Price: varies from free – several hundred per course
Rank: 90/100 – can be a great source for learning, but somewhat low standards for instructional quality and must be sifted through to find well put together courses
Intro – What is Udemy?
Udemy’s online courses have expanded to include over 40,000 since its inception in 2009. If you’re not familiar with Udemy – it is one of the largest provider of MOOCs – massive open online courses. These are online classes that are open to the general public. What makes them special is there isn’t any admission process, literally anyone who is interested can enroll. The classes are either entirely free or in most cases much less expensive than if you were to take them at a typical college.
The courses at Udemy are taken through a screening process before being uploaded, so they are generally legit. The question of whether they’re worth taking or worth paying for remains up to the individual and varies largely based on the course. Let’s dissect their platform a bit further to get a better look.
What types of classes can be taken at Udemy?
Classes at Udemy range from business to mathematics to photography, and everything in between.
Here are just SOME of the topics within the Udemy platform:
- Business – finance, communication, sales, entrepreneurship
- IT and Software – network and security, hardware, operating systems
- Language – English, Spanish, French, German
- Teacher Training – instructional design, educational development
- Health and Fitness – nutrition, self defense, yoga, first aid
- Marketing – branding, public relations, affiliate marketing, content marketing
- Office Productivity – Microsoft, Apple, Google
- Social Science – psychology, economics
- Math – calculus, algebra, statistics
- Science – chemistry, physics, biology
- Writing – creative, research, writing novels, ebooks
Since udemy has over 40,000 courses, there’s probably a class for just about anything you can think of. They have a really easy to use search feature you can narrow your selection down by topic, sub-topic, popularity, course level (beginner, intermediate, advanced), and even price (free vs paid). You can also simply type anything within the search bar if you have a particular class type in mind.
What are the classes like?
The first thing to note when discussing Udemy’s courses is that it’s an open source platform that anyone can submit their classes to. Obviously the courses have to follow a set of guidelines and be approved by Udemy before they are officially released, but you don’t have to be an actual teacher or professor to teach a Udemy class. This is one major disadvantage of Udemy, in my opinion.
Guidelines taken from the official Udemy website for instructors
- Courses should contain at least 30 minutes of content with 60% video content.
- Courses should be well structured to deliver on learning objectives.
- Audio should be clear and intelligible; Video should be clear, well-lit, and high-definition.
In addtion, there’s also an entire checklist of requirements for creating a Udemy course (and they must be approved).
All that being said, however, many instructors are real professors, teachers, tutors, or experts within their field so there’s actually some high quality courses within Udemy. Still, there’s many others that may not be taught by professionals or qualified individuals, so check the instructor’s bio before taking any course to see who they are and where their experience lies.
A look inside the classroom
A really neat feature of Udemy’s platform is you can view the structure, content, discussions and ratings for each and every class before you decide to enroll. This includes a complete instructor biography, where you can view their background and qualifications.
For paid courses, anyone can view the instructor biography, general intro video and basic course outline, but you’re only given a 5 minute preview window to read the syllabus, view the discussion boards and even watch the lecture videos (but remember, you only have 5 minutes)!
The classes offered by Udemy vary tremendously in terms of structure and quality. While there is quality and content guidelines that are required to be met, some have extremely professional looking filming sets while others may simply be voiced over powerpoint slides. This is what makes the preview window a great feature – you can easily get a good sense about a class before you commit so you don’t end up wasting your time or in some cases, money.
Typically classes have between 1 – 3 hours of content, with a minimum of 30 minutes. Although the length does also vary tremendously by course.
Take a look at the variance within just these Algebra courses:
One of the negatives about courses within the platform is that they’re so short, in many cases they shouldn’t be classified as a “course”, but rather fit more into the definition of a tutorial. Whether that’s good or bad depends on what you are looking for.
The pricing varies since it’s set by the instructor. The typical range is $29 – $99, but many are entirely free and others several hundred per course. The maximum I’ve seen is $299, but certain specialty courses can be a bit more.
The guideline is generally $10 – $30 per hour of material, but it’s not a requirement.
What is the advantage of taking a course at Udemy? Is it really worth anything?
When you complete courses, you generally will receive a certification of completion. The question is, what’s that really worth? The answer to that is it depends largely on what your expectations are and what you ultimately want out of the course.
While it may not be looked upon as directly worth anything to potential employers, the acquired skills and knowledge received from further educating yourself can go a long ways towards increasing confidence – which can ultimately lead to benefits like promotions, getting a raise or just feeling better equipped to handle your job.
It can also be a great solution for entrepreneurial types and resource for lifelong learners. Advancing education and knowledge can tremendously help any business owner improve and advance their career. Since in many cases there’s no need to prove their education credentials to anyone but themselves, the learned knowledge is all that really matters.
Udemy does offer some very well done classes, but they do need to be sorted through to find ones worth taking.
Who’s it for?
Udemy is great for anyone that wants to advance their education, no matter if they’re trying to advance in their career, pick up a new skill or just enjoy learning. Students must be willing to do some due diligence for every course, however, because there’s some low quality stuff within their platform.
Conclusion – Are their courses legit?
While many Udemy courses may not be the highest quality, or even taught by those with explicit qualifications you may think would be needed, it’s still a great educational platform that can be weeded through to find well put together and informative classes within any field.
There may be better alternatives to Udemy depending on your particular needs, but I don’t think it’s worth excluding if you are looking for MOOCs.