E-Learning and Online Courses are a Hot Trend
Online education may or may not be the way of the future for distance learning; but what we are seeing today is a trend where leading online course providers like Udemy, Skillshare, Udacity, EdX, Coursera, and many more, are offering their online classes to millions of students from all over the world. For the purpose of this article I will focus on Udemy, simply because it’s my favourite eLearning website. However, I do intend to write about other online-course websites in the near future when I have enough experience, or I find someone who has sufficient valuable information on those online-course websites.
Getting Started With Udemy
Read through this article if you’re not familiar with online course training, but you are interested in getting started in the eLearning world. In my opinion, Udemy is the ideal place to begin. Let’s start by having a quick look at the website and how you can create your account in just minutes. However, click here; Udemy Reviews if you’d like to read full reviews on Udemy. As of October, 2015, more than 8 million students from around the globe have joined Udemy. And, Udemy hosts more than 32,000 online classes. Just looking at these numbers tells us that the online education market is huge, and that students worldwide are committed to learning and honing their skills. And the students who do study with Udemy are people who love to learn; whether it be new skills or expanding their current expertise and knowledge, thus becoming even more professional and sought-after in their own field. The main factor that sets Udemy apart from other MOOCs is that they offer online tutorials for students, helping them to keep up-to-date with their skills. It’s like ‘after-graduation’ training. Successful people understand that we never stop learning, and it’s the same with our careers: if you want to be successful in your chosen field then you’ll need a lot more than just a University degree – your learning will continue for the rest of your life. In fact, the key to success is to never become complacent – meaning, never think you know it all. Udemy can help you achieve your goals without having to participate in real classes. Physical classes mean you must have the time and money to dedicate yourself to these classes, whereas when you study with Udemy you can achieve the same results, but from the comfort of your own home.
The Pros of Studying with Udemy
- Udemy courses are affordable. This means that studying with Udemy is low-risk: students have the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge, or alternatively move to new areas of study. I, personally, have been studying with Udemy for over two years (since 2013) and have purchased about 60+ courses. I’ve explored many new and unfamiliar areas of study that have given me great insights and new ideas for my business.
- Udemy’s policy is a Money-Back Guarantee! If you’re unhappy with the course, simply ask for a refund – it’s that easy! Personally, I’ve only had to ask for a refund for two of their courses.
- You’ll receive a Udemy ‘Certificate of Completion’ once you’ve completed the course. This Certificate will look great on your LinkedIn profile and your resume. (Read an article on how to obtain your own Certificate of Completion from Udemy. – here.)
- Their customer service is quite good. When I experienced a payment issue I emailed Udemy support. The staff quickly resolved the issue, so I was very happy with the service I received. You can read more here: How to buy Udemy course.
- They run a ‘Udemy for Business’ program, whereby your company joins Udemy to allow staff members easy access to selective training courses.
- Udemy also offer mobile applications allowing you to learn on-the-go. Using this App, you can also download the course for offline learning, which is a huge benefit to any student.
- You can download the Udemy App for iOS from the App Store here; Udemy iOS App – available for iPad and iPhone.
- You can download the Udemy App for Android from The Google Play Store here; Udemy Android App .
The Cons of Studying With Udemy
- I sometimes feel that there are too many courses being offered on the same topic, and it can be confusing. You need to do your research and read the reviews on each course; written of course by real students. It also doesn’t hurt to do some research on the instructors and this might help you make a final decision on which course to take.
- Even though Udemy provides a massive course library on their platform, some topics don’t provide advanced courses. It appears to me that entry and intermediate courses are offered to attract large numbers of students; whereas topics that require advanced skills are sometimes offered on teachers’ own websites and charged out at more expensive rates. Of course this is fair and reasonable, but it would be more suitable to students if advanced courses were offered here too. As a student, I prefer to not have to switch from one website to another, because it does distract from the learning experience.
