Great learning courses for hard and soft professional skills
Wide range of content
Excellent resources for instructors
No subscription for individuals; must pay per class
Price for Business accounts somewhat high with a minimum of 5 people
|Some Celebrity Instructors||No|
|Some Courses Free||Yes|
In addition to offering online courses, Udemy welcomes instructors who want to take courses and sell them on the platform. Compared with other sites that host learning content, Udemy has amazing resources for teachers, including a list of in-demand topics that it updates regularly.
While Udemy offers a strong platform for self-paced, non-degree learning, it costs more than other sites and doesn’t allow individuals to sign up for a subscription-style account. Other sites, such as Skillshare, which is an Editors’ Choice, and LinkedIn Learning, do sell all-access subscriptions to individuals, making them much more compelling for continued learning and skills development. Note that Skillshare leans a little toward skills for creative types. LinkedIn Learning and Udemy are quite similar in what they cover, however, and they both received the same score in our rating.
What’s Inside Udemy?
Udemy has a range of content. When you explore the content broadly, there are 13 categories: development, business, finance and accounting, IT and software, office productivity, personal development, design, marketing, lifestyle, photography, health and fitness, music, and teaching and academics. Each category is further divided into subcategories.
While testing the site, Udemy gave us access to six courses, most of which covered professional development topics, such as embracing a culture of feedback, public speaking, and uncovering unconscious bias. We asked for at least one course on software skills, too, and got a beginner Photoshop CC class.
Professional skills, both of the hard and soft variety aren’t the only topics covered, although they are the crux of the Team and Enterprise membership. If you come to Udemy looking to learn something else, you can probably find it. That said, it’s probably more likely that you would discover the training elsewhere, such as on the instructor’s own website or social media accounts, and land on Udemy from there.
What else can you learn? There are courses on cinematography, meditation, macroeconomics, woodworking, sourdough bread making, how to publish a children’s picture book, and much more. Dive into the depths of Udemy, and you can find a class on CPR for dogs ($64.99) and wild course that teaches the art of tapping on one’s own body to make phobias go away (EFT & TFT Tapping Practitioner Certification, $89.99). You can preview the first 18 minutes of the EFT course, which goes absolutely nowhere in that time.
What Are the Classes Like?
The professional development and software courses are strikingly similar to the ones you can find on LinkedIn Learning in overall style. The Udemy instructors were professional and presented material clearly. From the learner’s perspective, you’re mostly watching a talking head and occasionally reading bullet points or summaries that appear on the screen. That’s similar to what you get on LinkedIn, except that on Udemy, the instructors had a much more relaxed style. The LinkedIn Learning speakers all look like they got one take to read straight off a prompter. The content is spot-on, but LinkedIn ends up with presenters who are either too stiff or sound like they’re on stage at a motivational speaking event. That style doesn’t work for video.
Software classes are what you would expect from any good tutorial, showing the program most of the time, zooming in close to provide more detail when needed, and when they’re very good, taking a moment at the start to let you see the instructor’s face before they become a voice-over.
You can find weak content and self-serving instructors if you dig. Udemy isn’t immune to poor teaching or whacky topics. One class purports to teach the healing power of crystal therapy, but it is instead one long infomercial for the instructor’s jewelry business. The overwhelming majority of courses, however, are of good quality or better. Student ratings and reviews sometimes help you decide whether a class will be any good, although even the worst courses seem to get three stars or better.
The Learner’s Perspective
Every learner signs up for a Udemy account. As you buy or enroll in courses, they get saved to a page called My Learning. Here, you can see not only all your courses but also the progress you’ve made with them. In your account, you can also save courses to a wishlist if you aren’t sure you’re ready to sign up for them.
When you explore courses, you can read a detailed description of them, including an info box with the duration of the course, a number of assets the instructor gives you, whether the course includes a certificate upon completion, and so forth. Below the description are thumbnail images and short descriptions of similar classes—”Students also bought…” It’s just like what you see on an online retail site.
The meat and potatoes of every course are videos. They can be lecture-style or tutorials. Whatever the case, videos typically last no more than about 10 minutes each, and they’re grouped into sections. So a course could be three hours long, but each video won’t be more than 10 minutes.
The layout helps instructors make sure their courses are clearly structured. By having sections and short videos, instructors must break their content into specific, digestible pieces. This setup helps students see the overall scope of the course ahead of time. It also makes it easy for students to pause and take a break from their course when they need to, seeing as a break is never more than nine or ten minutes away. Having short videos also lets learners easily repeat something they didn’t understand or want to refresh. And it’s useful if you have some experience with the subject matter already because you can skip any videos that cover what you already know.
Udemy’s video player gives you speed controls, closed captioning, volume controls, resolution options, and a quick button to rewind or fast forward five seconds at a time. Some of the videos have not only closed captioning for the native languages but also subtitles in other languages. You can also turn on a complete transcript and have it auto-scroll while you watch or listen.