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Searchable catalog of Udacity, edX, Coursera, etc. (coursebuffet.com)
152 points by shliachtx on Nov 14, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments

Looks like coursebuffet.com is going for something different with accounts and learning path planning, but class central [0] has a very functional listing of MOOCs. Filter by initiative or subject, and sort rows by start date or course length. Introductory youtube video are also easily available, so you can get a better idea of the various courses quickly.

[0] https://www.class-central.com/

Edit: digging a bit further, course buffet has a good writeup of what they are trying to do differently on their about page:

> We know there are other sites listing MOOC courses but they still leave it up to you figure out which courses are similar. That is time consuming and frustrating. Remember we want to make it easy to compare. That is why we have a CourseBuffet Classification System which we use to classify every course.

> No more needing to figure out which specific courses from Coursera is a near equivalent to a specific Udacity, Saylor, edX, etc course. One click and you see all your choices next to each other. We also list if a course has video, audio, or a textbook so you can choice based on your learning style.

I like their idea. Will be happy to see them be successful at it.

Thanks. We like CC also. For now we are sticking to courses that would be considered full or close to college courses.

Wow just found out we were posted about on HN. (we were hoping to be a little more ready for this then we are now)

So what are we doing? Well there are many sites that aggregate courses out there. That is easy. What we are aiming to do is create a simple standard. You can see what a course would roughly be if you took them at a US university.

The US doesn't have a set standard but most universities classify their courses with similar numbering. For example business students would take Introduction to Financial Accounting then Introduction to Managerial Accounting. Both would usually be 200 level (2nd year) courses.

This standard also allows user to make apples to apples comparisons between courses.

There are few errors on CourseBuffet, we are working on them. Thoughts, criticism, comments, please share! thanks!

I think this is exactly what open courseware needs. I will be cheering you on and following your progress closely!

I am not sure if you already have this planned but I would love to see an open curriculum or sorts. Basically a curated list of courses (that have proper video lectures) that I can take to get a degree equivalency.

If for example I wanted to learn everything an undergraduate in business learns at a university, I can take the courses in your list in the order you suggest and get an equivalent education. (These courses should be recordings of actual classes and not dumbed down short videos).

I think this curation of courses will go a long way in how open courseware is perceived.

This times 100.

I've been trying to 'create' a syllabus for teaching myself math but it is a pain to be able to get this info and then find the courses for it. I go to MIT and 1/2 of the classes are available on video, then I try to search for the ones that aren't in other Unis but they have different names which makes it all the more confusing.

I actually ended up just going to my old uni syllabus and just buy the required reading books and try from there, but having this compiled would be such a great help

CourseBuffet actually grew out of my frustration with open courseware. So much content but poorly organized. Too much random.

As for degree equivalency ...stay tuned.

check out Saylor.org. they're trying to build a single open education platform that actually has self study equivalents for entire degree programs

I like what they do. I see them as a good place for taking on this type of standards definition project, which is an activity better suited for a foundation like Saylor than a startup.

Sounds nice so far. What I've immediately noticed is that the search dialogue isn't very keyboard-friendly. Just searching 'sec' gave me a few suggestions, but selecting them with the cursor keys and hitting Enter didn't do anything - only seems to work with a mouse. :/

Created an account to test it out. Looks good. But I wasn't able to find Reactive Programming[0] class but I assume new classes are still being loaded and added.

A suggested feature, and one I've considered doing myself, is to have a sort of timeline of classes. So that if I sign up for a class from November to January, and one from December to February, it would show that they overlap during December and January. One of the biggest problems I have is biting off more then I can chew, and what I like to do is visualize each class as a per week load and stack them on top of each other. That way I can find bottle necks where several classes might overlap in the final and beginning weeks leaving me with an expected work load of 30+ hours.

All and all it looks great.

[0] https://www.coursera.org/course/reactive

Nice work.

Some (slightly superficial) feedback: In the LHS navigation/filter, when opening one of the option menus (eg 'By Universities') they can have too many options to fit on the screen. The LHS pane doesn't scroll so you can't get to the lower options. Also the '>' arrow should really be clickablabe and point down when opened.

It's getting late but I will be digging in tomorrow. I have a month off coming up and fully plan on indulging, and the timing of the release on this couldn't be better. Do you have an official email to send bugs and the like towards with in-depth descriptions of how to replicate and such?

Thanks a ton for doing this! It's wonderful :)


Thanks. The classifying is what took (still taking) a lot of time. Looking to give everyone the most accurate idea of how a course would be classified at a university.

That sounds like a great way to go about it. Personally I'm in a boat where the standard university style of education was rewarding when I had the right professors but largely was not tangential to the growth of my knowledge in most ways. Such is why I ended up attending a programming bootcamp after years of doing it on my own. So services like this really, really appeal to me. I'm just an information/knowledge acquisition junkie and do so at a pace faster than most courses provide.