I hope I’ve provided you with sufficient information to have a basic understanding of Udemy and its offerings for students. Udemy is a giant, online learning website, so if you think it’s time, and you’re ready, let’s get started! Time to create your Udemy account!
How to Create Your Udemy Account
Go to the website Udemy.com On the top right-hand corner you’ll see the ‘Signup’ option. (See green arrow in the image.) Click on this and a signup form will pop up. To create your account, fill in your name, email address and password. And that’s it! Your account has been created and you’re already on the learning trail! The create account process should take just seconds to complete, after which you’ll be directed to the entire course catalogue.
How to Search for Courses on Udemy
As at March 3rd 2016 there are more than 40,000 online courses available on the Udemy platform, and it’s here that you’ll be introduced to a collection of the most popular courses in certain topics. Of course it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily be interested in the default courses that are presented: we’re all looking to learn different skills, and the default courses may not fit your specific interests. We know that it can be quite overwhelming for students new to this website to find their way through different topics and courses; however, if you’re already a Udemy user you’ll notice that Udemy offers suggestions of more appropriate courses for each student. So let’s start with simpler ways of finding courses that will deliver the skills we’re looking for. The first method would be to use their Search Feature. Perhaps an easier way might be to browse through their Browse Courses Feature, which has divided the courses into 15 main categories. But we’ll start with the first method, which is to search for specific skills that we’re hoping to learn. For the purpose of this demonstration we’ll start with a simple one and I’ll enter the word ‘writing’ and see what comes up. When I enter my query – writing – Udemy will show a collection of suggested keywords, suggested courses, and some suggested instructors. So, I'll click on the word ‘writing’ and Udemy will display a search result for writing topics. In the section on the left you’ll see that there are 393 paid courses and 29 free courses available: it also shows that, among these courses, there are seven courses with subtitles that can greatly enrich your learning experience. (You can read more about the subtitle feature here).
You’ll notice that, by default, the search result will be shown by Popularity; however, the filter can be manually changed to your liking. The filters available are Popularity, Language, Reviews, Newest, Price: Low to High and Price: High to Low
. For me, personally, I didn’t change the filter because I found that I got a good result from the Popularity filter
; meaning that a collection of good courses was suggested.
And because Udemy is a dynamic marketplace offering online courses, it’s quite possible that you’ll get different results at different time-frames on entering the same query/keyword. This simply means that the popularity of Udemy courses at that specific time-frame are changing, and Udemy wants you to see those suggested courses.
If you wish to see more course choices, try using the Reviews filter
. This is another method of finding courses that may not be the most popular courses right now, but according to reviews they’ve still provided great value.
filters are great guidelines for finding top-quality courses; and when you see the number of students who’ve enrolled in those courses it may help you determine the right course for you. However, this method is not always 100% accurate, because I’ve personally taking courses where very few students have enrolled and the reviews are minimal, yet these courses have been far superior to other courses on the same topic.
So, if you’re interested in a course, you should read the course description and watch the promo video; remembering that you have the privilege of previewing any public course for five minutes – for free! When you use the Free Preview Feature
you’ll be able to see the whole course curriculum; so make sure you use this feature before making a final decision. You can also play any teaching videos within the course for five minutes, and if you like the instructor’s teaching style and believe the content presented is worth your time and money, then you can simply go ahead and buy the course. So let’s now go back to the demonstration where I’m searching for a ‘writing’ course. The third course listed in the search result, titled ‘Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery
’ looks very promising. It has a decent number of reviews and the title really grabbed my attention. I’ll now go to the course’s landing page, watch the promo video, read the course description, and scan through the reviews. As a long-time Udemy student, I’m fairly certain this is the course I’m looking for. However, for the purpose of this demonstration we’ll assume that I am the new one here. So, I’m still not convinced about the quality of this course, so I’ll dig a little deeper by going into the instructor’s profile to see if he’s provided a free course that I might use as a test drive. On checking his profile, I see that there’s no free course offered by this instructor. Apparently there used to be one, but all his courses have been changed to ‘paid’ courses now. I can see that he taught six courses, all of them relating to professional writing; and on doing a little more research I’ve discovered that this instructor has taught top journalists on how to improve their writing skills. The writer from this article
has also mentioned him as a writing teacher. So now both the course and the instructor appear to qualify, and the course does seem to be a good one. The last thing before making a final decision is to enter the course using the Start Free Preview Feature
; so let’s enter and see what’s in there!
