#SummerSkillsContest: What did you learn this summer?

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Whether you’re perfecting your backstroke or learning a new barbecuing technique, summer is the perfect time to master a new skill. Share your summer skills success stories on Twitter with the hashtag #summerskillscontest for a chance to win $100 Udemy credit.

The contest will run from August 3, 2016, to August 10, 2016 (11:59pm PST). We will be picking two lucky winners August 11, 2016.

Read the full contest rules here.

Updating our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Instructor Terms

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Udemy has grown significantly over the last several years because of your commitment to learning and teaching through our global marketplace. To better serve our growing community, we’re updating our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Instructor Terms, making them clearer and easier to understand.

We encourage you to carefully review the new Terms. Some of the key updates we’ve made include:

  • Easier to understand: We’ve reorganized and rewritten most of our policies to make them clearer and easier to understand.
  • Clarity on dispute resolution: The updated dispute resolution section explains how to best handle disputes with Udemy.
  • A more comprehensive Privacy Policy: Our revamped Privacy Policy provides more detail on the information we collect and how we use it. As always, we do not (and will not) sell your data.
  • Updated Notification Period: We’re updating how we notify you about material changes to our Terms so we can better communicate with you.

The old and new versions of the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy can be found at Udemy.com/terms through August 19, 2016. We encourage you to review these terms on your own.

These Terms are effective immediately for first-time users on or after August 2, 2016. Existing users will be asked to agree to these updated Terms no later than August 19, 2016, at which time the Terms will become effective for them as well.

Adopting the new Udemy Terms will help us stay focused on building a great learning marketplace to help you achieve your learning and teaching goals. Thank you for being a member of our community! If you have any questions, please refer to our FAQs, where you can also contact a member of our support team.

July 29, 2016: Friday news roundup

Before getting into the news, I wanted to share a quote from Vice President Joe Biden’s DNC speech earlier this week. Speaking of increasing pay for teachers, he said, “Being a teacher isn’t what they do; it’s who they are.” That line jumped out because it perfectly captures the ethos of instructors on the Udemy platform too. It’s why we created a marketplace where everyday experts can share their knowledge—because there are a lot of people who may not work in schools, but they are teachers at heart.

When it comes to brain function, you “use it or lose it”
Responding to a question on Quora, a neuropsychologist explains that learning one thing doesn’t exhaust your capacity to learn something else. On the contrary, as we’ve said here before, getting into the learning mindset actually helps you open up to new ideas and skills. You’ve got to make learning a part of your routine just as much as regular exercise.

Making it: The hands-on movement that impacts our economy, education and culture
We know lots of Udemy students consider themselves creators and tinkerers, and we love that! Most of them say they started young too. Here, the founder of Maker Media describes how kids today are playing with technology to fuel their imaginations and have fun, but they’re also developing valuable skills around problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, and more.

The golden age of teaching yourself anything
This is a long but fascinating deep-dive into self-motivated learners and the emerging crop of technology-based tools available to help anyone become an autodidact. The article posits that it’s “neither intelligence nor technique that holds people back from being successful self-taught learners.” Rather, it’s insecurity—fear of not being smart enough. People with a true growth mindset, however, “don’t worry about how smart they are. What matters is their openness toward developing their skills and talents.”

The incalculable value of finding a job you love
Plenty of research has been conducted showing that money doesn’t bring happiness. On the other hand, doing work that’s personally satisfying and aligned with one’s values doesn’t always pay the rent. This columnist advises readers to become experts at something people value highly and that also fully absorbs their hearts and minds, which, he acknowledges, is easier said than done.

eHarmony has a younger, hotter business on the side: job placement
Does it ever feel like finding the perfect job fit is as elusive as finding the perfect mate? Online matchmaker eHarmony sees the similarity and a big business opportunity. They’re using the same software that pairs compatible couples to connect employers with suitable job seekers. Could it be a recipe for true love?

Be the first to master iOS 10

iphone in handIt’s a big day at Udemy for iPhone app developers, as we unveil new iOS 10 courses hot off the presses.

Apple released the most recent public beta of iOS 10 just last week, not long after the developer beta was unveiled at WWDC in June. As always, Udemy’s top instructors have been quick to respond so students don’t have to wait to continue learning about the freshest technology on the market. If you need proof that students accomplish amazing things with the skills they learn on Udemy, read the story of Nick Di Vona, who took Mark Price’s iOS 9 course and saw his very first app reach #2 internationally in the App Store.

