Student’s first app bought by global game developer

Back in July we introduced you to Nick Di Vona, a newcomer to app development who took Mark Price’s “iOS 9 and Swift 2: From Beginner to Paid Professional” course. At the time, we celebrated his Poke Radar app reaching #2 in Apple’s App Store. It turns out that was just the beginning of big things for Nick and his partner, Braydon Batungbacal.

Now comes the exciting news that Poke Radar was purchased for $500,000 by Glu Mobile, a leading global developer and publisher of free-to-play games for smartphone and tablet devices. As Mark put it, “This goes to show that opportunities are endless in the world of programming and app development, so don’t give up!” It also demonstrates the impact of dedicated, involved teachers who give students the confidence they need to dream big.

Congratulations, Nick! Thanks for being such a great example of what’s possible when people never stop learning.

Photo credit: Matt McDonald/Equal Motion

Photo credit: Matt McDonald/Equal Motion

September 9, 2016: Friday news roundup

The roundup took last week off for Labor Day weekend, but we’re back and ready to break down some thoughtful articles for you.

Lost in translation: Can SIlicon Valley export its best practices?
There’s lots of talk about tech jobs moving out of the Bay Area due to the region’s insane cost of living, so it’s worth asking whether the Silicon Valley style of working will follow those jobs too. Some researchers tried to see if it would work equally well in other parts of the U.S. as well as in India and China. The results were mixed.

What programming’s past reveals about today’s gender pay gap
Thanks to renewed interest and awareness around pioneers like Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, people are learning that programming started out as a female-dominated field. So, how’d we end up with all these brogrammers? Read this fascinating account of how salaries shift when industries once viewed as “women’s work” get taken over by men (coding) and vice-versa (teaching).

Being a successful entrepreneur isn’t only about having the best ideas
Sounds obvious, huh? Don’t believe any career guru who promises your brilliant idea is a sure-fire path to success, and don’t dive into entrepreneurship without taking a hard, honest look at what it will really take to make it. This business professor shares some wisdom he’s picked up from talking to entrepreneurs about getting from idea to execution.

Ditching the office to work in paradise as a “digital nomad” has a hidden dark side
We’ve kept an eye on the digital nomad trend, as there are certainly both Udemy students and instructors who use our marketplace to stay connected to learning while traveling around the world. Here, we read why one of the movement’s leaders has reconsidered his own wandering ways. People will continue to benefit from internet connectivity to have more flexibility in their lives and work, but perhaps being a nomad can only last so long.  

Finished, not perfect
We’ll end the roundup on a different note. Jake Parker is an illustrator and author who has a simple bit of advice for people in creative jobs, but it really applies to anyone: The world needs people who finish things. As you head into the weekend, turn down your inner perfectionist and see what you can accomplish.

Udemy course helps instructor win award and get a job

udemyWe were thrilled to read recently that instructor Ahmed Alkabary was awarded a scholarship from the Linux Foundation—and his Udemy course played a role in his achievement. We got in touch to find out more about Ahmed, whose course, “Linux Command Line Basics,” has more than 49,000 students!


How did you hear about Udemy and why did you choose our platform for hosting your course?
I started using Udemy in 2013 when I was searching for online courses on Java programming. I was really fascinated by the ease-of-use and the unique nature of Udemy. It’s very simple, and Udemy offers a wide array of courses for many subjects. Some courses are free, which is really nice, and also the paid courses are not very expensive. The idea that you don’t need a subscription is really what I think makes Udemy very popular. I don’t like the idea of paying a yearly (or monthly) subscription to access just one course that I like. Also, all the courses are reviewed, which is a good way to know which course to purchase. The interface itself is very friendly, easy to navigate and to view videos. It’s very natural.

(When asked to share Udemy courses he particularly liked, Ahmed mentioned “Java Tutorial for Complete Beginners” by instructor John Purcell and “Git Started with GitHub” by instructor Jason Taylor.)