When using the Start Free Preview
feature to access the course you’ll see on the top section that it shows the remaining time you’re eligible to view the course. So now you can go to any video inside the class; remembering that once the time has run out you won’t be able to access any other training videos. It will say that your preview has ended and suggest that you purchase the course. For demonstration purposes I’ll pass on this offer and continue looking for alternative courses that provide the same topics as a free course, so we can continue discovering how the Udemy website works.
When we return to the main course catalogue page you’ll see that Udemy has picked up on your interest, and it will now start offering more specific courses by showing recommendations stating that ‘Students who viewed “Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery” also viewed ……’; and you’ll see a collection of suggested courses on the catalogue dashboard. We entered the query ‘writing’ into the search feature, and now Udemy suggests that ‘Because you searched for ‘writing', another set of courses relating to our search query will be presented. By now the Udemy algorithm has given us more than 10 courses, advising us on what might be the best course to take, according to them. I can see that some of these courses look quite promising, but they’re not for me at this point in time so I’ll put those courses into my learning library. By clicking on the heart button they’ll be added to My WishList
feature. They’ll be available when I wish to check them out later. Once you click the heart button it will say that the course has been successfully added to your WishList
We’ve completed the first method for searching for our preferred course, so now we’ll move to the second method which is to browse through the Browse Courses Feature
. You’ll see the Browse Courses Feature
on the left side, showing 15 categories for us to choose from. These categories are –
- IT & Software
- Office Productivity
- Personal Development
- Health & Fitness
- Teacher Training
- Test Prep
Under these 15 categories you’ll see that there are sub-categories too, so if you still require more information you can spend a little more time and go deeper with your research.
We’re looking for ‘writing’ training in this demonstration, and we’ll do this by searching the categories available here. I guessed that writing topics would fall under Business, Academics and Language categories; so we’ll start by looking at the Business category to find ourselves a free (but good) writing course. So, I click on the main Business category without going any deeper into the sub-categories; however, if I were to dig a little deeper, such as choosing the Communications sub-category
, you’ll find more relatable courses. For the purpose of this demonstration I’d like to keep it simple, so I’ve just selected the main category to see what comes up. Because we chose the Business category, there are not many courses related to writing; however, we did find a free top-rated writing course titled ‘Helping Writers to Write and Keep Writing’. This will be a good course for our demonstration. So, next I go to the course’s landing page where I read its Description, watch the Promo Video, and read the Course Requirements. I then click on the Start Learning Now
button to enroll in the course.
After enrolment, you’ll see a message stating: Congratulations! You have enrolled in ………. And there’ll be more course suggestions made. So, in my opinion, Udemy is very good at recommending courses that might suit your particular interest. And don’t forget that we can add more courses to our WishList right now by clicking the heart button on the preferred course. But what we’d like to do right now is to access the course that we’ve been looking for since the beginning, so I’ll click on the Continue to Course
button right away. On entering the course, on the top left section you’ll see the Search
and Browse Courses
features: these are the features I showed you earlier where we can go and find another course right away. You’ll see the Instructor Icon on the top right side, and this is where we can access his/her profile to discover more of their classes. Another important feature is My Courses
section, where we can see all the courses that we’ve enrolled in and various WishList courses that we’ve collected. The final important feature is our Account Settings, and we’ll look at those features later. At this time, though, we’ll take a look at the course that I’ve just enrolled in.
