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.
edX is one of the biggest players in the online learning business and was started as a collaboration between Harvard and MIT. Today you will find thousands of courses taught by some of the leading institutions in the country. edX courses cover a broad set of subjects and can be taken for free in most cases if you don’t want a certificate or want to take part in a larger program.
If you are looking for a more formalized program then edX has you covered there as well. They have a number of different paths that allow you to get a deeper understanding of a particular discipline. edX offers MicroBachelors, MicroMasters, Professional Certificates, XSeries, Freshman Year Classes, Online Masters Degrees, and Executive Education. We’ll dive into each of these in more detail below, but you can see how adding these things to your resume would be very valuable.
Just be prepared that as you move away from the free courses, you are going to have some cost. That can be as low as $39 for a single course certificate, up to thousands of dollars for a fully online degree. At the end of the day, it’s great to have so many different options to take edX courses based on your financial circumstances.
While conducting our edX review, we looked at a number of different factors. Here’s a breakdown of what we think is the most important when it comes to rating an online learning platform.
There’s a big difference when it comes to course quality between different online learning platforms. Some allow individuals to set up accounts and create courses, while others partner with universities and businesses.
Along with course quality, it’s important that the teachers are true experts in their field. That’s easier to identify with platforms that partner with well-known colleges, but it’s also not to say that individuals without an association to a college can’t be just as knowledgeable.
One of the most important impacts of online learning is to expand access to those who might not otherwise get these educations. Having affordable options is a major factor in our reviews.
If you want the maximum benefit of these programs, you need to have something to show for it. Offering certificates and degrees is something we like to see from online learning platforms.
We do consider how easy a platform is to use and navigate. That said, because Learning Management Systems (LMS) are so prevalent, most of the major companies in this space have good capabilities.
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.
This is another offering from edX that allows you to get a deeper knowledge of a subject. Like their Micro Degrees, these are a set of courses you take within a larger subject area. Looking through the XSeries programs you will see they are not quite as focused on career skills, but more general topics and subjects you might just want to learn more about.
This is an interesting concept that edX has partnered with Arizona State University. You can take classes from anywhere in the world and earn transferable credits from ASU. The best part is that you only pay for the classes if you earn the grade you needed and plan then to use them for credit at ASU or another University.
Currently, the course selection looks pretty limited, but we’ll keep an eye out for any expansion to this unique edX course program.
These are full-fledged Master’s degrees offered by some of the best universities in the world. Currently, there are degrees offered by colleges like Indiana University, Boston University, Purdue University, Arizona State University, and others. Some of these degrees are being offered for less than $10,000 which is a strong value when you get to add a Master’s degree to your resume.
This set of edX courses is focused on high performing business leaders. Obviously, people in this category already have busy work schedules, so allowing for executive development through online learning is a great forum for business leaders. The current set of course is somewhat limited, but hopefully, we’ll see it continue to grow with time.
edX pricing has a few different levels depending on whether you are taking courses, or working through a larger program or degree.
At it’s most basic level, as we’ve already discussed, edX has free courses. These are great for people wanting to learn at their own pace.
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.
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.
The cost of XSeries courses is considerably less than Micro degrees but still runs in the hundreds of dollars. Depending on the course, they can run from right around $100 to closer to $1000. Our observation was the price correlated heavily to the skills ability to improve your marketability. For instance, the XSeries courses that are more technological in nature cost more than the ones covering softer skills.
As you might expect, these are the most expensive option of all the edX course offerings. We are, after all, talking about real degrees that are almost definitely should add dollars to your paycheck when complete. With prices ranging from around $10,000, up into the $20,000’s we think the programs are fairly priced given the potential return you should get.
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.