So, thanks again and I'll be sure to give some input once I have the time to browse around :)

Both would usually be 200 level (2nd year) courses.

FYI, this may not be a universally-accepted numbering system. At Berkeley, lower-division courses have two digits (1A, 55, 64), upper-division courses are in the 100s, and graduate classes are in the 200s.

Yes this is the difficulty as there is no set standard. We went with the basic 3 digit system as most people in the US are familiar with it. Most will understand (some subject) 101 is an entry level course. There are those in other countries who don't get it as we have found out. We are working on a new design that will be clearer in explaining this.

The 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 system is quite clear to me.

Note to web designers: don't enforce a minimum width on elements which are hidden on overflow. I had no idea there was a way to sign up or login because the links to them were not visible and there was no scroll bar and thus dmunoz's comment didn't quite make sense.

Edit: Actually, you've got a slightly worse issue... as I resize my browser window, as soon as it reaches ~1000 (1024?) pixels the header jumps and the buttons disappear outright, even though they would fit on the screen just fine. I don't really care what happens to the buttons, but there is no indication elsewhere on the page that one can make an account.

Hey thanks for the feedback. We are working on it!

Glad to hear it! As another much more minor note, the header logo on the registration page seems to be shrunken a good 75%. It's not a problem but it does look comically small.

See: img.logo width and max-width attributes.

The website navigability sucks. Just open this page:


Then enjoy clicking "Load More", "Load More" forever. The UI seems to be mobile-optimized, but very bad usability on desktop. Is there are "Show All" button instead of clicking Load More all the time?

I have felt for a long time that the MOOCs are broken because there is no holistic learning plan; a strength of one site is a weakness of another. You guys have fixed that. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope that your site becomes a resource I rely on in the future. That being said, there are a few UX issues which would greatly improve signup rate and ease of use:

1. You should list all of the subjects on the home page not just 6 of them!!! The only way to view classes by subject is via search. But I want to be able to browse! Search is too much effort. Use this as an opportunity to list the highest rated classes by each subject. Put your data to good use.

2. The only way to browse all classes by subject is by un-checking the subject box in a search results page, but if your browser width is over 1200px the filter results tab becomes static and you can't see all of the subjects and filters :(

3. What is the main benefit of signing up? Add a CTA in between the search box and browse courses section of the homepage. Maybe also add a screenshot of the learning path, so I immediately know what benefit I am getting/why I shouldn't just use your site to find courses on coursera or udacity.

4. Have landing pages per subject with a CTA to sign up.

PS I wouldn't have taken the time to write this if I wasn't absolutely in love with your site and what you are doing.

First thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

1. You are right. We need to add more/all to home page. 2. This is a problem. Clearly we need to fix this! 3. We are working on the learning path and want to keep it under wraps for now. But a better CTA is needed. I always want site to provide me a good reason if I am going to give them my email address. We don't right now. same with #4

I had posted once or twice in comments of other stories about CB but was waiting until we got some of our site issues worked out before trying to get on the front of HN. Well the OP decided the time is now and hey I am not complaining.

I think you will find our offerings in the future to be much improved. Email me coursebuffet@gmail.com and I will keep you updated and any other thoughts would welcome.

Search functionality isn't very good: http://www.coursebuffet.com/s/machine%20learning/0/0/0

The direct matches from the front page are much better, though those miss courses that aren't so clearly named ('Learning from Data')

This tells me that there is no Ruby/PHP/node.js equivalent to Udacity's Python-based web-development course. Pity.

Software as a Service (cs169.1x and cs169.2x) from edX is not exactly the same but fills the Ruby void.

Ah, I'd heard about this class, but mistakenly thought it was on Coursera - where I couldn't find it. Thanks much. Go Bears.

I really enjoyed the startup engineering course pretty beginner- gets into node. https://www.coursera.org/course/startup

Awesomeness - thanks so much. I'd seen the title of this course, but had no idea that it addressed exactly what I wanted. Human help (still) beats a web search.

I've seen a similar service launching post on HN about a year ago.

CourseTalk: Reviews for Udacity, Coursera, and edX (coursetalk.org) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4640735

I'm using coursetalk when I pick up a class. Some of reviewers are giving really valuable feedbacks.

I am interested to know how you guys are building this database. At one point we were thinking to provide similar service as part of http://www.merocampus.com We are interested to know if there are API that you are consuming, scrapping websites or adding it manually.

This looks very promising. I've always had trouble with the fact that most sites just list all courses, but there is never a stepped approach to know what to take next and so on. And you have to try to figure it out yourself, from all the very many courses out there. Thanks for doing this.

