Springboard vs. EdX: Which Is a Better Online Learning Platform?
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All the information provided in this article is published in good faith and for comparison purposes only. It is accurate as of May 2020.
As the cost of higher education continues to rise, online courses and bootcamps have in recent years become a viable alternative for those who want training in highly technical and well-compensated fields—without the steep price tag or years-long time commitment.
Spurring the e-learning revolution is the growing demand across all industries for software engineers, UX designers, data scientists, and cybersecurity professionals, which has resulted in courses and bootcamps that promise to prepare students for those roles—often from the comfort of their home, at the student’s own pace, for a low cost.
The rise of online bootcamps has been a good thing, with The New York Times reporting that virtual learning has been a “great equalizer” for adults and has made training and upskilling more accessible. During the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, the research found that e-learning has the potential to close a longstanding skills gap and democratize user engagement. Many courses, designed specifically with a bootcamp-to-workforce pipeline in mind, have also optimized their programs to focus on the skills students need in order to land the job they want, thus maximizing efficiency and giving graduates a competitive advantage.
Ready to kickstart a new career in tech but not sure which online learning platform is right for you? Learn more about the main differences between MOOCs and mentor-led online bootcamps in this guide.
What Is Springboard?
Springboard is a San Francisco-based edtech company that prepares students for some of today’s more competitive and coveted careers, all while offering a first-of-its kind job guarantee. Every student gets a six-month runway after graduating to secure a role in their industry—if they don’t, students receive a refund on 100% of their tuition.
Springboard offers bootcamps and short courses in UI/UX design, data science, data analytics, software engineering, machine learning, and cybersecurity. All Springboard bootcamps are 100% online, self-paced, and take six-nine months to complete. During each bootcamp, students are matched with an industry mentor who guides them throughout the program through regular one-on-one video calls. A Student Success Manager is also available to handle logistics queries, create study plans, and help students stay accountable to their learning goals.
Before and after graduation, Springboard’s career coaches support students in their job searches and networking, help prepare them for interviews, and facilitate their transition into the workforce.
What Is EdX?
EdX is a Massachusetts-based edtech platform created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University that hosts thousands of massive open online courses (MOOCs) across subjects ranging from computer science to architecture, ethics, music, and history. Its offerings include certifications, degrees, and free courses, many of which are created by universities and businesses and are open to everyone.
All of EdX’s courses are 100% online, and some include discussion boards where students can ask questions of instructors and peers, and graded assignments where students can receive feedback on their work. However, like most MOOCs, the majority of EdX courses take a hands-off approach to instruction and consist of video lectures, readings, and optional assignments that are available only to paying students.
Similar to Coursera, EdX’s offerings are diverse and students can choose from different courses on the same subject—for example, a search for the term “data science” turns up 71 course results. Many of its courses are highly specific and focus on a facet of a subject, such as introducing students to the fundamentals of data science or teaching the basics of Python or SQL.
Springboard vs. EdX: What Are the Main Differences?
There are a few fundamental differences between Springboard and EdX.
- EdX offers MOOCs, which are optimized for the highest number of enrollments possible. This means that there’s no limit to the number of students who can enroll in a course and most of the courses take a hands-off approach to instruction because it’s not possible for a single instructor to keep up with every person in the course. Students learn at their own pace, have minimal to no interaction with instructors, and on completion of a program are usually left on their own to determine next steps.In addition to shorter certificate programs, EdX also offers “MicroBachelor” programs, which are monthslong courses that teach components of a bachelor’s or master’s degree and, on completion, can be transferred as college credit. It also offers online master’s degrees in subjects such as accounting, computer science, and data science, taught by institutions such as Georgia Tech, Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Texas at Austin.
- Springboard follows a bootcamp model, which means all classes are capped to ensure a manageable instructor to student ratio and follow a structure that ensures that students understand the fundamentals of each profession before they advance to more challenging skills. Springboard’s bootcamps—which span the most in-demand tech professions such as software engineering, data science, machine learning engineering, cybersecurity, and UX design—also take a more holistic approach to education, combining a comprehensive curriculum with self-paced instruction, video lectures, readings, capstone projects, work sprints that mimic the real-world work experience of a profession, and one-on-one regular calls with an industry mentor.Springboard students are often looking to upskill or change careers, which is why every student is given access to a built-in support network of mentors and career coaches to keep them accountable during the course and to help them move into the workforce upon graduation.
