I came across the site UDEMY through the week and am intrigued by the idea:
"There are millions of experts everywhere, and we provide them with the tools to share their knowledge online. Udemy gives instructors the ability to use video, PowerPoint, articles, and blog posts to build rich courses. They can even host virtual conferences with students. People spend $9 billion on casual learning each year, and another $20 billion on continuing and professional education. We can catalyze that market to move online, and provide forums that create in-depth learning experiences about everything from Thai cooking to calculus to Esperanto. We launched in May 2010 and more than 2,000 courses have been created. We’re introducing a pay platform so our instructors can decide if they want to charge for their courses, but we expect 80% will remain free. The education industry is very top-down, but this has the power to change that."
It is a very interesting notion, but it will have to differentiate from simple video sites and there is a question of the end game of the content creator. If a author simply wants to sell more books – then a medium such as YouTube is more effective due to broad reach. However, if I am an educational institution or an educator/presenter, there is a revenue opportunity and it is a neat idea – that I can go and provide a high quality web course at a low one time cost.
There is also the potential draw of the website being educationally orientated and focused – a place to easily find course content. Which leads to the question, how do they keep it focused and vet quality? For example, while I enjoyed the ‘course’ Fun with Posters and Charts, is this really a course? Not really, it is more appropriate for a site like slideshare.
That being said, a site I will watch.
PS: Loved the slideshare ‘10 Ways to Suck at Social Media’, great piece for companies.
I’ve been doing some investigation of Udemy, since they sent me an email recently asking me to consider developing content on their site. I am an educator with experience of building interactive eLearning products. The things that concern me about Udemy are:
1) They have no educators in any of their key positions, just marketers and business people.
2) Anybody can create a course on any subject. They say this democratizes education, but it works exactly the same way as the rest of the internet – you have to work your way through a lot of trash to find the gems. How do you know that the course you are paying for has any credibility or that the developer knows their stuff?
3) There is no standardized learning method or development environment. Developers can pull in content from anywhere and organize it how they wish. Therefore, no two courses follow the same structure.
As a professional trainer, I am very wary of putting my classes alongside others in this “democratized” environment. There are no technical or copy editors that I am aware of. Similar sites like Lynda.com vet their developers and set strict standards of quality. With Udemy, I would develop the course at my expense to find that it has no sign-ups, since Udemy does nothing to promote it. It seems they are a simple content aggregator, like YouTube, not an eLearning company, with designs on making a cut from the few of the 20% of paid course that make any money.
Udemy pushes the news of their funding in a way that makes me think they have a simple exit strategy to build as many users as possible in a short space of time and then sell out before anyone finds out that users only do one bad course and never come back.
As a developer I’d rather spend my time among professional instructional designers, as a user I’d rather go with quality eLearning from a reputable source.