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Coursera is Removing Hundreds of Courses. Here is a Guide To Get Them While You Can

Written by Dhawal Shah
10 minute read
110 Comments

June 30th is not too far away. If you found this guide please share it so other won’t miss out on great courses. We will be constantly updating this guide, so leave your questions and feedback below in comments.

Last week, Coursera sent an email to everyone announcing that they are shutting down their old platform on June 30th 2016, which contains hundreds of courses (such as Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller’s Probabilistic Graphical Models), that may no longer become available, even for those who took those courses. This guide tells you which courses are being removed and how to save the course materials (videos, slides, transcripts, etc.) before the June 30th Deadline.

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.”
Coursera 

Old Platform Vs New Platform

Coursera Old Platform Vs New Platform
Coursera course description pages for the old platform (left) and new platform (right)

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. It was up to the university/professors discretion. It was quite common to encounter course that you liked, only to discover that the course is already finished. There would be no indication of when (or if) it will be offered again. In fact, we built Class Central’s MOOC Tracker as a notification service for online courses to help deal with this lack of information. By tracking a course on Class Central, you would receive a notification when a new course session was announced.

We observed that many of the older session based courses moved to this new On Demand platform, but not all. We expect many of these of courses to eventually be moved to the on-demand platform. But as of now, we have no information on which ones will make the switch. So to be on the safe side, if there is a course that you took or are interested in seeing the materials for, you should download the course materials while you can.

Courses Being Removed

Many popular and highly rated courses that might not be available once the old platform shuts down. Here a few that caught my eye:

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 is to look at the course description pages. A course on the old platform has the enroll button on the right (as shown above) while the new platform has it on the left.

But with over 1500+ courses on Coursera, its difficult to go through all of them to figure out these courses. We did some analysis and figured out which courses are still being hosted on the old platform – over 450 of them. You can find the entire list here.

Coursera Old Stack Courses Class Central

 

Guide To Downloading Coursera Courses Hosted on The Old Platform

coursera_pgm_materials
Course content page for Coursera’s old platform

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, we will tell you a couple by which you can automate that process.

STEP 1: FIND YOUR COURSE(S)

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

If the Course Archive link doesn’t exist it means that its a course from the new platform.

coursera_archive
Archived Tab of My Courses in Coursera. The courses which have ‘Course Archive’ link are hosted on old 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.

classcentral_pgm_1
The highlighted link or the class name (i.e pgm-003) is what you will need for Step 2

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 COURSE MATERIALS

Before you move forward you need to have the following prerequisites:

  1. 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
  2. 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 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.

chrome_plugin_coursera

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:
coursera_material_downloader
Course Materials Download Page for Coursera

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: 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.

coursera_pgm_downloader
Coursera Downloader neatly organizes all the course materials in appropriate folders

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 have face issues with coursera-dl please take a look at the troubleshooting section on the github page. For some courses, you can try using the –preview option and it will try to download a previous iteration of the course if available.

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.

Don’t forget send a word of thanks to Rogério T. de Brito (@rtdbrito) and John Lehmann (@jplehmann) for creating this wonderful tool.

[Experimental] Download Quizzes and Assignments

Horace He has created way to download quizzes and assigments by extending the coursera-dl Python script. You can find the script here and read about it here.

June 30th is not far away. If you found this guide please share it so other people won’t miss out on great courses. We will be constantly updating this guide, so leave your questions below.