Pluralsight provides an enabling online environment for tech professionals or aspiring ones to develop their skill sets.
At the same time, it provides startups and enterprises with team onboarding and upskilling capabilities by providing various tools and features for guided learning and assessments.
The video course platform was founded in 2004 as a classroom training company but moved online in 2007.
While PluralSight is a niche platform—for technical subjects mainly, Coursera provides training in a wide variety of courses from data science to social science to health and much more.
Coursera is a MOOC (massive open online course) platform because of its extensive coverage of content in a variety of niches. All the courses on it are moderated by universities and top-ranking organizations in various subjects.
PluralSight and Coursera aim to help you hone or expand your skill set and are top destinations for startups and employers looking to enhance their teams’ technological fluency.
Both online education platforms are also excellent places to learn various project management skills and other aspects of effective human and workspace management, such as teamwork, leadership, growth mindset, et cetera.
There’s much more to what PluralSight and Coursera offer and their different approaches to achieving their ambitions.
After reading this review, you will be well-equipped to choose the better one for your individual or business needs.
What is Pluralsight?
PluralSight aims to bring individual skill learning and company training processes in one package.
The platform focuses on technical topics and business and project management skills.
The virtual classrooms consist of pre-recorded video courses covering over 7,000 topics in the above niches. Mind you, none of the courses are free. You can choose to subscribe to all of PluralSight’s content, or you can decide to unlock a specific course.
Learning on the platform is well-organized, and you won’t have to worry about getting lost in such a wide array of courses. There are pre-determined structures that can help even first-timers pick precisely what they want to know.
All the courses are organized into paths. In other words, for any skill you want to learn, there are course videos arranged in the order you should watch, just like a curriculum.
Of course, learning paths are not enough if you don’t have a good idea of your strong points and your weaker areas. PluralSight knows that as well.
Through the skill IQ assessment feature, you will take a test (optional but highly recommended) of your skill proficiency. PluralSight will use your performance to automatically select which skills you should start with and then arrange all the related courses in the order you should view them.
PluralSight has a broad coverage of technical topics and affords its users plenty of opportunities to test their strengths in a particular skill. Employers can also use PluralSight’s company-focused package to upgrade their teams’ technological fluency.
Instead of sending their teams to other parts of the world for training, a business or enterprise can decide to enroll them in PluralSight to learn new skills through the learning paths, interactive courses, and labs available.
And occasionally, each team member can take assessments that measure their skill competency or understanding of their role.
That can result in significant savings for businesses as they keep learning costs low while ensuring that staff members receive adequate training for better efficiency and productivity in their respective positions.
What is Coursera?
As I said earlier, Coursera belongs to the massive open online course (MOOC) programs. It has a vast library of videos on just about any subject.
Coursera was founded by Stanford University computer professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in 2012.
Not too long after, several respectable American universities started adding their courses on Coursera. Stanford University was among the first to do so.
Today, Coursera provides over 7,000 courses, specializations, and certification programs by nearly 300 universities in almost all subjects.
The courses consist of video lectures that span between four to twelve weeks. The courses are accessible in dozens of languages and include quizzes, weekly exercises, assignments, and a conclusory project exam.
Exams are usually peer-graded due to the huge number of enrollments. This can result in unwelcome experiences like plagiarism of another person’s coursework and incorrect grading.
Most courses are free, but you must take the paid ones to enjoy features like exams and certifications.
Then there are career paths or specializations. These are chains of courses that help you to master a particular niche in, let’s say, digital marketing or data science, for example.
A specialization takes an average of three months, depending on how much time you dedicate.
Coursera certifications are given in cooperation with the appropriate industry or company. Various certificates are available such as UX Design, Project Management, Data Analytics, etc.
Certification courses take up to six months to complete. Depending on your commitment, you might finish sooner than that.
MasterTrack certificates are Coursera’s equivalent of a university bachelor’s or master’s degree. An example is the Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack certificate from the University of Michigan.
