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Brilliant.org review introduction
If you are interested in learning about various tech-related subjects online, chances are you’ve already heard about Brilliant.org. This online learning platform has been making a splash in recent years for trying to accomplish the Herculean task of making learning about STEM subjects as entertaining as possible.
Brilliant.org was born out of a personal eureka moment Sue Khim, the founder of Brilliant, had in her childhood.
Khim and her dad had a tradition. It involved Khims’s dad presenting her with various math puzzles during long car rides they shared. Young Khim was struggling with a particularly challenging puzzle. Her dad, noticing her mental struggle, suggested “trying solving the puzzle from the outside in.”
To this day, Khim sees STEM subjects as something entertaining and mysterious, not impenetrable or intimidating. Looking at the numbers, a lot of people want to learn STEM subjects the same way.
In 2020, Brilliant had more than 9 million registered users on the site and 2 million uses of the Brilliant.org app each month. What is it about the site that has garnered so much attention? Let’s find out.
What is Brilliant.org?
Brilliant.org is a community-driven online learning platform established in 2012 by Sue Khim, a well-known innovator of online education. For her efforts in establishing Brilliant.org, Khim was also named in the Forbes “30 under 30 in Education” list.
Brilliant.org offers online education in various STEM-related subjects. Their catalog currently features 60+ courses on subjects as varied as neural networks, solar energy, and cryptocurrency. These, of course, are only a few select examples. We will be taking an in-depth look into everything taught in Brilliant.org in a later paragraph.
Make no mistake, Brilliant.org is far from being a dry collection of video courses. The developers of Brilliant.org fully understand that it takes more than watching hours of video lessons to get neck-deep into learning a new skill. Especially when it comes to hard skills such as quantum computing, linear algebra, or programming with Python.
This is why all the lessons taught come with interactive exercises, quizzes, and daily challenges. All to keep the students of Brilliant.org as engaged with the materials as possible.
Gamification is one of the most noteworthy trends in E-learning. And, Brilliant.org is one of the learning platforms that has fully embraced this concept in its methodology of teaching.
What subjects can you learn at Brilliant.org?
Roughly speaking, Brilliant.org is about teaching mathematical and scientific concepts for a wide array of audiences in different age groups and expertise levels.
For new Brilliant users, the platform offers an algorithm that selects the best pathways of learning for the new user. You select whether you are a student, a professional, a hobbyist, or a parent/teacher. After this, Brilliant chooses the best courses and challenges for your specific needs.
Here are a few popular learning paths that are available on Brilliant.org:
And, the following is a breakdown of all the main subjects taught in Brilliant.org:
- Logic and deduction
- Mathematical thinking
- Statistics and probability
- Contest math
- Advanced mathematics
- Scientific thinking
- Classical physics
- Quantum mechanics
- Applied science
- Foundational computer science
- Applied computer science
If some of those subjects interest you, yet made your brain shrivel a bit, don’t worry. You are exactly the target audience for Brilliant.org. After all, learning about difficult subjects in an engaging manner is the very essence of this platform.
How much does Brilliant.org cost?
Brilliant currently offers 3 payment plans for their Brilliant Premium subscription:
- A monthly subscription for $24.99 per month. This is what you’ll have to pay if you want to be able to cancel the subscription at any time without paying extra.
- An annual subscription for $149 per year ($12.49 per month). This subscription plan offers two times superior value-for-money compared to the monthly plan. However, it also requires you to pay for the whole year as one single payment.
- An annual group (3+ people) subscription for $299.88 per year. The group subscription will grant each individual user separate access to the Brilliant Premium account and the pricing can vary depending on the final number of people participating in the subscription.
Here’s how these pricing plans are visualized on the Brilliant.org pricing page:
So, what exactly does paying for Brilliant Premium get you? Let’s have a closer look.
What is included in a subscription to Brilliant Premium?
