Saturday, February 18, 2017

Coursera's Paywall: What you could do about it

I was trying out a Coursera course yesterday before being rudely interrupted by the paywall. Prior to this incident, Coursera courses are free to complete (unless you wanted to pay for a certificate). I've spent quite a bit on Coursera courses when I was still a noob who couldn't differentiate between the quality of the courses offered. Once I've done my fair share of courses on the platform, I became far more discriminating in whether I would want to top up money to get a certificate.

This time round, the finance course I tried out had all materials available for free. However, you can't "complete" the course. With "assignments" hidden behind a paywall, you are stuck in limbo, unable to ever complete the course.

I did a quick search for other finance courses to take. The same situation applies. You are granted access to course materials, but you could never finish the assignments unless you pay for the course.

What can you possibly do?

I've thought of two options:
1). download the videos, download the resources, and quit the course. Learn at your own time, own target. Need certificates? Go elsewhere for them.

2). Pay lor.

Before you pay, I recommend that you check out the reviews for the particular course on Coursera's website, Class Central, and Coursetalk. Why check three sites for reviews? Play safe mah. Time is precious, don't waste it on low substance courses.

Also, do note that you can filter reviews by course attempters, drop-outs, completers. Normally, the different groups have very different things to say about the course. It would also be wise to pay attention to the education background of some of the reviewers (when they state it explicitly in their reviews). Some high level courses are routinely criticized by reviewers because of the course's alleged difficulty (reviewers took a course that is more than they could handle!) while others who are new to a particular field laud praises upon praises on a course because everything new is interesting to them.

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