I feel I’m in a good position to produce an honest edX review, because I’ve been using the online training platform since back in 2014. I’ve completed several edX courses over the years, so if you’re wondering “is edX legit?” I can definitely give you an answer. (TL;DR – The short answer is “yes,” but you’ll have to read on to get all the important details!)
Like other online course providers, such as Coursera and FutureLearn, edX has evolved considerably over the years. Once a place that concentrated on short, individual MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), edX now offers a vast range of training options. At one end of the scale there are casual short courses (that you can study for FREE), and at the other you will find full multi-year Master’s degrees.
What hasn’t changed is edX’s links to seriously prestigious educational institutions. edX offers courses delivered in association with the likes of Harvard, Berkeley and Penn. There are also courses from tech giants like Microsoft, and W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium).
Before we dive into the main part of the edX review, let’s cover some of the basics.
What is edX?
edX is a training website offering a huge range of online courses (MOOCs), delivered in association with well-known companies and universities. Many of the courses are available to study for free, with the option of paying for graded assessments and an official ID-verified certificate.
edX offers a range of training options, spanning individual courses on specific subjects, certification programs covering a range of complementary skills, and full online Master’s degrees.
Is edX Legit?
edX is a legit and well-established online education platform. It was established in 2012 by Harvard University and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Over 14 Million students have taken courses on the platform.
Is edX Accredited?
edX offers accredited courses delivered in association with well-known universities and companies. In some cases, online learners use materials and lectures from “bricks and mortar” Ivy League colleges.
edX Pricing: How Much does edX Cost?
edX offers courses and certificates for a range of budgets. It’s possible to study many edX courses completely free. However, if you want to obtain an official course certificate (which you can also attach to your LinkedIn Profile), there is a fee for this.
Here are some indicative prices for different edX training options:
- Individual courses: Often free to study, with a fee for an official assessment and certificate. The free option is known as “auditing” a course. Taking the “verified” path tends to cost from $49 to $125.
- MicroMasters programs: These multi-course graduate-level learning paths can count towards a Master’s degree, and start at around $700.
- Professional certificate programs: These multi-course programs are intended to build the foundations for various professional vocations. They go for around $220 and upwards, and include options from the likes of IBM and Microsoft.
- X-Series courses: These again combine multiple courses to give deep understanding of a specific subject, and start at around $200.
- Full Master’s degrees: These take 2-3 years and start at around $10,000.
If you access edX outside the US, you will likely see prices in your equivalent local currency.
Obviously there’s a huge amount of variation here. The good news is that there is plenty on edX you can study for free. It’s also worth noting that even the online Master’s degrees compare favourably in cost to completing one in a bricks and mortar college.
Are edX Certificates Worthwhile?
edX certificates are certainly worthwhile for some purposes. Many come with the kudos of big-name universities or companies like Microsoft, and could be a good addition to a resumé or LinkedIn profile.
That said, a certificate for a single short course obviously isn’t as valuable a credential as a full degree. Certificates for edX’s professional certification programs fall somewhere in the middle. In some cases, completing edX courses can act as credit towards a formal academic qualification.
edX Review: Our Experiences
As you can see from the explanations above, edX’s course offerings are quite involved and complex. In common with Coursera and Futurelearn, this has created a situation where choosing a course can seem a little daunting at first.
Having said that, edX does do a better job than others of explaining what your options are in terms of studying for free (“auditing” a course) or taking a “verified” path, where your work is assessed and you can gain a certificate. They also work hard to sell the benefits of paying – which I suppose is fair enough when they have a business to run!
Once you’ve chosen a course and started studying, edX’s learning platform is well-put-together, but there’s a fair bit to get your head around. You certainly feel like you’re in a proper, formal learning environment, rather than a casual setting. (If “casual” appeals to you more, you might want to take a look at SkillShare, which we described as the “Netflix of Learning.”)
Rather than force every course creator to use exactly the same training layout, edX appears to have given each college (or company) relatively free rein on how to put a course together. As such, you might find that the menu options at the top of one course are for “Course,” “Syllabus,” “Discussion,” “Case Studies” and “Progress,” while another mixes in options like “FAQs,” “Schedule” and “Glossary.”
Similarly, while some courses are quite reliant on video content, others are more text-heavy, with links out to further reading. Ultimately, the end result is that some courses are easier to navigate than others.
When you’re studying a course, you’re encouraged to follow things in order, module by module. This makes sense, both for obvious reasons, and because it gradually exposes you to all the different course features – and in some cases there are many of them. These include discussion boards (where you introduce yourself and carry out group tasks), video modules and graded quizzes.