Mark and fellow instructor Rob Percival, among others, are both offering brand-spankin’ new iOS 10 courses starting today, so go check ‘em out! 

Putting the science in Udemy’s learning platform

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Jess drops some science at Udemy LIVE

By Jessica Ashraf, Teaching and Learning Specialist, Udemy

People come to Udemy to learn something, and we want their time on our site to be worthwhile and rewarding. It takes a lot more to ensure a good learning experience than simply offering courses, however, and this is where learning science comes in. We’ll be spending some time on the Udemy blog exploring the field of learning science and the role it plays in our marketplace.

Introduction to learning science
Learning science, simply put, is the study of how people learn, and it informs how learning environments are designed. It draws upon research from fields like educational psychology, cognitive science, computer science, and anthropology. What distinguishes learning science from these related fields is its focus and approach.

Learning science seeks to bridge the gap between research and practical application. Learning scientists develop theories and frameworks about learning from which they can devise strategies and implement them in learning environments. Most of this research is conducted in real-life settings, unlike other disciplines where research happens in very controlled, unnatural settings. Not surprisingly, new technologies and online learning models are a major focus in the world of learning science these days.

Applying science to the student experience
Learning effectively on your own is actually quite hard. You have to make a lot of conscious and sometimes nonintuitive decisions before you even get started, and countless potential distractions and barriers can get in the way of your progress. For example, you may believe that rewatching a video is good for absorbing its content, but “recalling” is actually more effective, though it’s also more difficult.

First, you have to decide you want to learn something. Then you need to figure out which course to take and focus your attention there, somehow blocking out Facebook, YouTube, or whatever else you’ve got open in other browser tabs. You’ll also have to discipline yourself to complete exercises presented by the instructor and to stay engaged over the duration of the course.

Given the size of our marketplace (11 million students and counting), Udemy caters to a vast audience of learners, and we can’t control for all their distractions and personal environments. Many people taking courses on Udemy describe themselves as motivated, self-directed learners—the type who are naturally inclined to push through any interruptions in their quest for knowledge. Nonetheless, we have built Udemy to be a distraction-free, easy-to-use platform that’s engaging, rewarding, and conducive to learning for all sorts of students. We do our own user research and testing to determine the best online content, tools, and interfaces for learning.

Learning science @Udemy
Learning scientists are constantly developing new strategies for how people can learn best in our quickly evolving, technology-driven world, and we’re following the latest thinking to see how we can apply those concepts to Udemy. We tap into the science of learning for everything from product development and strategy planning to creating training resources and offering individual support to instructors. I may have “learning scientist” in my title, but everyone else here cares deeply about offering the best possible learning experience to Udemy students too. We all read up on best practices for online teaching and learning and gather cross-functional groups to share ideas.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably a little passionate about learning too! Stay tuned for future blog posts where we’ll dig deeper into learning science and discuss how insights from learning science research are put to use at Udemy.

July 22, 2016: Friday news roundup

Lots of news to cover so let’s dive right in!

Dice and Udemy partner to offer targeted online courses for tech job seekers
First up, some cool company news. Dice is a career site for technology and engineering professionals, and this week they launched a curated selection of Udemy courses within their skills center in order to provide personalized recommendations to job seekers. It’s pretty nifty: search for a job skill and get a list of relevant courses available on Udemy.

Why constant learners all embrace the 5-hour rule
This article’s title refers to Benjamin Franklin’s personal routine of devoting an hour every weekday to learning, and it goes on to cite a bunch of other super-successful people who also make learning part of their daily lives.

4 keys to becoming self-motivated
All of us want to increase our productivity, but many of us have trouble finding any extra time in our schedules. But have you noticed, if you’re motivated enough to do something, you always manage to find the time to do it? This author suggests cultivating a sense of purpose, fostering a growth mindset, maximizing your strengths, and identifying the people around you who get you fired up to take action.

How freelancers can keep their skills fresh
Freelance marketplace Upwork is a Udemy partner, and our VP of Content Grégory Boutté contributed this post to their blog. In it, he makes a strong case for why freelancers must keep learning and updating their skills in order to stay competitive and how online courses can fill that need. When you’re done reading Grégory’s post, check out more tips for how to become a successful freelancer from the Harvard Business Review.

This is what your future virtual-reality office will be like
We conclude this week’s roundup with a peek into the (not-too-distant?) future. In a few years, you might be interacting with coworkers while wearing VR goggles and having “hands-on” collaboration with distant colleagues on virtual whiteboards. Decide for yourself whether this sounds like a productivity boon or just a more sophisticated way of filling your calendar with more meetings.

