If you spend a lot of time online, there is a good chance you have come across Udemy, the online training platform. Open any study material and you will see its banners, calling out for you to join and try one of their thousands of courses. The platform boasts more than 100,000 online video courses, with several new additions per month. With more than 30 million students and over 50,000 instructors worldwide, Udemy is easily one of the largest platforms of online education and as we’ll see in this Udemy review, it’s one of the best online course platforms as well.
If you are familiar with either Coursera or edX, you would have noticed that most of their course material comes from leading universities such as Harvard or the Georgia Institute of Technology. But this is not the case with Udemy, where anyone or everyone can make and upload their online courses. This, in our opinion, leaves a lot of space for unsubstantiated material to seep into the portal but there’s also a bright side to this – much more variety of subjects, opinions and learning opportunities.
The most impressive thing about Udemy is that despite having such a large course pool, every single course is rated and most of the time, you can decide at a glance if you want to take up that course or not. By the end of this Udemy review, you will have an idea what makes the online education platform so popular and one of the leading platforms.
What is Udemy?
Udemy was launched in 2010 by Eren Bali, who realized pretty early on that learning through the internet was as good a way as any to learn anything. While living in Turkey, he had developed software that was the early stages of a live classroom in 2007. Bali wanted to make the software free for everyone, owing to his humble beginnings and was eventually able to find funding and launched Udemy with 2 co-founders in 2010.
Cut to 2018 and Udemy is one of the largest learning platforms worldwide. The best part is, whenever you log into the portal, you can see that there is a sale on. You can get a course for less than $20 at any time. If you do indeed get lucky with the course (in terms of content) you can start learning new skills in no time and start applying them as you learn.
Is this as good as Coursera or edX where there are big names such as Microsoft or even Apple associated with them for certification courses (some of their courses run for as long as 3 years)? Well, that isn’t possible, but certainly, when it comes to learning multiple things fast, Udemy shines through. How does it do that? Well, by providing tutorials that are easy to understand, applicable and accessible for a really low price.
It also provides instructors an avenue to teach deserving students and earn while they pursue their passion. While we were coursing through their website for this Udemy review, the one thing that stayed constant throughout was that the platform has a lot of quality content prepared by coaches of some repute, making it all the more appealing.
One thing that struck us was that unlike some other educational portals, you can go straight to the Udemy website and start browsing through courses without needing an active subscription. You browse through the website, you like some courses and you buy them and start learning. This is how simple it is.
Udemy’s design is pretty straightforward if you are seeking online learning. You will start seeing promoted content right from the homepage and chances are, you might just find what you are looking for. If you want to be presented courses to you, you can personalize your experience. Remember, all this is without needing an account on Udemy, yet.
You are asked to choose up to 5 topics of interests from subjects ranging to personal development, photography, finance and accounting, office productivity, teaching and academics, lifestyle, health and fitness and so on. When you have made your selection, you are asked to further elaborate on individual topics, say, for example, you will be asked what is your expertise level on any of the office tools, such as Microsoft Word.
When you have made your selections, you will then be taken to the signup page to look at the recommended courses the portal has curated for you. You can also continue with a social media account such as Facebook, or log in through Google.
Examples of Udemy’s Courses
For this Udemy review, we chose some topics that we are familiar with and comfortable with:
This program has over 13 hours of video content that can be recalled any time and has over 176 downloadable resources. It requires absolutely no prior Photoshop knowledge, you get full access on mobile and TV and lifetime access. This course has over 68,800 students enrolled and is one of the top-selling courses.
This course offers 21 hours of on-demand video, 62 articles and about 30 downloadable resources. You also get assignments and complete lifetime access. You don’t even need any fancy camera equipment; the instructors say a smartphone will do! The course has over 100,480 students enrolled.
This course has more than 16,400 students enrolled and offers 11 hours of on-demand video, 26 downloadable resources and is one of the bestselling courses on Udemy.
With a total of 17 hours on-demand video, more than 400 downloadable resources and over 127, 280 students. The course requires no experience.
This extensive course has more than 178,000 enrolled students and has 24 hours of on-demand video and 19 coding exercises. This course is for beginners who have never programmed before and programmers who are making a switch to Python.
These are only some of the thousands of courses available on Udemy. All of the courses listed above provide a certificate of completion. Almost all the courses offered are no-frills but you can judge from the testimonies that they are certainly popular for a good reason. And the best part? Most of the courses listed here cost less than $10!
How to Choose a Udemy Course
If you have gone through the Udemy site, you may have noticed that most of the courses are on offer and are available at an incredible price of $9.99 (as opposed to their previous price which runs in hundreds of dollars). But if you look carefully, you will see that some courses are rated higher than the others. An easy way to find out if the course is any good or not is to “research” the instructor.
