Udemy Is Building An Open Marketplace For Education

Udemy Is Building An Open Marketplace For Education
Education startup Udemy upsets the traditional video-course-on-demand business model by allowing anyone to create and sell a video course.

Education on your terms. That’s the promise of Udemy, an online education platform that aims "to help anyone learn anything."

According to Udemy's Director of Customer Support, "Anybody can create or host a course, and sell the course through Udemy. So we're able to bring together those with the knowledge and expertise, and those that want to learn."

Udemy is one of a handful of businesses trying to upend traditional education methods with MOOCs. No, not these kind of mooks. (Video via Warner Bros. / "Mean Streets")

A MOOC, or massive open online course, aims to bring all the experience of a college class online to millions of people who can learn at their own speed.

The idea has caught on with lots of major universities, which are releasing courses online through programs like Coursera or edX.

But Udemy’s scope goes beyond the classroom: the site hosts video courses from college professors, but also professionals and industry experts as well.

It’s probably easiest to think of Udemy as an education marketplace; anyone with skills to teach can sell their expertise directly to students through Udemy.

Udemy CEO Dennis Yang says Udemy’s on-demand classes can supplement a traditional education program with the work and life skills.

Yang told Bloomberg"The actual skills, how we operate on a day-to-day basis in the job market is changing way too fast for the education system to keep up."

The site boasts over 100,000 hours of video from more than 16,000 instructors.

And Udemy’s syllabus is pretty broad.

Each topic has a library of video lectures organized into courses: browsing the Udemy site allows you to see a summary of each course, how long it will take you, who’s teaching it and what other students have to say about it. There’s even an option to take a five-minute preview of the course.

Signing up for a course is pretty painless: just register on the site and pay a one-time enrollment fee. Udemy allows each instructor to set their own price point: while some classes are free, others can cost anywhere from $30-$300.

Once you’ve enrolled, Udemy unlocks a series of video lectures broken up into chapters: you can watch them all in a row, or jump around from section to section. Some lectures come with additional downloadable material, and there’s a discussion sidebar on each video for you to chat about the material with your fellow students.

But Udemy isn’t just for students; if you’ve got something to teach people, Udemy can be a great platform to spread that knowledge.

Any Udemy user has access to the site’s tools for setting up a course; once you’ve compiled together a curriculum of video lectures, Udemy will review the course and decide whether it’s ready for publishing on their main site.

If you want more advice about publishing a class, there are a surprising amount of Udemy courses about setting up a Udemy course. Which is sort of uncomfortably meta.

One quick word of caution though; be sure you’re committed to completing a course before spending money on it. Some research suggests only 10 percent of people who enroll in an online class actually manage to complete it.

This video includes images from Getty Images.