Price: Free, $49 – $99 for verified certificate
Rank: 98/100 – high quality college courses from some of the world’s top universities, available to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection
Edx is one of the major delivery platforms of MOOCs – massive open online courses. Unlike other providers, Edx was founded by universities themselves – Harvard and MIT – and is entirely non-profit. Their mission is to provide free and inexpensive education to everyone.
This platform is exceptional, high quality and innovative – there are several reasons why you should consider taking Edx online courses if you are interested in exploring the world of MOOCs.
#1 – You’re getting courses from top notch universities from around the world
Institutions like Harvard, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Georgetown University and countless others are working together to provide quality education for anyone with an internet connection.
Many courses are online versions of the same ones students are taking at these very colleges, and they even include all the same material, homework and quizzes. The obvious flaw is you’re missing out on the in classroom experience, and don’t have the ability to directly communicate with the teaches. The tests are also graded by online software, so it’s questionable to if that’s comparable to a actual teacher graded version.
Even so, getting a very similar education as students who are paying several thousands is a pretty sweet deal, especially if you don’t require a fancy degree.
#2 – It’s affordable, and you can audit many courses for entirely free
When enrolling in a course on Edx, you usually have two options – you can purchase a verified certificate of completion (usually $49, sometimes up to $99) or audit the course for free, without a certificate.
Note that certain courses are paid only and cost several hundred dollars, but the vast majority are very inexpensive or entirely free.
Because Edx is a non-profit institution, it relies on selling these verified certificates (along with donations) to continue providing free and inexpensive education. While these certificates don’t exactly equate to a college degree (although some are transferrable for real college credit) it is nonetheless a great way to enhance your education.
#3 – Some courses can be taken for legit college credit
Edx has started offering courses that can be transferred for actual credits at participating colleges with their Global Freshman Academy and ACE Alternative Credit Project. The Freshman Academy lets incoming freshman take certain classes before they arrive on campus, as well as high school students who want to start taking college courses early.
The ACE project is for adults who have completed some college, but want to start getting on track to go back. Certain courses can be taken to earn general credits, which can then be transferred to participating colleges.
While it’s great Edx has started offering these options, the program seems to be in its infancy. Out of the 700+ courses offered, only a handful can be taken for actual credits.
#4- There’s no application process – they’re available to anyone with an internet connection
If you have internet access, you are officially eligible to enroll in any course at Edx.
You no longer have to worry about affording college, getting accepted or moving across the country to have access to quality education. It’s an honest chance for anyone who is willing to invest the time and effort into learning to be able to improve their education and ultimately their path in life.
#5 – You can take courses on your own time, that fit your schedule
One of the major disadvantages of enrolling in college is you have to take courses at a certain time, at a certain place and during a set block of dates. Edx courses allow you to enroll and take classes when and where it’s convienent for you. Many courses are even self-paced, so you can take them whenever and for as long as you want.
Without the pressure of traditional course hours and deadlines, it could help ease many people into the process of continuing their education. That being said, since there’s no formal commitment the drop out rate is extremely high, and only a very small percentage of students who enroll in these courses actually finish.
#6 – Helps people explore their options and interests without the cost
It can be incredibly expensive to enroll in college and have no idea what you want out of it. Some students change their major so many times and have taken so many unnecessary courses that they end up taking 5, 6, 7 and sometimes even 8+ years to graduate.
It’s a great way for high school students, recent grads and well, basically anyone, to be able to jump online and audit any course, within any subject without the high cost. There’s no requirement to finish classes either, so you can take as many as you like and explore what interests you.
A college degree is not a necessity for every path in life, and often times students don’t realize that until they’ve invested a lot of money into their education. The ability to explore options in such an educational setting before investing the money can end up saving some people from a lot of debt.
#7 – It’s an awesome resource for anyone who loves to learn
Edx has an exceptionally large number of courses within engineering and computer science, as well as business and management. If you’re interested in those career paths, Edx is the place to start learning.
Still though, there are a lot of subjects covered within Edx – plenty of courses are given within the arts, biology, life sciences, health and safety, nutrition, education, humanities, and many more.
While certain MOOC providers boast massive numbers of courses (Udemy has over 40,000 online classes) it’s a case of quality over quantity with Edx. Keep in mind places like Udemy aren’t really a fair comparison to Edx – the system is entirely different and courses aren’t generally from actual colleges, but rather anyone who wants to upload a course can, and most of the time quality is compromised.
Let’s face it, having access to education from some of the best universities from around the world at little to no cost is just plain awesome. What lifelong learner wouldn’t love it?
While Edx in its current state isn’t a formal replacement to traditional college, it’s an awesome way to explore interests, learn new skills and ultimately, enhance your career.