You can pick a specific course, specialization, or certification program or unlock Coursera’s content with a Coursera Plus subscription.
Coursera also has exclusive platform versions for businesses, campuses, and governments. I’ll talk about them in more detail later on in this review.
PluralSight and Coursera have thousands of courses, but PluralSight focuses on tech, while Coursera covers many more fields.
I will now compare the two competitors based on several metrics like the number and quality of courses, topics covered, instructor qualifications, et cetera.
Number of Courses
PluralSight has more than 7,000 courses but mostly on tech and business management practices.
Coursera, on the other hand, offers approximately the same number of courses in total but spreads them among different subjects.
Since PluralSight is for anything that revolves around technology and business management, I will simply highlight the different fields Coursera handles.
- Art & Humanities
- Computer Science
- Information Technology
- Math & Logic
- Physical Science & Engineering
- Language Learning
- Data Science
- Personal Development
- Social Sciences
Quality of Courses
Coursera doesn’t have its own courses but partners with universities and companies worldwide to deliver world-class training on various subjects.
As such, the quality of courses is of a high standard. There’s even a community of beta testers who are expert instructors and reviewers. Their job is to vet the quality of the content before it is released to the public.
Pluralsight also has its own content quality moderation process, but it can’t match up with that of Coursera.
For instance, most PluralSight’s courses are uploaded by individual subject experts and are not vetted by any institution.
In any case, I would pick Coursera over PluralSight for content quality.
Both PluralSight and Coursera excel when it comes to course organization.
The way both platforms structure their courses goes a long way to give you a sense of direction for learning.
On both platforms, you get access to learning paths, which is the one thing to look out for in an online education platform because learning paths group all the courses you will need to master a particular skill in one place.
It should be a draw here, but PluralSight has a slight edge here. Their skill IQ feature helps you determine which learning path you should start with based on an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses.
Coursera instructors are professors and lecturers or expert tutors from various universities and top-level institutions.
You can’t always say that for PluralSight. Anybody can apply to be an instructor on PluralSight. You must submit tangible proof of your qualifications, which can be forged.
Features and Tools
PluralSight and Coursera have plenty of features for the end user.
What’s most important, however, is how these features and tools ultimately impact the end user.
In this section, our focus is on which of the two platforms has the most useful perks.
PluralSight Features vs. Coursera Features
There are assessments on both platforms. They include quizzes, practice questions, exercises, et cetera.
Pluralsight skill IQ assessment, however, goes a step further. It helps you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so you can start with the right course. Coursera doesn’t have any equivalent.
Regarding more impactful tests, PluralSight wins but only by a small margin.
2. Gamified Learning
Pluralsight uses such attachments as badges, a progress bar, and a weekly log to help you stay motivated and on track with your learning objectives.
Coursera doesn’t have such attractions. However, it allows you to set intensity goals for your learning, such as how many days a week you want to commit to your education.
And if you think about it, Coursera does give you valid certification if you take a paid course. The relevant company verifies this certification and can seriously boost your resume’s glamor.
Would you rather go with a badge that describes some imaginary heroic achievement or a certificate that can fetch you real work?
I’ll give Coursera the nod here for the ultimate gamified learning experience.
3. Multi-language Support
Only Coursera allows you to view content in another language aside from English. Right now, Coursera supports more than 40 languages. That’s reason enough to choose it over PluralSight.
4. Learning Paths
PluralSight and Coursera both have learning paths, and they are great time-savers.
It’s just that Coursera’s learning paths are more impactful. They can lead to verified certifications or degrees that rival actual university learning.
PluralSight grants certifications. Coursera does as well. The difference is in that the latter has far more certification programs.
A Coursera certification or degree is also more likely to command more respect than a PluralSight certification since the former is more or less a university experience—online.
6. Mobile Apps
There are mobile apps for both PluralSight and Coursera that work for Android and iOS devices. They also have TV apps.
