Coursera is shutting down their old platform on June 30th removing dozens (if not hundredsof courses from the internet on June 30th
Coursera is removing 472 free online courses from the internet on June 30th.
But we can still learn from these courses privately — if we can get ahold of them. Aside from recommending that students “take screenshots,” Coursera provided no guidance on which courses would become unavailable, nor how students could go about download their materials.
This guide will show you how to hurry up and legally download as many courses as possible before June 30th.
The Great Abandoning
First, a quick history lesson. In 2014, Coursera started re-building their platform from scratch in order to accommodate self-paced “on-demand” courses.
On the old platform, the courses were session-based, and had no predictable schedule. Timing was left to the university and its professors. It was quite common to encounter a course that you liked, only to discover that the course had already finished. There would be no indication of when (or if) the course would be offered again.
In fact, we built Class Central’s MOOC Tracker as a notification service for online courses specifically to help students cope with the lack of start date information. This tool sends you notifications when new course sessions are announced.
We observed that many of the older session-based courses moved to this Coursera’s new on-demand platform, but not all of them. We have no information as to whether any of the courses Coursera is shutting down will ever migrate to this new platform.
So be sure to download any courses you think you may be even remotely interested in now, while you still can.
A roll call from death row
Many of the most popular and highly-rated courses on Coursera will die on June 30, when Coursera pulls the plug on their old platform. Having run Class Central for the past 5 years, and being immersed in online courses myself, here a few of the most high-profile death row inmates:
- Social Psychology from Wesleyan, which once had the distinction of being Coursera’s largest class
- Coursera founder and former CEO Daphne Koller’s own Probabilistic Graphical Models
- Stanford’s Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 of the course helped me clear my first ever technical interview and get a job in Silicon Valley. It is also the highest rated class in our Theoretical Computer Science subject (Update: They have now moved to the on-demand platform)
- Jeffrey Ullman’s (yes THE Jeffery Ullman) Automata and Mining Massive Dataset
- Keith Devlin’s Introduction to Mathematical Thinking (Stanford)
- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies from Princeton University
- Princeton’s Algorithms, Part I and Part II. Its taught by Robert Sedgewick and Kevin Wayne whose Algorithms book is used as textbooks in classrooms around the world
- and many more
The Coursera website doesn’t make it easy to figure out which courses are on the old platform, and which are on the new platform. One way to discern this is by looking at the course description pages. A course on the old platform has the “enroll” button on the right while the new platform has it on the left:
But with over 1,800 courses on Coursera, it will be next to impossible to go through all of these yourself and figure out which courses you need to save.
But you’re in luck. We undertook a massive analysis of all of these courses and figured out which ones will die with the old platform — over 450 of them.
Unfortunately, not all of these courses are open for enrollment. And if you are haven’t enrolled in some of them, you may not be able to access their materials.
About 220 courses are currently open for enrollment, though, and you can definitely grab the materials for these courses if you act quickly.
The entire list of courses scheduled for deletion — but are still open for enrollment — is live here.
OK — so how do we download these?
Coursera’s old platform page has download links directly on the course content pages (the right hand side icons). Instead of clicking each link to download course materials manually, let’s automate this process.
Step 1: Find your courses
There are two ways to download the courses — Chrome Plugin and Python Script. We will explore these methods in Step 2. But in this step we will help you figure out which course(s) you can download.
Before moving onto Step 2, you will need to a url that looks something like this: https://class.coursera.org/pgm-003/lecture for the chrome plugin or a class name like pgm-003 for the Python script.
Step 1A: Already Enrolled
In this step we will figure out which courses on the old stack you are already signed up for. Less than half of the 450+ courses currently hosted on the old platform are open to enrollment. What this means is that if you hadn’t registered for a course before you won’t be able to download it’s course materials using the chrome plugin. The python script still might work.
To find courses in the old stack that you had signed up for before, visit the My Courses section on Coursera. The old platform courses will be present in Archived tab along with other courses. As shown below, the old platform courses will have a link named ‘Course Archive’ if you click on the dot navigation buttons for each course. Copy that link and we will use it in Step 2.
