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Udemy

Udemy Review

By: Udemy, Inc.

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Detailed Review

Maggie MacDonnell, a Canadian teacher, changed the approach of student involvement in extra-curricular activities. She prepared the students to run a community kitchen. She also created a life skills program for girls, where she teaches them to fight against gender discrimination issues, teenage pregnancies, and sexual abuse. And we thought teachers were restricted to the classroom walls only!

We have individuals who go out of their way to make the world a better place. Education relies heavily on teachers if there is no one to instruct or guide the students they won’t be able to learn. Udemy provides instructors a platform to create learning content, and millions of learners around the world can access this online material.

Pros

  • There is no online learning platform that can currently beat its massive course collection. They are known as the largest provider of e-learning; we are talking about a hundred thousand plus courses.
  • Udemy allows the students to rate and review the courses they enroll in and experience.
  • Udemy offers 30 days money-back guarantee if the user is dissatisfied with the course.
  • They provide lifetime access to the enrolled courses, even after completion.
  • The paid courses earn a certificate of completion after concluding a course.
  • They offer on-demand courses. These courses are self-paced hence, there are no deadlines.
  • Their UI is intuitive, and the search bar has efficient filtering functions. One can locate the course of choice effortlessly.

Cons

  • The free courses do not earn the certificate of completion. They are not eligible for lifetime access of course or participating in the Q&A section.
  • Udemy allows almost anyone to become an instructor. It is a questionable decision as some may be lacking the expertise.

Introduction

It won’t be wrong to correlate education level within a country to the nation’s economic performance. A state that has a sound education system produces efficient human resource assets.

The trained workforce can conduct research activities and improve their business processes. It results in the companies and the country to have a comparative advantage over its competitors.

That is why companies these days are engaging their employees in training more often. It calls for growth of training institutes too.

The employees can go through vocational training to acquire the latest skills related to their field. With the boom of technology, learning is possible via a computer and the internet.

There is no need to travel to various locations for training purpose. The same applies to individuals who intend to acquire new skills or refine their existing ones.

Udemy is also known as a MOOC platform, and it offers free courses which can be accessed by thousands at a time without having any prerequisites.

The co-founder of Udemy, Eren Bali, grew up in a rural village of Turkey. His parents purchased a computer for his elder sister, and through the internet, he learned advanced mathematics. 

He won the national mold medal for mathematics. According to him access to the learning content means everything for a person dedicated to learning.

He started with software that provided live virtual classroom and then moved forward to create Udemy.

The online platform encourages its instructors to create courses under various topics using their course development tools. One can access it via computer/laptops, mobile (Android and iOS) and Apple tv.

These instructors are experts and renowned professionals who create and manage the content. They currently have over 50 thousand instructors providing more than 130 thousand online courses.

They deliver their content in 60 different languages, and almost 40 million students have taken advantage of their service.

Companies such as Adidas, Lyft, Booking.com, General Mills, Survey Monkey; a total of 400 plus enterprises trust Udemy for business training.

Their current top courses include The Web Developer Bootcamp, Learning 3D Modelling-The complete Blender Creator Course, An Entire MBA in 1 Course: Award Winning Business School Prof and others.

Udemy is considered to be the largest e-learning platform, referred to as a marketplace for learning. It is due to its massive course collection created by thousands of instructors.

We now look at its categories under which we have the learning content.

Udemy’s dashboard

Identifying a suitable course from an extensive database such as Udemy’s can be a daunting task. The student may have an idea or maybe clueless of what he/she wants.

However, their landing page presents the categories and its sub-categories from a drop-down menu. The user can browse through the list and figure out the topic of interest.

Otherwise, there is a search bar, strategically placed at the top of the dashboard. The page tries to provide the student with ways to search for their ideal course without leaving them confused.

Apart from the categories, and the search bar, the navigation panel holds sections of Udemy for business, instructor, my courses, Wishlist, cart, notifications, and account settings.

Below the panel, the topics are displayed individually for easy browsing of the categories.

The landing page is easy to navigate. Its UI is minimalistic and user-friendly. They advertisement their service through the page as there is a promotional banner below the top navigation panel.

One can access “my courses” from here, and the last visited courses usually make up this part. The following sections are meant to suggest the student on their newest, and top courses.

Other e-learning platforms such as Coursera and edX usually provide new users with recommendations. That is after conducting an inquiring process.

They ask the users their education or job background, their goal of learning, and their areas of interest. The feedback enables them to provide the user with appropriate suggestions.

We notice that such a process is lacking in Udemy. They conduct short feedback exercise before starting a new course. We shall discuss that later.