You’ll see the class curriculum on the left-hand side of the course dashboard. Because Udemy is an online video course platform, most of the learning materials will be in video
format, however there are other formats available, such as audio
, Power Point
, and other supplementary material added to the class.
Whether the course you choose is a free course or a paid course, we all have access to the same learning materials here. So, really, there’s nothing preventing you from learning new skills. You can register an account at Udemy for free and access as many free courses as you like. The only time you pay is when you purchase a course, and according to Udemy’s statement, you’ll receive access to your paid course for your lifetime. There are no subscription payments required to become a student at Udemy.
On the right-hand side you’ll see the Questions board, where students can ask their instructor educational questions. This is one of the things I love about learning at Udemy because, besides learning from my instructor, many times I’ve discovered ideas simply from reading other students questions. Now we’re ready to start learning, so I’ll click on the first video. Remember that, in reality, you could jump to any video you like, unless of course your instructor suggested that you watch the videos in a specific order so as to not miss anything important. But this is the great thing about online training courses – even if you’ve skipped some lectures, you can still come back at any time and re-watch what you missed out on. The learning video will pop up once you click on it, and you’ll notice that it consumes most of your desktop screen. You’ll see in the bottom left-hand corner that you can play the video forward to the next 15 seconds, and play it back to the previous 15 seconds. This feature may not seem so useful when we learn from our PC using a browser (because we already have the ability to click on any part of a video and jump to where we want to go) however, I personally found it really useful when I used the Udemy mobile app because it allowed me to jump forward and backwards quite easily.
Another great feature is that we can choose the video speed in five different speeds; these are 0.5x, 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x and 2x. I can honestly say that I didn’t appreciate that this feature would offer such great value because generally we would listen to the normal speed, which is 1x. That is, until just recently when I enrolled in a course where the instructor spoke quite slow – in fact it was so slow that I changed the speed to 1.5x speed. And then, because of the accelerated speed, I started to thoroughly enjoy the course. So even though I’ve only used this feature once after being a student at Udemy for a few years, I can now appreciate its value.
On the bottom right-hand corner of the video you’ll see the volume feature and the video quality feature. The video quality feature is really important because, if you have a low speed Internet connection, you can still access the class by selecting a lower-quality video. Of course the voice and motion qualities won’t be as good, but having little access is better than having no access at all.
After you’ve watched the video it will be marked as a completed lesson; and you can also manually mark specific videos as being completed. The little circle on the bottom right-hand corner will change to the colour green, which shows that you have completed this particular video. If you like taking notes during courses, Udemy provides a great feature whereby you can take notes with certain learning videos. Simply click on the document icon on the right side of the dashboard and start writing your notes there. Then, for PC users, hit Enter on your keyboard and your notes will automatically be saved in the specific video lecture you’ve been watching. You can even download your notes; and you can delete your notes as well. The bubbles icon section is also a very handy tool: it’s where you and other students can create discussions and ask educational questions on that specific video. If your instructor has provided a learning supplementary, simply click on the download icon or click on the View Resources button to access and download your learning supplementary material right there inside the course. And if you prefer to watch on a wider screen, simply click on the arrow icon at the top right hand corner of the video, and your video will fill the screen. If you’d prefer to watch the class in full screen mode, click the two-dimension arrow button and your video will take up the whole screen. To exit the full screen mode, just click on the same two-dimension arrow button. So, now we’ve seen and used most of the common features inside your chosen class. Let’s now go back to the class curriculum by clicking the Course Dashboard
When you switch back to the course dashboard you’ll notice that Udemy shows your learning progress. The green bar on the top area states that: ‘You completed 5 out of 16 published items’, which is a great strategy used by Udemy. It pushes students to learn and makes it easy to track your own learning. In many cases I wasn’t able to complete the class in one session, and some of the long courses may take 2 to 3 weeks to complete, so it’s very handy to see where you are with the course. And now, if you’ve enjoyed the course and feel like recommending it to other students, it’s time to write your review. Give them your Star rating in the Rate This Course
feature. Udemy uses a 5-star rating system; however, in February 2016 some changes were made. Prior to this date you were only able to give a full-star rating between 1 and 5, but now you’re able to give a half-star rating as well. Basically, this just means that the ratings have changed from 5 to 10. A zero rating can also be given, and importantly, the instructor has the right of reply to his or her reviewers. It’s Udemy’s opinion that these changes will improve their review system and make it more accurate: Udemy also goes in from time to time and removes all fake reviews. We have now finished with most of the features within the course, so we’ll move to managing our account and arranging our courses. I’ll now click on the My Courses
section. In the My Courses section, you’ll see a Search Your Courses
feature where you can find all the courses that you’ve enrolled in. The profile dashboard presents two tabs; the Learning tab
and the WishList tab
. Clicking on the WishList tab shows us the courses we’ve collected; ones that we may wish to take in the near future.
