More people are taking Udemy courses to improve their personal and professional lives than ever before. As the year comes to a close, it’s always instructive to take a step back and identify the “big picture” trends we’re seeing and what they mean for the future. The year’s most popular courses provide a window into these insights. Here are three trends we spotted:

  1. Highly specialized courses

In years past, web development courses have been fairly generalized, such as basic coding classes. In 2014, however, we not only saw these broader topics grow but also saw entire courses devoted to deep dives on Swift, iOS 8 and HTML 5. This suggests that having an in-depth knowledge of highly specific programs isn’t just for highly specialized engineers anymore. It’s increasingly table stakes for many jobs.

  1. Becoming your own boss

We saw a huge boom in courses aimed at helping students become their own bosses or increase their earning potential (such as courses on making money on YouTube or becoming a certified web developer). This highlights a trend we’ve been attuned to for some time – the 1099 worker. More and more employees want flexible jobs without the 9-5 grind, and even those who have it are looking for additional sources of revenue.

  1. Work hacks

For people who are still heading into the office, we saw a substantial rise in popularity in courses tackling professional productivity. Courses tackling “super learning” and speed reading were in demand, suggesting that workers are doing everything they can to get as much work done as possible.

So that’s where we’ve been, but where are we going?

In 2015, we only expect online learning to grow. The industry is still in its infancy – think about how challenging it was to watch a video online only five years ago. We anticipate that in 2015 more and more people will see the necessity to continue skills adoption even far beyond college graduation. As the technology improves, so will the options for online learning.

We also predict a big year for mobile learning, which has far-reaching global implications, particularly for emerging markets. We’re already seeing a huge trend in podcasting – people are consuming content on their mobile devices like never before and they’re not just listening to music. Adults and professionals are taking the time to learn topics in depth, on the go and this number will only grow in the coming year. Meanwhile, in developed markets, the possibility presented by wearables is huge. Imagine learning from your Apple Watch on the way to work.

The future is bright indeed.


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