It’s a fair contest here.
7. Free Courses
PluralSight has no free courses, and a 10-day free trial is your only chance at testing the platform without any financial commitment.
Coursera, on the other hand, has more than 2,600 free courses delivering expert-level training.
You also get a one-week free trial if you sign up for a paid professional or certification program. That way, you can test the course content before deciding.
PluralSight and Coursera both do very well in this ease-of-course-discovery feature.
They allow you to search with a keyword and then streamline results by several categories like rating, topic, language, content type, level, duration, and video length.
There is no clear winner here, as both course platforms allow you to select exactly what you have in mind.
PluralSight rarely runs discounts on its programs. However, they currently offer a 50% discount on all their monthly and premium plans.
In addition, buying any course gives you free access to an additional course.
Coursera is not running any discounts at the moment. However, they do have a neat trick that no other online education platform can beat—yet.
On Coursera, you can apply for financial aid to unlock a course. You will be asked to provide your level of education, annual income, employment status, and why you are applying for financial aid.
You can submit only ten applications for financial aid at a time. After that, you won’t be able to apply for financial aid again to any course until at least one of your applications is accepted.
10. Free Trial
Coursera offers a one-week free trial for any course, specialization, or degree program.
PluralSight allows ten days for its free trial. Both require you to add your credit card for automatic billing if you wish to start paying after the trial expires.
On both platforms, free trials don’t last long. But Coursera is far more recommendable in this area for its stock of free courses.
Subtitles are available for all videos on both course platforms.
Both platforms support multiple languages and allow subtitles for all of them.
On Coursera, you can even get interactive transcripts for any video in any language.
12. Discussion Forum
Coursera takes the lead in this area. Each course includes forum participation with peers.
You don’t get to interact with the instructors, however, but neither does PluralSight allow you to do that.
However, PluralSight recently introduced channels on its web and mobile platforms. Channels are like chat rooms that help you organize your courses in one place and share with members that you add.
I recommend Coursera’s take on discussion forums. It is much easier to interact with everyone taking your course than on PluralSight.
PluralSight’s pricing is pretty straightforward—it’s either a standard plan or a premium one.
The standard plan is billed at $19 monthly or $159 billed yearly. It only gives limited access to about 2,500 courses, learning paths, skill IQ, and role IQ assessments.
The premium plan unlocks full access to all 7,000+ courses and every feature on the platform. It will set you back by $29 monthly or $191 yearly.
On the other hand, Coursera offers several programs and bills you according to the one you choose.
Guided projects start from $10, paid once.
Specializations help you master a skill and start from $39 billed monthly.
Professional certifications cost the same as specializations.
MasterTrack certificates and degrees start from $2,000 and $9,000 billed once, although you can request financial aid.
Coursera Plus grants you access to all 7,000+ courses, projects, and certification programs for $59 monthly or $399 yearly.
Pros and Cons
As this is not a standalone review of a platform but rather a standard comparison of two competitors, I will enumerate the advantages of one platform over the other.
The die has been tossed, and it’s PluralSight’s advantages over Coursera first.
PluralSight Advantages Over Coursera
1. Has Richer Assessments
Coursera—except for the business and government plans—has no answer to PluralSight’s Skill IQ and Role IQ assessment features.
Those two IQ tests can save you a lot of stress if you are unsure what you are good at or how well you know your roles. They are also available for any course or learning path you want to follow.
2. Is Highly Specialized
PluralSight’s strength is in its focus on the tech niche. Hence, it can better give in-depth training on anything related to technology with courses that can rival those of Coursera regarding tech.
3. Gives You Better Career Direction
Pluralsight-specific learning paths, channels, and assessments help personalize your learning and show you where you are in your career and what to do to move on from there.
4. Is Better For Flexible Learning
Unlike Coursera, which adds the scheduling element to your learning, PluralSight allows you to watch all the training videos at your convenience.
