edX Review: Is It A Legit Elearning Platform?

Catherine Cooke

14 October, 2020

If you came across this edX review it means you probably want to know all about edX, right?

Let’s start with a brief overview of this elearning community. If formal education is something you are looking for then you are considering the right platform. edX offers well over 2,500+ online courses that are created by its top partners (leading educational institutions like Harvard).

Sounds pretty promising so far, right?

edX Review

edX is a credible platform for education and learning. It was actually founded by professors from Harvard and MIT and has more than 24 million learners. Its courses are created and taught by some of the top-ranked universities and industry-leading companies in the world.

If you want to hang around to find out more, let’s delve a little deeper into this detailed edX review.

Accredited Certificates

You will receive accredited certificates on completion of your course.

Partnerships

Courses are partnered with prestigious universities and companies like Harvard, Berkeley and Microsoft.

14-day Refund Policy

If you decide within 14 days of purchasing a verified course that you don’t want to continue, edX will give you a full refund immediately.

Free Course Audit Option

You will be granted access to all course materials except graded assignments and you won’t receive a verified certificate at the end of the course. Other than that, you can follow most courses for free.

Learn At Your Own Pace

The majority of courses are self-paced and can begin at any time.

Limited Topics

edX specializes in higher education and the sciences, so you won’t find all the topics (e.g. baking or filmmaking). Alternatively, if you looking for a broader range of topics check out Skillshare or Udemy.

No Course Structure

edX courses are put together by their partners who have the freedom to create the course as they like, this can lead to course inconsistency.

edX Review Verdict

edx is an online elearning platform offering interactive courses from the world’s best universities, colleges and organizations. edX’s most popular subject areas are computer science, engineering, humanities, statistics and data analysis. The majority of edX courses offer the opportunity to earn a verified certificate. It also offers the option to learn on its courses for free, it will mean though you won’t have access to the graded assignments and you won’t receive a verified certificate.

Who Is edX For?

You may be asking yourself, Is edX right for me?

Well, let’s dive right in and see what all the fuss is about.

If you are looking for a higher education course, then edX may be what you are looking for. It offers interactive online courses that are partnered with the world’s best universities, colleges and organizations.  If an accredited course with a verified certificate on completion is something that you are looking for then you are considering the right option.

I was reading an article published by edX about the demographics of its learners. Its learners are from all over the world and the US is the most popular, closely followed by India. The percentage of its learners are broken down into the following;

  • 62% are Lifelong and Career-focused (25 years old +)
  • 29% are University-age students (19-24 years old)
  • 10% are High School Students (13-18 years old)

edX’s homepage highlights its most popular subject areas. These 6 popular subjects give you a good insight into what edX specialise in.

edX popular subjects

edX is a platform for serious learning, if you have a pretty good idea what it is you want to study then its courses should be appealing to you. If you are looking for an elearning platform that offers a broader range of topics to browse then it may be worth checking out Coursera or Udemy.

You will need to put some time and effort, as edX courses are equivalent to University subjects, if you don’t, you may struggle.

In short, edX is good for:

  • Young professionals looking to gain skills
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Verified certificates to add to their academic or professional portfolios
  • Gain knowledge to advance on your careers
  • Individuals looking for affordable courses

Note: edX certificates are accredited and recognized by future employers.

How Much Are edX Courses Really?

edX offers an array of courses with different pricing that reflects the type of course. If you are looking to ‘Pursue the Verified track’ (paid option) the price range is usually between $50 to $300, cheaper if you compare it to a Full Master’s degree which can be anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000. I speak a little more in-depth about the other professional education courses that edX offers below.

Pursue the Verified track’ is the paid option in which (see image below) you will have access to all course material, graded assignments and awarded an accredited certificate on successful completion of the course.

edX pursue the verified track

edX pursue the verified track

When you enrol on a course at edX you have two options.

  • If you choose to Audit this course you will learn for free but won’t have access to all course material, and won’t earn a verified certificate when you complete the course.
  • Whereas if you opt to ‘Pursue the Verified track’ you will have access to all of the course material and earn your verified certificate.

