The Coursera Experience

The Coursera Experience

Coursera (https://www.coursera.org) is a free online training website. It includes great courses from renowned universities around the world

In the last years I took some courses there and I would like to share my experience.

Great things

  1. It is free!!! There are a lot of courses that you can access without paying a dime. You just need to register.
  2. The quality is excellent. The courses are provided by top universities.
  3. The courses aim to teach theory. This is a big difference from other online learning sites, which are focused on specific technologies, platforms, frameworks, etc.
  4. You can access the courses whenever you want. Even if there are deadlines for exams and practices, you have plenty of time to prepare them. There are even courses that are untimed (you can register and take them whenever you want).
  5. There is a lot of material (videos, presentations, etc.) which is also downloadable.
  6. The courses usually provide practice exercises which are fundamental to grasp the knowledge.
  7. The video subtitles are sometimes translated.
  8. The exam and practices are evaluated immediately, through the website.

 

Faced challenges

  1. The workload. The courses are short, but they require a lot of weekly hours to be spent on learning them. Also, the practice exercises require significant time. In fact, I never was able to finish a course in one step. Sometimes I took the course once, just to see the videos, and then took it again 6 months later to do the exercises and exams.
  2. The language. Even if some videos are subtitled, most of them are not. So you need to understand English.
  3. The topic complexity. Sometimes, due to the course level, there are some preconditions (previous knowledge) that you should have. You can manage to fill this gap, but it requires more effort.

 

Final thoughts

I think that it worth taking courses at Coursera. Even if you face the challenges described above, you can mitigate them in different ways. You can take the course more than once; you can use small blocks of your free time to watch a video (they are usually short). After all, the information is accessible anytime, anywhere. You just need an Internet connection and a browser.

 

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