Does anyone here have one of those certs? Do they hold any value? Is it worth paying for the cert when you can still do the full course for free?
There are the reasons why I paid:
1. The course is awesome and I want to support the authors.
2. The course I paid is new learning area I never use professionally during job but I wish to use at my job (or new job). Instead of say "I interested in XYZ", I said "I interested in XYZ so I took online course to learn" at my interview. This is to partially solve chicken and egg problem.
3. For serious courses, I pay so I can have pressure and motivation to complete it.
1. Functional Programming Principles in Scala
2. Machine Learning Specialization 
Over taking the course and saying "I'm interested in X, so I took the course for free, and consequently have no proof to show you".
I do believe it helped when I told them about the courses I took, showed them some code I had backed up online, at least it let them know I wasn't just completely bluffing.
Source: hiring manager for Data Scientist/Engineers.
I find lots of PhDs who can't code and lots of software devs who can't build a regression model. If you are a software developer who has done the Coursera ML course and/or a Kaggle then your resume gets read.
Source: not the hiring manager but involved in reviewing candidates for a DS team.
Courses I have taken (and reviewed):
I've saved these reviews and will be contemplating them for his education - it would help to know how far along you were when approaching them.
Branch prediction isn't a GCC thing, it's a processor thing.
Observe this wonderful Stack Overflow question: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/11227809/why-is-processin...
Previously, you could do novel things like limit the number of times students could re-take exams and assign different point values to different questions. No longer!
All a Coursera completion tells me is that you were persistent enough to go back and re-take the (multiple choice) exams enough times to get a passing grade.
Doesn't it indicate that a student is willing to learn?
My understanding is that if you hear something multiple time, it will stick with you.
I take quite a few Coursera courses and I have had a score of '100' in all of them. And this is almost exclusively because even if I fail I can just see which question I failed, go back to the lecture, study that section again, and try again until I get the 100.
There's that saying that amateurs practice until they get it right and pros practice until they can't get it wrong.
A perfect score in the current configuration tells you that the students didn't just persist through the course, they went back and filled the gaps and made sure they get it right even if they got it wrong at first.
In college I took a class and, after the first session, realized the professor was utter shit. I did not attend a single subsequent class or complete any reading/assignments. After cramming for the midterm for 10 hours, I earned an 80% and dropped the class to prove a point.
Could not tell you a single thing that was part of that class, but I got a lot of questions right.
: He was hired because the college wanted his wife, so they hired them both. Terrible hiring practice.
: Yes, I was a pain in the ass at that age.
It's hurting me right now because a recruiter would look at my grades and think I'm stupid, so you do have a point. I was looking at it from the personal quest to quench the thirst for knowledge, not how it looked from the outside.
There are only N choices per question, so when you get it wrong you just go back and pick another one. When you see that you got it wrong, you go back and pick another one. Eventually, you'll know the right answer.
You don't actually need to watch the videos to do this, and indeed, some students just go to the test and brute force their way through the test to get 100%.
I agree that gaming tests is something that Coursera should presumably care about because their business model presumably depends on certificates meaning something in terms of people getting jobs etc. someday. But, as things currently stand, it's hard for me to get excited about people fooling themselves to rack up virtual MOOC karma.
But, to the OP's question, no--I don't think there's value in paying beyond edge cases (e.g. proof of continuing professional education) and any personal gamification benefits.
Is it worth paying for a course so that you complete it?
Yes. Paying for something hits us hard in the accountability checkbook. The more you pay (and the harder it is to get out of), the more you are committed.
Is it worth paying for a course and telling your friends, significant other, random strangers that you are going to learn X, even if that course is only part of learning X, so that you cannot quit because of pride and accountability?
Some people would mentally check-off the task as "done" after making a financial effort.
I learned that lesson when I was 20 and I saved money for weeks (I didn't have a job) to buy Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach. I told my friends how awesome the book was supposed to be. Then when I finally bought it I never got past the first chapter.
I never got rid of the book so that every time I see it I reminds me of that time. I now know that committing financially, or by telling other people about your goals doesn't mean a lot. Committing yourself mentally to the task is what's important.