It is a great tool to discover interesting courses and it saves me a lot of time searching. I am not sure if you are working on it, but it maybe a good idea to allow people to subscribe subjects/classes so that they got notified when new courses got created.

Tim Roughgarden's Algorithms is highly recommended!


Leave a review if you wouldn't mind!

Awesome website! Don't have much else to add - others will be better at pointing out UI/UX issues - just wanted to show support!

Has been done before https://www.class-central.com/

Here is the difference. CC and other sites do basic aggregation. We create a standard that is similar to college catalog so you know which courses are roughly equivalent. Look at all the courses under Computer Science 101 http://coursebuffet.com/cb/computer-science/101

These are the courses we have examined at and determined they are all beginning computer science courses even though the names of the courses are not the same. For example one is entitled Fundamentals to Computer Science another Introduction to Computer Science, etc. Now you don't have to figure out which specific courses are comparable in an "apples to apples" way. It is done for you. If you go on other sites and enter computer science all the computer science courses are listed with only basic grouping leaving it up to you to take your time and figure out which ones you should be comparing.

This also gives you a basic idea in what order you might want to take the course. We have figure that out for you and made it easier to mix and match from different providers.

I am getting significantly more accurate results on www.coursebuffet.com than on www.class-central.com. The latter doesn't seem to have as good keyword search and it often seems to miss even when the word is in the title of the course.

I grant an upvote for doing it better than it has already been done.

Thanks. There are still errors and bugs we are working on.

This looks cool but I'll be the guy to tell you that doing this is going to be really hard as a project, and as a company.

To decently organize different subjects you won't be able to stay at the course level for long - too large a grain size. Maybe you can stay at university subject and undergrad/grad distinction, but you'll quickly find edge cases may outweigh standard cases when you define further. You're going to have to start parsing the syllabi of individual courses, which means you're going to have a crash-course on the subject. It'll take time, and you won't get much faster at it in another subject. This is assuming a practical approach rather than a more research driven approach, which would take a lot longer.

That's the first challenge. The second challenge is that tons of colleges are entering the fray and a LOT of courses are going to get put up soon. So the 700 courses becomes 1500 becomes 5000. You may think this is an opportunity but its at least as much a burden. And once you classify them, they'll change, and you'll have to update them. And you won't have access to critical feedback loops on why they changed or their quality.

Between those two challenges you're going to have to find a sustainability model fast. As you note, many others have started to do this, and although they didn't do the particular feature you're talking about w/ matching courses, there's probably a lot to learn from them. I think everyone was going 'platform!' but that involves a LOT of building audience before getting any possible leadgen revenue.

At a much higher level, college itself is going through a pretty big rethink. Its worth asking yourself the question: "why isn't there a standard way that colleges organize their courses today?" (hint: its structural, not just pre-internet). Its also worth thinking about how MOOCs are adjusting their offerings (e.g. shorter lengths, highly multidisciplinary content, topical content, etc), and whether or not standardizing across traditional college schemes is today's and tomorrow's problem, not just yesterday's.

I think its worth learning a bit about library sciences (the nature of classification), talking to MOOC instructors about their experiences, talking to other course listing startups, & talking to colleges about how they think about what makes a college education (or at least read what they have to say). This probably won't require code (gasp, I say this on HN), it's more a get-out-of-the-building problem. Code is kinda your enemy right now, it'll trick you into thinking you're making progress.

The desire to tackle organizing it is noble, but the scope is big. There's lots of other edtech problems out there if you're interested in the space.

And all that said, feel free to prove me wrong!

Source: a long time in edtech, a lot of time spent classifying (e.g. edsurge.com/products), and been involved in lots of discussions with open courseware folks about these very problems.

First thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts it is appreciated.

The classifying is a challenge. While doing it at the course level is a pain we think without doing this the value added is small. We have found the more courses are classified the easier it gets. This being said the edge cases can take a good deal of time to figure out and are frustrating.In the future we would need someone full time just to work on this.

As for "...is today's and tomorrow's problem, not just yesterday's" This could be the case no doubt but some revolutions take longer than initial planned. HN readers might know about MOOCs, gamifying education with achievement badges, etc there are a lots of people who don't, almost surprisingly so. A few months ago we talked with a local prof who didn't know about MOOCs. Millions of people grew up with a traditional college courses and semesters and millions are take traditional college courses. We think that replicating (or near enough) the current setup is easier for people to grasp. There are others who think points/badges are the way to go. . We will have to read more about library sciences As as you point the as MOOCs become less like regular college courses the more our classification standard will be challenged.

I had seen edsurge before but now will have to follow it more closely.

edX and other great open education platforms are crippled when it comes to actually discovering courses. Thank you for this menu card of course, very helpful :)

Thanks. We are actually missing some edX courses but they will be added in very soon.

Is there any e-commerce MOOC out there?

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