The professional education courses which edX offers are listed below along with its approximate cost;

  • Master’s Degree: An accredited program from some of the world’s top universities – $10,000 to $25,000
  • MicroMasters: Equivalent to 25-50% of a Master’s degree that is powerful to fast track your career – $600 to $1,500
  • MicroBachelors Programs: Designed for adult learners with some or no college experience looking to progress in their education – $500 to $1,500
  • Professional Certificate Programs: Critical skills for a particular career path (e.g. Microsoft) created by industry leaders – $150 to $1,000
  • Global Freshman Academy: Learners to earn full college credit for freshman year, also can opt to take individual courses for credit and transfer to another institution – Approximately $200 a credit 

How To Open An edX Account?

The registration process for edX is super easy. The design and layout of its platform are clean and intuitive. I will outline here the steps taken to register:

  1. Open a browser and visit edx.org
  2. Click Sign Up in the top right corner
  3. Click on Create an Account
  4. Add your email, full name, username, password and country of residence
  5. Click Create Account

edX Registration Process

edX registration process

Once you have created your account and all signed in you can click on Explore Courses and begin checking out what edX offers.

You can then begin to refine your search by clicking on one of the categories available directly in the search bar.

edX Refine your search

edX refine your search

After selecting the category you are interested in you can then begin to Refine your search with the filters like School/Partner, Level and Language.

edX Filters

edX filters

Examples Of The Most Popular edX Courses

I thought it would be helpful to research which courses are the most popular out there so you can get a better idea of what other learners are enjoying.

  1. Introduction to Computer Science (CS50) Harvard – This course is to learn and understand computer science and programming with over 1,600,000 students enrolled. It is a 12-week course that is self-paced and partnered with HarvardX where you can receive (if you pay for the course) a verified certificate on course completion.
  1. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python MITx – This course is designed for someone with no prior exposure to computer science or programming with over 1,800,000 students enrolled. It is a 9-week course that is partnered by MIT. You can receive a paid verified certificate on course completion.
  1. Introduction to Linux LinuxFoundationX  – This course is designed for experienced computer users who have limited or no exposure to Linux, with an enrollment of over 600,000 students. It is a 14-week course that is self-paced and partnered with The Linux Foundation.
  1. Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel Microsoft – In this data science course, you will get an introduction to the latest version of new tools in Excel 2016 with over 800,000 students enrolled. It is a 6-week course which is self-paced and you can receive a  verified certificate on course completion.
  1. IELTS Academic Test Preparation UQx – A course that prepares you to take IELTS, the world’s most popular English language test, with over 900,000 students enrolled. It is an 8-week self-paced course and on completion, you will receive a verified certificate.

7 Tips To Find The Perfect edX Course

If you are feeling a little hesitant about which course is the right one for you – Do not fear. I thought it would be helpful to put together some helpful tips to help you choose the right course.

Search and filter

A very helpful feature is the use of the filters in the search bar. If you have a topic or area you want to search for, you then have the option to narrow down your search by selecting the following filters like Subject, Partner, Program Type and Level. This can be particularly valuable especially if you already have an idea of what you are looking for

edX search and filter

edX search and filter

Course syllabus

A clear breakdown of what topics to expect each week during the course. This gives you a broad overview of the course as a whole and highlights what will be covered and when.

edX syllabus

edX syllabus

Audit this course

When you enrol in a course on edX, you are given two learning options. One is to Pursue the Verified Track (paid option) and the other one Audit the Course. If you choose the latter you are opting to learn for free, which means you won’t have access to all the learning material and at the end of the course you will not be able to earn a verified certificate.

edX audit this course

edX audit this course

However, checking out the course for free may be an excellent way to decide if it’s right for you (and pay for the full access later on).

