The best online course & learning platforms, 1 of 5

As I mentioned in my last post, there are a lot of online learning platforms available today, and fortunately the majority of them range from good to great. To start off, here are 3 of what I think are some of the better ones:

Coursera (grade: A) | Coursera was one of the first online course platforms to come into existence and was launched in 2012, back when online courses were still a relatively new trend. It launched as a strong platform back then and remains as one today, thanks in no small part to its partnership with colleges & universities from around the world. Because of that, it’s one of the only platforms where you can legitimately feel like you’re getting a college-like education on a particular topic.

Although the platform has undergone some pricing changes over the years, the core model has pretty much stayed the same in offering some truly exceptional courses from some of the top colleges & universities in the world. There are absolutely some individual courses that deserve to be named as standouts (which I’ll definitely do in an upcoming post), but overall you’d be hard-pressed to find a bad course on Coursera. The company maintains a high standard of quality and you almost can’t go wrong with any one course on the platform. I do feel like their $50/month pricing could stand to be cheaper, like maybe $30/month, but I have no complaints about the level of quality that Coursera is able to consistently maintain.

edX (grade: A) | edX has been around as long as Coursera and in fact, launched the same year (2012). edX is similar to Coursera in offering courses from colleges and universities around the world, as well as from well-known companies like Microsoft and IBM.

edX bears a lot of similarities to Coursera overall, with very academic courses on a wide variety of topics available from some very prestigious colleges, universities, and companies. There are, however, two factors that make edX distinct from Coursera: (1) edX’s courses often combine video with text-based material to aid learning for different types of learners, and (2) edX offers substantially more free (as in $0) courses than Coursera. This is actually an important distinction, because edX actually allows the majority of its courses to be taken for free, where the only thing you have to pay for is an optional verified certificate. This is a very different approach from Coursera, which only allows you to “audit” a more limited number of courses for free, in order to persuade you to pay $50/month for an unlimited-access subscription.

With that said, edX is just as legitimate as Coursera and has some exceptionally strong courses for developers as well. One of the most well-known courses on the platform is Harvard’s CS50X, which is exactly the same course that Harvard gives to their first-year computer science students. I consider it an essential course for every developer who might not have a CS background.

MongoDB University (grade: B-) | MongoDB University (MDBU for the sake of brevity from here on out) is a free (as in $0) learning platform provided directly by MongoDB Inc – or in other words, you’re learning straight from the official source here! Combined with the fact that it’s FREE, it makes for a decent platform to learn the MongoDB DBMS (Database Management System).

Unfortunately, the reason for the lower letter-grade is because MDBU’s courses aren’t the best and could stand to be improved by quite a bit. The main drawback to their courses is that they’re not accessible to first-timers who haven’t yet used MongoDB (or a NoSQL database for that matter), and don’t cover any relevant concepts or context for those new to MongoDB but might not be new to relational databases. Additionally, the videos in the courses don’t follow any logical topical order, and it’s often apparent that not very much thought and planning was put into organizing the courses.

MDBU’s courses are best for developers who’ve already spent time with MongoDB and have some basic familiarity with it as a result. It’s far from ideal for those totally new to the database, in which case I’d recommend starting elsewhere.