July 2, 2015: Friday Thursday News Roundup

The news roundup comes a day early this week, as we take tomorrow off to celebrate July 4th. Have a fun, festive, and safe holiday weekend!

The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America
The typical narrative about entrepreneurs these days focuses on a young male building an app — and we wish those startup dreamers lots of success. But this new report will make you rethink your assumptions. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 74% between 1997 and 2015—a rate that’s 1.5 times the national average. And the number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.

College must become more accessible and affordable — so here’s a start
We agree wholeheartedly with this article’s premise — that making college ever more exclusive and expensive won’t generate the number of qualified workers our economy needs. Yet that trend persists. We’re always interested in hearing how others are innovating in the education space, in this case by launching the Global Freshman Academy to let people take an entire freshman year’s worth of open online courses for credit.

Build it and they will come will not close the opportunity gap
Another perspective on closing the opportunity gap — extending access to quality education to lower-income students — holds that technology can only go so far in leveling the playing field. Companies also need to provide access to the technology itself. Then they need to offer support and encouragement to students who might not even know what learning options are open to them or how to make best use of these new tools and resources.

Does music give you math skills?
If the thought of math makes you break out in hives, you’re not alone. Maybe you should be cultivating your musical side to help get more comfortable around numbers. This research looked at how musical training and ability may be correlated with improved cognitive function in other areas.

100 percent is overrated
If you’re not a “math person” OR a musician, that’s okay too. As this article points out, “what matters for improving performance is that a person is challenged, which requires a mindset that is receptive to being challenged—if not actively seeking out challenge and failure.” If you want to learn and grow, you should be prepared to make mistakes. The secret is not to be deterred from your hard work but to embrace the whole experience.

Here’s How Udemy Gives

On June 26, all Udemy offices (San Francisco, Ankara, and Dublin) spent a day volunteering locally. At Udemy, part of our culture is to give back to our community, particularly around education and youth empowerment. We love interacting with our neighbors and helping them reach their goals, so volunteering isn’t a one-time thing for us. We plan volunteer projects regularly and encourage everyone to step away from their desks to get involved. Here’s a recap of how each Udemy office recently donated its time and energy.

San Francisco
We partnered with HandsOn Bay Area, a group that organizes service projects for innovative companies, to beautify Buena Vista Horace Mann Elementary School in San Francisco’s Mission District. Buena Vista Horace Mann is colorful and airy, with students from kindergarten to 8th grade. Our team pitched in on several projects: building a greenhouse in the playground, painting an accent wall in the teachers’ lounge, organizing classrooms, and painting the school’s values at the building entrance. Because the school is in a bilingual community that serves both Spanish and English speakers, values such as perseverance (perseverancia) were painted in both languages. The SF volunteers had a great time building, painting, and organizing the school and enjoyed a day in the sun helping the community!

Ankara
In Turkey, Udemy employees visited the “Village For Children With Leukemia,” an organization that’s building a Circle of Life facility to provide health and recreational services to families of kids with leukemia and other forms of cancer. It’s a home away from home for patients who have come to Ankara to receive treatment, complete with a guest house offering 5-star hotel service as well as K-12 school facilities, a restaurant, health center, fitness center, athletic facilities and much more. Udemy spent time with the young patients and donated much-needed items like clothes, bed linens, stationery, and toys. We also participated in some workshops that give family members a chance to learn skills like knitting, handicrafts, baking, and floriculture.

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Dublin
Volunteers from Udemy’s Dublin office worked with a children’s charity called Scouting Ireland, whose aim is to support and develop the social, physical, and intellectual skills of young children. We spent our time sprucing up their urban garden space, which was very overgrown and unusable. We put a lot of elbow grease into such physical activities as weeding, stripping ivy from walls, and clearing overgrowth, so that Scouting Ireland can now use the space for the club’s activities and skills training. Luckily, the weather was on our side, and we got a lovely sunny day while doing this outdoor work. There were many aching limbs over the weekend as a result, but it was all worth it!

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We value these opportunities to give back to our respective communities and look forward to more volunteer events in the future.