Learner testimonials

At the end of every ‘About the course’ section, you will find ‘Learner testimonials’. These testimonials give you first-hand feedback on what the experience was like for others. However, there are minimal testimonials and I have only found a maximum of 2 testimonials per course. A more extensive range of testimonials would be more insightful.

edX learner testimonials

edX learner testimonials

Pursue a verified certificate

The majority of edX courses offer verified certificates for a fee (assuming you successfully complete the course), this cost varies depending on the course. Every official and verified certificate will be signed by the instructor and have the partnered institution’s logo to prove your achievement. The certificates will require you to confirm your identity before you can receive it.

edX verified certificate

edX verified certificate

Your verified certificate can be connected to your Linkedin profile and your achievement added to your CV which can help to improve your job prospects.

Meet your instructors

Included in each course description is a ‘Meet your instructors’ section which will take you to a small blurb about his or her prior experience and social links. It also highlights their areas of expertise which I think is a really nice touch and helps you get a better idea of the instructor’s specialised areas.

edX meet the instructors

edX meet the instructors

This is super helpful for you to know more about who will be teaching the course and give you insight into the way the course will be taught. Check out if you like how it sounds.

Schools and partners

edX courses are created by one of their 145+ prestigious partnered institutions. If it is important for you to study with a particular school or partner you have the option to view all the institutions that are partnered with edX (e.g. see the above filter section). You can then choose your preferred institution and start to browse all the online courses that they specifically offer.

edX schools and partners

edX schools and partners

CriteriaComment
Ease of use

To register for an edX account you’ll only need to add your full name, email and create a public username and password, then select your country of residence and your account will be created. Keep in mind that your full name is what will appear on the certificates that you earn.

The design and layout of its platform is intuitive and well organised. I particularly like how easy it is to navigate around the courses and how the partner list is easy to find.

Convenience

edX courses offer a mix of self-paced or instructor-paced classes. Instructor-paced courses will follow a set schedule and the course material comes available at specific times. In contrast, self-paced courses do not follow a set timeframe and all course material is available as soon as you start the course.

Many of its courses offer downloadable videos and transcripts which you can view offline. This makes it really convenient if you are taking a flight or somewhere without an internet connection.

Available platforms

edX can be accessed with a laptop, desktop, tablet and a smartphone.

The edX app has a 4.7 rating with both Android and Apple.

Official certifications:

edX offers accredited certificates on its courses which can be added to your CV and posted on your Linkedin profile for future employees to see. All course material is created by its partnered institution.

edX offers other professional education courses like the Master’s Degree, MicroMasters, MicroBachelors Programs, Professional Certificate Programs and Global Freshman Academy.

Categories

edX offers 2,800+ courses that are created by their professional partners and taught by experienced instructors.

Its courses cover a wide array of topics, from introductory courses (e.g. CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science) to career-focused learning. edX’s most popular course subject areas are computer science, engineering, humanities, business management and statistics and data analysis.

edX is a platform for high-quality learning – if you are willing to commit and work hard then edX is definitely worth it.

Free courses

By opting for the Audit this course then you will be learning for free. You will be able to access the free content for the course duration. Once you have completed the course you will no longer have access.

The fact that edX offers the majority of its courses with this option means you can’t really complain.

Content quality

Every edX course is created and taught by its partnering institutions. The partners have the freedom to create and design their courses to their views.

edX courses consist of pre-recorded videos, readings, student discussion forums, homework assignments, online quizzes and exams.

Each course will vary in duration depending on course content and professional outcome.

Languages

edX courses are mostly taught in English. Some courses are offered in other languages such as Spanish, French or Chinese with English subtitles available. When you enrol in a course, you can check the course description page to see what languages the course is offered in. edX has mentioned that they do plan to offer courses in more languages in the near future.

Instructors

Every course at edX is taught by an instructor from one of its top partnered institutions. Some of its trusted partnered institutions include Harvard, Berkeley and MIT. You can be assured that the instructors are the top experts in their field.

Course requirements

There doesn’t seem to be formal course requirements to follow but due to the fact they are partnered with leading organizations like Harvard and MIT, you should expect top-quality content.

