73iso
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Hi. I am trying to self study A level maths and I found some interesting free courses on edX made by Imperial College London. I was wondering what people think of the free courses and what its like to do all of the courses which is what I am planning to do. The free courses can be found here:
https://www.edx.org/search?q=a+level+mathematics
edX has an option to buy a verified certificate but this is not necessary. The only useful certification which I will be aiming for is a good grade in an A level maths exam.
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0le
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MOOC courses vary substantially in their quality. The ones on EdX, Coursera and FutureLearn, if provided by an established university or school, tend to be better structured and have better content than courses on places such as Udemy which are typically just taught by random individuals. This is not always true, but just something I've observed.

Most MOOC courses are not worth any university credits (or the equivalent for A-Level etc), regardless of who developed them. So the verified certificates are more like a certificate of participation and completion if you like. They don't hold much weight at all, but are useful to demonstrate hobbies or personal interests in an interview or sometimes on a CV if it is relevant. Some can be placed on linkedin profiles.

A handful of MOOC courses are actually worth university credits (or equivalent etc) and cost a considerable amount of money. If you complete these particular courses, you do actually get a proper qualification which should be equivalent to any qualification obtained by attending school or university. I don't know how employers actually view degree qualifications obtained in this way, but as I said, it should be the same. If in doubt regarding these particular courses worth university/A-Level units, check with the university or school.

A short word on "accredited". Some courses are listed as "accredited", meaning they are recognized by a professional body. In some of the MOOC courses that give actual university credits, the universities may call the degree accredited because it will also be accredited by a professional body. This may be important in certain industries like engineering.

However, some other courses which may not give any university credits may still be accredited by a professional body. You will have to look and read about the professional body to see whether the accreditation holds any weight in the industry.

In all cases it should be very clear whether you are obtaining an actual recognized qualification or you are just doing a basic certificate of completion and whether or not it is accredited. To sum up:

Code:
MOOC Course Type 1 - Not accredited and no university or school credits.
MOOC Course Type 2 - Not accredited but has university/ school credits.
MOOC Course Type 3 - Accredited and has university/ school credits
MOOC Course Type 4 - Accredited and no university or school credits.
Type 1 is the most common type of MOOC course.

Now moving onto the content, one problem with these courses that don't give any credits is that many lack detailed and plentiful examples and questions. They aren't really that much different from something like Khan academy. If you want to learn A-Level maths, there are plenty of free books available from openstax and others:
https://openstax.org/subjects/math
https://www.stitz-zeager.com/
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/33283/33283-pdf.pdf

I would strongly recommend reading books as opposed to watching videos. Books go into much more depth. You also spend more time learning the material so the chances are it will stick with you longer. At the very least, you will remember that you read the book and therefore if you go over the material, it should be simpler. Videos should be supplementary to learning. The only exception to this is watching full lecture series from universities or schools such as MIT openware which are made available on their websites or Youtube.

Note also that MOOC courses are different from professional certifications. You gain a professional certification from places such as Microsoft, Amazon, etc and these are typically found in IT for example, to demonstrate certain levels of experience. You have to study and then pay to sit an exam (pre-covid this would be in an exam hall in your local area). A professional certification is usually recognized in industry, provided it is from a well known establishment.
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73iso
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(Original post by 0le)
MOOC courses vary substantially in their quality. The ones on EdX, Coursera and FutureLearn, if provided by an established university or school, tend to be better structured and have better content than courses on places such as Udemy which are typically just taught by random individuals. This is not always true, but just something I've observed.

Most MOOC courses are not worth any university credits (or the equivalent for A-Level etc), regardless of who developed them. So the verified certificates are more like a certificate of participation and completion if you like. They don't hold much weight at all, but are useful to demonstrate hobbies or personal interests in an interview or sometimes on a CV if it is relevant. Some can be placed on linkedin profiles.

A handful of MOOC courses are actually worth university credits (or equivalent etc) and cost a considerable amount of money. If you complete these particular courses, you do actually get a proper qualification which should be equivalent to any qualification obtained by attending school or university. I don't know how employers actually view degree qualifications obtained in this way, but as I said, it should be the same. If in doubt regarding these particular courses worth university/A-Level units, check with the university or school.

A short word on "accredited". Some courses are listed as "accredited", meaning they are recognized by a professional body. In some of the MOOC courses that give actual university credits, the universities may call the degree accredited because it will also be accredited by a professional body. This may be important in certain industries like engineering.

However, some other courses which may not give any university credits may still be accredited by a professional body. You will have to look and read about the professional body to see whether the accreditation holds any weight in the industry.

In all cases it should be very clear whether you are obtaining an actual recognized qualification or you are just doing a basic certificate of completion and whether or not it is accredited. To sum up:

Code:
MOOC Course Type 1 - Not accredited and no university or school credits.
MOOC Course Type 2 - Not accredited but has university/ school credits.
MOOC Course Type 3 - Accredited and has university/ school credits
MOOC Course Type 4 - Accredited and no university or school credits.
Type 1 is the most common type of MOOC course.

