Enjoy University-style Education Online – edX Review with Pros and Cons
Before choosing an eLearning platform to learn new skills we certainly want to know if it's worth it. We start researching essential details from the web and gather some insights and reviews from people with first-hand experiences. In the case of edX, we will do it for you! In this article, we will share our in-depth edX review, a platform that is probably among the best massive open online course (MOOC) providers in the world.
edX Review – Platform Overview
edX is a popular and recognized e-learning platform that has been co-created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University in May 2012. Its mission includes leveraging access to “high-quality education” available for everyone, everywhere and augmenting teaching-learning on-site and online.
Subjects – They allow students from around the world to access a wide spectrum of topics to advance and professionalize their skills ranging from science, business, economy, finance and architecture to electronics, programming, computer science, engineering, or health and environment. and we have curated a list of the best edX courses to give you a better idea.
Audience – edX is truly a global online education institution with people from almost every single country. While a big chunk of students come from the U.S., the majority of learners (75%) are international. Most students are 25 years or older while a large group is actually university-age students.
Institutions: 150 | Classes: 3,000+ | Students: 33M
Languages: e.g. English, French, Chinese, Spanish
Cost: Free. Fees for university tracks or certificates.
Apps: iOS, Android
edX Review Rating: ★★★★★ | 4.8
edX Review – Programs, Features and Structure
1. Programs & Degrees
Currently, edX offers the following learning paths to advance your education.
- MicroBachelors Program (undergraduate level) – Prepare for a full-time bachelor’s degree
- MicroMasters Program (graduate level) – Bridge between bachelor’s and master’s degree
- Professional Certificate (career-driven) – A program that can heighten your industry skills
- Online Master’s Degree – Flexible studying for busy professionals
- Global Freshman Academy (Arizona State University-sponsored) – Credited freshman online classes from ASU where you can pursue the degree in ASU or other universities
- XSeries (series of classes) – In-depth learning in a particular interest
- Executive Education (leadership) – Professional classes focused on executive trends
Aside from those, 3068 individual classes are available if you are not planning to enroll in a specialized edX learning program. The benefit here is that actually all of them are free. If you want all the essential information in one place, I recommend downloading their media kit1.
2. Certificates and Pricing
You’ll pay nothing if you take classes through audit track except those from the programs mentioned. You will pay around $50 to $300 (depending on the class) if you want to take graded assignments and earn a verified certificate that is widely recognized.
On the other hand, a master's degree can cost you $10K-$25K which is still more affordable than the average $40K-$60K if you actually want to enroll in person at a renowned university. Micromasters are more affordable costing between $600 and $1,500. Latter can be completed within 5-12 months and are proportionally recognized to university education.
In issuing a verified certificate, edX confirms the student’s identity by checking government-issued ID cards over webcams. Certification offers an important benefit if you look for a job in any specialized industry. This also distinguishes edX from other platforms such as CreativeLive or Skillshare that solely focus on teaching skills.
The edX interface can be quite overwhelming at the beginning as it trumpets the linked prestigious schools. You can easily navigate the programs at the top or search for available classes grouped by subject in the catalogs.
I recommend using their filter options to narrow down your search. You can filter by subject, university/partner, program, level or language. Some classes will be provided in French, Spanish, Chinese or Italian. However, the majority of the content will be delivered in English.
Upon clicking a particular class, you can see an overview of the lectures, outline, time, or weeks needed to finish, and the price for a verified certificate. As mentioned, if you want to look for content offered by a particular university, Boston University, for example, you can check at the “Schools & Partners” tab.
You may also access edX through its mobile app which is luckily more minimalist than the website's interface as it only shows the required buttons and elements and without pop-up ads. Since the app homepage serves as your main overview, you can also track your progress and the classes you enrolled in. Overall, the edX interface is free of distractions.
4. Audit vs. Verified Classes
Signing up at edX.org is free. You can easily navigate available programs and classes. As mentioned above, it is free to learn with edX, including features such as the audit track. However, you cannot access their graded assignments, plus you will not receive a certificate after finishing the class.
If your main goal is deepening what you want to learn regardless if it will give a certificate or not, then there's an advantage. On the other hand, enrolling in a verified track gives you full access to materials and a verified certificate at the end. Besides that, you can also access an archived class that you cannot do in an audit track.
Want to make sure you’re not wasting your money for the verified track? The tip is you can enroll in the audit track first. Once you had a positive experience with the class, you can switch to verified track and get access to assessments and certificates.
Audit and Verified Track features
- Discussion Forums
- Practice (Ungraded) Problems
- Tracking progress
Verified Track exclusive features:
- Verified certificates
- Graded assessments
- Unlimited access
While it is true that the top-elite universities offer some of their educational paths on edX, it is also interesting to research classes provided by other recognized universities. On edX, you will find 140 institutions that offer education and training for high-demand skills.
