A few years ago, I made the choice to enrol in an online course on Coursera. As I began auditing more and more courses, I was confounded with the big question: Should I purchase the course and earn a certificate or should I continue auditing the courses for free?
I ended up purchasing a few courses and here are my two cents on the issue.
What is Coursera?
For those who may not know, Coursera is an online platform that offers a number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), curated and taught (via pre-recorded video lectures) by instructors from some of the best universities around the world. One can either audit a course for free, or make a payment towards earning a certificate upon the successful completion of the course.
The following are some advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a course:
- It helps showcase the skills or knowledge you have gained through the course.
- A certification is great way to show your inclination towards a particular subject area on your CV.
- Obtain a masters or a degree certificate for much lesser as compared to a regular college program.
- Cost for a regular course may be a deterred for many.
- There is no way to convert the course into college credits.
- Not all video lectures are of premium quality (in terms of content and teaching)- this may be disappointing, given that you have paid for the course.
To buy or not buy?
If you are looking at pursuing a course in the hopes of getting a job, I would say that you might be disappointed. This again depends on the employer and the type of course you have enrolled in – whether its a regular course, guided project, specialisation course, a degree etc. The value of a degree certificate is definitely higher than that of a regular course.
But if your aim is to build a skill or gain some knowledge, Coursera does offer some wonderful courses, and my advice to you would be that you should audit the course before enrolling. Before enrolling, make sure that you like the course content, the pedagogy and have the requisite time to focus on the course. 🙂