What was your goal for creating your Linux course? What were your expectations when you started out?
After I’ve completed my first course on Udemy (John Purcell’s Java course), I realized the benefits I got from the course. At that time there were barely any Linux courses on Udemy. I think I have great Linux skills so I asked myself, why not create a course that teaches the Linux command line? I also liked the idea that anyone could contribute to Udemy and, frankly speaking, it was just an experiment for me when I started. I had no idea I would attract all the students that I have now. It turned out to be a great experiment!

What did you do to prepare yourself to be a teacher instead of a student? Did you have any offline teaching experience?
I was a teaching assistant at the University of Regina for several computer science and mathematics courses. That’s where I developed a passion for teaching. So, I did a lot of research on what topics I should cover in my Udemy course and then revisited these topics myself to make sure I was ready to present it to my students. I also learned a lot about how to teach from the online courses I took on Udemy and elsewhere. They all kind of follow a pattern.

Any comments on the course creation process?
It wasn’t a very hard process to create the course on Udemy. It was actually very smooth. All I needed was screencasting software (I used Kazam on Linux). I also got a Blue Snowball microphone and used Sparkol VideoScribe to add animation to my course that would make it more engaging and interesting. The hardest part was actually finding time to do the video production.

What is your goal for students in your course? Have you had any notable interactions with students?
My number one goal is to break the fear that newbies have towards Linux. I notice that many people are afraid to use Linux just because they know that they have to use the command line at some point. I try to motivate the students with simple examples of why we need to use the Linux command line and the benefits of doing so in terms of performance, saving time, and opening up career opportunities.

I receive a lot of good reviews on a daily basis and messages from students telling me to create more courses. I occasionally receive messages from students thanking me for creating the course and telling me how this course helped them with their studies, certifications, and work. I’ve even received requests to publish my same course on other platforms, but I didn’t like that idea; I like to stay at Udemy.

In the interview, you said you got your current job because of the Udemy course. Can you elaborate on that?
Yes, so basically Robertson College teaches online Linux courses, and they posted a job for a Linux instructor. I applied for the job and got hired just because of my Udemy course. I didn’t even have a technical interview. In effect, Udemy served as a skill verifier. So Udemy is not just a place where people can learn and teach, but it’s also a place where you can verify your skills and build an online portfolio. It’s brilliant in this way. Like, for example, if you like to develop mobile apps as a hobby, you can make a course on Udemy and chances are you will get hired!

Do you think you’ll create any additional courses?
I want to create more Linux-related courses in the future and also update my existing course and polish it to make it the go-to course for Linux newbies on the web. I think I can achieve that, but again the real challenge here is to find time and space!

Do you consider yourself the kind of person who’s self-motivated to learn new things, in general?
Definitely, I like learning new technologies and I like learning new skills. Learning is an everlasting and continuing process. I am a fast learner, too, which makes it easier for me to adopt new skills. I would say that life is not that interesting without learning new skills!

What do you like to do when you’re not working on a Linux project or teaching?
In my spare time I enjoy reading technology blogs to learn about any new changes or trends in the market. On a personal note, I like reading philosophy books and watching scientific documentaries. I also go for a swim at least twice a week.

Anything else to add we haven’t covered?
I do recommend Udemy to almost everyone I meet. Like, whenever someone asks me which online resources to use to learn a new language, programming, arts, etc., I always say Udemy.

August 19, 2016: Friday news roundup

Happy Friday, everyone! Are you ready for a roundup? We’re sharing tips for evaluating potential employers, thoughts on the value of college, stats on the global skills gap, and more.

How to tell if you’ll fit into a company’s culture before you take the job
Whether you’ve heard stories or lived the tale yourself, it’s a huge source of stress, disappointment, and frustration when the company you interviewed with doesn’t seem to match the one you’ve joined. Check out these helpful tips for sussing out the real culture before you accept the offer. On a related note, a new tool has launched to arm women, specifically, with information about how companies treat female employees.

