Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Look at Coursera, The Shaw Academy and Which One Stands Out?

The success of online learning has been growing at a steady pace over the past years. Schools all over the world have recognized the importance of integrating an online platform into their curriculum. This is because a study commissioned by the US Department of Education has shown that e-learning enables students to learn a wider range of subjects. Even businesses encourage its employees to further their studies to be able to expand their professional growth.


However, choosing the right online course provider is just as important as choosing which subject area to study. After all, their teaching process and methodology play a vital role in ensuring that students are able to grasp subject matters effectively. For this reason, let's take a closer look at 3 of the most popular online course providers today.


Founded in 1995, has 4 million users to date and is considered to be one of the most popular online learning platforms today. It was also recently acquired by LinkedIn.


  • Students can choose from the 3,870 courses available. Subject areas are: Arts, Business, Computer Science, Design, Engineering, Finance, Games, Humanities, Lifestyle, Music, Operating Systems, and Software.

  • Courses are offered in 4 different languages - English, Spanish, French, and German.

  • Courses are taught by industry professionals.

  • Videos on lectures are recorded and can be viewed anytime.

  • Available on mobile devices.


  • Students only receive a certificate upon completing a course.

  • All courses and tutorials are paid.

  • Lessons are not interactive.

2. The Shaw Academy

The Shaw Academy offers 10 courses which range from Financial Trading to Nutrition. It is approved by various internationally-recognized organizations such as the International Compliance Association, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and the South African Association for Nutritional Therapy.


  • They have a dedicated portal where students can log on to take exams and quizzes, review modules, replay lectures, etc. All materials are available 24/7.

  • The courses are built in such a way as students are able to interact with their educators.

  • Students can complete courses at their own pace thus ensuring work life balance.

  • Course lectures remain static on the page. However, they are regularly updated based on user interaction.

  • A round the clock Tech Support team is available for students.


  • Course offerings are currently limited.

  • Courses are only offered in English.

3. Coursera

Although Coursera only started operations in April 2012, it has already garnered over 4 million users to date. The main reason for this would probably because the courses they offer are free of charge. However, users would only be able to earn badges, a college credit, or a certificate at best, upon completion of a course.


  • Courses are offered for free.

  • There are 406 courses available on the site.

  • Learning materials are available in 7 different languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

  • An online forum is available for users.

  • Lessons are interactive.

  • Available on mobile devices


  • Some courses may require students to attend lectures on-campus.

  • Some courses have to be completed on a set schedule.

  • Due to the fact that courses are offered for free, some users may have to wait a while to get a slot in the course of their choice.


At the end of the day, the main factors you need to consider when choosing an online course provider is whether they offer the area of study you are looking to take, time flexibility, and the cost. While others prefer to take online courses that offer blended lectures, this may not be the right fit for those who have full-time jobs. Make sure to assess your own needs before you decide on which online course provider to go with.

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