dime. You may not get to write papers or earn a certificate, but you’ll still have access to all of the learning.
If you want, you can even take your learning all the way. You can earn professional or executive certificates, or even earn the entirety of your Bachelor’s degree, from the comfort of your own home.
edX Vs Coursera: Ease Of Use
We all had that one teacher who made the syllabus overly complicated, and always added five unnecessary steps to every assignment. Online learning shouldn’t be that way. Is it simple to begin? Can I start a course quickly? Can you resume your studies easily? All these questions dive into whether a site is easy to use. Let’s see how Coursera and edX compare.
EdX’s search features make it easy to find the courses you’re looking for. You can browse their categories, search for keywords, or even search according to your mastery level. EdX also allows you to search according to organization—which allows you to boast to your friends that you’re taking courses from Harvard or MIT.
EdX saves your progress in each course so you can easily jump back in. Their videos include transcripts, so it’s more accessible to different learning types, and the discussion boards are always open and welcoming to any questions.
However, most of the difficulty using edX is related to money. There have been reports of the difficulty in getting refunds from edX—and there is no “contact us” page currently to get aid from customer service.
Even using the free version of edX can bring some frustrations. While you can audit any course for free, you pay for it by being bombarded by constant ads to upgrade to the paid version. You can sidestep these ads, but it does make using the site a little more difficult.
If you have an email address, then signing up for Coursera is a breeze. Once you get in the door, you may be overwhelmed by the huge library of courses you can access—but Coursera automatically recommends ones you’ll enjoy. To make the process even simpler, Coursera also displays the most popular courses, ones that match your goals, or ones based off of what you’ve learned before. It’s fast and easy to find something new to learn.
The option to audit any class for free also makes it easy to start learning—there’s no giant money commitment necessary.
Coursera makes using a course simple as well. Your progress in each class is tracked, and you can easily jump between them in the “Your Courses” tab on your homepage. Once you’re within your class, each video auto plays after the other. However, there is no opportunity to skip ahead a few lessons, which can be frustrating if you already understand the material being presented.
Coursera’s different tracks can be baffling. Coursera offers Specialization courses, Professional Certificate Courses, MasterTrack Certificates, Mini Degree plans, and many more. What’s the difference between each of them? Should I choose a MasterTrack, or a MiniMaster’s course? What’s included in their different costs? Which one is right for me? Coursera’s many tracks can be difficult to navigate. (Though our full review of Coursera can help!)
Conclusion: Ease Of Use
While both sites are simple to use, Coursera edges out ahead. If you don’t need to bother about their different tracks, then it is very straightforward to use—and you’ll never have the annoying ads to upgrade which edX blares.
edX Vs Coursera: Which Has Better Quality?
Regardless of what you spend your money on, you want to know if what you’re buying is worth the price. Is it high quality? Is it well done? If you didn’t care about the quality, then you would be watching random videos on YouTube. But instead you’re here, asking, “Is Coursera good? Is edX worth it?” Let’s find out the answers.
EdX has that ivory-tower gleam—all of its courses are created by universities themselves. Each instructor has had years of experience and expertise in the field, and are well adept to teach students.
Their videos are also well made. Though at the beginning there were complaints about poor audio, that issue seems to be fixed, and their videos include excellent moving graphics and example. Their readings and transcripts ensure that you get a full experience, regardless of how you learn best.
With edX, you can also earn degrees, including up to your Master’s. This is a reputable, high-quality site with excellent courses.
If universities are ivory towers, then Coursera still has that white glimmer shining through its site. Since Coursera partners with top-quality colleges like Yale, Stanford, and Rice, all of their courses are up to university standards. The instructors have been teaching in classrooms for years, and were hand-picked because of their teaching skills.
But the teachers aren’t the only ones who know how to do their jobs well. The videos were expertly designed to be much more than a recorded lecture. They include graphics, examples, and excellent editing. But visual-audio learning isn’t the only type included—the readings, assignments, and quizzes ensure that you master the material.
The final proof of Coursera’s quality is the ability to earn degrees. If Coursera is reputable enough to earn you a degree that is recognized by other universities around the world, then it is sure to be high-quality.
Frankly, there’s not much difference here regarding quality. Both Coursera and edX are top-notch, partnering with excellent universities, with well-crafted videos, and additional material for thorough learning. Which one is better quality will depend more on how much you pay for it than the actual quality of the tools themselves—because both of them offer equally excellent experiences.
edX Vs Coursera: Special Tools/Perks
Occasionally a site may offer a special tool or perk that makes it stand out. Do either Coursera or edX offer special tools that allow it to rise above the other?