July 15, 2016: Friday news roundup

Hope everyone had a productive week and learned something new! Here’s what people were talking about in the media.

6 ways to make the most of your internship
Yes, we’ve been thinking a lot about interns these days, probably because we’re right in the  middle of our own summer internship program. We really liked the tips offered by this author and feel they apply to anyone in the early stages of their career or even starting a new job. Things like being resourceful, taking on extra work, and having high standards for excellence apply to all of us.

How to revitalize schools with tech
Our own CEO Dennis Yang attended Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference this week and was part of a group of education and technology experts who dug into the opportunities for and challenges of improving schools and learning. This taskforce came up with four priorities for leveraging the power of technology for education, including ensuring high-speed internet access at all public schools and teaching computer science at every level, starting in kindergarten.

For effective brain fitness, do more than play simple games
We shared an article in a recent news roundup that questioned the validity of software that claims to exercise and strengthen its users’ brains. Here’s an article providing better alternatives and cites “novelty and complexity” as mandatory elements for achieving actual brain fitness. Examples include playing board games, learning a foreign language, or picking up a musical instrument.

Solving all the wrong problems
Lots of Udemy students aspire to careers as app developers, but the apps coming out of Silicon Valley have come under fire for being geared to a limited audience of privileged users or just being frivolous and far short of “world-changing.” This columnist calls for hackers, techies, and disruptors to put their considerable talent and intelligence toward solving bigger issues that really would change lives for the better.

A 10-year-old scored a PhD-level fellowship for the sweetest reason
A feel-good story out of France seems like the best way to conclude this week’s roundup. A young girl named Eva submitted her idea for using robots to make people in Paris happy to a  prestigious fellowship in the city. The program’s organizer was impressed with Eva’s passion and boldness and said, “Humility and the willingness to learn in order to go beyond our current limitations are at the heart and soul of innovation.”

21st-century employees need a 21st-century workplace

shutterstock_195619961Telecommuting aside, we all spend a lot of time in the office, so the design of this environment is a really big deal. Most companies have shifted away from the days when The Boss got the corner office and having a door you could shut was a sign of professional status. We have also moved on from the cubicle era, when “prairie dogging” was the easiest way to communicate with coworkers and people generally stayed hidden in their bland, beige cubes.

Today, it’s all about the open office plan. I sit in the middle of an open office myself. But when we define “open,” it’s more than just physical space. Defining “the ideal workplace” for the 21st century company is all about engaging employees, fostering transparency, and giving everyone a voice. The old-school model of executives being safely tucked away in closed offices no longer makes any sense. Younger workers, in particular, wouldn’t stand for the implied hierarchy and lack of transparency suggested by such a floor plan.

Since my company is driven by innovation, decisions often get pushed to newer employees, many of whom are millennials. My ideal workplace is one that meets the needs and preferences of this demographic while also promoting our values of transparency, innovation, and getting stuff done. While we’ve made a concerted effort to design a physical space people enjoy, the intangibles are much more important when it comes to maintaining an awesome work environment. It just so happens that the open office design supports our values by facilitating a certain kind of vibe around here. Here’s what I mean.

Empathize, learn, and open up
It’s hard as a leader to build empathy for your team if you’re hiding behind an office door. It’s also hard to learn from your super-smart colleagues if you’re walled off from each other. Despite the criticisms, open offices can’t be beat when it comes to serendipity, i.e., those times when you happen to overhear someone else’s conversation or catch a glimpse of someone’s laptop screen and realize you can contribute to their project, they can contribute to yours, and you’d all be better off pooling your efforts.

This reaches our customers too. When various departments co-mingle, they can share best practices more fluidly and deliver better experiences for the instructors and students in our online learning community. Spontaneous conversations can yield the most impactful product improvements, so it’s crucial to welcome ideas from anyone and everyone.

It’s also important that people feel safe talking about their failures so they (and everyone else) can learn from these experiences. For management, that means being genuinely approachable, open to receiving honest feedback, and supportive of their teams.

Take ownership and get stuff done
People feed off the feeling of accomplishment. Managers and leaders should recognize this applies at every level. In an open office, it’s just that much easier to share successes across the company, and we make sure people are given the chance to achieve and be recognized.

As a company composed predominantly of bright, motivated millennials, we’re constantly putting people in positions where they are empowered to take decisive action even though they may not have past experience to guide them. We want employees to reach beyond their comfort zones, but we make sure to support them and remove their worries about taking a major fall.