There’s a drop down menu from the Learning tab
which shows more filtering. Their filtering system is divided into five parts, which are Favorites, In Progress, Not Started, Completed, and Archived. The meaning of each section is quite simple to follow.
- Favorites section: This is like a shortcut where you can add your own particular courses.
- In Progress section: This section shows a collection of the courses that you’ve already started learning.
- Not Started section: This section shows the courses that you’ve enrolled in, but have not yet started.
- Completed section: This shows the collection of courses that you’ve 100% completed.
- Archived section: It’s in here that you can archive courses you’re not really interested in at this point in time. It keeps your learning profile clutter-free; however, you can still access, or un-archive these courses at any time.
If you wish to move your courses to the Favorites and Archive Sections, simply click on the three-dots icon on that particular course, then select Favorites or Archive It. You can remove courses from Favorites or Archives at any time. Finally, let’s move to the Account Settings part. You’ll see a Profile icon on the top right-hand corner, so simply click on this and you now have a shortcut with which to manage your account. It’s from here that you can access features such as My Course, Messages, My WishList, Support, Udemy Credits, and Purchase History.
- Some instructors use the Message menu to send either ‘Welcome’ or other messages to individual students.
- The Support menu leads to a support page covering tutorials and FAQs for both students and instructors. It’s from here that you can reach out to Udemy’s customer service if you should need assistance with any issue.
- The Purchase History menu shows your course purchase history with invoice records showing the date of all your purchases, including the payment method.
And, of course, you need to be able to manage your account, so simply click on the pencil icon where it says Edit Profile here. Once you’ve accessed the Edit Profile page you can now do the following –
- Set your account to your choice of either a public or private account;
- Hide the courses you’ve enrolled in;
- Change your profile photo;
- Manage Udemy’s email subscription (you can read more about this topic here);
- Delete your Udemy account, remembering that you’ll lose all the courses that you’ve purchased.
How to Purchase Udemy Courses
Purchasing Udemy courses is quite straightforward: you simply select your chosen course then make your purchase. However, as at the end of April 2016 there have been some changes in the way courses can be purchased, so I hope this update will assist Udemy students when buying their courses.
‘Add to Cart’ Feature
Udemy has recently added the ‘Add to Cart’ feature to their website. This is great news for Udemy students because, in the past, students were only able to purchase one course at a time. So, if your intention was to order more than one course you had to make each purchase separately, and each time you made a payment you needed to enter the discount coupon code. But now, with the ‘Add to Cart’ feature, students only need to enter their discount coupon code once, then select as many courses as they wish to purchase – with the order being completed with one simple payment. The ‘Add to Cart’ feature is one that many students have requested and one that I personally have been hoping to see.