Should college come with a money-back guarantee?
It’s a provocative question for sure. The authors share examples of a few schools that actually are offering guarantees of sorts. For example, SUNY Buffalo called “Finish in 4” that makes tuition free if students fail to earn their degrees in four years. (Of course, Udemy courses all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee… just sayin’!)

These countries are facing the greatest skills shortage
Some pretty interesting and alarming stats in here, especially if you’re trying to find a qualified worker in Japan, where 81% of employers report having trouble. In a virtual tie for second place are India, Brazil, and Turkey, three important emerging economies. Workers themselves aren’t confident of their skills either. Read on for predictions on what will be the most in-demand skills in 2020 (and start learning about them now!).

Your phone is becoming your favorite screen, even when you’re at home
Despite the word “mobile,” our phones are actually becoming our go-to devices even when we’re sitting around. New research found that 30% of internet data use at home is on phones and tablets. There’s a surprising twist, however. When it comes to streaming video, Windows PCs still grab the lion’s share.

If you want to be a better person, find something to do outside of work
Here’s a great final thought to take into the weekend: get out there and do something! Today’s society pushes us to be productive and results-driven all the time, but there’s real value in taking up a hobby with no tangible payoff or “point” to it. This is an idea that will resonate with Udemy’s legions of self-motivated learners, makers, and doers.

Udemy student takes course for beginners, creates technical documentation tool

Kyle-WisdomWe were excited when the blog editor for Newegg, the hugely popular e-commerce site for tech enthusiasts, shared a story about a Seattle-area sysadmin who learned C# on Udemy in order to improve how his employer manages technical documentation. Not only does Kyle Wisdom have an awesome name, he has a great love of learning. Creating his WiseNotes tool is just one example of how he takes a proactive approach to problem-solving. Rather than go with an off-the-shelf product from a big vendor, Kyle supports open source software, and he’s made WiseNotes available for free.

We followed up with Kyle to find out what led him to Udemy, how he applied his new knowledge to make WiseNotes, and what else he’s learning and working on.

Udemy: What was your goal or motivation for seeking out online learning resources?
Kyle: Ever since I started learning the ins and outs of computers as a young kid, I wanted to be a computer programmer. I had picked up books here and there, but nothing ever clicked. The books were dry and didn’t have any practical lessons that sparked the right creativity in my brain to jump on something. I wanted something that was interactive where I could see a real example and then grow it from there, making something my own. So, I chose to purchase my first Udemy course and give it a try.

Udemy: Which course did you take to help you build WiseNotes?
Kyle: The first course I signed up for was “Programming for Complete Beginners in C#” by Eric Wise (another appropriate name). This course was great. It was all command line/terminal type programs based on text (no graphical interfaces), but we learned the basics of strings, ints, counters, if/while statements, etc. We were able to make some games like a coin toss, hangman, rock-paper-scissors, and, more. I quickly took the things I learned in the course and decided to see if I could make them work in a C# Winform program with a graphical user interface. And I did! I made a rock-paper-scissors game using a random-number generator and assigning the numbers to a specific picture and string (rock, paper, scissors). When I clicked one of the three images, it would fire off an RNG for the computer player to pick rock, paper, or scissors. I then did the same with the coin toss, made a tic-tac-toe game, and more.

Meanwhile, my boss at work kept mentioning how he wanted to get a wiki but never took the time to research it or take the time to migrate the mounds of notes we had over to a wiki. I went and downloaded a few free ones, but they just didn’t fit our needs. So, I dove in head first and started coding. Over the next couple of weeks, I worked hard on my first version of what is now known as WiseNotes. This version was certainly rough around the edges. It wasn’t very streamlined, and it required a lot of manual work on the database side as well as having to edit the source code and recompile every time I added a note (I was still new, give me a break, haha! ;D), but it worked! I started importing our notes into the database, and slowly but surely they were all there–viewable and searchable.