The categorization of Udemy courses

We mentioned that the dashboard provides the tab for the categories. It can be accessed via a drop-down menu or through the listed topics below the top panel too.

Udemy offers categories of finance & accounting, development, business, IT & software, office productivity, personal development, design, marketing, lifestyle, photography, health & fitness, music, and teaching & academics.

It is not incorrect to say that Udemy offers everything under one roof. The categories have exhaustive topics.

In general, the categories distribute out the topics which then have numerous courses. For example, the category of development has topics of web development, mobile apps, database, e-commerce, etc.

The topic of web development has courses such as The Web Developer Bootcamp, Learn and Understand NodeJS, and so much more.

Once the students select the course, then they need to purchase it to access the learning material. Udemy also has free courses which require no payment.

Searching for courses

We already pointed out that the categories help in looking for the course. Then we mentioned the search bar.

The student can enter the keywords related to the subject or the course in the search bar. For instance, a student wants to explore more on Java.

We thus enter the word “Java” in our search bar. The system reports on the number of results of the particular word.

There are various options for filtering and sorting out our search results. There are sorting options of most relevant, most reviewed, highest rated, newest, lowest, and highest price.

There are various options to filter the search results. The topic name can narrow down the scope, and the student can choose the appropriate course.

One can choose the level of the course, whether it is for all levels, beginner, intermediate, or expert. The language of instruction can be selected to obtain the desired content.

The price of the course, free or paid courses refine the search results too. If the student is looking for a particular feature within the course, then he/she can mark the desired function, e.g., caption, quiz, etc.

The ratings of the courses can also determine the quality of the course the student is searching. The duration of the course can be another factor through which a user can reduce the search result.

Udemy provides enough ways to narrow down the search results. The user can easily access the desired course.

The content creators

Udemy prefers to call itself a marketplace for learning. That at first sounds strange; however, it becomes clear once we understand the way they operate.

It is a marketplace because the instructors create and sell their courses online. The learner who is looking to acquire some specific skill purchases the suitable content.

Other popular MOOC or e-learning institutes offer content from accredited universities/colleges, or they create their courses.

But Udemy is open to all instructors who are professional enough to develop a course and deliver it independently. Moreover, the instructors also decide on the price of the course too.

The instructor can earn passive income after creating the course. The revenue, of course, is shared among Udemy and the creator of the content.

Most of the courses have discounts and offers attached to them. Thus, Udemy is considered to be a relatively affordable learning platform in comparison to its competitors, Udacity and FreeLearn.

Another interesting fact is that the price rates differ for the web version (Udemy.com) and the mobile apps (Android and iOS.)

It is because the pricing matrix of the mobile providers determines the final price of the courses. The mobile app also has no way of entering coupon codes.

In such a scenario, the web browser can be used to apply the code and then access the content from the app.

Udemy’s courses may have one or multiple instructors, and they can also delegate a teaching assistant.

Purchasing Udemy’s paid course

We have discussed how to search for a particular course. We already established that the instructors are responsible for creating and managing the content.

A student can add suitable courses to the Wishlist. These courses can then be added to cart once the student finalizes on them.

Udemy offers on-demand courses; thus, a student can purchase the course anytime and learn on his/her pace. Udemy poses no deadlines on the beginning or completing the courses.

The student also obtains lifelong access to the course material even after completing the course. The free courses also have the same benefit.

The paid courses get added to the cart. The shopping cart allows the user to purchase multiple courses and pay for them once. Udemy enables the learner to add up to 50 courses in the cart.

The cart allows a user to either remove a course, save it for later or move it to the Wishlist. Once the user is sure about the purchase, the checkout button enables them to make the payment.

Coupons codes can be used to gain discounts. The checkout page is generic, and it asks for the payment through card details or PayPal.

Udemy supports payment methods of credit/debit cards, PayPal, cash payment, and bank transfers or through the Apple App Store/Google Play.

They also offer various currencies through which one can purchase the courses. It includes Euro, Japanese Yen, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, South African Rand, and others.

The other way to purchase courses is via Udemy’s credits. It has no cash value, but they count towards the course purchase.

The credits substitute a particular amount of money, e.g., 5 credits reduce the amount by USD 5. The Udemy credits page hosts all the information related to credits.

Though Udemy is not an accredited institution, they offer a certificate of completion. A student can also preview a course before purchasing it.

In case the user is dissatisfied by the course, they offer 30 days refund policy. The student has to apply for the refund within 30 days from purchase.

Enrolling in a course

The purchased and the free courses pursued by the user appear in my courses section. It has segments for all the courses, collections, Wishlist, and archived.

The section allows one to start a course or continue from where he/she left. It also indicates the percentage of the course completed by the learner.

