Coursera vs EdX: Which is Best For Online Learning?

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Coursera and EdX are two of the most popular MOOCs for students these days. But, which one is better?

In this article, we’ll look at Coursera vs EdX and see which is the best option for you.

Don’t Want To Wait? Here’s Our Verdict

There’s a reason that EdX and Coursera are the two biggest course providers on the net – they’re both awesome. However, we do need to come up with a winner here. We have EdX come out the winner by the slightest of margins. Actually, three out of the six categories were tied here. The sites are that close.

It all comes down to your course preferences though. If you are into computer science or business then Coursera is easily the best choice. However, EdX has a wider range of course topics to choose from.

The real winner is you though (that sounded way more corny than intended). Both sites are free to sign up for, so make sure you sign up for both and find the courses that suit you. 

Sign Up To Coursera for Free

Try EdX

If you want to see how we came to our conclusions though, read the comparison below.

Coursera vs EdX: Our Comparison

Coursera and EdX are similar in a lot of ways. They both were started in 2012 and both serve a similar market with access to online courses from the leading educational institutes from around the world.

Here, we’ll review the six things which I believe is most important for online course students:

  1. Courses on offer
  2. Student experience
  3. Instructor quality
  4. Course quality
  5. Flexibility and commitment required
  6. Price

Courses on Offer

When it comes to the courses on offer, both options have a wide range of course subjects. With Coursera though, there’s a focus on professional training. So, if you’re into computer science or business degrees, Coursera is awesome. In fact, here are the broad subjects you’ll find on Coursera:

  • Arts and humanities
  • Health
  • Physical science and engineering
  • Computer science
  • Business
  • Information technology
  • Personal development
  • Social sciences
  • Language learning
  • Math and logic

Coursera also offers something called Specializations which is a series of courses that deep-dive on a specific topic. These are paid on a monthly membership until you complete all the courses or simply unenroll.

On the other hand, EdX offers a wider range of course topics. For example, there’s education, humanities, design, philanthropy, music, and arts. This is great for most learners. However, because they have a wider net, there are fewer courses in each section compared to Coursera.

Winner: We’re giving EdX the win here. However, that’s only my personal option based on my likes and course needs. If you need a course in computer science or any of the other categories Coursera has, then I’d choose Coursera – especially with the Specializations.

Try EdX

Student Experience

For Student experience, we’re looking at engagement and general ease of use.

Coursera offers a great user experience. It’s super-intuitive to navigate almost everything I want to reach is a click or two away. 

In fact, the biggest compliment I could pay to Coursera’s ease-of-use is to say I didn’t notice it at all. User experience is one of those things… you don’t notice it until it’s bad. Kinda like a sports umpire. You don’t notice the refs until they mess up.

Coursera doesn’t mess up, so you don’t notice it.

They also have decent engagement in their courses too, which is a huge win.

EdX, on the other hand, is a little hard to get used to. I don’t know if it’s the look of the site or the way things are organized… either way, I found it pretty hard to navigate.

I’ve also found that EdX lacks a little with user-engagement. Possibly it’s just the courses I’ve taken, but engagement seems low with other students. It could also be that the forums are a bit of a nightmare to navigate that limits user engagement. Either way, if you want to bounce ideas off other students, you won’t be able to do it well on EdX.

Winner: Coursera is the clear winner here. EdX isn’t a terrible experience, but Coursera is far cleaner.

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Instructor Quality

The quality of instructors here is too similar to call. Both Coursera and EdX have some of the best educators in the world instruct on their courses.

They have real-world experience and often a Ph.D. to their name too. Just check out the instructors on a course I’m about to sign up for…

Although this does depend on the course you’re taking to some extent. For some online-based business courses, the university content can be outdated as it updates so regularly. That’s just personal opinion though.

Either way, you’ll struggle to find a difference between the two platforms here.

Winner: It’s a tie. Both EdX and Coursera offer curses from the best educators in their field.

Course Quality

Again, considering how similar these platforms are in offering, it’s pretty obvious that the course quality will be the same too.

Usually, when you compare EdX or Coursera to another course provider like Udemy, the difference is night and day. However, here, both are top-quality.

What I like about these courses is the educational structure behind them. Plenty of online courses just throw some videos together and expect you to learn.

On these platforms though, you get to work in a group and ultimately have a much richer learning experience.

Both sites also offer certification for their courses too, which will look great on any resume or CV.

Winner: Again, another tie. Both sites have incredibly effective courses.

Flexibility and Commitment Needed

Now, when you sign up for most online courses, they are more of a “here’s a few videos, watch them and you’ve graduates” kinda vibe.

As you can probably imagine, that usually means students drop off pretty quickly. The ones who do complete the course either binge-watch it, or do it at their leisure.

However, when you sign up for Coursera or EdX, you’re basically signing up to be a part-time college student. 

This has its pros and cons. The course is way better, but more is expected of you as a student. There isn’t a course on either platform that’ll require less than 4-6 hours a week. Some will require over ten hours of work a week.

Winner: It’s a tie (again).

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Now, before you start. Sure, there are some do-it-at-your-leisure courses, but both sites require a pretty heavy time commitment and you’ll need to stick to a strict study schedule.

Price

Again, the theme continues. The pricing structure for both sites is similar. You can do parts for free, but will need to pay for the full experience.

Coursera has its one-off courses, which are usually about $50-$100 each, but also the Specializations we spoke about earlier (groups of courses on one topic).  Specializations are around $40 to $80 a month, depending on the courses.

They also have degrees in science, business, and data science that will cost you between $15,000 and $25,000.

If you want to know more about their prices (including financial aid scholarships, and Coursera Plus), check out our Guide To Coursera Pricing.

Although, you won’t find the prices easily on Coursera. You need to be registered and online to check out what a course will cost. 

EdX lists all of its courses for free, but you’ll need to pay up to $300 for graded exams, assignments, and your completion certificate. The free version is simply for knowledge.

EdX also has 76 different programs that allow you to gain university credit. These are called MicroMasters.

Winner: EdX wins here, just due to the sheer transparency of their pricing. Otherwise, it’d be another tie here…. and honestly, I didn’t want to do that.

Try EdX

Final Verdict

EdX – 2
Coursera – 1
Tie – 3

So, as you can see both of these sites are way too similar to give a clear winner. Odds are, it’ll come to a matter of preference or the course topic you want to take. If, for example, you are interested in Design, then EdX would win 6-0 because Coursera doesn’t have any Design courses.

It’s best to check both sites out and see which one has the courses you’re most interested in. 

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About the author: Hey there! I’m Vince. I’m a trained and practicing teacher with experience in e-learning and course design, along with having an extensive background in building and maintaining websites. I started EduTest Labs to help course creators and students find the best resources (without the BS).