Hidden gems for May

Hidden GemsCheck out this new batch of quirky courses published in the Udemy marketplace this month. DQ and Caroline from the quality team are back with their picks for these under-the-radar topics you shouldn’t miss.

How to Create an Abstract Painting with your Dog
What we liked: Instructor Tatiana Ambrose takes a unique approach to dog training. Here, she shows students how to bond with their dogs by creating a piece of art together — no kidding. Students pick up great tips on using positive reinforcement to train their pooches, along with a painting that’s sure to become a valuable family heirloom.

Learning The Darbuka – An Introduction For Beginners
What we liked: Middle Eastern percussionist Malik Terblizi joins forces with instructor Somesh De Swardt to introduce students to the sounds and cultural history of the darbuka dounbek, a goblet drum that produces a wide range of pitch sounds. This interactive learning experience will help novices master basic rhythms while intermediates can improve their technique.

BareBones Bartending: Become a Working Bartender!
What we liked: Nicholas Peach and Geoff Nichols walk students through classic cocktail recipes with clarity and confidence. Whether you’re looking to become a professional mixologist or just want to impress your friends, the course aims to skip the filler content of traditional bartender schools and get you right to learning the good stuff.

Build a Gaming PC for Less than $1000
What we liked: Self-professed “complete computer geek” Cody Ray Miller does an amazing job explaining the technical aspects of building your own computer so you’re ready to start gaming in no time. Rather than offering up a one-size-fits-all solution, Miller provides guidance on designing custom systems for different budgets. Students also come away with skills for diagnosing, troubleshooting, and repairing PC hardware.

Bring Sustainable Happiness to Life!
What we liked: This course is like spending quality time with your good friend and instructor Catherine O’Brien, who shot many of her videos while sitting outside surrounded by nature, flowers, and sunshine. Instead of focusing on attaining individual happiness, O’Brien speaks to the countless interconnections we have with family, neighbors, coworkers, and friends and how we can make choices that lead to greater happiness and well-being for ourselves and others.  

India: Scale Up Your CV Through Digital Learning

shutterstock_236322589This article originally appeared on IndiaPages.

How do you keep learning and gaining new skills when you’re working full-time and don’t have easy access to local resources or training through your employer?

Given the rapid pace of change in today’s workplace and the increase in occupations impacted by automation, the question is hardly theoretical. Indeed, earning a university degree is no longer adequate preparation for sustaining one’s career over a lifetime. We’ve reached a critical juncture in our global economy where everyone needs to embrace lifelong learning and take initiative for upskilling themselves — but not everyone knows where to go for that type of education.

For more and more Indians, the answer has been to go online. My company, Udemy, typically sees the strongest demand in areas with young populations with growing technical economies, which describes India to a tee. We currently have almost a thousand India-based instructors teaching more than 3,300 courses, and more than a million Indian students are enrolled in our courses (a figure that’s more than doubled over the past year).

These include students like Harsh Raj, 27, of Bhubaneswar, who took sales and marketing courses so he could move into a different field of work;Vivekanand Avasarala, 33, of Mumbai, who supplemented his logistics/finance degree with courses in algorithms, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence; and Amer Deep Gurung, 36, of Pune, who’s been working in IT for more than a dozen years but needs to keep up with new technologies and frameworks like AngularJS.

Overcome barriers of time and space

We’re actually just at the beginning of seeing the potential impact of online learning in India, but the demand is clearly there. By extending access beyond physical classrooms, online learning can help mitigate the need, expense, and logistical complications of in-person training and maximize use of existing educational resources.

Moreover, online learning does a better job connecting students to the most relevant and sought-after skills for today’s workplace, especially India’s hot tech startup scene. In India, entrepreneurship skills are among the fastest-growing courses by enrollment on Udemy, while core technical skills such as web development and programming are the most popular categories overall.

Whether hoping to launch a startup or work for one, Indian professionals don’t necessarily have the time, money, or desire to return to full-time education. Online learning fills the gaps in someone’s skill set with actionable knowledge that can be applied as soon as it’s gained. That’s a huge selling point for working adults who aren’t interested in theory and prefer to dive directly into the instruction that will help them reach their career goals quickly. [Read more…]

Unearth these hidden gems on Udemy

Hidden GemsMany people associate Udemy with courses on tech, business, and professional development, and it’s true those are popular categories, but they hardly represent the full breadth of courses you can find in our marketplace. Spend some time digging through our library, and we guarantee you’ll come across some unexpected offerings on more obscure topics. While these courses may not attract the following of a Python programming course, each has an instructor who was passionate and committed enough to create a course and share their knowledge with the world.