One can share the course via email, Facebook, or Twitter. Other options are to add the course into a collection, mark it as favorite or archive it.

The student can also rate the course according to his/her personal experience. Let us now get into how a person can enroll in a new session.

The course landing page provides the title name of the course, its ratings, number of students enrolled, and the creator.

The option to preview the course is also available. Then there is the button of enrolling now and share side by side.

We then have segments of What you’ll learn, course content, reviews, and instructors. These provide in-depth details about the course.

“What you’ll learn” section outlines the objectives. The course content answers the requirements, description of the session, and its content.

The student's feedback makes up the review section. They mention the instructor who created the course along with various details about him/her.

Upon clicking the enroll button, the student accesses a page whereby he/she can start the course. Upon the commencement of any new class, Udemy asks the user a couple of questions to get feedback.

It is used to improve recommendations for its users. It includes questions such as the level of familiarity with the topic, the reason for taking the course, and the application of the knowledge learned.

The student can choose to submit the feedback or cancel it and proceed towards the course player. It is where they deliver the content.

Learning experience through Udemy’s course player

We have noted earlier that Udemy delivers lectures through videos. But it is not restricted to that only. There could be slides, texts, or audio-only.

The traditional brick and mortar classroom setting is convenient only if it is engaging. In most scenarios, the student's involvement is minimal; thus, no interaction.

When it comes to online classes, there are videos which present the student with the base knowledge. Their video lectures have been broken down into relatively shorter sessions (an average of 10-15mins.)

It enables the student to maintain his/her focus as the lessons aren’t as long as some platforms like Coursera. The quizzes and assessment provide room for testing the learner’s skills.

The automated grading system provides instant feedback on performance. Hence the learner can identify the mistakes they made and rectify them by re-attempting the assessments if need be.

The self-paced learning relies heavily on the motivation and aptitude of the learner. Being committed to education enables them to achieve proficiency. Otherwise, it is easy to lose concentration and lag.

The video lectures of Udemy are intuitive, with the course player getting maximum attention. On the right side is a navigation panel with the course content; one can opt to collapse it.

The lower screen contains segments of overview, bookmarks, and announcements.

When it comes to the video player, the need to control the pace of the sessions becomes necessary. The student may fail to grasp some content. The buttons of rewind enable them to re-visit the part at a slower pace.

Interestingly, Udemy allows the instructors to make a call, whether the course can be downloadable or not. It is a mechanism to ward off piracy.

Quizzes and assessment are also not available for download and use in offline mode. However, mobile apps do allow the user to view the learning material offline.

Many courses include supplementary resources such as PDFs, design templates, source code, among others to improve the students understanding of the course.

They attach such resources on the right-side panel of the course player under the concerning lecture.

There are various aspects which determine the experience of a learner. It may include the quality of the video/audio, the chosen course, the mood and the expectation of the learner, internet connection, etc.

Thousands of instructors are creating the courses, and we expect them to meet the same quality? The truth is there will be a variety of content; one that is good, average, or poorly developed.

However, Udemy provides their instructors guidance on which cameras to use, which tools to use to develop the course among others. Thus, they aim to improve the students learning experience.

The rating system provides the users with a chance to grade the course so that the students attend the highly rated lectures.

We expect the course content to be such that it exhaustively addresses the topic. Given the instructors are experts in their field, we can only seek for the best learning experience from them.

The features of Udemy’s lectures

We have mentioned that the course player is a crucial component of the sessions. The player has control buttons too.

It includes buttons of play/pause, rewind/forward and a provision for setting the playback rate (speed of the player). One can bookmark the course if the icon is present on the bar.

The settings button allows one to select the quality of the video, enable or disable autoplay, keyboard shortcuts, report technical issues or abuse.

If the download lecture part under the settings is not grayed out, then one can download the content. Otherwise, the material is not available for download.

There is also a provision of displaying the transcript. It appears on the right side of the player when enabled.

There is an option to switch on or off the captions (subtitles), and then one can expand the player to make it fit the full screen.

There are a variety of ways to deliver Udemy lectures. It may feature a recording of a person who conducts the lesson; it can have written articles or a whiteboard.

Apart from the video concept, the lecture can also be a podcast, audio-only. The instructor may also include presentations in the sessions.

They can present slides using PowerPoint, KeyNote, among others; it may or may not include audio. Documents such as PDFs or printable handouts may be a part of the lectures.

The instructor can design a lecture featuring a mashup; it has a video along with a PowerPoint. The lesson can contain supplementary resources which we have discussed earlier.

Another way to offer additional content is via external material, which provides a link to other sites. The instructor gives no video but conducts lectures using the external content.

