Learning

Coursera vs Udemy: Online Learning in 2021

Coursera vs Udemy

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Udemy and Coursera are some of the most sought-after online learning platforms. The average student in the US graduated with about $30,000 in debt. Online Learning Platforms can provide a lot of the same knowledge for way cheaper. It has become easier for students and parents alike to pursue something from home through their laptops or phones. All this flexibility also comes with huge cost savings compared to college classroom courses and low barriers to entry to learning from a renowned school. I have used both Udemy and Coursera extensively to learn skills like Python, Web Development, Machine Learning, Math, JavaScript, and even Music Production. Udemy and Coursera are good stepping stones to start exploring a subject at home. Let’s look at Coursera vs Udemy┬áto see which online learning platform would be right for you.

Coursera vs Udemy: Quick Look

Coursera LogoUdemy
5.04.5
Go to WebsiteGo to Website
PricingPricing
Starts at $49Starts at $9.99
HomeworkHomework
GradedNot Graded
InstructorsInstructors
Affiliated with a University or CompanyUniversity or Company affiliation is rare
Mobile AppMobile App
YesYes
CommunityCommunity
StrongNot as strong
CertificateCertificate
YesYes
LinkedIn Shareable CertificateLinkedIn Shareable Certificate
YesYes

There are many other learning platforms to start learning at home. If you want to see a breakdown of Skillshare vs Udemy, read about it here.

Overview

Coursera: Overview

Coursera, unlike Udemy, ties up exclusively with universities and companies to create courses. These universities and companies are some of the high ranking names that are recognized globally. Harvard, Stanford, Google, IBM all have their own courses on Coursera taught by their staff. Despite having these relations Coursera still prices its courses starting at $49. You can also do some for free. The courses on Coursera also require more time investment. You need to submit the homework and assignments for grading to get the final certificate.

Udemy: Overview

Imagine the educational videos on YouTube are taken out and moved to a new platform, that would be Udemy. So you don’t need to be a Ph.D. from a top university to have your own set of courses on Udemy. The barriers to entry of even being a teacher on Udemy is also low. This does not imply a bad learning experience. I personally haven’t had a bad experience with Udemy. On completion, you are awarded a certificate by Udemy. However, do not expect to land a job at a company or even start to look for freelancing gigs after one certificate. Homework and assignments are not graded but more geared towards self-assessment. You can learn things like Python, SQL, Mathematics, WordPress, Adobe Illustrator, Android App Development, Digital Marketing, and a lot more.

Which platform to choose what you want to explore depends on what your motivations are.

Cost

Although cheaper than in-person college classes, Let’s compare Coursera vs Udemy in terms of their costs.

Coursera: Pricing

Cost: Starts at $49.

Coursera does offer some free courses as well.

Coursera courses start from $49. There are some courses that you can do for free if you choose to not get a verified certificate. I learned Machine Learning by Andrew Ng for free. Coursera also has a yearly subscription to Coursera plus which costs $399/year for unlimited access to 3000+ courses and specializations.

Udemy: Pricing

Cost: Starts at $9.99

Udemy offers some free courses as well.

Udemy has over 150,000 courses of which a few are free and other courses start at $9.99. They have this “special” pricing of around $9.99 very frequently. Other times they price their courses in the hundreds of dollars at which point you would be better off waiting a few days for the prices to drop.

If cost is a factor, choose Udemy. If you can spend a little more choose Coursera. I would also choose Udemy if you are uncertain of your motivations or the end goal behind learning a course. The course could be a test environment to gauge your interest.

Course Quality

When I pay for a course I like seeing a certain kind of quality with at least a decent camera and audio, timely course updates after you enroll, hands-on projects, etc. Let’s compare Coursera vs Udemy on the quality of courses.

Coursera: Quality Controlled

Coursera has courses from the top universities and companies which are well-made and extensive.