The video player is similar to that provided by other online course providers. You can turn on subtitles, read transcripts, and opt to play content at a faster speed. You can also download video content to watch offline. Finally, there’s edX app so you can study on the go on both iOS and Android.
Is edX Any Good?
edX is definitely good if you choose the right course and dedicate the recommended amount of time to it.
Having taken several courses on edX, on subjects ranging from cybersecurity to psychology, I can say that I’ve largely enjoyed my time spend on the platform, and certainly learned a lot. That said, the quality of courses does vary a little.
Unsurprisingly, the general rule is that the more high-profile the university producing the course, the better the production values and the overall course content. This has a considerable impact on how much you feel you’ve really got from the course at the end
For example, I took a “Science of Happiness” course from Berkeley way back in 2014, yet I still clearly remember some of the course content and the lessons I learned. (I really recommend this course if you’re into wellbeing and psychology). Meanwhile, the Criminal Justice course I took a year later taught me little beyond the fact that criminal justice isn’t nearly as exciting or interesting as I thought it would be! (If that had been the only course I’d taken before writing an edX review, I may have been less positive!)
I think two key tips come out of this:
- Ensure you study something you’re truly interested in – because it makes all the difference.
- Ideally, pick from the courses offered by the well-known companies and institutions – as they’re generally the better ones.
Other edX Reviews
Other edX reviews out there are largely positive, with Trustpilot giving an average four star rating at the time of writing. This is an interesting contrast to Coursera, where the reviews are considerably more mixed.
All in all, edX is a platform that people seem to like, and I must admit I have more positive memories of my edX courses than of those I’ve taken on other platforms. I think their pricing transparency helps too, because this is somewhat lacking on some other platforms.
With the weight and experience of Harvard University behind it edX should be good, and it is.
It’s fair to say that this is a platform for more serious learning. To be frank, if you’d rather graze around different subjects, you’re probably better off doing some casual study on something like Linkedin Learning (free trial here).
However, if you know what it is you want to learn, and are willing to commit properly to it, edX is well worth your time. Certificates from the likes of Wharton and MIT do look good, especially if you complete one of the multi-course programs, and some of the options could even move you towards a Master’s degree.
Best of all, there’s a HUGE amount of content here that you can try out for free, so you can get a really good feel for a course before you decide to spend any money.
Pros and Cons of edX
Let’s end this edX review with the main pros and cons. Keep reading below for some interesting alternatives.
- Links with prestigious colleges.
- A huge range of courses.
- Certification tracks from IBM, Microsoft and others.
- (Largely) high quality training materials.
- Transparent pricing.
- Free course audit options.
- App for learning on the go.
- Interface can feel overwhelming.
- Some courses less engaging that others.
Comparisons with Other Training Sites
edX vs. Coursera
edX and Coursera are VERY similar training sites. There’s even some cross-over between some of the universities involved in the courses. However, edX’s highlights are Berkeley and MIT, while Coursera’s are Yale and Stanford.
Really, it’s worth looking on both sites, because I’d suggest choosing based on the course and not the provider. For what it’s worth, edX wins out over Coursera for a more transparent pricing policy and better user reviews. However, Coursera does have the edge when it comes to the overall training experience, as everything’s just that little easier to understand.
edX vs. Udemy
edX and Udemy are very different sites, however most will probably appear on your radar if you’re looking for online training.
While edX courses are put together by companies and educational institutions, Udemy courses can be created by anyone. This results in a considerable variation in quality. On the other hand, it does mean you can find courses on a far wider range of topics. Udemy is particularly strong on things like software and internet marketing – if you choose the right course. On the downside, Udemy courses aren’t accredited and won’t do much for your CV.
edX vs. Skillshare
Skillshare is an interesting training platform, but it doesn’t really compare with edX. I’ve previously described Skillshare as a “Netflix of learning,” and it’s certainly great for dipping in and out of subjects.
Skillshare is a very slick platform, and it’s a pleasure to use. However, there are no accreditations, and the company’s support leaves something to be desired. All that said, it may be a better fit for you if you’re more interested in browsing vocational training than concentrating on something specific.
edX vs. Linkedin Learning
Compared to edX, Linkedin Learning is more a place for casual vocational training than somewhere to grab certificates mentioning impressive colleges. However, we are hearing more and more about LinkedIn Learning these days, especially since the company acquired Lynda, and all of that platform’s courses.
Linkedin Learning has also mixed things up a bit lately, by starting to offer individual “a la carte” courses, as well as an unlimited subscription. There’s also a month of free trial for the curious.
- To learn more about cheap (and even free) training options, check out this article.
- Want to learn about social media? This Pinterest course is worth a good look.
- If affiliate marketing is what you would like to learn about, this could be of interest.
A really good choice for serious learners.
- Ease of Use