Changing the Way We Create and Manage Courses

Over the past year, we’ve seen truly tremendous growth in our catalog of online courses & our community of expert instructors.

Over 4,500 courses have now been published on Udemy (up from 2,000 one year ago) by an amazing range of experts, in topics like: business, programming, entrepreneurship, photography, self-help, design, yoga, and more.

With so many new courses being published every month, we knew that we needed to invest even more energy in supporting our instructors and helping them create amazing, high-quality courses that deliver on their learning objectives.

A big part of democratizing education (our goal here at Udemy), means empowering our instructors to be successful and build the best courses they can.

Over the past several months, we’ve worked hard to do exactly that :-).

First, we wanted to create a new, intuitive tool to guide any expert, no matter their online teaching experience, through the process of online course design, development, and delivery. We also wanted to modify an instructor’s course dashboard to make it much easier to manage a course.

And now, we are proud to announce the release of our new course creation and management tool. It’s designed to help our instructors with six core items:

  • Steps for Focus, Organization, and Ownership
  • Guidance for How to Teach Online
  • Expansive yet Simplified Management Tools
  • Making Our Instructors Look Good (as They Should!)
  • Allowing for More Accessibility and Control
  • Making it Easier to Promote a Course

Let’s take a tour through some of the changes and give some reasoning behind our decisions.

Steps for Focus, Organization, and Ownership

Starting with our new course creation process, when you click “Create a Course,”  you are taken through 3 steps to get started. These steps not only highlight important parts of a Udemy course, but put instructors in the position of total ownership and direction of their teaching. We wanted to set forth from the beginning that each instructor has the power to focus and organize their expertise into an online course format and to choose how they want to share it with the world. From here, an instructor makes foundational decisions about a course’s topic, price and accessibility, and overall curriculum structure. 

In addition to the basic course elements like title and price (if you choose), we’ve also created an intuitive and quick way to enter your curriculum. Every good online course starts with a solid outline and structure on what you want to teach; the focus is on the content. From here, an instructor can build an outline that can then be populated with the actual course materials later.

Throughout the 3 steps and through our entire new course management tool, we have included helpful technical and instructional tips to guide an instructor along. If at any point an instructor has question, there should be an answer available in clicking distance!

Guidance on How to Teach Online

After these initial steps are complete, an instructor will be taken to our new course management page. This page is shown for all courses, including existing ones when you click “manage course.” For new courses, instructors automatically start under a new “Getting Started” section, where we provide step-by-step guidelines that are chock full of best practices to Plan, Create, Publish, and Promote an online course. Taking from popular instructional design models, we created this 4-stage guideline to map out online course design, development, and delivery, so any expert can come on to Udemy and create an instructionally-sound, high-quality online course. We really want every instructor to be successful, which is why we created the Getting Started section.

At Udemy, we want to make sure that instructional goals are what drive the design and technology of our online courses, so we encourage our instructors to “plan” out clear learning objectives using our Details and Curriculum tools, and to then “create” or use the most appropriate materials and media to reach those instructional goals. Each of the four stages of Plan, Create, Publish, and Promote work together to ensure an instructor builds a successful online learning experience so we hope that all instructors will check it out!

Expansive yet Simplified Management Tools

On the left edge of the page is navigation to all the tools necessary to manage a course. Again, there are a ton of helpful tips in each section that provide technical and instructional guidance for best online teaching and learning. Below is a snapshot of all the tools on our new course management page (we even have a “Danger Zone,” but we’re not supposed to talk about it.)

Probably the biggest innovation, at the top of the menu, is the new Curriculum tool. Not only did our incredible developers use the latest techniques for fluid functionality, but the design lets an instructor intuitively build an instructionally-sound course. This feature aims to help an instructor visually plan and organize a course, and provides an instructor with a myriad of media content types to support teaching and learning. We continue to make teaching online accessible to any expert by offering full video hosting capabilities, a “mashup” tool to help any instructor easily combine video and presentation slides, and a multimedia text editor. Everything is designed to make it simple for an instructor to use the media and materials s/he needs to support learning objectives.

Making Our Instructors Look Good (as They Should!)

One important element of a successful online course is to have students! Towards this goal, we included a few new ways for an instructor to attract students and to set the right expectations for learning. First, we have separate sections to add a nice course image and “Promo Video.” The promo video is displayed on a course’s landing page, and is the first video shown to potential students (if no promo video is included, the first lecture is used as the promo video automatically). We thought it was important to separate it from a course’s curriculum so it now has its own place.

Lastly, if at any time you want to see your course’s landing page, there is a “Preview” button in the upper right of the dashboard that will open a new tab to show how your course looks to potential students.

Allowing for More Accessibility Control

Not all instructors want to offer their courses to the world, so there are some new settings for course privacy. Whether it is a course for a particular university class or specific training group, an instructor can choose to make a course private or not discoverable on Udemy’s pages. “Invitation Only” courses require students to request access from a course’s landing page, and upon approval by the instructor, are sent an email with access instructions. Alternatively, “Password Protected” courses require students to enter a password directly on a course’s landing page to join the course.

Making it Easier to Promote a Course

We’ve made it much easier to create and manage Coupons. From one centralized location, an instructor can see all the coupons created for the course, and which ones are currently active or expired. We’ve also included tips and advice on promotion techniques under the Promote tab on Getting Started. Take a look!

So, we hope you like it! Please keep in mind that this is a big step in our ongoing process to improve your Udemy experience, but it is far from the last one. We will be releasing some minor updates in the near future, including the ability to add Zip files and other downloadable supplementary materials. We will continue to flesh out the 4 stages of Plan, Create, Publish, and Promote by providing tools to measure the effectiveness of instruction and learning through assessments, improving communication tools for social learning, and increasing options for our amazing instructors to reach more students. We will also expand our course submission process so we can provide instructors with better feedback as they publish their courses.

We have a ton of other exciting ideas and new features already in the works to improve teaching and learning on Udemy, so keep learning, keep teaching, & stay tuned!