June 26, 2015: Friday News Roundup

Happy Friday and welcome to the latest batch of news that caught our eye this week. Have a great weekend!

The Rise of the Developer

Great data and insights in these survey results from InfoWorld, suggesting life and work are pretty good for most developers these days. Their influence is growing beyond the engineering pit, and they enjoy the fast pace of their chosen career. Biggest challenge? “Keeping up with new technologies/changing skill requirements.” JavaScript was the language developers were most interested in learning, while the top four skills developers felt they needed to acquire were cloud APIs, data analytics, security issues, and mobile technology. Mobile was ranked as the No. 1 skill needed to succeed among developers under 35.

Why Century 21’s Partnering with Udemy

With thousands of agents dispersed around the country and rarely, if ever, in an office, Century 21 recognized it needed a smart, efficient way to keep its workforce informed and engaged. Incorporating Udemy for Business into the company’s intranet has effectively put “all affiliates one click away from C21U, making it a one-stop shop for all learning.” It’s a great win for the Udemy for Business team and a perfect illustration of how corporate learning and development can adapt to our tech-driven times.

3 Things No One Tells 20-Somethings About Business Success

We’ve all read the usual complaints about millennials — they’re narcissistic, entitled, needing constant feedback. Of course, stereotypes are just that, and most millennials are just as driven, dedicated, and team-oriented as their older coworkers. Still, as this article explains, 20-somethings can help their cause by proactively debunking the negative generalizations and assumptions through their behaviors and attitudes.

Why We Love to Hate HR… and What HR Can Do About It

A pair of articles from the current issue of the Harvard Business Review look at the historical role of HR and how it’s evolved over time, along with the growing trend of giving job candidates assessment tests. About the latter, “Recent research shows that about 76% of organizations with more than 100 employees rely on assessment tools such as aptitude and personality tests for external hiring. That figure is expected to climb to 88% over the next few years.”

In-flight WiFi is About to Become a Thing People Actually Use

This article begins: “In-flight WiFi is basically the worst.” No kidding! While upgraded communications satellites promise to provide the same quality service as passengers have come to expect on the ground, on-board WiFi is notoriously expensive and there’s little hope that will change. Our recommendation: get the Udemy app for your phone or tablet and download your courses before you fly for full access while you’re offline.

Udemy Summer Interns Are Here!

Ah, summer… time to kick back, relax, and soak up the sun, right? Well, for the current batch of Udemy interns, this is a season for learning about the workplace and soaking up knowledge. We are so excited to have these bright, hungry minds in our office for the next ten weeks and look forward to their contributions. Let’s give them a big welcome!

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Meet the Udemy interns: Alice Yan, Nadia Camacho, Brandon Dang, Tamara Zagorovskaya, Srishti Jain, Ese Uwhuba, and Aigerim Khafizova.

Nadia Camacho, Finance
San Francisco State University, Business Finance
Nadia expects to spend her internship getting insights into business and finance from the startup point-of-view and developing a solid network of professional contacts. She’d love to join a company like Udemy after she graduates next year. An East Bay native, Nadia plans to catch up with family and friends this summer while also checking out the many new restaurants that have opened up around town. Another personal goal: to take her grandmother to see the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time!

Brandon Dang, Content
UCLA, Business Economics
A Bay Area native, Brandon is looking forward to getting a feel for the different working parts of a company, especially a startup. He’s not sure what career path he’ll ultimately follow so a startup will be a good place for him to dip a toe into various disciplines and see what interests him most. His summer in SF is also a sort of test run for possibly moving back north after graduation. While he’s here, Brandon has plans to see a Giants game.

Srishti Jain, Corporate Marketing
Carnegie Mellon University, Economics/Statistics
Srishti grew up around startups in the Bay Area and is psyched to get a first-hand experience working at one herself. She hopes her internship with corporate marketing helps put her on the path toward a career in data analytics and decision science. In her free time this summer, she is on a quest to hit all of the hottest brunch places in the City, with SF’s iconic Foreign Cinema at the top of her list.

