How to Take Coursera Courses

Now that you've signed up for Coursera, it's time to start learning!  There are almost 1500 different courses available for you to take on Coursera, picked from across a wide variety of subjects.  However, they often have different availability periods, so you may have to wait to take some courses, and other courses may have a time limit to complete.  Other courses are always available, and you can learn at your own pace. 

Each Coursera course operates a little differently, too.  Some may require you to grade assignments for your peers, and others may even have invigilated final exams.  Make sure that you read and understand the course structure before you enroll, so that you know what you're getting yourself into.

How to enroll in a Coursera course

  1. Go to in your web browser and click Log In in the top-right corner.

    Coursera log in button

  2. When the log in screen pops up, if you signed up for Coursera with your Facebook account, click Log In With Facebook and follow the prompts and instructions to log into your Facebook account.

    Coursera log in form

    Otherwise, click in the box labelled "Email" and type in the email address that you used to sign up for Coursera.  Then, click in the box labelled "Password" and type in the password that you used to secure your Coursera account.  Then click Log In.

  3. Once you're logged into Coursera, if you aren't enrolled in any courses yet, you will see a list of courses on the right side of your screen.  They correspond to the subject fields that you expressed interest in when you signed up for Coursera.  Click one to view the course.

    Select a recommended Coursera course

    You can also click See All to start a search for all courses in your preferred subject fields, or start a manual search for a course by entering keywords and then narrowing your results down in different ways from there.  We'll talk about how to do this in our How to Search on Coursera tutorial.

    For now, let's have a look at the course that's highlighted.

  4. In the main part of the screen, you'll see an overview of the course, including an introduction to its subject matter and learning goals, the instructors who are featured in the course, and a general sketch of what will be taught in the course on a week-to-week basis.

    How to preview and enroll in a Coursera course

    On the left side of the screen, click Preview Course to look at some of the lessons that will be featured in this course (click on them to view the videos or text documents), or click Discussions to see how other people who have taken the course have engaged with its ideas.  (NOTE: Not all of these options will be available for all courses.)

    If you think that this is a course that you would like to take, click Enroll on the right-hand side.

  5. For some Coursera courses, you can get a completion certificate if you finish within six months (180 days) -- which you can use to show off your expertise in the subject on work portfolio documents (such as your résumé) or on business-oriented networks like LinkedIn.  However, in most cases, it won't count as credit towards completing a degree at an institution (though there are some exceptions).

    Option to earn a Coursera course certificate

    If a learning certificate is available for the course when you enroll, you will be presented with this pop-up screen.  Click the button beside your choice -- whether you want to take the course and get a learner's certificate, or just take the course for knowledge's sake -- and then click Continue.

    (NOTE: If you choose to take the course and get a learner's certificate, you will need to input your credit card information, so have that handy.)

    When everything is set up, click Start Learning.

How to take a Coursera course

  1. Once you've enrolled in a Coursera course, you're ready to start taking it!  The easiest way to start off is to click on the button that says Go to Week [X] to go to the set of lessons for the current week of course progression.

    Select a Coursera course week module

  2. Materials for the current week in the course will be organized according to instructor-created sections.  Materials that have a "page" icon beside them are written documents that you should read.  Materials that have a "play" icon (and a minute length) beside them are videos that you should watch.  Materials that have a checkmark beside them are ones that you have already finished.

    List of Coursera course materials

    Simply click on a material to access it.

  3. At the top-left of course material pages are "breadcrumbs", like there are on Techboomers.  They serve the same function of showing you how you got to the current page that you're on.  Click one of the "breadcrumbs" to return to that page.

    How to view a Coursera course text material

    At the top-right of the screen is a meter indicating your progress with lessons in this section.  Green bars represent course materials that you have finished, and grey bars represent course materials that you still need to look at.  The bar with the dot in it represents the course material that you are currently viewing.  Click on a bar to take you to its corresponding course material.

    You can also click the arrows at the left or right edges of the screen to quickly jump to the previous or next piece of material in the course.

  4. If you're watching a video, you can use the buttons highlighted at the bottom of the player window to:

    - Stop and start the video
    - Turn subtitles for the video (if they're available) on or off
    - Adjust or mute the video's volume
    - Adjust various video options (quality, playback rate, whether or not videos automatically play)
    - Enable or disable "full screen" mode (i.e. the video takes up your entire screen)

    How to view a Coursera course video material

    You can also click one of the buttons below the player to Like the lesson, Dislike it, or Report a Problem with it.  (These buttons will appear at the bottom of assignments and text lessons, too.)

    Finally, you can click one of the "Downloads" buttons on the right to download the video, subtitles for the video, or a transcript of the video.

  5. If you click Discussions in the left-hand menu, you can see what people are saying about the subject matter in this course.

    How to view Coursera course discussions

    Click a forum on the left to see the discussions in that forum, and then use the tools across the top of the discussion list to sort the discussions, search for a particular discussion, or start a new discussion.  Below these options are the actual discussions, with bolded ones containing responses that you haven't read yet.  Click on one to read it, and then scroll to the bottom of the screen, click in the text box there, write something to say, and then click Reply to have your thoughts heard.

  6. Course materials marked with a star are quizzes or other assignments.  Click on one, read the details, and then click Start Quiz(/Assignment) to begin.

    How to find Coursera course assignments

    In order to maintain academic integrity, you will have to verify your identity when submitting coursework.  This includes monitoring your pattern of typing on your keyboard, and submitting a picture/video of yourself via webcam.  (For more information on verifying your identity, click here.)  If you aren't trying to get a completion certificate for this course, then you can click Continue, then I Don't Want to Verify, and then Continue without Verification to skip this step.

    How to verify your identity on Coursera

    From there, complete the assignment (click here for help with different kinds of assignments), and click Submit Quiz(/Assignment) when you're done.  Don't miss the deadline!

  7. If you log out of Coursera, and then log back in, you will be taken to your Enrollments page by default.  There, you can see which courses you are currently enrolled in.

    Continue, rate, or cancel a Coursera course

    To get back to working on a course that you're enrolled in, click Resume beside it.  You can also click one of the stars beside it to rate the course, or click the small arrow in the top-right corner for additional options.  Here, you can click Leave Course if you wish to drop the course.

    If you drop a course or specialization (i.e. related group of courses), you may be entitled to a refund within 1 or 2 business days if it has been less than 2 weeks since you paid for the course (or the first course in your specialization opened, whichever comes earlier) and you haven't yet earned your learner's certificate for the course (or any course in your specialization).  Click here for more details.

That's about as much as we can tell you about taking a course on Coursera.  The rest of the learning can only be done by you!


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