If you are using the Python script, you will need a class name which is in part in the url. So in the case of PGM, it will be pgm-003 i.e https://class.coursera.org/pgm-003/lecture
Copy that link and we will use it in step 2. If the Course Archive link doesn’t exist it means that its a course from the new platform.
Alternatively, a quick way to check if the course is part of the old stack is to search for the course on Class Central. If you see a big red PSA (screenshot below) on the Class Central course description page, that it means its part of the old platform.
Step 1B: Not Enrolled
In this case you are out of luck. You can only download courses that are still open for enrollment. But if you add the courses on the old platform that you are interested in to MOOC Tracker using the ‘+’ button next to the course on this page, we will send you a notification if the course moves to the new on demand platform.
Visit the dedicated page with 220 courses that we created on Class Central which lists all the courses that are still open for enrollment. You can filter this list by subjects or sort these courses by rating to help you figure out which courses you should download and keep.
Once you figure out which course you want to save, click on the name to visit the course page on Class Central. You will see a page similar to the one below with a big red PSA.
Copy the course material link (similar to the the highlighted link in the above image) or the class name from the Python Script section (i.e pgm-003)and we are ready for step 2.
Some courses might have multiple class names. Each class name represents a different session/run of the course. We recommend choosing the latest run (last one in the list). If for some reason the script fails, then try other class names. It is quite possible that for some courses, the python script might not be able to download the course materials.
You can also browse this this spreadsheet hosted on Google Docs with all the courses. Copy the ‘Course Material URL‘ or a class name from the slug column for any course that you would like to download.
Step 2: Download all the course material
Before you move forward you need to have the following prerequisites:
- A URL to the course materials page or a class name that you choose from Step 1. For this step we will assume that the url is https://class.coursera.org/pgm-003/lecture (Probabilistic Graphical Models from Daphne Koller) and class name is pgm-003
- Sufficient disk or drive Space. A single course can easly take up more than a 1GB.
There are two ways to download Coursera courses in bulk, using a chrome plugin or a python script.
Option 2A: Google Chrome Plugin
This step is great for non technical users or if you only want to download a couple of courses. Install the Course Materials Downloader Google Chrome plugin. You should see a Coursera logo icon to the right of your url bar.
Now visit the course materials url from Step 1. You need to be logged in to Coursera or in some cases enrolled in the course. Click the icon and you will be directed to page similar to one below:
If you click on Start Download it will start downloading the course materials in the default download folder in Chrome. Beware of the Ask User SaveAs option. It will ask this question for every file being downloaded which makes it really annoying. We recommend staying away from the checkbox and creating more space in your downloads folder or changing the default downloads location in Chrome.
For some courses this plugin might not work. You might want to experiment with the Coursera Downloader plugin. Unfortunately this plugin only downloads videos.
Option 2B: Use a python script
This option is a bit more complicated, but if you can get through the setup process is the best option as it allows you to download all the courses that are hosted on the old platform, and not just the ones currently open for enrollment.
The Coursera Downloader python script makes it really easy for you to download multiple courses at once. It also goes a step further and obtains week and class names from the lectures page, and then downloads the related materials into appropriately named files and directories.
To get started using the script, follow the instructions on the Github page to install the script. Installation can be a bit tricky but if you face any problems, please leave a comment. We will try to assist you ASAP and update this guide.
Once installed you will need a “class name” which you picked up in Step 1 i.e. pgm-003 To download the course materials you will run the following command:
coursera-dl -u <coursera_user> -p <coursera_pass> pgm-003
If you want to download multiple courses, then just attach more classes at the end of the command. The Coursera Downloader script has a lot more options for power users. They even have a docker script ready.
[Experimental] Download Quizzes and Assignments
We will be constantly updating this guide, so leave your questions below.
June 17th, 2016: Update from Coursera about this change: Coursera’s transition to a new technology platform. To quote:
“We want to clarify that, even as access to the old platform ends, nearly all courses that have been offered on that platform will remain available in an updated format on the new platform. There are a few dozen courses on the old platform that will not migrate to the new platform, and thus will not be available after June 30th.”
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