With that in mind, we bring you Udemy’s Hidden Gems, a recurring blog feature where we’ll introduce you to courses from the deeper reaches of our marketplace. They’re the kinds of courses that might inspire you to start a new hobby or just give you something new and quirky to spark conversation at a dinner party.

To kick us off, DQ and Caroline from our quality team have assembled this first batch of hidden gems and tell us why these courses deserve their moment in the spotlight.

As a follow-up to Women’s History Month, here are some new engaging and creative courses by female Udemy instructors that combine great content with outstanding production values.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 3.17.53 PMThe Secret to a Bird- and Butterfly-Filled Backyard
What we liked: With her enthusiasm and colorful presentation style, landscape designer Linda Kelso will convince anyone with a backyard to make their thumb a little greener. This course steps students through how to cultivate a thriving ecosystem of helpful birds and insects to protect your home and garden.

Wedding Guide: Planning and Saving Money on Your Wedding Day
What we liked: Planning a wedding is a massive ordeal. The instructor of this course has years of experience in the wedding business as videographer and presents her content with crystal-like clarity, taking students through common pitfalls and decisions better than your best friend or bridesmaids ever could!

Calligraphy for Beginners: Creating Strong LinesScreen Shot 2016-04-14 at 3.17.36 PM
What we liked: Anyone who enjoys the feeling of putting pen to paper will love this project-based introduction to the Pilot Parallel Pen. Instructor Alice Young has an infectious personality and is a calligrapher and designer with a decade of experience working for multinational ad agencies.

Periscope: How to Improve Your Scopes and Grow Followers
What we liked: Vickie Maris goes beyond the basics of Periscope broadcasting to share insightful tips for building your brand and influence. Through the screen, you can feel that Vickie really wants you to succeed, which may be all the motivation you need to become a Periscope superstar.

Drone Masterclass: Your Complete Guide to DJI Drones 
What we liked: The video quality for this course is amazing! Kate Kay is a professional photographer who is using her skills to immerse students in the world of drones. The course is very comprehensive and breaks down all of the things you’ll need to get outside and fly your drone for the first time.

And here are a few more gems we just had to include too!

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 3.20.43 PMDrumming for Beginners – Simple Way to Learn How to Drum
What we liked: Hugh Edwards is just so excited to teach new students how to drum. He makes the learning process very approachable by giving students a variety of options for how they can practice — including using  pots and pans you have in your home! 

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 3.17.24 PMCooking Class – 12 Brunch Sandwich Maker Recipes From Japan
What we liked: This cooking class does such a great job of walking students step by step through every unique sandwich recipe. We love the time-lapse video and camera angle, which gives students a unique view of the instructor at work in the kitchen.

Ultra Memory Masterclass – Improve Your Memory Today
What we liked: Awesome tips and hacks on how to improve memory in all aspects of your daily life. Bob Kittell does such a thorough job of walking students through every example, you’ll really feel like you can apply the skills you learn  immediately.

Announcing Our New Student Course-Taking Experience

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Here at Udemy, we’re committed to building the best place to learn online and helping our 10 million students achieve their learning goals. Today, we’re thrilled to release a new course-taking experience, completely rebuilt with a learning-first approach.

Learning science, user research, and your input helped shape the improved experience. Now, course content is front and center, and you have more ways than ever to tailor your learning.

What’s new:

  • Immerse yourself: A full-screen course player minimizes distractions so that you can get the most out of your time on Udemy.
  • Control the pace: Player controls and keyboard shortcuts enable you to easily speed up, slow down, or replay parts of lectures. Learning at your own speed has never been easier.
  • Save moments for later: Annotate and access the parts of courses that are most important to you using Bookmarks (formerly called Notes).
  • Get answers… fast: Quickly find answers to your questions and view the most popular ones. Help other students by marking responses as helpful or replying to a question. Discussions are now Questions.

The redesigned course-taking experience is the latest example of our dedication to making learning on Udemy more rewarding, relevant, and accessible. And this is just the start. We’re constantly exploring new ways to evolve our platform, ensuring students learn what they set out to achieve.

Rob Wong is VP of Product at Udemy.

Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn on expanding global opportunity, teaching on Udemy

We were thrilled to announce earlier this week that Pulitzer Prize-winning, husband-and-wife duo Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have published a Udemy course called “How to Make a Difference,” based on their books Half the Sky and A Path Appears. As they describe it, the course “is designed for anyone who wants to leave a mark on the world, make a difference, and learn a few secrets about how to live a happier, healthier and more meaningful life.”

Half The SkyNicholas and Sheryl recently did an email Q&A with us to share why they decided to create an online course on Udemy and what they hope it will accomplish. They’re also doing a private video Q&A later this month, and enrolled students will receive more details on that soon!

Udemy: How does teaching online fit into your other activities, i.e., why not just another book? What was the trigger that made you decide you should create an online course and why do you see Udemy’s teaching/learning marketplace as the right channel for sharing your content and getting people involved in your project(s)?

Nicholas/Sheryl: We care deeply about the issues in our books–about empowering women worldwide, and helping people make a difference. But frankly, not everyone reads books: Picking up a 300-page book is a significant barrier, while watching videos may be a little easier and friendlier. We’ve heard a lot about online courses and thought we would experiment with this as a way of engaging our audiences–and challenging them.

Udemy: What were your goals and expectations when you started out to create this course? Did you have any misconceptions that were corrected along the way? Any happy surprises?

Nicholas/Sheryl: We frankly didn’t know what to expect, and it was pretty informal. We filmed in our house, without a script, just talking about particular topics. So it felt kind of cozy and informal. We do a lot of television, and this was much more casual than that–which was nice!

p. 172 The end-of-year party for students at Kennedy and Jessica's school in Kibera. Most of the students test above American grade levels, even though English is often their third language (Nicholas Kristof)

The end-of-year party for students in Kibera. (Nicholas Kristof)

Udemy: Why do people need an online course to teach them how to “make a difference”? What can you achieve through a Udemy course that isn’t possible in other formats?

Nicholas/Sheryl: A Udemy course probably isn’t the only way to get particular information, any more than a book is, or a documentary. Rather we think of the information we’ve acquired, and we want to distribute it across platforms. Some people like books and will want to access it that way. Others will watch our television documentaries. And some will find an online course the most engaging way to interact with us and the material. We’re platform neutral!

Udemy: What do you think of the power and potential of online learning to help people around the world improve their lives? How does this fit with the current state of higher education, especially in the U.S., where college is too expensive and inaccessible for many?

Nicholas/Sheryl: American universities were talking a lot about globalizing through overseas campuses, and then that conversation was overtaken to some degree by online courses. Look, we’re still believers in direct in-person teaching where that’s feasible. That’s optimal. But it’s not always practical, and the truth is that access to the best classrooms has always been limited. Now all of a sudden a kid in the tribal areas of Pakistan who has an Internet connection can take an online course, and so can a Nigerian girl or a Mongolian boy. A classroom can be expanded from 50 people to 7 billion, and that’s a fantastic boon for the capacity for human learning.

Udemy: What do you tell your three children or hope for them as far as their own educations are concerned? What are the things that keep you up at night when you think about the world they will inherit?

mukhtar1 mai not for course

Mukhtar Mai fought against her sexual assaulters and started a school for girls in Punjab, Pakistan. (Nicholas Kristof)

Nicholas/Sheryl: We tell them that it’s important not just to possess knowledge but to have critical thinking, strong social and communication skills, the capacity for leadership–and, maybe most important, the ability to solve problems. Those are the skills that will be needed in the mid-21st century. In the past, the most important skills were repetitive ones–the blacksmith, the boot maker, even the salesman–but increasingly those will be taken over by machines, and humans will be given the tasks involving creativity, problem solving, leadership and communication.

Udemy: Who’s the intended audience for this course, and what are the top one or two takeaways you’d want every student to get out of it? What are the actions you hope they’ll take as a result?

Nicholas/Sheryl: Our audience is everyone who yearns for a bit more meaning in life, for a bit more fulfillment or purpose. We think a lot of people would like to do something to make a difference, but they just don’t know how to help–and we want to show them that it is possible. Any one of us may not be able to save the world, but we can help transform the lives of people, by sending them to school, or giving them medicines or whatever the key is. As for what actions people will take after the course, we’ll leave that to them–but we do want them to act in some way. The purpose of this course is not just to educate people, but to help them take steps and do something. that will help others and themselves.

good pick abbas not for in course

Formerly trafficked, Abbas Be now works at the Prajwala women’s shelter in Hyderabad, India. (Nicholas Kristof)

Don’t forget to register for Nicholas and Sheryl’s course so you can join their live, private Q&A!