You will find that typically, instructors teaching courses such as “The A to B of XYZ” have many years of experience behind them, while others are relatively new with little or no experience. If you pay attention to this, the research will pay off. But having said that, some lesser-known instructors have great ratings as well.
Another painless way to do this is to look for a free preview lecture that the particular instructor has set aside. This is to give students an idea of their teaching style. This should give most students a general idea about what future lessons are going to be like.
Yet another way to do this is to look for relevant course information such as the target audience, the scope of learning and a quick comparison to other similar courses. While you are doing that, also check out the student feedback, which will help you make up your mind faster.
Key Features and Advantages of Udemy
There may be hundreds and thousands of courses available on Udemy, but most of them share some common features. Let us take a look at these:
- Money-Back Guarantee: If you feel like you are not getting your money’s worth in the first 30 days of the course, you can ask back for it. Udemy will refund you the course fee using the original payment method. It is that simple!
- Lifetime Access: Any course that you have bought can be re-accessed in whole or in part any time, even after the completion of the course. You can review a specific portion of the content or take the whole course all over again, your choice!
- Low-Cost Courses: A majority of the courses found on Udemy fall in the low-cost category. You can also find a large number of courses that are available for free, like this and this. You can find some expensive courses, but these are rarities.
- Prequalification Not Required: A majority of the courses found on Udemy do not require the learner to have any pre-qualifications. As a general rule, students can take whatever course they want. Only some specialized courses may require the student to have some prior knowledge of a particular subject.
- Instant Access: Once you have made your selection and made your payments, you get instant access to all materials such as downloadable materials, guidelines or video tutorials. They are made available immediately after enrollment without any delay.
- Thousands of Courses: There are 13 broad categories which are divided into 10 or more sub-categories. For example, the “Business” category expands to 16 sub-categories which are further divided into more categories and subcategories and so on. And the number of courses offered under each are virtually limitless, which means you can either gain more knowledge on topics that you are already familiar with or wade into unchartered territory and learn something new at something which costs less than a meal at a fast-food joint. What more can a student ask for?
- Certificate: Most courses will provide you a certificate of completion upon completion of the course. But the little problem lies in the fact that popular it may be, but Udemy is not an accredited institution and employers may or may not question the course’s authenticity. This is where institutes such as Coursera and edX have an upper hand because of their affiliation with renowned universities. You can find some courses on Udemy that are accredited, though these are hard to find.
- Latest Course Content: Most of the content you see on Udemy is updated because instructors are encouraged to do so from time to time. This means that if you have chosen regularly updated topics such as Apple’s iOS you can be sure that you will be taught the latest course material.
- Self-Paced Learning: You can choose the start and finish time for your studies. Most of the videos are in lengths of 5-15 minutes and are downloadable, which means that you can pause and play anytime you wish to. This is entirely based on your convenience. This also means that you can take the course from virtually anywhere and on a device of your choice.
Udemy seems to be an all-positive experience but there are a few drawbacks too. Let us take a look at these:
- Lack of Accreditation: Sure, Udemy offers a certificate of completion after every course, but it is mostly to give the learners a sense of completion or personal achievement rather than an academic advancement. Most Udemy courses do not require a mastery test to complete and thus just completing a course is not enough, but to master it. Students should recognize this fact. The fact also remains that since Udemy is not accredited, a majority of employers may not be swayed by a mere certificate.
- Too Much Information: Though we did mention how-to, finding a suitable course can be confusing. You may have found the perfect course for you after a week-long search and only after paying the fee may find that there is another similar course available for free. As one can imagine, this can cause a lot of frustration.
- Questionable Instructor Knowledge: Thanks to the thousands of courses available, there is no way you can validate the authenticity of a particular course. Some students have learned it the hard way. For example, some people going in for an advanced Photoshop course realized to their horror that the instructor was relying solely on pre-installed filters and gimmicky tricks rather than teaching useful material. This is mostly because of Udemy’s open-door policy.
Overall, we would say that you get what you pay for when you enroll for a course at Udemy. There are thousands to choose from and it is a great learning portal. It has taken the lead in video instructionals and is an inexpensive way to learn new things or enhance your existing knowledge. But just taking a course won’t help unless you dedicate your time for it and it is easy to go lax on courses offered by Udemy because they don’t cost much and are self-paced. So, choose your courses carefully.
Having said that, Udemy still has a long way to go in terms of competing with edX or Coursera when it comes to accreditation and instructor experience.