MOOCs (massive open online courses) promise free and flexible access to education.
With more than 50 million users, Coursera and edX are the giants among the MOOC platforms.
Who exactly are these providers? And which one is better?
Coursera: Private Platform with More Than 37 Million Participants
Coursera was founded in 2012 by two Stanford professors. With more than 37 million users it is the largest MOOC platform worldwide.
In cooperation with universities and companies, Coursera offers a broad spectrum of online courses which ranges from computer science to personal development. One of their most popular courses is "Learning How To Learn".
More than 150 partner institutions, among them elite universities like Yale, Stanford and Princeton, provide high calibre courses.
Coursera is financed by private venture capital funds, so the course provider has a clear profit orientation.
Two trends follow from that:
In spite of this, a lot of content is still available free of charge. And individual learners find thousands of free video courses for self-study.
(Read a more detailed profile of Coursera.)
EdX: Socially Minded Harvard Spin-Off
Like Coursera, edX was founded in 2012 by the elite universities MIT and Harvard.
But in contrast to Coursera, edX is operating on a purely non-profit basis. One of their top courses is Harvard's "Introduction to Computer Science".
More than 100 renowned partner universities are offering courses for about 14 million edX-learners, among them are the universities of Oxford, Zurich and London.
EdX operates similarly to Coursera. There are free and paid course series. In addition, learners can use the credits of some courses towards a master’s degree at one of the cooperating partner universities (MicroMaster).
(Read a more detailed profile of edX.)
EdX vs. Coursera in Direct Comparison
What are the most significant differences between Coursera and edX?
EdX-founder Professor Agarwal (MIT) about his vision for open and accessible education:="player-unavailable">
Coursera and EdX are the two frontrunners among the MOOC providers. In both cases, the courses go into much depth and are created by some of the most renowned universities in the world.
Which of the two is the best provider cannot finally be decided. Every judgement depends on your personal learning objectives and on the attended course.
We therefore recommend that you test the courses that you are interested in simultaneously on Coursera and on edX using the free version. Also consider user reviews for orientation.
There is one point of criticism relevant for both providers: Coursera and edX leave you pretty much on your own. An individual 1:1-coaching which is offered for example by Udacity is not yet available from these providers.
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