A subscription to Brilliant Premium give you access to:
- All courses on Brilliant.org. Without Brilliant Premium, you’ll only have access to the first chapter of each course. All courses are accompanied by an uncountable number of quizzes, puzzles, and other interactive lessons.
- Offline mode. Brilliant’s offline mode allows you to learn while on the go – even if you’re without an Internet connection.
- Guided courses. Guided courses allow you to partake in expert-led courses in math and science.
In addition to full access to all the courses, subscribers of Brilliant.org also get full access to daily challenges. These brain-crunchers come in the form of new concepts and quick challenges. All to keep the neurons of Brilliant.org subscribers constantly firing.
If the subscription to Brilliant sounds enticing, I highly suggest registering on the site. Within 2 days of registration, every user is eligible for a trial of Brilliant.org. The trial lasts 7 days and gives you no restrictions access to all of the content on the site. It is a great way to see whether the style of teaching and the content offered on Brilliant is a good suit for you.
Online reviews of Brilliant.org
Online reviews of Brilliant.org tend to be very positive. Two aspects of Brilliant.org in particular are highlighted very often – the well-done gamification of all the courses and the superb customer service offered by the platform.
While I did not come across any scathing reviews, some users had slight difficulties with canceling their subscriptions. While I can’t confirm or deny these problems, I don’t believe it to be a major issue considering that the customer service of Brilliant.org is known to be fast and efficient. And, from reading the reviews, the platform also offers refunds in case of dissatisfaction with the service or accidental subscription choices.
In TrustPilot, Brilliant can boast a 4.6 rating. The users of TrustPilot highlight the professionalism of the customer service (quick replies, helpfulness, flexibility regarding customer requests, etc.)
The users also value the content offered by Brilliant.org. The diversity of the courses, the gamified nature of the learning materials, and the accessibility for a wide user base are some of the most acclaimed aspects of the content offered by Brilliant.
Common Sense (the leading source of technology and entertainment recommendations for parents/schools) has also published a favoring review of Brilliant.
In her review of Brilliant.org, Emily Pohlonski (2021 Michigan Science Teacher of the Year) from Common Media praised the platform as being a great resource for high achieving students to challenge each other and learn from their peers.
So, if any teachers are reading this, Brilliant.org might offer a unique way to level up your most talented students.
Advantages (Pros) of Brilliant.org
During our assessment of Brilliant.org, we found these to be the biggest benefits of the platform:
- Great user experience
- 7-day free trial available
- Supportive learning community
- Interactive learning experience
- Accessible for different skill levels
Great user experience
Simply put, the user experience of Brilliant is excellent. The interface is simple and beautiful, yet effective. The drag-and-drop aspect of the challenges feels rewarding and the overall art style of the platform is one of the best I’ve seen. Plus, the animators have knocked it out of the park. For a visual learner such as myself, the whole experience feels more like a game than a full-on learning experience. And, I mean that in a good way.
The strength of the user experience at brilliant.org also lies in that avoids the “one size fits all” approach. Brilliant.org allows you to customize your learning path in a way that feels comprehensive and effective. The platform doesn’t force you into making arbitrary decisions about what kind of project is appropriate or what subject you should begin with – it just lets you do whatever works best for YOU.
7-day free trial available
Another strong advantage of Brilliant is that you can try all the content on Brilliant.org via the free 7-day trial. This gives you the opportunity to select the course you are interested in and to try the content out.
Many platforms refuse to hand out free trials and choose to opt for the “refund offer” option instead, which we consider a negative factor during our assessments of online learning platforms.
After all – if your product is really of high quality, you should not need to demand money upfront. Having a free trial shows that you are confident in your product and that you have faith in it to be able to provide the value for which people would gladly pay.
Thankfully, Brilliant offers a convenient free trial to all students and I suggest making full use of the trial and testing content from various categories.