Advertising the ‘Course Created’ Date
I’ve personally been a Udemy student for almost 3 years (Since 2013 until now), and this has generally been an enjoyable experience. However, it’s always been annoying not knowing when a course I’m interested in was originally created. In the past, I’ve found courses that look interesting, but I decide to continue looking because I’m not sure how outdated the content might be – simply because the published date is not shown. Let’s compare these courses to (say) an e-book on Amazon: they show the published date, the book edition, and any other useful information that might assist the purchaser in evaluating the e-book. From a student’s perspective it would be nice if this information was provided for online courses as well. I’m not sure how Udemy feels about this issue, but I must say I’m really happy to see that they’ve now decided to advertise the publishing date. This is a change for the positive! For our example let’s take a look at the following course: ‘Android 6 – Master Android Marshmallow Development with Java‘. It shows that the course was created in ‘9/2014'. At that time the Android Marshmallow version had not yet been released so that makes it clear to the student that the content of this course has been updated to include current information. Let’s now look at the course description: The instructor has noted that this course was updated on March 21, 2016, and it appears that the information in this course will continue to be updated in the future. Another point worth noting is that, because this course has been available since the year 2014, it’s still receiving consistently good reviews; so to this Udemy student it appears to be a great course on Android App Development.
Methods for Purchasing Udemy Courses
When you’re ready to purchase a course you can click the ‘Take This Course' button and it will walk you through the payment process. Currently, Udemy accepts Credit Card and PayPal as their payment methods. They also have their own Udemy Credit, but at the moment this is only available to students who have participated in their marketing campaigns. For example, if Udemy releases a survey and you volunteer to participate in the survey, you could gain Udemy Credit and use it to purchase the course. This credit must be used to purchase the course inside their platform, and can't be exchanged for money. The ‘Take This Course' button will guide you through the process of purchasing one course at a time; however, if you prefer to purchase multiple courses, simply click the ‘Add to Cart' button to add other courses. Now you can purchase multiple courses at any one time. In addition to purchasing courses for your own use, you also have the option of purchasing a course and sending this purchase as a gift to another person. Simply click on the ‘More Options' arrow and you’ll see the ‘Gift This Course' button. Select this button and the course in question will be presented as a wrapped gift. Simply enter the recipient's name and email address; plus, you can send a message with your gift. The sent gift will arrive in the recipient's Inbox together with a unique code to enable them to verify their access to the course. You can also purchase a course for your own use, then send it as a gift. In addition, you can purchase the course as a bulk purchase. For the purpose of this article let’s say you’d like to purchase the ‘Building a Personal Brand by Gary Vaynerchuk‘ course for your marketing staff. You can do this by clicking on the ‘More Options' arrow and click the ‘Buy for My Team' button. Now your marketing staff will have access to this course. (By the way, I’ve never personally tried this feature).
You Can Purchase Udemy Courses via their Website and via the Udemy App
Udemy courses can be purchased from Udemy’s website and also from their iOS and Android Apps. However, it’s been my observation that Udemy run different promotions; meaning that you’ll get different discounts when you purchased from the website or from their App. I have found that, generally, I get a better price when I purchase from the website – not always, but most of the time. I’ve also noticed that many courses are on sale on the website only, but the discount is not offered on the App platform. So, make sure you take this into account next time you’re considering purchasing a course and check the discount on the website before you buy. I also want to mention here that, when you purchase from the website, you need to enter the coupon code in order to receive the discount (you’ll find this code on our website EcourseReview.com); however, if you’re purchasing on the App you don’t need to enter the coupon code because the discount will automatically be applied to the course. So, even though the majority of us are on our mobile devices most of the time, it does seem that you’ll get a better deal if you purchase from the website. But, there is a way around this, and you can still get a good deal when purchasing courses using your mobile devices. Actually, it’s a very simple solution: using the web browser on your mobile phone or tablet, go to udemy.com or follow this link. Login to your account first, then purchase the course by entering the discount coupon code. Once you’ve completed the purchasing process you can continue to the Udemy App and start learning straight away. If you’re still unsure about this method, please follow this link to an article I wrote about this topic.
Please see here for more tips for Udemy students. I’ll continue to add more articles as the need arises, because we are, after all, fellow Udemy students 🙂