Coursera seems to be obsessed with having a threshold with its courses and the institutions offering them. These institutions include some of the top universities and companies in the world. Since the reputation of the institution is tied to the courses, they make sure to do a good job in delivering. The first course I did on Coursera was a 6-week Music Production course by Berklee College of Music around 2013. Even then, I remember the course quality and its contents being great. Besides this, the courses have their own communities with the staff and other students helping each other out. This is another area where Coursera does better than Udemy: building a community and networking.

Udemy: Could be a little rough around the edges

Udemy can have some poorly executed courses but it is easy to sidestep those by looking at the following:

  1. Course Preview Videos
  2. Last Updated Date
  3. Course Reviews
  4. Instructor lookup on social media and Google

Since the barrier to entry is low on Udemy, there are courses with really shoddy screen recordings with low-quality audio. These are especially true for the free courses on the platform from what I have seen. It is definitely easy to side-step these but they are out there. There are great courses on Udemy that are constantly updated and are produced well. Since the courses cost about $10, a lot of people would not mind the potential issues a course might have. But you also have to factor the time investment it is going to entail if you enroll in the course. And a well-made course with a good instructor can definitely make you more interested in learning the subject. If you want to be thorough to know if you should be taking a course, I would suggest doing the following:

Watch the course preview videos

The courses on Udemy have preview videos. This does not just include the introductory “trailer” video but some other ones from the course itself. This could give you a good idea of if the course is well-made in terms of video and audio quality. You can also know if the instructor is coherent.

Last Updated Date

Check the last updated date on the course page. If it has been updated within the same year, proceed to look through the course.

Read the reviews

This is a no-brainer. Read the reviews on the page. But also compare the total number of students that have rated the course with the other ones on the same topic. Also, look at the number of students enrolled.

Research the instructor

If you are still not sure, Google the instructor’s name. This should give you some insight into what you can expect. Look them up on social media as well. What I also like doing a lot of the time is looking up the instructor on YouTube. A lot of the time, they have parts of their courses or some freebies on YouTube that you can use as their audition tape. This is how I knew Brad Traversy is a great instructor.

Udemy and Coursera have good quality courses. Although, as mentioned earlier, because of the low barrier to entry on Udemy, some courses don’t live up to the mark. A 5-10 minute course research as per the steps mentioned above should give you a clear idea of the course and instructor quality.

Homework

Let’s look at Coursera vs Udemy in terms of their homework, assignments, and projects.

Coursera: Graded Homework

A lot of the courses have graded homework and assignments which impact your final grade. The whole experience of Coursera is like college.

Coursera takes a different approach when it comes to homework and assignments. They treat the whole process of taking a course just like a college. You have to submit quizzes, assignments, and projects by the deadline. They are graded, auto-graded, or peer-graded, and these grades determine if you get the final certificate. I like this approach of having set deadlines. It keeps you more focused and you have to keep learning on some schedule. This is also a good opportunity to optimize how you use your Google Calendar.

Udemy: Self-Assessment

Udemy has some form of homework, assignments, or hands-on projects. These are not graded and geared more towards self-assessment.

Udemy is definitely geared more towards self-assessment. It is up to you to do the homework and tests. If you don’t, you don’t lose any grades. If you do, you don’t gain any grades. So it is up to you to keep yourself motivated to do the homework because the downsides to not doing them are low. However, a lot of the programming courses that I have taken have intense hands-on projects. These are also real-world projects a lot of the time. So the right courses do train you right.

If you are in a situation that might prevent you from being regular and on a schedule, choose Udemy. If you can dedicate a certain number of hours per week towards a course, choose Coursera. On the other hand, if you feel you need your homework to be graded just to keep you motivated, choose Coursera.

Certification

Udemy and Coursera both offer certificates after completing their courses. Both of these can be shared and added to your LinkedIn profiles and resumes. Let’s look at each of these.

Coursera

Certificates on Coursera are from Universities and companies so they can be great as add-ons to your profile. The certificates can also be shared on LinkedIn and other social media websites.