However, it wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted something that anyone could sit down and use, but it wasn’t user friendly at all unless someone had a knowledge of the internal setup on the code side, Visual Studio installed, and an understanding of updating things on the MySQL side. I really wanted this to be a positive experience and tool that could be used by our entire IT department. I got to work on version 2.0, and this is pretty much what you see today.

So, on the C# side, I really only had this Udemy beginner course under my belt when I hit the ground running, and it has served me well! It’s a great course to get someone prepared and ready to code!

Udemy: What did you think of the course instructor?
Kyle: Eric was a great instructor. He was clear and easy to follow, and the practical applications we developed really helped me understand how to use the objects in C# to make a complete program. He did what any great teacher does: gave me a nugget of knowledge that sparked my desire to continue to discipline myself and learn more.

Eric was also very accessible, and he was great about replying to questions in the Udemy course. I remember having a problem with the hangman game, and he looked through my code and found the problem. His guidance helped me understand my mistake so I wouldn’t repeat it in the future.

Udemy: You said you’d tried learning from books before but didn’t find that helpful. What was it like learning from online videos on Udemy?
Kyle: I love it. It’s easy to do in small chunks or in big strides. I would watch, pause, code, rewind, pause, and code some more during each video so I could test out what was going on in each specific lesson and completely grasp each concept along the way.

Udemy: What’s next for you to learn on Udemy, for fun or for work? Do you consider yourself the kind of person who’s motivated to learn new things, in general?
Kyle: I am sure I will; my only problem is deciding which courses! I am part-way through an intermediate C# course, and I’ve also been interested in courses on Python, Ruby on Rails, etc. I would also eventually like to get into advanced C#, as I would like to be an intermediate on the way to expert programmer someday, but for now, the knowledge I have serves me well in the applications I need to develop both on a professional level as well as a personal level.

I definitely consider myself self-motivated to learn new things. I am constantly wanting to  challenge myself and rise up in the moment of need. When something doesn’t work, I want to figure out why it doesn’t work and how to fix it. As a result, programming has been really fun for me, as I will learn something, take it to the next level, learn more, and then hit something that challenges me that I have to dig deeper in order to learn, conquer that, and continue to move on to the next challenge. This is what spurs me on!

Thanks to Newegg blogger Adam Lovinus for bringing Kyle to our attention and helping us demonstrate the power of online learning.

How to Hire & Train Marketing All-Stars

How inbound recruiting and consumerized learning can turn good marketers into marketing all-stars

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 12.22.17 PMFinding and training well-rounded marketing candidates is a challenge for organizations of all sizes. Like other disciplines, marketing is a key business function that’s changing rapidly, thanks to big data, automation, and other technology tools. In a study conducted by Bullhorn, 64% of recruiters reported a shortage of skilled candidates for available marketing roles.

So how can companies attract and retain candidates with experience that’s broad enough to encompass the wide variety of marketing functions and also deep enough to make meaningful contributions on a regular basis?

Some guidance can be found in a new ebook Udemy for Business created in partnership with HubSpot Academy. In “How to Hire & Train Marketing All-Stars,” you’ll learn how to spot top-notch marketers and connect with your ideal candidates and set your new marketing hires up for success once they’re on board.

Download your copy of  “How to Hire & Train Marketing All-Stars.”

August 19, 2016: Friday news roundup

Lots of good stuff to get to this week, including our own CEO dropping knowledge, tips for getting hired or getting funding, and how a Udemy instructor got her start.

Why finding your best mentor has nothing to do with the C-suite
As anyone with a trusted mentor knows, none of us can reach our full potential alone. Not everyone is lucky enough to find someone who will inspire, guide, and push them personally and professionally, but our CEO Dennis Yang has a few suggestions for connecting with the right mentor. Dennis was very prolific this week, also sharing his thoughts on Olympic tennis and company missions. Superstar tennis players get extra-motivated to perform for their countries, and employees need a motivation that’s larger than themselves too.