EdX offers Learning Tracks—most of them along the same lanes as Coursera. They also offer Professional Tracks, as well as Executive Education ones. You can also earn your degree completely online with edX, with a bachelors costing about $166/credit hour, and an entire Master’s degree costing only $10K-$25K.
Coursera’s claim to uniqueness is within its different tracks—professional or executive certificates to equip you for business, issued by Google or IBM. You can also use Coursera to earn your Master’s degree, for as little as $15K
Conclusion: Special Tools/Perks
Here both Coursera and edX are tied again, as they both offer equal learning paths for their different users’ goals.
edX Vs Coursera: Which Is Priced Better?
With our two sites being equal in so many ways, price may be the deciding factor. After all, if you are looking at two items that are identical in almost every way, you should go with the cheaper. Let’s see how our two sites compare. Is Coursera cheap? Is edX a good price?
EdX offers their courses on a course-by-course basis, so your final cost will depend on how many courses you take. Most of edX’s courses cost $49-$150—the low end of which is identical to Coursera, but the high end being much higher.
EdX’s Professional courses begin at $220, which is equal to the estimated 3 months of Coursera’s higher-priced Specialization tracks. Earning your entire Master’s degree can cost as little as $15K, which is far below traditional universities’ starting costs of $40K.
EdX does offer that option to audit for free (though constant ads encourage you to do otherwise). You won’t have your assignments graded, but you’ll still have access to all the material.
How much you spend at Coursera depends on what track you take. Like edX, Coursera offers their courses on a course-to-course basis. Their individual courses are priced from $49-$99, while their tracks that include several courses are often priced higher. Coursera’s Specialization tracks run on a subscription-based model, costing $29-$79 a month, with an estimated completion time of 3 months. If you choose to earn your degree through Coursera, it can cost you as little as $10,000—far below the average $40,000 that students pay at a traditional college.
However, Coursera also allows you access to all of their courses with a subscription of $399 a year, which is worth the price as long as you take 2 courses a month.
While Coursera does have a decent price tag, it is far cheaper than what college courses usually cost ($800-$1,300), and allow you to earn certificates that add weight to your resume.
But don’t let large price tag scare you off quite yet—because you can audit almost all of their courses for free. While you won’t earn a certificate or submit peer-graded assignments, you’ll still have access to all the lectures, readings, and learning, without spending a single dollar.
Once again, our two competitors are neck to neck. Coursera may inch out the slightest bit here, as the low end of their prices are lower than edX’s —but the difference is too small to call conclusive. However, the ability to have access to all of Coursera’s courses, and its non-pushy auditing system, may push it into the lead.
Is Either Better Suited For Different Learners?
Your learning goals are unique—so a site that is excellent for someone else, might not be the best fit for you. If you’re more interested in technology, than a hobby site won’t do you much good, and if you want to learn how to knit, a business-oriented site won’t give you much help. Let’s see if our two sites are suited for different learners.
EdX is similar to Coursera in this area in that it is geared toward the academic learner. Its courses are what you would expect to find in a college catalog, adjusted to work well in the online platform. However, it is slightly less intense than Coursera, as you don’t need to submit any peer-reviewed papers, and there are more fun classes. While there are some fun classes, most of the courses focus on Humanities, Sciences, and Technology. Their site reflects this academic bent. Navigating the site feels more like using a college’s student portal, than a user-centric site that is pleasant to browse. Once again, edX is a site for those interested in academic credits.
All of Coursera’s courses are created in partnership with colleges, so it’s not surprise it offers a more academic learning experience. You’ll be writing papers, have peer-reviews, and interact together on projects. Coursera feels much like school, with portals and deadlines and assignments—but it will also earn you the same official credits that university would. If you’re interested in CEU’s and an academic experience, then Coursera is the way to go.
However, Coursera also works well for those who just want to learn for learning’s sake. Coursera’s free auditing option allows you to still access all the learning from videos and reading—but none of the responsibilities of papers or quizzes.
Which Is Better: edX Or Coursera?
Coursera and edX are almost perfectly matched opponents—they’re from different colleges, each promoting their own quality and tracks. With such evenly-paired sites, any choice for one over the other is subjective—but our vote still goes to Coursera. Because Coursera is slightly easier to use, and offers slightly lower prices, it’s a great choice for the beginner. Plus, Coursera’s free auditing route is filled with less ads shouting for you to upgrade than Edx, and so is a smoother user experience.
If you want to simply explore a site, then we recommend Coursera—but if you have a specific class you are looking for, compare its listing on both Coursera and edX. Ultimately, the greatest difference is price, so go with the site that offers it cheaper.