Udemy CEO Dennis Yang delivers EdTalk at Global Education and Skills Forum

This past weekend, The Global Education and Skills Forum took place in Dubai, bringing together some of the industry’s brightest to discuss key challenges facing educators around the world. We were honored to have our CEO, Dennis Yang, take part and lead an inspiring EdTalk on new models that are transforming education.

The standing-room-only crowd of global educators, policy makers, and media heard Dennis explain how technology and globalization are transforming the world, yet traditional education hasn’t kept pace. He argues that while traditional education has remained largely unchanged, innovative models are emerging online to enable more people than ever to join the 21st-century global economy.

New marketplace models, such as Udemy, unlock the potential of experts around the world and empower them to share their knowledge with students everywhere. We’re redefining what it means to be a student and teacher. And we’re helping people anywhere gain the skills they need for the new economy. Dennis Yang, Udemy CEO

The event concluded with the prestigious Global Teacher Prize. We were especially excited for this portion of the program because one of our instructors, Elisa Guerra was among the finalists. Elisa founded Colegio Valle de Filadelfia in her hometown of Aguascalientes, Mexico. The school now offers both primary and secondary education and her model has been franchised to five new locations across Mexico City.

A Palestinian teacher, Hanan Al Hroub, from Samiha Khalil Secondary School in the West Bank city of al-Bireh took home the top honors, announced via video message from Pope Francis.

IMG_6485Udemy CEO Dennis Yang with Global Teacher Prize finalist and Udemy Instructor Elisa Guerra

Who’s learning on Udemy?

Hey, blog readers, have you been over to the Stories section to check out the latest student profiles? Well, you should because you’ll meet some really cool people from around the world who are changing their lives by learning. It’s interesting to see what unites them (curiosity,  determination to get ahead in their careers, and a desire enrich their personal time) as well as how they’re different (not everyone’s a natural lifelong learner).

Here are just a few Udemy students who’ve been gracious enough to tell us what motivated them to take courses online, what their learning experience on Udemy has been like, and what they’ve been able to achieve with their newly acquired skills.

Anthony Gracey-Wright (Los Angeles, USA) didn’t think he had a chance at landing his dream job until he took a Udemy course and is now working as a senior UX designer.

Haley Chiba (Bristol, UK) came to Udemy to learn how to create a webinar for her business and ended up creating a course on financial management to broaden her audience exponentially.

Mohamed Omar Dessouki (Cairo, Egypt) went from being ambivalent about learning in school to making a habit of spending time on Udemy every day to help him switch from engineering to a new career in sports management.

Kyle Truong (Ontario, Canada) escaped his insurance job and is now working as a web developer, with an eye toward becoming a MEAN stack developer.

Sean Sullivan (Ontario, Canada) updated and expanded his skill set to get back into the workforce following an accident and got a call from the president of a company who hired him as a claims manager.

What has Udemy helped you achieve? Tell us at stories@udemy.com.

A Policy Update from Udemy’s Trust & Safety Team

Udemy is dedicated to helping anyone build the life they imagine. To deliver the best learning experience to the largest number of students, our Trust & Safety team works with our community to ensure our policies continue to align with our mission.

As part of this ongoing process, we recently updated our Trust & Safety guidelines, and courses related to weaponry will no longer be allowed in our marketplace. Udemy is a diverse community, and we appreciate that not everyone is going to agree with this decision. Based on feedback from our students and instructors, we believe this change best serves our global community.

As a result of our policy change, access to all weapons-related courses will end on Friday, February 5. Students enrolled in these courses will receive an automatic full refund. We are also communicating with affected instructors directly about this policy update.

If you have questions or would like to report restricted content, please contact our Trust & Safety team at policy@udemy.com.

Udemy and SkillsFuture: Letting Singaporeans “shop” for new skills

Big news out of the Far East to kick off the week!

SkillsFuture

People browse course offerings from Udemy and others (photo: Kevin Lim, Straits Times)

Over the weekend, the Singaporean government launched the SkillsFuture Marketplace, “a new roadshow through which the public can find out more about how they can spend their $500 from the SkillsFuture Credit scheme to upgrade themselves.” Udemy, with more than 280 approved courses, is one of only two online course providers currently approved for Singaporeans to apply their subsidies. This event (literally) made front-page news in The Straits Times, the country’s biggest daily newspaper. 