Most of the contents are reliable or comprehensive, but some programming and other tech classes do not give hands-on activities, which are vital in learning skills. As a result, students will merely have a taste of the class but not getting in-depth outcomes.
6. Video Lectures
All classes consist of an instructor-led discussion delivered through video, which you can download in your app for offline review. However, only those being on a verified track can view the archived lessons after a class. Video lectures come with transcripts if you prefer to read and listen simultaneously or if English is your second language.
Lessons definitely vary from class to class. There are those in which instructors are simply discussing important concepts and principles. Others provide simulations or use story-telling techniques combined with a visual representation. There are also lessons based on the blackboard teaching style which is beneficial if an instructor wants to explain how to solve a specific problem in science, for example, that involves displaying complex formulas.
7. Interactive Learning Tools
edX uses interactive learning tools like the periodic table in Chemistry in which details of a particular element are being enlarged when hovered by cursor or clicked.
Drag and Drop – To make reviewing a bit more interesting, assessments do not only come with multiple choice or true or false test types. edX also sports a drag and drop tool to move elements hopefully into the correct or wrong position. This is handy for topics that mainly rely on visual content and thus, these tests are more intuitive.
Free external resources – Not all but many classes offer additional readings and resources. Often supplied in pdf format, they add an additional source of valuable knowledge. can be viewed freely on the platform. For example, in taking the Frankenstein class, the unabridged book is already embedded and can be accessed through edX.
Is it worth it? edX students often review the quality of their classes and commonly agree that lessons are well organized and purpose-driven. They also found instructors to be highly skilled. A few reviews mention that classes can be sloppy because the content was not good enough or lower than expected quality. Overall, based on the edX reviews given by various students, edX performs above the average but does not reach 100% excellence.
As mentioned, edX offers Microbachelors and Micromasters programs. To cut the confusion, enrolling in a Microbachelor program does not mean you are already enrolled in a full bachelor's degree. The classes included in the program can be credited later if you enroll in a university program that recognizes Microbachelors.
The same applies to Micromasters, once you receive the Micromasters certificate, you can apply for a full master's program and get credited with the lectures you have taken resulting in an accelerated program.
9. Payments and Refunds
Just like many other online learning platforms, you can pay for the certificate using your debit/credit card (American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa) or Paypal. You can unenroll from a class and request a refund during the period of 14 days after the date of your purchase date or 14 days after your tutorial starts.
However, some edX reviews made by students refer to issues regarding the payment and refund system. They claim that even if you paid for the verified certificate beforehand but failed to receive the verified certificate during the given period, they would not refund their money. Reviewers also say that customer service is questionable as edX was not responsive to queries, resulting in an expiration of the time period to claim a refund.
edX Review – The Pros and Cons
Wrapping up our edX review, we can conclude that the pros and cons are:
- most of the classes are university-level
- wide array of free to learn content
- has a strong foundation from reputable universities
- has connections to Microsoft, IBM, among others
- easy to navigate catalogs
- linked with top universities
- mostly high-quality content
- personalized paths for advancement
- switching from audit to verified track
- reasonable price for most of the content
- needs to pass the graded assignment to earn a certificate
- master programs are quite pricey
- poor customer service support
- problems with refunds
- limited options for an online master's degree
- Microbachelors' and Micromasters' credentials are only transferable to their recognized institutions
While it is true that there is no perfect platform with 100% positive feedback, it is important to weigh the net benefits. For this reason, edX has more advantages than its downsides. Due to its wide range of free-to-learn content and programs, you have to evaluate the class by looking into the syllabus and the provider of contents.
To avoid refunds, you can avail the audit track and finish the class. If you are satisfied and want to take the graded assignments to qualify for a verified certificate, you can switch to a verified track. You can also check reviews of the particular class that you want to enroll to check its authenticity.
Alternatives: This edX review would not be complete without mentioning alternative providers. Coursera or Khan Academy are certainly the most recognized ones in the field of MOOC education. Udacity, on the other hand, offers high-level education from the perspective of employers but only a small amount of this content is for free.
edX Review 2022 – The Bottom-line
Summing up our edX review, edX is ideal for students who want to experience high-quality lectures from top universities without the expense of traveling. Many people recommend edX due to its key features. From my personal experience, I can say that edX is worth it.
The online lessons from recognized instructors are also of higher quality compared to many other platforms. Furthermore, Small chunks of knowledge provide structure and continuity in learning and are imperative to achieve valuable results in a self-paced environment.
When choosing which platform to use, remember to view some evaluations made by people who had experience with it or reliable websites that do not promote nor degrade when reviewing. edX can be on top of your choices if you want to take online learning seriously.
Please share this edX review. If you have further questions please leave us a message in the comment below.
Ressources: Media Kit (PDF)