When people get that great feeling of taking responsibility for their work and results, they’ll naturally want to take ownership on future assignments. This value is on display all around our office, all the time, and it’s really empowering.

Innovate and show passion
Our success is built on a shared mission and solid teamwork. Anyone can have a rough day or face burnout, and it can be reinvigorating to surround yourself with passionate, imaginative people who remind you why you’re here. We embrace innovation in all its forms—from deploying technology in creative ways to devising a nontraditional employee review process that’s a conversation, not a judgment day.

I think innovation and passion are closely connected, which is why it’s so important during the hiring process that we identify people who are fiercely motivated and committed to our mission of helping people around the world build the lives they imagine for themselves. Passion alone won’t get us there, but when that energy is paired with curiosity, experimentation, perseverance, and fresh ideas, nothing can stop us. It’s the fuel that runs throughout our office.

The “ideal” workplace is whatever engages employees and promotes company values. For our company, that’s space where ideas can flow freely and everyone feels connected to others striving toward the same mission.

July Hidden Gems

Hidden GemsDQ and Caroline have come up with some real winners for this month’s batch of gems. We’ve got tips for caring for a new baby or for a furry friend, being a dynamic speaker or a well-behaved dinner guest, and more!

 

Money Origami Gifts Origami
What we liked: In his younger days, instructor Mari G was featured on Disney Channel Asia for his precocious talent and love of the traditional Japanese art of origami. Here, he offers step-by-step guides to using paper currency to create a variety of objects, from butterflies to guitars to dresses. Making an origami turtle has never been easier!

Cat Pumping and Making DIY Toyscat pumping
What we liked: We hadn’t heard of cat-pumping before, but we’re going to start practicing with our felines ASAP (whether they like it or not!). In this course, cat fancier Will Caraway shares tips and tricks for keeping your cat happy and entertained. Go on a journey to learn how to build your own cat toys and give your pet a purr-fect massage.

Public Speaking Done Differentspeaking
What we liked: Whatever you’re expecting from a course on public speaking, forget it. This is by far one of the most inventive courses we’ve seen on any topic. Instructor Nathan Robertson blends fun and role-playing with solid, practical advice to help students channel their own personality into becoming a better speaker. The section on finding your style is a must-watch.

Guide to Pregnancy and Healthy Babiesparenting
What we liked: Extremely high-quality video production and varied camera shots make this course extra-engaging. Kate Slagh is a board-certified physician’s assistant whose goal is to help new or expecting parents (or anyone helping care for a new bundle of joy) build confidence in their childcare skills.

Everyday Dining Etiquetteetiquette
What we liked: Going to a dinner party but not sure where to leave your napkin when you get up from the table or properly place your salad knife when you’re done using it? Well, the salad knife goes on the upper-right-hand corner of your plate, but you’ll have to take this course for the napkin answer and many more everyday dining etiquette tips. Image and etiquette expert Kimberly Law will help you make a good impression and display manners that are sure to get you invited back.

July 8, 2016: Friday News Roundup

We’ve just about reached the weekend, but first we’ll take a look at interesting things we read over the last few days.

The power of “why?” and “what if?”
This columnist, who’s written a book on questioning, thinks “there are real forces in business today that are causing people to value curiosity and inquiry more than in the past.” That manifests itself in asking the right questions in order to spark innovation and anticipate what’s next.

Here’s the career advice President Obama gives to his summer interns
You may have seen the blog post introducing Udemy’s new crop of summer interns. We like to think we give our interns a rewarding work experience that exposes them to real-world activities and situations they’ll encounter on the job. Still, they (and all the rest of us!) can benefit from these words White House luminaries, including Vice President Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama, shared with their interns.

MOOCs put a new spin on professional development
Our own VP of Content Grégory Boutté is quoted in this article explaining why learning options for working adults need to be flexible, up-to-date, and available on demand. With many legacy companies pivoting to maintain their success in the digital age, professional development is more critical than ever but the old ways of training employees won’t cut it.

6 ways to check that your skills are still competitive
If you’ve got a good job, you may think you’re doing well by hitting your performance metrics and checking off your to-do list. You’ll need to go further than that, however, to keep your career growing and prepare yourself for the unexpected. This article advises keeping your eyes and ears open to what’s happening around your company and in your industry and setting personal goals outside any formal review program.

The myth of the millennial entrepreneur
Today’s grads are carrying loads of student debt, which makes them risk-averse and more inclined to find a job with a steady paycheck. This article examines how it affects the overall economy when young people aren’t able to start new businesses, thereby consolidating power among a few dominant companies.