Course structure

Every edX course is from the world’s best universities, colleges and organizations. Its courses consist of weekly learning sequences that include short videos, interactive learning exercises. Courses often include tutorial videos that are similar to group discussions.

The courses which are instructor-paced have specific dates for assignments and exams and course material only becomes available at specific times as the course progresses. The course has a defined time period, such as 8 to 12 weeks.

In contrast, self-paced courses are designed so the learner can work at their own speed. All the course materials are available as soon as the course begins. The assignments and exams do not have a due date. Self-paced courses are available to complete for usually 3 to 12 months after the date the course is opened to learners.

Quizzes & tests

edX courses have quizzes and tests. If you are taking an instructor-paced course then your exams will be on specific dates whereas a self-paced course means exams can be taken whenever during the available time the course is open.

Payments & refunds

You can pay for the verified track course with a credit, debit card or PayPal. The following credit cards are accepted: American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa. As edX is US-based, all fees are in US dollars.

edX offers a 14-day refund policy on verified track courses. It applies 14 days after purchase or 14 days after your course starts whichever comes later. Refunds are processed immediately and should be back in your original bank account within 5-10 days.

Support

edX offers help and support on its Contact Us or Help Center page. On its Contact Us page, you can submit a support request with the Course name, Subject and specific details. On the Help Center, you can search for a specific topic or search through the FAQ.

Overall rating

edX is an elearning platform that focuses on higher education courses. The fact that it partners with top institutions is really attractive to many learners (e.g. get a Harvard certificate).

It also has the added bonus of being able to Audit its courses, which means you can learn for free. All that you need is the willingness to commit to learning.

Will edX Help Me With My Career?

edX courses are perfect for someone who is wanting to study a higher educational program, learn new skills and knowledge with the goal of advancing in their life. If you are looking to refresh and recharge your resumé and add an accredited certificate to your LinkedIn profile, then it really is a no brainer.

edX certificate example

edX accredited certificate example


The verified certificate from edX will provide proof to a future employee, job promotion or a college application that you have successfully completed the course. The course will include your name, institutions name and logo, edX logo, course title and professors signatures and names who taught the course.

Note: Before receiving your edX certificate you will be required to verify your identity.

Is edX Legit?

A common theme for many when they are considering an elearning platform is: Is this elearning platform legit?

edX was founded in 2012 by professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. It is a non-profit organization that has had so far over 24 million global learners. edX partners with 145+ prestigious institutions from around the world.

Sidenote: edX runs on a free open-source platform which was developed by edX and was made freely available to other institutions that want to offer something similar. You can even find the code for the software on GitHub.

To reiterate, edX is completely safe and legit, you won’t be conned.

Last Thoughts: Is edX Worth It?

So, let’s conclude why edX is worth it.

If you are looking to study on a course to improve your knowledge or skills then edX is definitely the right platform for you. It has such a great range of learning programs which are valued by employers due to the fact that edX partners with world-recognised universities and companies.

In contrast, if you want something less serious and you aren’t looking for an accredited certification then elearning platforms like Udacity or Skillshare would be a better option.

You will love edX for its:

  • Verified Certificates
  • Learn with a prestigious university
  • World-class instructors
  • Interactive online courses
  • Self-paced and instructor-paced courses

Catherine Cooke

Hey. I am Catherine and have been working as a freelancer for many years now and I believe that you are in charge of your own destiny. If learning a new skill or having a career change is something you want to do, then there is no better time than the present. If you have a question please feel free to ask me anything or leave me a comment.

Alternatives

Coursera: offers over 3,900 courses, specializations, degrees and 100’s of free courses. It works closely with top universities and government agencies to facilitate its online courses. Very similar to edX.

Skillshare: If you are looking to  start learning at an affordable cost and don’t mind not having completion certificates, check out Skillshare

Udacity: comes with a smaller number of courses around 200. Its courses are focused on gaining skills for careers in the tech and business industry. Although its courses aren’t accredited it is still highly recognized by Industry experts.

Please, leave a comment below if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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