Aigerim Khafizova, Product
SUNY-Albany, Fulbright Program, Education Policy
Aigerim joins Udemy this summer to research international learning, specifically, comparing the perspectives of different learning cultures around the world. When she’s finished here, she plans to return to her native Kazakhstan and help innovate around education technology and youth empowerment in that region. Aigerim hopes to fit a lot of activity into her SF summer, including exploring nature and taking hikes in the beautiful Bay Area. She’s particularly excited to visit Muir Woods and see the giant redwoods.

Ese Uwhuba, Growth
University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Marketing Operations
During her Udemy internship, Ese will be beefing up her technical and data analysis skills. With no one else on the Growth team dedicated to data, she sees lots of opportunity to innovate and try new things (we love that!). She’s got one more year at Wharton and then envisions a career that involves strategy and analytics, possibly with a technology company or consulting firm. While in SF, she wants to bike the Golden Gate Bridge, go to a sporting event, and partake of our City’s plentiful brunch and coffee options.

Alice Yan, UX Design
University of Washington, Informatics/Human-Computer Interaction
Alice has a meaty project to dig into at Udemy this summer: redesigning our Support center. While doing that, she’s excited to get a close-up look at startup life and make some solid professional connections. She’s weighing whether to come back and work in SF after graduation or pursue an advanced degree. During her time here, she intends to visit every great coffee shop and brewery she can possibly get to.

Tamara Zagorovskaya, Udemy for Business
Harvard Business School
Tamara has set a big goal for her internship: to make a recommendation that will influence and shape Udemy for Business strategy going forward. Having switched her area of study from finance to education, she’s now working toward a career that will definitely involve e-learning, perhaps with a company solving the skills gap. A first-timer to the Bay Area, Tamara has lots on her summer to-do list, including a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, wine tasting, and running a 5K.

 

Red, White and BlUdemy

Introducing our 4th of July Twitter contest: If you had the freedom to learn anything you wanted, what would it be? Put it in a Tweet and add the hashtag #starsandskills to your submission for the chance to win $100 Udemy course credit! We will be picking winners on July 2, 2015.

Terms and Conditions:

  • This contest runs from midnight PDT on 6/25/15 through 11:59 p.m. PDT on 7/1/15. The winner will be announced on 7/2/15 on our Twitter page (twitter.com/udemy).
  • Contest is open to anyone age 18 or older, no purchase necessary, however, the winner will need to create a Udemy account in order to redeem prize of $100 course credit.
  • The winner will be awarded $100 in Udemy course credit, which will be deposited into the user’s account within 48 hours of the conclusion of the contest or within 48 hours of registration, in the event the winner needs to create a new Udemy account. The user must provide his or her Udemy account username in order to receive his or her prize.
  • Five members of Udemy’s Corporate Marketing team will be choosing the winning tweet subjectively based on the most emotionally compelling response. In the event of a tie, an additional judge will be enlisted to cast a deciding vote.

Don’t Let WiFi Dead Zones Stop Your Learning

How are people using Udemy on mobile? It’s a good question — and one we need to answer if we’re going to deliver the best possible mobile learning experience.

We recently got survey responses from more than 2,000 Udemy customers (students as well as some instructors) and were happy to discover most (81%) know about the Udemy mobile app. But that doesn’t mean they’re all using it. Indeed, a whopping 69% of customers who haven’t used the app expressed a desire to download courses for offline viewing — a key feature of the very mobile app they’re not using!

We want more customers to recognize the value of the Udemy app so they can reap the full benefits of our course offerings and the ability to learn anywhere, anytime. When you download courses to a phone or tablet, you don’t have to worry about finding a WiFi connection every time you want to continue your learning, so you can really make your disconnected time work harder for you. Your course progress won’t be interrupted if your train goes into a tunnel, for example. In fact, about 25% of our current app customers say they’re maximizing their commutes to squeeze in more Udemy time. The download feature means you could stay productive in a doctor’s waiting room or at the DMV, even if you can’t get online there.