Inside the mind of a venture capitalist
Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson is a titan among VCs. He was one of the first investors to get involved in the startup scene with such early wins at Hotmail. He was also the world’s first owner of a Tesla Model S, which is a nice bit of trivia. Here, he assesses the current climate for venture capital and offers his picks for “hot sectors” to watch.

Why having a problem about something is the smartest way to build a startup
Udemy instructor Vanessa Van Edwards leads highly popular courses to help professionals understand their own behavior better and use that knowledge to communicate more effectively and improve relationships. With more than 80,000 students enrolled in her courses, she’s one of Udemy’s most successful instructors. This article describes her journey from “self-described recovering awkward person” to the business powerhouse she is today.

I hire engineers at Google–Here’s what I look for (and why)
Google has long been regarded as a pioneer in the way it evaluates job candidates (well, they’re pioneers at a lot of things). They were among the first to weigh academic credentials less and focus more on assessing what people can actually do and how well they can learn. Scoring an engineering job at Google will always be hyper-competitive, but this hiring manager writes that they’re casting a wider net these days and he has some suggestions for what aspiring Googlers can do to stand out from the crowd.

How to live wisely
This professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education promotes an attitude and mindset people at all career stages can appreciate. He describes a few exercises he does with university students to get them thinking about how they want to use their time on campus and what they want from life, in general. Often, students find their answers reveal inner conflicts and choices to be made.

August 12, 2016: Friday news roundup

Who’s got Olympic fever? We’ve got Olympic fever! So, you’ll understand if a few of this week’s articles are related to things happening in Rio.

How Olympic athletes stay motivated
One of the most astounding takeaways from watching the Olympics is realizing how dedicated these athletes had to be just to qualify, regardless of their chances for a medal. In many cases, these competitors have put the rest of their lives on hold to focus on their sport, which seems all the more amazing when you consider less mainstream events like archery, fencing, or canoeing that clearly don’t have a long-term career path. Olympic athletes are some of the best role models when it comes to staying motivated even when nobody’s watching.

She turned 43 today, has a job, a son, and a now a world record
Speaking of role models, did you hear the story of Kristin Armstrong? The headline says it all. For the rest of us, having a job and family responsibilities is plenty to have on our plates; Olympians layer on an extra helping.

Psychology has identified three mindsets shared by people who actually follow through on their goals
Most of us are not training for the Olympics, but we all should have goals that give us a reason to keep pushing forward. And most of us, being mere mortals, don’t always follow through on our good intentions, which demotivates us further and makes us less inclined to set stretch goals next time. This author has some practical advice for changing the way you think about goals so you’ll set yourself up for success.

US Navy SEALs conquer fear using four simple steps
Stress and fear are prime causes for failing to follow through on good intentions. Who better than a Navy SEAL to offer wise words on overcoming fear? I’ll bet a lot of Olympians use the same techniques, and there’s a lot of overlap between these four tips and advice in the articles above for staying motivated and following through on goals. Spoiler alert: being prepared can alleviate a lot of anxiety.

5 lessons kids can teach you about pitching your startup
Olympians and Navy SEALs are obvious role models, but we can learn a lot of lessons from kids, too, when it comes to being clear, honest, and direct. This article is about pitching a new business concept, but the advice applies to anyone needing to communicate an idea (which is pretty much all of us). Like kids, adults are drawn to storytelling, appreciate analogies, and don’t want their time wasted.

The Unexpected Joys of #FirstSevenJobs
Did you see this meme going around social media this week? It started on Twitter when someone asked followers to list their first seven jobs and blew up from there, with famous people from Buzz Aldrin to Sheryl Sandberg sharing their early job experiences. As this article points out, the meme helped demonstrate the varied paths successful people take and reinforced the idea that you don’t have to be locked into the first things you try.

Hidden gems for August

Hidden GemsWe love courses on tech and engineering, really we do. But that’s not all there is to life—or to learn! Caroline and DQ from Udemy’s quality review team know this, and so they’ve wandered off the beaten path to find these new courses to round out your knowledge of food, art, fitness, and more.




Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 8.54.11 AMBest Man’s Wedding Speech – Made To Fit You Perfectly
What we liked: DON’T mention exes or drink too much before your speech; DO thank the bride and groom and compliment them on the lovely event. Getting asked to be a best man at someone’s wedding is a huge honor, but it comes with great responsibility: the best man’s toast. With help from Lynn Ferguson, a master of storytelling, you’ll have no problem getting over your nerves.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 8.58.21 AMCHASING AUTUMN – Paint Realistic Watercolour and Botanicals
What we liked: Yep, autumn is right around the corner! This course will get you excited to see the trees change color. Our favorite lecture was “choosing our subject,” where we see instructor Heidi Willis walking around outside looking for leaves on the ground to draw and paint. With a variety of practical tips, this course will take you from inspiration to execution so you can create your own watercolor masterpieces.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.06.07 AMCreate Gourmet Vegetarian Salads with Superfood Ingredients
What we liked: Take advantage of the summer and fall bounty of produce to whip up delicious and healthy dishes with instructor Victoria Holder, who walks you through every step of the process. She’s included PDF printouts of all the recipes she covers in the course for easy reference.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.19.19 AMPrenatal Yoga with Jane Austin
What we liked: Certified yoga instructor Jane Austin exudes empathy and caring in this course for expectant moms. She encourages students to listen to their bodies, stay connected to their breathing, and be present with their growing babies. Jane incorporates her experience as a midwife, doula, childbirth educator, and parent to help students of all levels get both energized and relaxed.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.22.10 AMDesign Your Own Fonts. Plus A Bunch Of Typography Secrets.
What we liked: Think you’ve got the next Arial or Calibri up your sleeve but not sure how to make it a reality? This course is a great introduction to creating your own font. Type designer Natanael Gama provides a great overview of how to choose a suitable font, the difference between desktop and web fonts, and pretty much anything else you’ve wondered about typography. Perfect for web designers, graphic designers, and anyone with a curiosity about how typography works.

August 5, 2016: Friday news roundup

Welcome to the first roundup of August. Here in SF, this time of year means wearing sweaters while the rest of the country swelters. Grab a cup of tea and warm up to this week’s interesting and eclectic tidbits from around the internet.

The hottest start-up market? Baby boomers
While food delivery startups falter and the app market contracts to favor only a few big players, some serial entrepreneurs are finding fertile terrain in new businesses catering to the needs and desires of aging baby boomers. Dubbed “the longevity economy” in this article, the demographic offers tremendous opportunity for startups targeting the country’s estimated 74.9 million baby boomers, who outnumber millennials and have more money to spend too.

How to increase your influence
Looking to play a bigger role in your workplace? You don’t have to be in the C-suite to do so. Wharton professor Jonah Berger has great suggestions for raising your professional profile and having greater sway over group decisions. Another way to have influence, he points out, is by being a motivator of others.

3 big myths about workplace learning
The #1 myth, according to this article, is that employees don’t have time for learning. What they really don’t have is motivation and incentive. If it’ll help their careers or enrich their lives, workers will gladly fit learning into their routines. The other two myths are ripe for debunking too!

If you’re not outside your comfort zone, you won’t learn anything
We’ve heard it before: fear holds people back from adopting a learning mindset. We fear doing things that are new and unfamiliar and may make us feel inept. But those same skills can be prerequisites to advancement, and avoidance is a career liability. Here’s some advice for biting the bullet and getting on with those “unpleasant, but professionally beneficial, tasks.”

An Olympic feat: Seeing pictures before they happen
Photography is one of the most popular course categories on Udemy, and sports photography is one of the most celebrated genres of the medium. It takes a discerning eye and quick reflexes to capture the split-second moments of action and drama at events like the Olympic Games. Rio will be the eighth Olympics for NY Times staffer Chang Lee, who talks about how he got into sports photography and shares stories from his career.