Now moving onto the content, one problem with these courses that don't give any credits is that many lack detailed and plentiful examples and questions. They aren't really that much different from something like Khan academy. If you want to learn A-Level maths, there are plenty of free books available from openstax and others:
https://openstax.org/subjects/math
https://www.stitz-zeager.com/
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/33283/33283-pdf.pdf

I would strongly recommend reading books as opposed to watching videos. Books go into much more depth. You also spend more time learning the material so the chances are it will stick with you longer. At the very least, you will remember that you read the book and therefore if you go over the material, it should be simpler. Videos should be supplementary to learning. The only exception to this is watching full lecture series from universities or schools such as MIT openware which are made available on their websites or Youtube.

Note also that MOOC courses are different from professional certifications. You gain a professional certification from places such as Microsoft, Amazon, etc and these are typically found in IT for example, to demonstrate certain levels of experience. You have to study and then pay to sit an exam (pre-covid this would be in an exam hall in your local area). A professional certification is usually recognized in industry, provided it is from a well known establishment.
I think many of the certifications which can be found online don't seem to carry much weight when applying for jobs unless it is a certificate for completing a formal degree such as a bachelors or a masters. In a similar way, universities may tend to place a higher priority on school exam grades rather than other external certifications. Some companies may even screen out job applicants who don't have degrees. In the software development industry it may be much more important for a job applicant to be able to show what they can do with the skills learnt in a MOOC, perhaps in a portfolio of projects, than just being able to show a certificate for completing a non degree course which has not been backed up with a portfolio of projects. In this way it could be suggested that being able to show and apply what a MOOC student has learnt can be far more essential than just having a certificate.
I have been through part of the EdX course for A level Mathematics and I can confirm that the video tutorials are accompanied by exercises with a fair amount of questions to test understanding and consolidate information. I think that it may be a common assumption that online resources are not accompanied by plenty of questions but some online resources actually do have numerous questions to test understanding. I spent a lot of time learning on Khan Academy and I have to say that there is an abundance of questions that are accompanied by the video lectures. Khan academy uses an algorithm to generate an unlimited number of questions in their maths syllabus.
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(Original post by 73iso)
I think many of the certifications which can be found online don't seem to carry much weight when applying for jobs unless it is a certificate for completing a formal degree such as a bachelors or a masters.
Yup, but note the difference between MOOC courses, online degrees and professional certifications like Comptia, AZ-900 from MS for Azure etc. I have actually filled out application forms where companies ask what professional certifications you have. It really depends on the industry and the employer. Obviously nothing trumps just actual experience though.

In a similar way, universities may tend to place a higher priority on school exam grades rather than other external certifications. Some companies may even screen out job applicants who don't have degrees.
Most companies list what they want on the job description. It really depends on the company.

In the software development industry it may be much more important for a job applicant to be able to show what they can do with the skills learnt in a MOOC, perhaps in a portfolio of projects, than just being able to show a certificate for completing a non degree course which has not been backed up with a portfolio of projects. In this way it could be suggested that being able to show and apply what a MOOC student has learnt can be far more essential than just having a certificate.
Yes.

I have been through part of the EdX course for A level Mathematics and I can confirm that the video tutorials are accompanied by exercises with a fair amount of questions to test understanding and consolidate information. I think that it may be a common assumption that online resources are not accompanied by plenty of questions but some online resources actually do have numerous questions to test understanding. I spent a lot of time learning on Khan Academy and I have to say that there is an abundance of questions that are accompanied by the video lectures. Khan academy uses an algorithm to generate an unlimited number of questions in their maths syllabus.
There may be specific general courses which are good whereas some are woeful.

Your original post came across, to me at least, that you didn't fully understand what MOOC courses were, so I simply replied with this assumption in mind, to give some general guidance. However, my assumption appears to be incorrect because judging from your second post, it seems that actually you do have a good idea and a good handle on things .

I think the best way to test your knowledge after completing a course is try some past papers and see how you fair. There are many available from previous years from the websites of the exam boards:
https://qualifications.pearson.com/e...st-papers.html
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73iso
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Has anyone actually done or worked on the A level maths courses?
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73iso
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I've noticed that some of the questions asked in the course require external knowledge. For example, in course 1, there was a question which required the discriminant b^2-4ac but this had not been taught in the course and I did not know that using the discriminant was required as it was not taught in the course. Other examples include having to complete the square, use the quadratic formula, knowing the the gradients of perpendicular lines multiply to give -1, knowing what the formula for the volume of a cone is and using trigonometry. None of these skills were taught in the course so far. I would say that students require a strong foundation in their mathematics to successfully answer a lot of these questions as some of them require skills that are not taught in the course.
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