This would kill the initiative for me. As soon as I get excited and tell someone about what awesome thing I am planning to do the likelihood that I will actually complete said thing goes down significantly. A few years ago I saw a TED talk on the topic ("Keep your goals to yourself" by Derek Sivers) and it made perfect sense. Now until I gain enough momentum in a project to feel confident that there's no turning back I just keep it to myself.
My experience may not generalize, but I'm not sure I'd worry about it.
Note: I also had an undergrad degree (math and philosophy, and graduate degree in philosophy, but no school CS experience. No idea how this changes if you don't have any degree).
Coincidentally at my old job I was the cyber-security expert for my domain (HW), which only meant that I would be assigned to security relevant programs if we got any (we didn't), and they paid to send me to Defcon. They didn't even know I was taking the specialization, just that I like to talk about security.
*I say paid because I just got a refund since apparently there are some issues with migrating courses to a new format and not offering enough of them this year.
If you feel the need to pay for anything I suggest you go for Edx Micromasters program or Udacity's Nanodegree. I think you'll derive a lot more from that.
As soon as you have a formal price for a certificate, it shifts the conversation to how much personal value I'm getting from the certificate specifically as opposed to doing my small part to keep this sort of educational material available.
Ultimately it's just like any other certification, certificate, diploma, etc... the value is in the eye of the beholder. If you're applying for some jobs, I'm about 100% certain there are some people who would snicker and laugh at a Coursera cert and refuse to give it any weight whatsoever. OTOH, I am absolutely 100% certain that some people will give it at least a moderate amount of weight (I can say that, as I know I would do so).
Like other certifications like, say, being a Sun Certified Java Programmer or something, you usually don't want to be in a position where you're trying to stand on that as your only credential, unless you are very young and early in your career. But if you had, for example, just graduated high-school and already gained a SCJP and a Data Science certification from Coursera, I'd be darn impressed and would probably want to hire you.
Similarly, if you've been programming for 10 years, in, say, Python and Java, and you're trying to transition away from "plain" programming and move more into data science, then complementing your existing skills and knowledge by gaining some data science / machine learning certifications from Coursera (or Edx, or whatever) could, in some situations, give you the leverage to start bridging from one career track to another.
Ultimately, it's a judgment call. Myself, given how inexpensive the paid Coursera classes are (most of them seem to be around $50), I've chosen to go the paid route for a number of the ones I've taken. I've also done a bunch where I was literally in it for the knowledge alone and didn't bother with the certification. I wish I could tell you some strictly deterministic algorithm for figuring out when/if it makes sense to pay for a given class, but I honestly don't know. All I can tell you is that I think it does make sense in at least some situations.
Is a certification worth it. Personally, not likely, but I know people that live and die by the certs they hold. So to each their own. Is it going to get you in the door of an employer? Maybe if you have little or no experience and the guy/gal applying with you is similar it might give you a leg up. Otherwise, what you do and how you present yourself is more important than any certification you pass.
When I was actively hiring, I cared far more about what you have done, what you can explain to/show me, then any piece of paper you could present.
Of course, it also means that there are more opportunities to sell for a given amount of content, so I certainly don't rule out monetization as a factor.
For me, it's something of a tradeoff. On the one hand, there aren't many courses that are good enough and that I care enough about to devote university levels of work to. On the other hand, I'm taken some that were so trivial that it would be hard to say I got anything lasting out of them.
Put the skills you learned in your resume or start working on projects which demonstrates those skills. List out the courses you completed under the 'Trainings' section of the resume and Mention MOOCs under your hobbies (If you have such a section a resume).
I was very interested in MOOCs (ai-class was awesome!) but unfortunately most of them seem to have gone the 'pay XX to get this certificate you can to print out!' route to make money.
The fact that you're interested in MOOCs says many positive things about you and shows that you're interested in learning and improving your skill-set, and at this point in time, I would be very surprised if anyone gave two shits about the certificate, because who the hell lies about taking a MOOC?
And in the case of coursera - many of the courses are actually poor quality. Udacity and Edx (especially EdX) seem to take quality much more seriously.