You can probably think of plenty of other places where you would appreciate turning dead time into quality learning time. If you’re currently enrolled in a Udemy course or are considering it, make sure you download the Udemy app to your mobile device for the full online learning experience, no matter where your day takes you. It’s free and available in both the App Store and Google Play.

By the way, our survey also collected a lot of valuable insights on areas where we want to optimize and enhance the mobile experience. We don’t want to give away any surprises, but we’re working on some new features that will make the Udemy app even more functional. Stay tuned!

June 19, 2015: Friday News Roundup

Welcome to the first edition of a new, recurring feature on the Udemy blog: it’s the Friday News Roundup! While our focus will be primarily on articles with a connection to online learning and teaching, working and hiring, and other industry trends, we’ll also be curating other stories we think will resonate with the Udemy community. And we’ll throw in some fun stuff too… because it’s Friday!

Millennials Need Stronger Core Skills

No, this isn’t about having to do more sit-ups. According to the study cited in this article, “managers feel entry-level employees lack both hard and soft skills in certain areas, but that managers put a premium on soft skills like work ethic and creativity when assessing entry-level employees.” Rather than see this as a problem, motivated millennials will embrace this opportunity to stand above the crowd by developing those skills themselves. That’s why Udemy goes beyond tech and business skills to offer courses on things like building teams, giving feedback, and maximizing creativity.

Bridging the Gap Between Education and the Future Workforce

This article looks at the gap between what students learn in college and what’s expected from them when they enter the working world and how that’s leading to underemployment for the millennial generation. This is a problem for companies seeking qualified candidates just as much as it is for hopeful job-seekers. (Disclosure: the author is a Udemy investor with Norwest Ventures)

Congratulations, graduates! Now it’s really time to learn

Our CEO, Dennis Yang, shared similar ideas to the previous article in this “commencement speech.” As the title suggests, today’s new grads can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to landing that first job and making career plans for the longer term. HR leaders may feel their employees are lacking skills, but companies haven’t committed to providing adequate training either. Not surprisingly, Dennis encourages the latest crop of college grads to take ownership of their development in order to keep their skills current and marketable.

Cambridge is hiring a professor of “Play in Education, Development, and Learning

It’s not officially on the course list at the venerable British institution yet, but we are way on board with the idea! The LEGO Foundation even kicked in some pounds to make this really happen, which makes sense given their mission “to build a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners.” Sounds like this initiative could churn out a whole bunch of future Udemy students and instructors!

2015 Audubon Photography Awards

Now for some lighter fare. Photography courses are always among the most popular on Udemy, so we’re sharing these gorgeous images of birds selected for recognition by the National Audubon Society. Hope it provides a creative spark as you’re out and about this weekend.

 

What’s the best thing you learned from your dad?

In honor of Father’s Day, we got to thinking about how dads (and other father figures) serve as teachers for so many of us in all different areas of our lives. Here are just a few things we at Udemy have learned from our fathers, both highly useful life lessons and silly stuff that makes us good party guests. Thanks to all the dads out there, and keep up the good work!

Alex, Director of Customer Support

Knots — from the square knot to the truckers hitch to securing a hammock, my dad loved knots and rope and taught me how to apply them. He also taught me to measure twice and cut once. To tie my shoes the right way. To cook eggs perfectly in any style.

Alice, UX Design

One of the best (mostly useless) skills I learned from my dad was how to get backspin/underspin on my ping pong serves. It’s really useful when playing with beginners.

Andrew, Customer Support

My father taught me to write. He would have me sit next to him as he read, first silently and then aloud, anything I had written for school. During the out-loud portion of the ordeal, he would mark phrases, words, or passages and ask, “What did you mean by this?” I’d tell him and he would say, “Okay, then say that.” He was merciless when it came to using his red pen on my work, but that experience taught me that good writing is really a matter of reading and rewriting. My father never taught me to shave, though.

Archie, Director of Growth

I learned about management — as a skill and a practice — from my dad and strive to follow his example. One of his former colleagues said that the most valuable thing he learned from my dad was how to believe in people, and I also aspire to having that same positive impact on people around me.