Supportive learning community
Another aspect unique to Brilliant is the inclusion of a Community Wiki. In this community, there are thousands of pages worth of content developed by the community of experts from Brilliant. This wiki can be a goldmine of information that is difficult to find elsewhere. And, the Community Wiki is available immediately upon signing up at Brilliant.org without having to pay for a subscription.
All of the wikis are relevant to the course content. So, if you are feeling stuck on a certain puzzle or a course, head over to the wikis. Just taking a quick glance at a certain formula or a theory might give you the eureka moment you were looking for. And remember, even in difficult subjects, the solutions are often in plain sight.
Interactive learning experience
Getting feedback from like-minded learners is a crucial aspect of all e-learning. As most online learners know all-too-well, lack of social interaction can be destructive to the learning process.
Since Brilliant.org is focused on the STEM niche, students will likely have similar life-views, hobbies, and a sense of humor. All in all, the communal aspect greatly adds both to the educational and entertainment value of this platform.
Although my overall experience with Brilliant was a positive one, it is a unique learning platform that will not necessarily suit everyone.
Accessible for different skill levels
When going through the online reviews of this platform, you will quickly notice that Brilliant is effectively used by teachers, students, and hobbyists alike.
Brilliant has content available for all skill levels and that is another major strength of the platform. This is important because it means that anyone can pursue their education, regardless of how much they know before signing up.
Not only is Brilliant a good platform for learning the fundamentals of high school math, but it’s equally good for learning advanced topics such as data structures and Python programming.
Disadvantages (Cons) of Brilliant.org
Although our overall experience with Brilliant was a very positive one, it is a unique learning platform that will not necessarily suit everyone.
Let’s break down each disadvantage of Brilliant.org:
- Only STEM subjects covered
- The monthly payment plan is pricey
Only STEM subjects covered
Brilliant is, without a doubt, one of the most engaging I have ever used. However, I am not sure if the learning format would be a good fit for something like a public speaking course. Brilliant.org is focused on STEM subjects, and in some sense – that’s a positive thing. They know their target audience and they know them well.
However, there’s no getting around the fact that being narrow-focused on teaching math and science means that many students will not find a course of their liking on the platform. Compared with platforms such as Coursera, for example, the choice of subjects is very limited.
All in all, though, this is not a major disadvantage. After all, the platform is designed for math and science, and that is what it excels at.
The monthly payment plan is pricey
While Brilliant packs some great value-for-money, it cannot be overlooked that the monthly subscription plan of $24.99 per month is rather pricey. Choosing the annual payment plan instead of the monthly plan knocks 50% off the monthly price tag, but then you have to pay more money upfront.
While it’s not a major disadvantage, it’s worth noting because a price of $24.99 per month already comes to the subscriptions of competitors who have a broader range of courses available and who often include university certificates of completion.
Conclusion: Is Brilliant.org worth it?
All things considered, I found the Brilliant subscription to be very much worth it. Above all, I was impressed with the user experience, the gamification of difficult-to-learn skills, and the interactivity of the platform. Being a highly visual learner, the whole platform felt tailor-made for my style of acquiring new skills.
During this review, I dove right into Brilliant. What I found were courses that were well-built, informative, and very entertaining. A remarkable task for courses on notoriously difficult subjects such as computer science and artificial neural networks.
I found myself spending hours wrestling with various puzzles and tasks. Plus, the daily challenges quickly became something that I was always looking forward to.
Thus, would I advise the platform for people with an interest in STEM subjects? Yes. Definitely. Brilliant Premium is worth it for learning math and science. Some of the subjects taught are nearly invaluable in the digital work market. For example, having even a basic understanding of computer science is a massive self-investment in the digital age.
However, students uninterested in math and science might wish to look elsewhere for now – at least until Brilliant.org expands its course catalog to include more subjects.
All in all, Brilliant.org fills a unique STEM sweet-spot in the e-learning industry, and we can highly recommend it to students interested in learning math and science online.