5. Delivers a Better User Experience
For UI simplicity, Coursera takes the crown. Nevertheless, it’s slower than PluralSight at loading video courses which is a flaw that, in my opinion, makes the latter the better one for a smooth UX.
Coursera Advantages Over PluralSight
1. Is More Extensive
While PluralSight specializes in tech niches, Coursera diversifies into about 11 topics.
Hence, Coursera is the ideal choice if you are into anything other than tech or want to pick learning as a hobby.
2. Has Arguably Better Course Quality Than PluralSight
PluralSight courses are delivered by industry professionals who apply. That said, the quality of training from even a tech expert cannot be compared to that from certified institutions.
Did you know? Coursera doesn’t allow just any kind of professor to teach on it. That’s how challenging the vetting process is.
3. Has Plenty of Free Courses
If you are bent on learning as much as you can without spending a dime, Coursera is your best bet.
With over 2,600 free courses, you can almost not find something interesting.
The only downside is that you aren’t getting any certificates when you audit the courses for free, but that’s the whole essence of it.
4. Offers More Reputable Awards
Although PluralSight gives certificates in almost all its tech domains, many are not accredited. Coursera goes beyond that by awarding degrees that are more or less the same standard as a university degree.
The result is that more employers and HR admins will prefer to consider university-style awards from Coursera.
5. Is Better for Beginners and Intermediates
Coursera has a lot of courses that target newbies and others with a little more experience in a specific specialty.
The concepts are taught simpler than on PluralSight especially in the tech niches.
6. Has a Cleaner Interface Than PluralSight
From the sign up page to the content pages, Coursera has simpler themes and doesn’t throw a lot at your face at once.
Overall, it’s easier to navigate than PluralSight, but only by a small margin.
7. Is More Interactive
Coursera’s paid courses enable you to interact with a community of other learners taking the same course as you.
In addition to that, on peer-reviewed exams, you can learn by reviewing another person’s coursework.
You don’t get all those perks with PluralSight.
8. Offers Higher Quality of Learning Overall
In Coursera, all paid courses have exams to pass to proceed to the next level.
You must have a score of at least 80% to pass a course, or you must review the class again and retake the exam.
That means you can’t skip courses at a whim. While it may not sound convenient, it adds more seriousness to your study and overall means a more academic study system.
9. Multi-language Support
Coursera’s website and app interface is available in over ten languages, while the course content is available in over 40.
PluralSight only supports English which, in my opinion, is a severe accessibility limitation.
Reviews on TrustPilot, the world’s largest online site for software reviews, show that Coursera and PluralSight enjoy nearly the same rating; 8.8 and 8.9 from 84 and 51 reviews, respectively.
Coursera won many users’ hearts for its ease of navigation, while PluralSight had a slight edge with the depth of training it provides.
The snapshots below give a general idea of how many people view both platforms.
PluralSight and Coursera are two e-learning platforms that attempt to help as many people as possible fill their knowledge gaps and build successful careers out of their passion.
One (PluralSight) is for tech professionals, and the other (Coursera) caters to many more professional fields.
While PluralSight is the better one at providing a clear-cut pattern for guided learning, Coursera focuses on arming its users with academic-style training and awarding certificates that are accredited by various bodies.
Choosing the right one for your needs depends on how you want to learn.
Do you prefer to take learning as a hobby and learn as much as possible for free?
Are you more interested in getting a certificate to showcase your expertise or increase your chances of promotion?
Can you stick to a classroom learning style with all the time commitments?
If you answered yes to even one of those questions, Coursera might be the one for you.
On the other hand,
Are you an aspiring technical specialist who prefers a personalized learning structure and lots of hands-on experience in your niche?
Would you rather go for a subscription model that allows you to access all course contents rather than buy individual courses?
Do you fancy the idea of learning at your own pace?
If you answered yes to the last three questions, then go with PluralSight.
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