Cara, Udemy for Business

I definitely learned from my dad the art of networking, tenacity and persistence, and staying positive in the face of adversity. I was always told that I “should be in sales” and never wanted to go that route. When I finally realized that sales is built on the art of the relationship and embarked on this career path, it was a direct result of my father and the spirit and enthusiasm he has always demonstrated in this line of work.

Che, Customer Support

My dad taught me that I am in control my emotional state. While it sounds obvious and possibly a little narcissistic, this is one of the most helpful a-ha moments from my childhood. He also taught me how to get soaking clothes bone-dry within five minutes by using just a towel.

Christopher, Udemy For Business

My two favorite skills my father taught me: how to spit a cherry seed over 30 feet; how to identify and forage for mushrooms in the forest.

Claire H., VP of Engineering

One of my fondest childhood memories is my dad-designated dog grooming day. He would get his full set of shears and clippers out and get ready to groom our two dogs, a maltese and an airedale terrier, out in the yard while I held onto them. The style was always “as much hair off of the dogs as possible.” I now have a short-haired French bulldog that doesn’t need much grooming, but as soon as I say the word “bath,” he runs away and hides. I never learned how to groom dogs myself, but I learned to love dogs from my dad.

Claire M., Product Experience

My dad taught me how to cook a *killer* tortellini con panna (and guacamole) — he’s a great chef!

Danny, Associate Creative Director

I got my understanding of light and shadow from my dad. I have a memory of him holding a 6B pencil in my hand and shading with me. I was 5.

Eric, Engineering

I didn’t learn many skills from my dad, but I did learn love of music, the fun in cooking a great meal, and the importance of friends, and he set a great example in terms of how to be generous. I think he did teach me how to tie a tie as well.

JD, Reception

I learned everything I know from my dad. He became a single parent when I was 6 and after that dedicated his life to working to support and raise all four of us. As I got older he started telling me to “embrace the journey,” and I strive to live my life like that, so I had that saying tattooed on my leg in his handwriting as a constant reminder.

JLo, Office Manager

The best skill I learned from my father was how to use a computer and a video camera. I had my first computer when I was 5, and all I could really do was log my baseball cards and play the most basic games. He worked in IT and would bring home video cameras for me and my brother to play with. We made music videos, movies, and talk and news shows. I was lucky enough to experience the evolution of the tech boom and lucky enough to have a father who loved to show us how to use these instruments.

Johnny, Business Development

My dad taught me to play basketball, to invent fun games out of anything without needing equipment, and to play the harmonica. He also taught me about the power of humility and persistence.

Julia, Growth

My dad taught me to play tennis. It has helped me my whole life. Tennis brought me onto amazing teams and taught me to work hard in order to achieve goals. I have met my greatest mentors and my best friends through tennis. (Alex on the Growth team also learned to play tennis from his dad!)

Marcelo, Udemy for Business

My dad is the reason I love the outdoors. He taught me to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of nature and to marvel at how powerful it can be. He showed me how to set up camp, build a fire, and most importantly, leave it as I found it, if not better.

Mars, Engineering

How to whittle the perfect marshmallow stick!

Not surprisingly, a bunch of us learned to drive from our dads, including Megan in HR. Robbin, Community Associate, adds: He was a difficult teacher, but I think I’m a better driver because of it. My mom is pretty terrible at driving. And Victoria, Category Manager, tells us: Before I could start driving, my dad meticulously walked me through all the vitals under the hood, including how to check the oil and transmission fluid levels, how to refill the windshield wiper fluid, and how to properly connect jumper cables. He also taught me to how change a flat tire. As you can imagine, it was very annoying at the time (I just wanted to get my minimum driving hours in so I could apply for a license!), but I’ve used these skills many times, and I feel pretty cool when I can help out a friend, even on a basic level.

Pat, VP of HR

From my dad, I learned cooking, how to drive a stick-shift car, and how to travel across the U.S. I also learned the value of traditions and life-long friendships.