Coursera certificates can carry slightly more weight considering they are coming from the top universities and companies. These high-quality courses do offer some weight if you want to supplement your resume with some updated courses. However, just like Udemy, don’t expect to land a job with just one certificate from Coursera. It is better to build a portfolio through some projects after learning about something.

Udemy

Certificates on Udemy are shareable on LinkedIn and social media. However, they are not as highly regarded as certificates from universities or other high-ranking institutions.

Every Udemy course offers a certificate that is easily shareable on LinkedIn and can also be listed on your resume. Just doing one course on Udemy alone will not help you land a job. These certificates might carry some weight if the instructor is well-known. However, it is best not to rely on that. The main motivation behind doing a course on Udemy should be looked at as the first step and not the final solution. These courses can broaden your understanding of the subject to either take up some freelance gigs or start working on your portfolio. If you are just taking a course on Udemy to supplement some part of your resume or portfolio, then it might carry a little more weight. Be sure to follow the course up with some projects of your own.

Both Udemy and Coursera offer great value and their certifications alone cannot guarantee a job. It is important to apply the knowledge gained through incremental projects.

Community

The process of learning is better when you have other people around. Let’s compare Coursera vs Udemy to see their approach to building student communities.

Coursera: Encourages interaction

You tend to interact with other students and like-minded people on Coursera. They are also instrumental in providing some direction and support throughout the course.

Coursera, unlike Udemy, forces you to engage with other students through their forums. Not only can you get your questions answered on the forums but you can also talk about other things on some. Many courses ask you to take the time to introduce yourself to other students. This keeps a conversation going for someone looking for more support through the course. Coursera does a great job of helping students create and maintain these relationships.

Udemy: Needs something more

You are mostly on your own on Udemy. The courses do have Q&A sections where you can get your questions answered but your interactions with other students don't go past that.

Through a Udemy course, you can ask your questions in the Q&A section right under every class video. You will get a response back from the instructor, teaching assistants, or other students but most of the time that will be the extent of your interaction with others. A Udemy course is more geared towards solely just learning something. This is great but a lot of the time people are thinking about entrepreneurship, freelancing, or a career shift through these courses. Networking opportunities are an essential component in those cases.

If you think you would be better off with learning with others or just need more networking opportunities, Coursera is clearly the better choice.

Coursera vs Udemy for Python

I would like to also just mention this because I think I could provide some perspective having learned Python online. I started out on Udemy with the Complete Python Bootcamp for about $10. Learning Python is an amazing way to get started if you are interested in coding, data science, machine learning, or even web development. If you are interested in doing an online Python Bootcamp Course, you can choose from here. If your eventual goal is to work with data or Machine Learning, you would also need to learn SQL and Math.

Coursera vs Udemy: Conclusion

Udemy is a great resource if you are just starting to explore a topic. Udemy courses are really cheap and self-paced. Choose Coursera if your desired outcome is a credible certificate and you can spend a little more. The University and Corporate affiliations and assignments make your credentials better than a Udemy certificate. 

Utilizing Udemy and Coursera

People usually think about Udemy OR Coursera. I, however, would recommend a mixture of these options. Look at Udemy as a starting point. This is especially good for people who are just starting to explore a new area like I did when I started learning to code. I, personally was afraid of even thinking about coding after going through a really bad time in college learning about object-oriented programming for one semester. I barely survived the course. However, $10 and one month was all I needed to wipe that fear and aversion away by learning Python. That one course opened up so many avenues I had never thought about: Data Science, Machine Learning, Web Development, and even this website after some time.

Start brewing your interest on Udemy for really cheap, take it to Coursera or other platforms like edX to do a MicroMasters or Udacity for a Nanodegree. You can also look at Skillshare as a starting point. This should prepare you with projects and you could at least start looking into some freelancing gigs or a college degree with a great background. If you plan to go to college after doing these courses, you would probably be way ahead of your class with a solid profile to land a good job later. These cost-effective online learning platforms are amazing resources that could be utilized by using both of them together.

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