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.”

How A Group Mission Pushes Individuals To Raise Their Game

olympic postI’m a big tennis fan, so I was especially interested to follow what happened on the Olympic courts. Tennis is different from other Olympic events, being an individual sport that’s popular around the world at the professional level too; these aren’t athletes who have to wait four years for a brief moment in the sun.

This got me thinking—what motivates a rich and famous superstar like Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal to participate in an event that takes them away from the professional tour, doesn’t help their rankings, and doesn’t give out prize money? In both cases, these individual performers embraced the opportunity to compete for something bigger than themselves: the chance to represent their country and belong to a national team.

Nadal is still recovering from wrist surgery, and he’s gone on record saying he wouldn’t have even played if this weren’t the Olympic Games. Serena has also talked about why the Olympics have special meaning for her, despite all of her Grand Slam championships. “When I held my first gold medal, it was a feeling I never expected. I had a chance to enjoy my gold medal trophy more than my other trophies,” she told the media.

This seems to align perfectly with studies showing today’s employees, especially millennials, want to work for mission-driven companies where they’re contributing toward a greater good. Employers are also realizing the motivating power of business goals that transcend revenue alone. I talk to all of our new hires—bright, talented people who could probably get interviews at lots of other hot companies in Silicon Valley besides us. One of the primary reasons they choose to work at Udemy is because of our mission to help people around the world build the lives they imagine through access to online learning. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear from instructors and students who are expanding their knowledge and finding personal enrichment as part of the Udemy community.

When you’re in the online learning space, it’s not a stretch to have an inspiring company mission. But companies in less obvious industries can connect themselves to worthy missions and give employee contributions a higher meaning too.

I was bowled over by this campaign by 3M for Post-it notes, which positions the ubiquitous stickies as a tool for helping young people fulfill their goals. Backed by research, the campaign associates Post-its with academic success and transforms them from office supplies to empowerment tools. Which characterization do you think is more inspiring to 3M’s employees?

Having an inspiring mission isn’t just a gimmick to make employees feel good; it’s actually a key factor in retaining them and driving overall business performance.

I think it’s terrific that millennials are prompting companies to reexamine what they stand for and how they benefit society, not just investors. The Olympics reminds us every four years that it’s possible to be fiercely competitive as an individual and also fight for an outcome that’s larger than any one contributor.

After her disappointing third-round loss, Serena said playing in the Olympics, “…was a great opportunity. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. But at least I was able to make it to Rio. That was one of my goals.” And she’s already itching for another shot at the opponent who defeated her. Rafa came away empty-handed too, but he shares Serena’s attitude, regardless of his results. They’re fired up and hungry to win again.

Companies would love for their employees to be just as intent on achieving success, but they have to give them a reason to keep at it. Compensation and benefits may bring new talent in the door, but looking at a pay statement isn’t going to motivate someone on an emotional level every single day. Having a powerful mission actually can have that effect.

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.

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.

White Glove HR: Adding Value by Learning and Understanding People

whiteglove HR

Our job at Udemy for Business is to always stay ahead of the market and help our customers be at the forefront of workplace learning and employee development. Last Thursday, August 11, we hosted a People Innovators event that brought together an all-star panel of People Leaders that included: Annette Reavis, HR Director at Facebook, Doniel Sutton, VP of People at PayPal, Flora Fiorillo Head of People Operations at Beepi, and Matt Frost, People Growth Partner at Medallia.

The discussion was eye-opening, with fresh people management and HR perspective from the panelists. An interesting topic that came up, that we haven’t come across before, is the idea of a “white glove service” for HR.

White Glove HR

When you hear “white glove” typically, you may think of high-end furniture delivery. But, that’s not what we’re referring to. White glove HR service is really about three key things. First, it’s about developing a hands-on relationship with key business leaders to better understand not only their business challenges, but also their personal challenges. Second, we must become familiar with our own products and services in order to help our businesses grow. And lastly, we cannot be afraid to take the necessary steps, however uncomfortable they may be, to fix what’s not working.

Learn and understand the person

HR is often working in a separate part of the office, meeting with other HR folks, conducting exit interviews, dealing with payroll issues, or developing new training curriculum. What’s wrong with this traditional model is that it’s not personal. Doniel Sutton of PayPal states, “At PayPal, the People team is focused on understanding our employees on a much deeper level through analytic segmentation. In the same way we seek to understand our various customer segments, we endeavor to do the same with our employees. Understanding what they value, what motivates them, what influences how they work, enables us to respond to their needs in a more direct way.”

Doniel and other people leaders realize that people are the solution to real business problems. Today’s HR teams must not be afraid to get closer to the business, which means getting closer to its teams and its leaders. Who are the leaders you need to be talking to on a regular basis? Make your conversations with them hands-on, meaningful and helpful.

Get to know your products and services

Understanding the business requires a curiosity to know your own product and service. What is on the upcoming roadmap? Do you know how to use the product? What makes your product or service similar to, or different from the competition?

While it is usually the customer service or product department that knows how your products and services operate, in today’s workplace, you can add much more value to the business by being an HR leader who cares about the actual products and services that are being sold. Flora Fiorillo of Beepi says, “I am focused on making sure that people feel the mission of Beepi across all regions so that there is no development gap. One of the things I’m working on is getting people into the HR role who get the business, want to be part of the business, and are ready to partner with people.