I'm still going to take it since I want to finish the specialization, but I'm glad I didn't wind up diving into it blind. I think I would have struggled with it if I had.
I made it a point to meet all the deadlines and assignments, which kept me honest and forced me to be timely. It was free when I did it, but I'm not sure if that's changed since looking at other courses I don't seem able to receive a certificate or weekly grades if not paying... Point being it may be worth it to pay just so you feel incentivized to finish the course with a passing grade :)
It removes a suffocating constraint on the structure of the education system: finding instructors X capable of teaching some advanced/esoteric subject to students Y, in a sufficiently small geographic space. Under this constraint, sometimes the only solution has been a dumbed-down, cookie-cutter curriculum. Once online learning has matured, this will no longer be the case.
But this does not mean that the money with which you can support that issue is there...
Can it be a plus on a CV the anwser is yes as it show you're willing to learn new techs/ skills continuously.
Coursera has great courses, no question, but clearly their certs offer very little value compared to official diplomas.
So far I thought it was good, the content is not super deep but I kinda like it that way because it could fit in my busy schedule easier while also allowing me to practice writing. That's really my motivation to take the course, if I can start thinking like a game designer for £250, that's awesome enough. Personally I've 'outgrown'video games but taking the course has reignited that interest and I'm seriously considering a game idea :D
My assessments aren't multiple choice tests though, I had to submit written work every week which is then reviewed by at least two other classmates. I thought that system's pretty good. The forums are useless I find, as it's easy to have so many 'heyy nice to meet you' threads that I don't bother checking anymore. I do wish that we can have access to the tutors themselves though, it's not practical i guess but that would definitely enhance the course experience.
I personally don't care about the effect of the certificate. I paid simply because what instructor taught me worth more than it cost.
If it's more general finance you want to learn coursera should be fine.
If it's leadership qualities, start with the book How Google Works.
I have completed two business courses on Coursera, namely:
1. The Global Business of Sports
2. Foundations Of Business Strategy.
Both these courses I took more out of curiosity, rather than anything else.
Both these courses were good and helped me understand a lot of perspectives, though I have spent 16 years, in hardcore sales and distributions across 7 different industries.
I believe the certificates do matter, in the sense that, you started something and finished with a minimum qualifier.
If you are a developer and managed to finish business courses and have something to prove for it, thats says a a lot about your capability and attitude.
For some people, but not others, the certificate holds value independent of the learning experience. That also can motivate the learner to completion or increase esteem for an applicant to an academic or commercial solicitation.
I have a bunch of the free unverified certificates from a few years ago. I found the certification process motivating and a useful time management tool.
Long story short the courses I happened to pick were of low quality and never completed. Four years later I still cringe when I hear the word eclipse (even though I'm getting into mobile development now after a few years in webdev land). While I'm sure there are a number of very good courses, and quite a few people capable of completing them and benefiting from them in their lives, I believe I was at the time not only the prime demographic for the product but also in the majority of their users.
TLDR; you can make any learning opportunity beneficial. Is courser and similar products worth the effort to make productive? Maybe, maybe not. There are other alternatives that should always be researched.
Android Studio 2.0 released https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11449029
>As a web developer, you might be more comfortable with iOS development
How was that off topic?
(Which is one of the challenges for MOOCs. On the one hand, most adults aren't going to pay a lot of money just for a learning experience. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be a lot of value in the MOOC certification process. I suppose that a specialization from a good school might be worth something in the absence of other relevant background that you could point to, but I have to believe it's marginal.)
As a hobby I'd say its pretty cheap per hour. I've paid for some of the data science classes.
For certain types of content, which happen to line up well with programming topics, autograding systems are another good innovation. But otherwise peer-grading and multiple choice tests are pretty weak.
The $49 for most courses was something which I could afford and it helped in serving as additional motivation. The reward at the end of it all felt good as well!
Which courses are worth taking?
I'm also about halfway through the Johns Hopkins Data Science specialization, and I've found all of those courses to be worthwhile. But then again, I'd never programmed in R before and that's something I very pointedly wanted to pick up. So far, this series has been invaluable in terms of learning R (much like I had to learn a fair amount of Octave for Andrew Ng's class).