I've been spending some time on Udacity and Coursera, and I'd like to share some of my feedback for the benefit of the forum. I've taken the advanced programming topics and programming languages courses on Udacity, started the cryptography and machine learning courses on Udacity, and the machine learning course on Coursera.
Professors are consistently clear. Udacity, in particular, has assembled a group of teachers that explain things very well. It's also nice to be able to easily review the videos whenever some things may seem difficult.
Lots of exercises. Throughout the lectures, you take breaks to answer questions, which helps make the concepts much more concrete.
Great communicty. Coursera doesn't have quite as robust of one as Udacity. The Udacity forums are full of excited students that are eager to help each other out, show new insights, etc.
Not enough depth. This hurts Udacity more than Coursera. The courses I've taken fail to really dive deeply into the concepts. As a result, you'll feel like you've learned some interesting things, but I would be hard-pressed to go into a job interview relying only on the skills I picked up class
Not enough homework: It's good that the lectures have exercises, but the homework and exams don't provide enough challenge. I've learned that it takes practice, practice, practice to really get down computer science, and the courses I've taken just don't provide enough.
Overall: Udacity and Coursera are good way to explore new concepts and practice your skills, but aren't yet a real replacement for a formal education (especially an undergraduate degree). Given what's coming up on Coursera, though, the sites are showing lots of potential.
In case anyone wants to check out some of these classes, here are the ones I've checked out:
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