Springboard vs. EdX: Learning Format
Both Springboard and EdX are 100% online and deliver most of their educational materials through video lectures and readings.
All Springboard students—regardless of course type or career track—are given regular one-on-one access to an industry mentor and receive the support of dedicated career counselors to help them get the most out of the course. This support network is also available to students upon graduation to assist them in making their next move. Most EdX courses do not come with additional support, although students enrolled in its MicroBachelors or master’s programs are eligible for career coaching via SMS or U.S. phone lines.
Students go at their own pace in both Springboard and EdX courses, with the average Springboard bootcamp taking anywhere from six to nine months and requiring a time commitment of 15-25 hours a week to successfully complete the coursework, while the average EdX course ranges from eight weeks for a short course on a specific topic (E.g. R Basics in data science), to four years for the Master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering.
Springboard vs. EdX: How Much Does It Cost?
When it comes to online courses and bootcamps, the adage that you get what you pay for often rings true. Free or low-cost courses can be accessible, but often lack personalized support from instructors and mentors. Higher-cost courses can have a higher barrier to entry, but typically come with a comprehensive support system.
- EdX offers a tiered pricing structure—most of its courses can be sampled for free, although students pay anywhere from $29-$359 for access to all materials and assignments. MicroBachelors courses cost around $166 per credit (averaging $500 per program), while its Master’s programs can cost upwards of $20,000.
- Springboard’s courses are around $10,000, with discounts and scholarships available if certain criteria are met. Springboard’s introductory courses, which give students a taste of a field at a fraction of the time commitment, start from $349.
Springboard vs. EdX: Job Outcomes
One of the indicators of an effective bootcamp or online course is whether students land an industry job upon graduation.
- EdX doesn’t publish data on how many of its graduates go on to secure jobs in a field related to their studies. However, the platform is popular among businesses who use it to help employees upskill, with clients such as MetLife, Hilton, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Allianz.
- Springboard offers a first-of-its-kind job guarantee for all graduates, with all-encompassing courses that prepare students for the workforce. If a student does not secure a job related to their field of study within six months of graduation, Springboard will offer a full refund on tuition.
Springboard vs. EdX: Pros and Cons
In the saturated e-learning market, both Springboard and EdX have emerged as significant players because their courses offer many benefits. But what works for one student may not work for another.
- Pros: Many of EdX’s courses are free to try and created by industry experts who teach at some of the world’s most prestigious universities and tech organizations. Students can choose from thousands of courses by subject matter, specialization, instructor, and institution, and have the flexibility to dabble in the course material as much or as little as they choose before committing to payment. Students who already have a background in a certain field but are simply looking to fill a knowledge gap are also likely to be able to find a hyper-specific course that meets their needs.
- Cons: The sheer number of courses available can easily become overwhelming. And, as with most MOOCs, a significant number of EdX’s courses lack interactivity with an instructor and don’t include mentorship or career guidance, which means if you get stuck during the learning process or want individualized feedback on a project, it can be hard to get the help you need. MOOCs also have an attrition and accountability problem—in an online data science course run by Johns Hopkins University, 1.76 million people signed up but only 71,589 got far enough into the course to receive verified certifications, and 917 students completed all nine courses and signed up for the capstone course. Research has found that many people who start MOOCs often don’t finish them, and even those who do find it hard to be consistent with their studies.
- Pros: Springboard’s courses are created by industry experts and are designed to meet the end-to-end needs of students, from introducing newcomers to the basics of a profession to offering a project-driven, comprehensive curriculum that teaches the skills students need to land the job they want. Mentors and careers coaches also support students through capstone projects, industry networking, and job searches, ensuring that every graduate is equipped with both the hard and soft skills required to get on a recruiter’s radar and ace the job interview. This approach is applied to all of Springboard’s courses, which extend beyond data science and machine learning engineering to include software engineering, cybersecurity, and UI/UX design.
- Cons: Springboard’s courses aren’t a silver bullet to a career change. Even with a holistic and mentor-supported approach to online education, it ultimately falls on students to put in anywhere from 15-25 hours a week in study and practice in order to successfully complete a course and build a competitive portfolio that will help them stand out from the crowd.
Not ready to enroll just yet? Read more about the factors you should consider while picking a program in our bootcamp criteria guide.
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