A MOOC platform means thousands of participants in a course. As such, the instructor may fail to provide attention to all the students.

However, Udemy provides the student with the opportunity to contact the instructor by direct messaging. It should be in case they get no response from the Q&A section, which is available for the paid courses only.

The section provides the student with a chance to post queries, doubts, and request for more guidance from the instructor.

At the end of the course, the system asks the learner to provide ratings for the particular content. They also offer a comment section where the student can type out his/her personal experience.

The student saves the comment, and then they post more questions regarding learning. The feedback gets saved, and the comment appears in the review section.

From the course landing page to the final rating page, Udemy attempts to create a conducive learning environment for the users.

The various assessments available for the students

An essential feature of any online class is quiz/test/exercise/assignment. Such tasks increase student’s participation in the lectures.

The quiz provides the students to gauge their level of know-how. They have multiple-choice questions, and the user can check for the correct answer too.

The assignments can be a way to learn from fellow students who provide feedback. The user can also give their input on other learners assignments.

They usually start with instructions, which are guidelines from the instructor. The student undergoes the test and submits by saving it as a draft.

There is an option to share the work with the students to receive feedback. Then one can compare his/her answers with that of the instructor on the instructor example page.

They also provide coding exercises in programming courses. The users are informed about the activity on the course landing page.

It applies to courses with programming languages such as C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, Python 3, Ruby, Swift 3, and PHP.

The instructors provide an interactive tool where the student enters the code directly and run the function without switching to other programs.

If the student makes an entry error, they get hints to correct the mistake and proceed with the exercise.

In schools, before the final exams, the students usually face a CAT or mocks. They are designed to prepare the student for the final papers. 

Similarly, Udemy provides the student with practice tests. The student may wish to determine his/her mastery level in the course before submitting the certification exam.

The practice tests are time-limited so that the student can figure out the ideal pace. At the end of the assessment, the student receives a breakdown of the questions. It aids in identifying the correct and incorrect answers.

As such, there are many avenues for the student to determine his/her aptitude and knowledge regarding the course work.

Certificate of completion

People attend schools/colleges to achieve certifications and degrees. We all seek rewards for our efforts. Such documents can then be used in resumes, portfolios or on sites such as LinkedIn.

The acknowledgment for peoples achievement matters a lot. Thus, Udemy also offers its learners certificate of completion.

It is important to note that Udemy is not an accredited institute. The certificate only recognizes the skills of the learner.

A student can earn the certificate after completing a paid course; thus, the free course does not provide certification.

The student has to complete the whole course, that is marking each lecture as completed. It can also be done manually if the student knows the concept and doesn’t need to go through it again.

Once all lectures are marked as complete, a green trophy appears. It displays “get certificate,” and one can save the certificate as .pdf or .jpg.

Conclusion

So many people look for cost-effective methods to acquire new skills or take the existing knowledge a notch up.

That is what Udemy targets, to provide learning content to such individuals and to democratize the education industry. It is by giving free courses which need no prerequisites and are open to all.

They pair up with instructors world over and provide relevant and up-to-date courses to the users. They also offer lifetime access to the content that the student registers.

Their mode of delivery is on-demand videos with various other resources to provide an all-inclusive learning experience. The content can be accessed via mobile apps too.

Their assignments, exercises, and quizzes are ideal means of examining the students. The students and the instructor use the discussion boards and Q&A segments to post questions and solve queries.

They reward their students with a certificate of completion. However, one cannot present the document as formal and recognized accreditation.

The instructors may be experts, but the quality of courses created by them can be a topic of discussion. Other e-learning platforms depend on accredited universities or institutes for course creation.

We cannot generalize their content; however, there are repercussions, and some users may prefer to attend courses of renowned universities instead of individuals.

Some time back, Udemy also got negative reviews regarding pirated courses. Hence, there may be doubts about the authenticity of the content as Udemy itself is not an accredited institute.

The instructors also decide upon the course price, nevertheless Udemy offers various promotional coupon codes, hence reducing the cost.

Another limitation is its short quizzes and assignments. We experienced several quizzes that had an average of 5 questions. Suggestions to improve their assessment may be feasible.

On-demand classes suffer from dried up discussion boards. Thus, users may not receive sufficient feedback from peers or instructors.

The courses do indicate the academic level of the student before enrolling. However, they display for all levels; it can be confusing as a beginner demands different material than that of advanced level.

Udemy is a marketplace where both the instructor and the student can benefit. Learners who want to subscribe for short courses with lifetime access can give it a try. It can be viewed to be generic, but according to us, it is more suitable for vocational training rather than academic.

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