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How to download Coursera’s courses before they’re gone forever

June 16, 2016

Coursera is removing 472 free online courses from the internet on June 30th.

This guide will show you how to hurry up and legally download as many courses as possible before June 30th.

The Great Abandoning

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. Here a few of the most high-profile death row inmates:

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:

Coursera course description pages for the old platform (left) and new platform (right)

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.

OK — so how do we download these?

 

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 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 inArchived 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.ehttps://class.coursera.org/pgm-003/lecture

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

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 tosearch 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

NOTE: An earlier version of the guide claimed that unless you signed up before, you cannot download course materials for courses that are not open for enrollment. But I realized that you can download the course materials with the Python script. The guide has been updated to reflect that.

In this case you are out of luck. The chrome plugin will only work for 220 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.

If you plan to use the chrome plugin, visit the dedicated page with 220 courses that we created on Class Central which lists all the courses that are still open for enrollment.

If you plan to use the python script, visit the visit the dedicated page with over 450+ courses that we created on Class Central which lists all the courses currently on the old platform.

You can filter both these lists 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.

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 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 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:

  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 easily 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:

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.

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.

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 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.

June 30th is not far away, so help us spread the word in time. Share this guide on Facebook, and other social media websites.

This post was originally published on Medium by Dhawal Shah.

One Comment

  1. henryjackylucky says:

    I use Allavsoft to downlaod video courses from Coursera, Lynda, Craftfy, Udemy, Digital Tutors.

What do you think?

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