Rachel, Corporate Marketing

My dad taught me how to establish and stick to a budget. He also taught me self-defense; he travels around CA competing at jiu jitsu. And I learned how to plant a garden from my father.

Safia, Udemy for Business

My dad taught me business writing and negotiating.

Shannon, Director of Marketing

I learned the importance of humor from my dad. Whether it’s at work or in life, in general, things go more smoothly and are more fun if you take the time to laugh at the absurdities that happen along the way. While it may seem “silly,” finding the humor in everyday situations requires you to be much more aware of your surroundings and the people in your life.

Spencer, Udemy for Business

From my dad I learned to respect everyone and fear no one.

Tamara, Udemy for Business

My dad taught me to strategize. When I was in elementary school, we used to play Chinese checkers every weekend while my mom went back to school. He taught me to predict my opponent’s next move by thinking ahead rather than acting on impulse. In hindsight, he also taught me to see the big picture of the game, not just to focus on the individual moves but to see how it all fits together.

Finally, we’re also running a contest on our Twitter page (@Udemy). Just tweet a skill you learned from your father or father figure using the hashtag #UdemyforDads for a chance to win $100 in course credit. But the clock is ticking — you’ve got to get your tweets out by end of day Thursday; we’ll announce winners Friday, June 19.

Instructor Thomas Leuthard: Street photographer supporting street kids

Udemy instructor Thomas Leuthard is a street photographer from Switzerland whose Udemy courses help other aspiring street artists around the world hone their craft. He prides himself on sharing his full knowledge with his students and keeping no secrets from them.

Thomas has seen great financial success through Udemy and wanted to find a way to share a portion of his earnings with others in need. He found Burundi Kids, a nonprofit organization that supports children in Burundi, and pledged to donate the first €2,500 in sales of his new course Contact Sheets: Begin to take & select great street photo (German version: Kontaktabzüge: Wie ich eine Szene auf der Strasse erarbeite) to the group. In less than 10 days he was able to collect and donate €2,570. On top of that, Udemy has contributed an additional €500 through our Social Innovation program.

It only costs €25 to buy school materials for one child for an entire year through Burundi Kids, so Thomas and Udemy will be supporting more than 100 children with this joint campaign. Read more about the project in Thomas’ own words here.

Notes from CGI: Pioneers are everywhere

One of my favorite things about working at Udemy is being part of helping people realize dreams for themselves – no matter how big or small those dreams may be. We think everyone learning, teaching or training on Udemy is an explorer, and the most important step is the first one. Our “people” are the ones out there looking for something better for themselves and their families. They believe in themselves and their employees enough to invest time and money in learning something new.

I spent the past few days with another group of explorers at the Clinton Foundation’s CGI America annual gathering. This year’s event was in Denver, super fitting when you consider the city’s history and the hearty pioneering folks who built a city in the Rockies.

Former President Bill Clinton kicked off the event with the theme of all-stakeholder decision-making. He spoke about the need to get everyone at the table – even when messy – to get the best solutions to meet real challenges. True to form, it was the most diverse professional gathering I’ve ever attended with nearly equal representation from the public, private and nonprofit/NGO sectors.

The conversations at the event were frequently messy – not everyone’s agendas matched up perfectly, and the language used was so different that it was sometimes difficult to understand each other. Despite that, clear themes emerged. People can be extraordinary resourceful, and virtually everyone wants to feel like they’re making forward progress – in multiple facets of their lives. These themes felt so universal and so familiar to what we talk about every day at Udemy.

Living and working in a place that’s virtually synonymous with entrepreneurship (San Francisco), I also realized how narrowly some of us in technology define innovation. I was most blown away by the level of innovation happening in places like Detroit and Buffalo, cities so radically transformed (gutted really) by decades of globalization and relentless shifts in technology. Leaders and everyday people in these places were ready for radical measures. But, it turns out that radical measures start with a series of small steps.

The people re-settling Detroit are not unlike the old homesteaders who bet on themselves and their families and actualized a bigger, better future. All of these small, individual actions are adding up to something truly massive.