At a Glance
edX is a non-profit formed by Harvard and MIT with a goal of providing online courses and education. The courses offered by edX are university-level and are in fact made in partnership with some of the leading colleges in the world. With the ultimate goal of breaking down barriers to education, and allowing people to learn on their own by taking edX courses.
One of the best things about edX is its ease of accessibility. You can pick a class and immediately begin setting up your edX account. You answer a handful of basic questions, and you’re done with account creation.
Then you have the option of choosing between a Verified Track where you pay a small amount to earn a certificate or the free version. We’ll get into more detail about these two options below.
If you’re not confident about which track, select the free course and you can easily explore some of the basics before going the paid route.
Access to All Modules – Your access to all the modules is not limited when you use the free version of edX. Where some online course platforms aren’t going to give you access to much without paying, edX gives you a ton of great information and coursework for free.
Learn at Your Own Pace – The free version of most courses are not instructor-led. While not having a live instructor can be a drawback, the ability to learn at your own pace is a major positive. Most courses are comprised of a number of different video lessons. You can watch and practice what you’ve learned at your convenience.
Discussion Board – Each course has its own discussion board for general discussion and questions. You have access to this board even in the free edX courses. It’s not the same as having a live instructor to ask questions, but it gives students the ability to get help when they get stuck.
Skills Network Labs – This is a cool cloud-based tool that allows you to use a virtual lab for practice in necessary classes. For instance, we started the Python Basics course and found this was an easy way to practice our skills without having to download bulky software to our computer.
Mobile App – You can learn on your mobile device by downloading the Cognitive Class mobile app. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store (coming soon) or Google Play Store.
Graded Assignments – You will have graded projects and assignments which makes the experience feel more like an actual class.
Share – The certificate is a great way to show employers you’re upgrading your skills. You can use this on your resume to land a new job, or with a current employer to move up.
Support the Mission – If you want to see the educational system change and become more accessible, then the fee is worthwhile as a charitable donation. Remember edX is a non-profit and needs all the support it can get. By purchasing a verified certificate you are helping in the mission while getting something in return.
edX pricing has a few different levels depending on whether you are taking courses, or working through a larger program or degree.
Free Courses – At it’s the most basic level, as we’ve already discussed, edX has free courses. These are great for people wanting to learn at their own pace.
Verified Certificate – Next, you have the verified certificate track you can take when completing courses. These start at $39 and can go up from there, but are extremely affordable. For this cheap price, edX gives you a certificate you share and use to increase marketability.
Micro Degrees – The next level of pricing is programs and degrees. edX offers innovative Micro degrees and certificate programs that take substantially more time and money. That said, they are a fraction of the cost of what you will pay at traditional colleges for similar content. These can range from a couple hundred to a couple of thousand dollars depending on how in-depth the program.
edX has support that can be accessed at a general company level, and the course level. They have a very large online Help Center where you can find answers to many of your questions.
If you need additional help you can submit a question via their contact page. There is no stated response time expected when asking questions via this medium.
The best avenue for getting support at edX is through specific course discussion forums. Here you can get assistance and feedback directly from instructors and others in the class.
edX has an enormous selection of courses provided by some of the best colleges in the country. Their system is easy to use and provides many different options for completing online course work.
The amount of work you can do for free is exceptional, as is the access to tools needed to truly learn the content. Additionally, if you can afford a few dollars out of your pocket, you can easily get a certificate to prove to employers you’ve bee trained in an area.
The ability to use their discussion forums to get support is also a great feature. This allows even free users to get help, albeit not get specific feedback or grading of assignments.
At the end of the day, you can really tell that edX is a mission-driven business. While they attempt to earn money through paid certificates and programs, these are all affordably priced.
If you are looking for a one-time course or a full program over a long period of time, edX brings solutions for everyone. Their solution is perfect for individuals looking to hone their skills in a particular area, or an organization trying to upskill an entire group of people.
With the increasing demand for online courses and the massive number offered by edX, it’s certain they will continue to grow. What remains to be seen is whether their Micro degrees can begin to compete with actual Certificate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees earned at traditional colleges.
While that reality may be a decent way out in the future, it’s clear many would benefit from the change. These online courses are more affordable and accessible to the masses. They allow people to get trained up on critical skills that increase employability, and hopefully will continue to gain acceptance.