A bit more about the program itself: Through the SkillsFuture Credit program, more than two million Singaporeans aged 25 years and above will get a starting credit of $500, which they can spend on a variety of learning resources that have been approved by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), supported by public agencies, and offered through approved training organizations and partners like Udemy. The government is taking real action in response to the fact that nearly 45 percent of Singaporean employers believe that there is a skills shortage for talented workers.

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The deputy PM checks out Udemy.

As key partners of the program, Udemy was featured prominently at this weekend’s roadshow kick-off, getting to showcase our offerings in one of only three booths provided by the Singapore government. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam even made a special stop at Udemy’s booth.

We’re really excited to be part of the SkillsFuture program and to continue our expansion into international markets. With more than 50 percent of our revenue coming from countries outside of the U.S., Udemy’s global presence is growing fast. In 2015, the number of Singaporean student enrollments on Udemy increased 198 percent! Local partnerships like this one with the Singaporean government are helping us reach more people with access to skills training they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Great work by Udemy’s business development team! We’ll be sharing more news from the international front very soon.  

You Can Still Learn Even If You Work Full-Time

successBy Lisa Haugh, VP of People and General Counsel at Udemy

If your upcoming New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 include picking up additional skills so you can get a new or better job, there’s reason to feel motivated.

For most working adults, it’s unrealistic to consider going back to school full-time or relocating to be near a physical campus. It’s inconvenient, expensive, and often more than what you need in order to reach your career goals. In response to that reality, alternative education options are increasingly being recognized as legitimate and even necessary supplements to a traditional four-year degree. For example, in October 2015 the U.S. Department of Education launched a pilot program to fund access to some of these new training models.

As you sets your sights on that next career move, you need to confirm you have the skills employers are looking for. Here are a few ways you can strengthen your skill set and even customize your own learning curriculum.

Bootcamps
Coding schools and bootcamps have garnered lots of attention lately as a means for those without a background in software engineering to make a splash in Silicon Valley’s startup scene. Bootcamps like Dev Bootcamp or App Academy are typically intensive, short-term programs where students develop basic knowledge around a discrete skill, like a software language. They’re great for people with directed career interests — and offer some networking opportunities — though actual job placement varies widely.

Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships, on the other hand, are a great way to secure a job once you have a foot in the door. Companies use these programs to groom successful employees. In fact, it’s common for apprentice candidates to have prior experience at the company they’re seeking to work for or at least relevant industry experience. Though they offer abundant hands-on experience, apprenticeships can sometimes be hard to access and tend not to provide enough income to live off.

MOOCs
If apprenticeships are harder to access, massive online open courses (MOOCs) are on the other end of the spectrum. MOOCs are typically free and affiliated with a particular university or college. Like traditional schools, MOOCs offer a wide variety of classes to choose from. That said, there’s not a lot of accountability. You’re responsible for staying on track with your coursework and assignments. This typically means MOOCs have low completion rates — it’s difficult to tell whether a students has actually learned something new. Since MOOCs are essentially college courses moved online, there are fewer opportunities for skill-based learning.

Online portals
Skill-based online learning portals like Lynda offer courses through a subscription model. You’re able to learn at your own pace, which can be especially useful to working professionals. Skill-based portals are typically skewed toward tech and business courses, making it difficult to find the right course if you want to sample a little of this and a little of that. They can also be expensive; you have to be sure what you’re learning is worth the monthly fee.

Learning marketplaces
Udemy was conceived from its launch to be an online marketplace where anyone, anywhere can take a course or teach a course. It offers the accessibility of other portals, but with more flexibility and greater course selection. Course quality varies by instructor, but an online marketplace may be the best option for those looking to set their own pace when preparing for a new job or opportunity and do so at the lowest cost.

The choice is yours
These aren’t the only routes to success outside traditional higher education.Harvard’s Innovation Launch Lab is launching the careers of plenty of alumni with new ideas for our modern economy. Students can also benefit from instructional and educational videos on YouTube — free knowledge for anyone with Internet access. Internships, although not always accessible to everyone, are another great way to learn new skills in a professional environment.

So, as you think about the skills and competencies you’ll need to land that dream job, be sure to avail yourself of the diverse learning options designed to meet the needs of diverse students.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.