The internet has certainly revolutionized education and made it vastly easier to learn about any subject. And while many traditional educational institutions may be dismissive of online courses, there are many educators who believe strongly in online education and have made great efforts to bring their teachings beyond the confines of their own classrooms and make them available for people all over the world for free or at a very low cost.
Founded in 2012 by Harvard and MIT, edX — a platform for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)’s — is perhaps the best example of this. The majority of courses on edX are 100% free, and today it claims to be the home of more than 20 million learners. And you’ll find all kinds of courses on it across a very wide range of disciplines.
But are edX’s MOOC’s of comparable quality to a real unit you’d take at a real college? That’s the question we’re interested in answering, and we’ll be collecting user comments and reviews on edX from as many of its users as possible to give you the best idea of how effective it is for most people and whether it’d be worth your time trying it. The below is what’s been submitted so far.
If you’ve used edX to take any course, we’d like to hear from you: submit your own review of edX here and we’ll add it to this article.
I have taken the edX Berkley Music Theory course as well as a few Business related courses. In my opinion edX is one of the best online learning platforms out there. The reasons for that as follows:
1) The teachers are extremely qualified which means you have a chance to learn from people who are the best in their field.
2) The courses are structured to an extremely high standard. They're created by academics at top universities.
3) As a result, the overall the quality of the courses can be a lot higher compared to other platforms like udemy.
4) They allow you to take some courses for free, and then pay to get a certificate. This is a great feature as it means that if your goal is to simply learn you can do that free of charge. You only need to pay if you want to get certified and that often means its because you want to advance your career and so you'll likely see a return through higher earnings.
5) The certificates carry weight. As they come via leading, well known and respected universities it is more impressive to employers.
The main cons:
1) Instructor based courses can be hard to keep up with (especially if you enroll late as I did one time!)
2) Some of the courses are very lacklustre. The teacher is simply reading from a textbook and the content isn't engaging.
3) It can be difficult to get answers to questions you have -- edX doesn't always monitor student comes and get back to students
Overall: A great opportunity to learn academic related subjects. It's great that you have the option of taking the courses for free as well. This does offset a lot of the cons of the platform.
PS the Berkley music theory course is incredible!
--Finn O'Hurley, Learnopoly
I joined edX as I wanted to take their 'Introduction to the Music Business' course by Berklee. I've known about the Berklee College Of Music for a number of years now as I work in the music industry, but this was my first opportunity to take one of their courses.
What made me take this course via edX rather than directly through Berklee, is edX allowed me to enroll for free. They offered me an upsell to get a certificate for taking this course but I didn't go with that option. Not taking the upsell has meant I haven't been able to take any of the quizzes they offer, but that's fine with me. I’m sure could be worth paying the extra for those that want to get certified or test their knowledge though.
The course had more detail than I thought it would considering it was presented as an introductory course. Taught mainly by entertainment attorney John Kellogg but featuring other industry professionals, the teachers felt credible. They covered recording agreements, copyright, touring, management and more. There were six ‘lessons’ in total with a number of units within each lesson.
I've taken a number of courses before and this one was very easy to navigate. It was laid out in a logical manner and all lessons were accessible via a couple of clicks from the course dashboard.
Some of the videos in the course seemed like they were made a while ago based on the video quality, I'm guessing this is due to the Berklee study material rather than the edX platform itself.
What I liked about the videos is they were all transcribed. You could read text as a video played, and even scroll through the text and click a certain line to be taken to that part in the video. This isn't something I’ve seen when taking previous courses and it's a really handy feature.
Based on my initial course I would strongly recommend the edX platform. Considering this course was free, my only commitment was time, and I feel it was time well spent.
--Shaun Letang, Music Industry How To
I have taken the 'Introduction to Aerospace engineering: Aeronautics and Human Spaceflight' course from MIT and completely finished it in 6 weeks. The course was archived so it was a solo experience. I did not take a certificate. It opened my eyes on the whole Aerospace industry and made me realize that I did not know much about it at all. Now I can certainly say I have a solid foundation of the subject and can apply it to different fields. It was a breathtaking journey.
--Aknazar Arysbek, Facebook profile
I use EdX platform mostly for 1 year and loved it. I currently am using Udemy with my company license and even though is also good, I must admit edX is way more informative and more demanding in the way they make the courses, it does seem like you going to college but in a relaxed, comfortable form home kind of way. I myself didn't go to college, so edX gave me an opportunity to explore the subjects I'm passionate about but thought I would never have the chance of learning.
I have my own tour company in Lisboa and so some courses are really useful for me to gain more skills and add something to my guests experiences.
--Raquel Valente, Facebook profile
I took a dementia-related course with edX as my grandfather had suffered with this illness. While the family cared for him as much as possible during this time, we learned a lot of it on the fly. My grandfather has since passed away but my interest in this subject has remained.
The specific edX course I took was Dementia and Diversity in Primary Care: African American Populations. It was initially created by Stanford University which I was surprised by; I always assumed that getting an education from a university of this caliber was something I would never experience.
The lessons gave a lot of useful insight into the disease as well as how it impacts African Americans specifically. The lessons seem to be made for care givers, but as someone who helped care for my granddad previously I still found it interesting. The course was shorter than I thought it would be but I still found it helpful.
It was taught by Rita Hargrave, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist at Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center. While it doesn’t look like she’s part of the core Stanford team, I’m thankful she was brought in to teach this course.
I also took the Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies course soon after. When I enrolled on this course they tried to upsell the certification near the top of every page, but that didn’t take away from the learning experience. I understand they’re a company and they need to make money somehow.
I'll be looking for more courses on edX in future and feel it’s a good platform. You get free courses from some of the biggest universities in the world so I don’t really see a downside.
--Jennifer Fielding, That Sister