Don’t be afraid to fix what’s not working

There’s no need to wait until something is broken. If something isn’t working as effectively as it could, fix it. For example, if you’re having trouble building a strong relationship to partner with a key business leader, have a candid conversation about why. Not being proactive will damage your effectiveness at the company. If you’re finding that the business is measuring things the wrong way, speak up. Matt Frost of Medallia states, “HR needs to realize that true learning happens on the job. It’s a very easy metric to put people in a room and say that training happened, but that’s not necessarily the right metric.

When it’s all said and done, HR is all about people. We recently rebranded our long-standing HR Innovators Events series to People Innovators, in an effort to more broadly encompass a larger trend we see in the space – that it’s all about people. Our rebrand to People Innovators is not only an evolution of our business, but it’s also an evolution of the HR space.

At Udemy for Business we know that when done right, learning is the key component that will drive people to get better, in turn making business progress in the short and long-term. Acting as a hands-on, white glove service to business leaders is a real path towards HR creating business impact.

So ask yourself, what color are your gloves?

Packed house at People Innovators!

Packed house at People Innovators!

Why Finding Your Best Mentor Has Nothing to Do With the C-Suite

Photograph by Mark Airs via Getty Images

Photograph by Mark Airs via Getty Images

I was lucky with my first mentor. He was my manager at my second job out of college. He took a special interest in my career goals, the things I liked to do outside of work, and how he might be able to help me develop into the professional I wanted to be. He didn’t limit his attentions to my job performance in that specific role or where I might go within the company. Indeed, when I realized I didn’t even want to stay in that field, he supported me and guided my decision to go back to grad school. As a manager, he could’ve tried to keep me in that job, but as my mentor, he was more concerned with my long-term success and personal development.

Clicking with a mentor is a little like cultivating a new friendship; it’s most likely to gel if you’re not consciously working at it. The best mentoring relationships develop organically, not by force of will. While most people hope to have an invested mentor in their lives, it’s not the kind of thing you can put on your to-do list and set a deadline for.

But when a strong mentor candidate materializes, you have to be prepared to listen and take it seriously when he or she sizes you up and weighs in on where you need to improve. You have to be ready to speak openly and honestly about your dreams, fears, and limitations, and you have to be willing to try new things, learn, and grow.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about finding a mentor and building a relationship that’s rewarding to you both:

Don’t label it

At the time, I didn’t see my second manager as my mentor. I knew he was a caring person who always had worthwhile advice and that I could speak my mind to him in a way I couldn’t with other senior execs. Later, after I moved out of town, started grad school, and transitioned to a different industry, I realized calling him “my former manager” didn’t do him justice. Your perfect mentor might be right under your nose, and you haven’t even realized it yet.

Don’t limit it

Your mentor doesn’t have to be a CEO or big shot. Your mentor doesn’t need to work in your industry or even be well-connected within it, though that could certainly be helpful. Having a mentor is about so much more than career advancement. A great mentor will also help you develop into a better thinker, problem-solver, and teammate. Mentorships are unmatched for helping you develop soft skills that will serve you well throughout your life in all of your relationships. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, and yours could come from anywhere — a teacher, a coach, a retiree, a parent — the list goes on.

Don’t force it

People can sense when you’re trying too hard to woo a potential mentor. You’re better off going about your regular business and letting connections develop without pressure. But you do have to put yourself out there. While networking events are good for connecting with new peers, they don’t necessarily lend themselves to regular, ongoing contact with someone inspiring. Find a balance so you get what you need from your mentor without demanding unreasonable time and attention.

Don’t neglect it

Relationships take work, and mentorships are no different. Your mentor may not be your manager, but he isn’t your buddy either. Don’t blow off lunch dates or fail to follow through on things you say you’ll do. Show gratitude and respect for your mentor’s experience, wisdom, and support. It might feel like you’re doing more taking than giving in the relationship, but the best mentors realize they can learn from the experience, too, so be an active participant — not just an empty vessel waiting to get filled with knowledge.

A great mentor isn’t going to be your unconditional defender or career savior. A great mentor will push you, guide you, and support you in reaching your fullest potential, but he can’t do the work for you. He may, however, be cheering the loudest when you achieve.

This article originally appeared in Fortune Insiders.The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership.

Evolving Our Marketplace Pricing

View this message in: EspañolDeutschFrançais日本語, or Português.

As Udemy continues to grow, it’s important that we evolve our marketplace to foster the best possible place for students and instructors to achieve their learning and teaching goals. In April, we modified our course prices and promotions. Since making that change four months ago, we’ve learned that students and instructors value more flexible pricing and course promotions.

Starting August 22, we’re expanding the range of list prices and bringing back our popular fixed price, site-wide deals. This expanded price range of $20 – $200 allows us to continue to build a more diverse, dynamic marketplace for students and instructors.

Udemy is one of the largest global marketplaces for learning and teaching online, with over 40,000 courses taught by more than 20,000 instructors. This flexible pricing reinforces our commitment to making learning accessible to the greatest number of students and rewards instructors who share their expertise with the world.

As always, once you have purchased a course, and keep your account in good standing, you are able to learn at your own pace, and have lifetime access to the course material.

For any questions or to contact our Support team, please consult our FAQs. We’re excited to continue to evolve as the best possible place for anyone in the world to learn, achieve, and succeed.

Gregory Boutte
VP of Content

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.