Coursera- is it worth it?

What is Coursera?

Coursera is a website that claims to build your skills by offering courses from top-notch universities such as Yale, Stanford, Harvard, and many more.

This site boasts of courses in a plethora of fields, including engineering, education, language arts, and so much more. Coursera offers what are known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), where people from all over the world can enroll in courses organized by renowned universities from around the globe. As a full-time working mother of two young boys, I was intrigued by the prospect of continuing my education online while I went about my life as usual.

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I hesitated at the thought of whether I wanted to dive into studying again after all these years. I had just completed my TEFL certification online and pondered how I could work on professional development in my career. As an educator, I feel that upscaling at any given time is of utmost importance. I was blown away by the multitude of courses before me when I went on to the Coursera site.

It was easy enough to create an account on Coursera; however, I was presented with the daunting task of picking between their ‘Subscription Model’ and their regular model. In their standard model, you can audit the course for free, which means you can gain access to the course material without earning a certificate. You could pay for an individual course, the price of which shows up in the box under the name of the class you want to take.

Since I was determined to make my time in lockdown fruitful, I opted for their subscription model known as ‘Coursera Plus’. In this system, you pay an annual fee of Rs. 29,255 and get access to a multitude of the courses on offer from esteemed universities. I was dubious about the certifications offered under this scheme but was pleasantly surprised to see that every course I wanted to take was under the annual plan. I began dipping my toes in the MOOC pond by taking a London University course on ‘ Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing’. I found it to be informational and engaging. Each module ends with a quiz or peer review, allowing you to ponder what you have learned and test your knowledge. It gave a great sense of satisfaction to know that I had learned something of value in my free time that I could genuinely apply to my teaching practices. I went on to complete many other courses and specializations and have never regretted choosing the annual subscription.

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What do the certificates look like?

The certificates have a Coursera logo on them and the name of the University offering the program. I found them quite professional looking and was eager to present them to my employer as part of my professional development for the year.

Did these certifications hold any weight with my employer?

I’m pleased to say, yes, they did. My employer was pleased to note that I had taken on the additional studying project in my free time. Since these programs were closely related to my career path, their value to my role as a teacher was undeniable. Coursera certifications may not hold the same weight as a formal degree. Still, they certainly can be added to your resume as taking these courses from highly regarded colleges would amp up your skills and show that you are a lifelong learner. I found that I had a lot to discuss and share with my colleagues as well.

Are other MOOC platforms as good?

There are other MOOC platforms such as Udemy, EdX, and Alison that provide similar certificates. I completed ‘Leaders of Learning’ from EdX and found the Coursera interface much more user friendly. The certificate courses seemed to be more reasonably priced on Coursera as well. When I compare my diploma from Alison to the certificates from Coursera, Alison somehow seems lackluster and does not pop.

The take-away:

My subscription for Coursera is not over, and I still have my eye on a few specializations that I would like to pursue. The annual subscription was money well spent as I feel the instant gratification of being able to apply my new skills in my work-life. I enjoy sitting down with a coffee cup to peruse which course I would like to take next. Of course, as my husband often tells me, everyone is not as excited as I am to study. So if you are planning to test the waters by taking a few programs to start with, I would suggest that you ease into it by taking individual courses and then moving to the annual plan if you find yourself enjoying it or wanting to continue on with your studies. The yearly program is more financially viable if you take multiple specializations a year, which means you end up paying less than if you took each course individually. Remember to check whether the courses you want to enroll in are under the umbrella of Coursera Plus before you take the plunge.

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Any questions?

Let me know if you have any questions about Coursera, or have any experiences with Coursera that can help other readers by commenting below.

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