Most people have at least heard of Udemy, but if you’re one of the few who hasn’t, allow me to elucidate. Udemy is a relatively new web-based, e-learning platform and marketplace where virtually anyone can teach and/or learn. The platform appeals to two distinct user groups: Instructors who create e-courses and so-called students who take them. Udemy is vaguely modeled after online college programs, but without actually being affiliated with any universities and without offering any actual degree programs.
You might be asking yourself, “If taking these e-courses won’t earn me a degree, what’s the point?” The basis of Udemy is that much of today’s job market is dependent on the special skills a person can offer more than their on-paper qualifications. This means that those who haven’t or can’t obtain an actual degree can take some Udemy courses to gain the skills that are required for one’s desired career.
For instance, let’s say you’re someone with very little web programming experience, but you’d like to learn the trade because there’s a lot of growth and money-making potential in that market right now. Unfortunately, you don’t have the time or money required to go to college to get an actual degree in web programming. Until online e-learning, this meant unless you were willing to try to school yourself, you were up the proverbial creek.
However, Udemy literally offers thousands of courses spanning dozens and dozens of practical skills and topics, many of which are taught by professionals with college degrees and years of career experience. In fact, many of Udemy’s instructors were previously college professors, allowing them to reference what knowledge one would gain from a comparable college course while condensing that information down to whatever is most essential to the skill or trade. And while taking courses on Udemy won’t earn you a degree, you’ll get a nifty certificate of completion for each course, which you can add to a résumé to market your new skill.
Naturally, opinions are going to be very divided over something like Udemy, which some might say perverts the concept of higher education by baiting the college-bound into a cheaper alternative that’s allows them be lazier. There are also inevitably going to be those who simply stick their noses up at anything less than a collegiate degree, but the fact remains that what Udemy is doing is kind of brilliant. Rather than having to choose between going to college and giving up one’s career aspirations, people can turn to Udemy for something that’s in between. And while there are many careers that require that piece of paper, there are also a lot of skill-based trades — including any type of freelancing — that only require the skills necessary to perform the job’s duties.
Then there’s the accusation that Udemy is capitalizing on the number of people who actually want to go to college, but aren’t able to due to the expense or because they don’t qualify for admission. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that one could substitute Udemy for a college education, I applaud it for what it is, which is an accessible, convenient platform with which anyone can learn a variety of useful skills or gain valuable knowledge from people with demonstrated expertise in their fields.
The real value of Udemy lies in the quality and effectiveness of the courses, which will surely vary from one instructor to the next. There will inevitably be a couple rotten apples among the bunch, people trying to scam the unsuspecting with bocus courses. Fortunately, all courses are ranked on a five-star scale according to the ratings of users who have taken the courses, which means there’s at least one way to weed out the bad courses and focus on ones that other users recommend.
And here’s another reason why I enthusiastically recommend Udemy: You can work on it anywhere, anytime, at your own pace. When you buy and register for a course, you can access it from anywhere using the Udemy app on your smartphone or by going to the Udemy website on a computer. This makes Udemy a very versatile, accessible resource.
There’s also no real time limit; a course may be described as a six-week course, but you can speed through it in a week or chip away at it for six months. You choose whatever schedule works best for you. Meanwhile, buying a course will usually mean that its instructor is available to help you or answer any questions you might have. As an added bonus, you get lifetime access to any course you buy, which includes any changes, improvements, or additional resources that may be included over time. For instance, if you buy a course that teaches web developing and a year later some new technology revolutionizes the field, the instructor can update the course. When this happens, you’ll receive a notification letting you know there’s new course material for you to review, which can be such things as PowerPoint presentations, PDF files containing lecture notes or other useful information, video demonstrations, and other downloadable media you can reference anytime you please. So unlike a college course, taking a Udemy course means you can use the e-course as an ongoing resource, which is handy in case you ever need to go back and brush up on a topic if you ever need a little refresher.
Here’s a little background on Udemy:
The company’s roots can be traced to Turkey in 2007 when co-founders Eren Bali and Oktay Caglar were contracted to create a virtual classroom for a client; however, the client’s business soon dissolved and the two developers found themselves with the rights to the virtual classroom, so they decided to move forward and offer an online educational platform that could be accessed by anyone in the world for free.
Two years later, their decision to continue with the venture led them to Silicon Valley, California, which is where many young entrepreneurs’ tech dreams have come true. While continuing to refine their product, Bali and Caglar joined the Founder Institute to learn more about entrepreneurship and network with other developers, which is when they met Gagan Biyani who would become a third co-founder.
After failing to secure funding from investors, they decided to bootstrap their product’s development and launched it as Udemy — which means the academy of you — in 2010. Within a few months, Udemy offered over 1,000 courses and had more than 10,000 active users, prompting a second attempt to find some investors. They secured $1 million initially and another $3 million a year later. By December 2012, Udemy had secured $16 million in funding. Since then, Udemy has continued to garner additional investors and just recently raised $64 million in mid-2015.
Also: Read Gagan Biyani’s account of how Udemy went from offering dozens of courses to tens of thousands right here.
The reason I’m choosing now to write about Udemy now is to let more people know about this great e-learning platform and to share this amazing promotion they’re having. For the new year, Udemy has reduced the price of more than 17,000 courses, some of which normally cost as much as $300. Until 11:59pm (PST) on January 11, these courses cost only $10 each and you can buy as many of these courses as you please.
If you’ve never taken a course on Udemy, you probably can’t conceptualize what a great deal this is, which is why I’m going to provide a very small list of Udemy courses below, serving as a small sample of the types of courses you can find there. Many courses have a brief intro video at the top of the page with an in-depth description just below. Check out some of these courses and feel free to browse around on your own.
246 lectures, 33 hours of video —
$297$10 (97% off)
223 lectures, 12 hours of video —
$300$10 (97% off)
42 lectures, 5 hours of video —
$299$10 (97% off)
109 lectures, 14 hours of video —
$199$10 (95% off)
82 lectures, 5 hours of video —
$199$10 (95% off)
32 lectures, 3 hours of video —
$99$10 (90% off)
There’s a toggle at the top of the left-side menu that allows you to either see all the courses or only the ones that are currently just $10. With 17,000 courses being part of this promotion, there’s a lot to choose from. I’ve seen a lot pertaining to web and graphic design, business, marketing, writing, and IT and software; however, there are courses in almost any topic you can think of, including office productivity, personal development, lifestyle, various academics, data and analytics, photography, music, and test prep.
If your resolution for 2016 was to learn a new skill or trade, start a new career, or brush up on something you already know, Udemy’s current promotion is one you should definitely check out. Even when the site’s not offering a mind-blowing deal on courses, it’s an outstanding educational platform. What I really love about Udemy is that it makes learning new skills and trades much more accessible. Expanding one’s knowledge and skill set can only help in this less-than-optimal job market. In fact, I’ve already bought three courses myself and have several others earmarked. It looks like yours truly will soon be a web-developing, app-making freelance writer, which is definitely better than a regular freelance writer, right?
And remember, this promotion ends just before midnight (Pacific time) on January 11, 2016, so snag those $10 courses while you can.