If these last few months have showed us anything, it’s that we as humans want to know how to do things. The whole world had free time on our hands, so we dove into hobbies and crafts—making bread, painting rooms, learning piano. We always want to learn and grow.
But the problem is, where can you find a teacher for what you want to learn?
Yes, you could type what you want to learn into YouTube, and get a million different results. But are any of those any good? Are they actually teaching you correctly? Even the best tutorials on YouTube spend the first five minutes telling you about how great their channel is. What if, instead, there was a way to learn, step-by-step, building upon your knowledge, in an online format?
Fortunately, that’s what online course marketplaces like Udemy are for. In this age of online learning, these sites offer thousands of courses and classes to learn most anything, often at low prices. So, let’s dive into this online-course marketplace, and see if it’s right for you in this Udemy review.
What Is Udemy?
Udemy is an online-course marketplace, boasting over 150 thousand courses. It was launched in 2010, and seeks to “improve lives through learning.” This principle is very dear to the company’s heart, as the founder was himself a child in a Turkish village with little access to the outside world. However, when he gained access to the internet, he began to teach himself complicated math problems that he found online—becoming so successful that he was winning national competitions. He started the company wanting to give others access to the learning they wanted too, allowing them to reach their goals and pursue their dreams. With over 33 million minutes of videos in over 65 languages, Udemy is doing just that.
How Udemy Works
To use Udemy, you first need to create an account with your full name, email, and password. Once you create an account, the site asks you to pick 5 interests to get started.
Once your account is complete, you’re released into the library of over 3,000 topics to browse from. These topics are organized into categories, from business to lifestyle, and each category has a dozen sub-categories to browse as well.
As you scroll through courses, you can filter them by rating, length, price, and even level or language. The price of each course will be displayed, usually anywhere from $100-$200—but because of the almost continuous sales that Udemy runs, in reality they will usually be $10-$15. As your browse, you’ll be able to see the rating of the course, and the number of people who have taken it.
When you find a course that you’re interested in, simply click on it. This course page will lay out all the details you need to know on a course. Once in its page, you can watch a preview of the course, see what all it entails, any requirements, and read through the reviews of others who have taken it. Once you’ve made your decision, you can purchase the course using either your credit card or a service like PayPal.
Each course is divided into sections, which are then divided into smaller videos. These smaller 5-10-minute videos are helpful ways to digest the often 10-20+ hours of learning. As you watch videos, you can control the playback speed, skip forward or backwards, turn on closed captions or read the transcript. Beneath each video is also a question and answer section, where you can get feedback from both other students and the instructor. There are also quizzes and certificates with many courses, to check your knowledge; and you have lifetime access to each course, so you can take it at your own pace.
Is Udemy Reliable?
With Udemy, anyone can be an instructor. While this method is good for ensuring that there is lots of information on many topics, it doesn’t help with reliability. There’s no test, gatekeepers, nor checks on the information taught, so it could simply be outright wrong. There have been instances of marketing classes teaching unethical methods, or phishing or scamming methods taught to students of a class. Furthermore, with products that get updated, such as WordPress or Adobe, the course may be several updates behind, and not even applicable anymore.
The quality of the videos is often unreliable as well. There will be many scammy, poorly-made videos, that are nothing more than extended commercials for the instructor’s book or product. However, the reviews on courses are supposed to check both this issue and the one above, as bad courses should get bad reviews.
There are some things to be careful with even in the review system however. While the reviews on a course can be a helpful way to judge its quality, they don’t always accurate reflect the course. Udemy asks for a first review fairly early into the course, around 20 minutes, which is very early to know if the methods taught are actually reliable. While students are encouraged to fill out a full review after the course is completed, people are less likely to navigate back to the course page to write a long review than to answer the quick pop up they did before.
All these issues don’t keep the Udemy from being trusted by some larger companies though. Udemy proudly displays that both Pinterest and Adidas use their course to train their employees. Udemy has a A- rating on the Better Business Bureau, and has a decent customer service.
To offset the unreliability of their courses is the reliability of their money-back guarantee. They offer a 30-day return period for any reason on a course—so if you find that a course is not worth your time, you can simply get a refund. This isn’t a power you should abuse though; if you ask for a refund continually, you’ll likely get your account suspended. But it is a good backup plan to utilize if you ever find that a course doesn’t match your expectations.
Are Udemy Certificates Valid?
The largest question with online courses is if you will get any credit for the work that you put in. With Udemy, the answer is no.
Because anyone can teach on their site, there is no accreditation for the courses. While you can earn certificates for finishing courses, they aren’t recognized by most employers. You can’t earn any college credits of CEU’s from the classes. Udemy is still useful for learning skills—like how to use Excel or code—but you still have to prove your abilities either on the job or through a separate test.
Is Udemy Cheap?
Udemy can be cheap—as long as you shop carefully. Most courses list a full-price of around $200—but they are often on sale for 90% off. In reality, most of the courses will end up costing you $10-$15. While there are some sites that advertise Udemy coupons, the only legitimate ones are from Udemy or the instructors themselves. Udemy’s own coupons are site-wide—and correspond to those sales, which come regularly every ten days. Instructor coupons can be found either in their profiles, or occasionally by signing up for their email lists.
$10-$15 for a course is a good price, especially considering what that includes. When you purchase a course, you’ll have life-long access to it, so you can continually come back to it to learn at your own pace, or when you need a refresher. This also means you have access to any updates that are made to the course, so you can learn the new skills needed to keep current in that field. The 30-day money return guarantee helps offset the price as well—ensuring that your money isn’t wasted on useless courses.
How To Be Smart With Udemy
Udemy can be a helpful tool—but there are some ways you can use it more effectively. First, recognize that it’s not accredited—but it’s good for learning things for your own personal use, or hobbies. No, you won’t get certified for understanding the in’s and out’s of Excel; but all it takes is a quick demonstration to your boss to prove that you’re competent. And you don’t need a certification to help your garden grow better, or to get more flexible—so the courses Udemy offers are perfect for those needs.
Do your research when looking at courses on Udemy. Watch the preview video to get a feel of what is taught and the production quality. Read the reviews carefully—do they give specific information about how the course helped them, or just vague, generic praise? Dig into the instructor too. You can visit their profile and see how they’ve used their own methods, and what success it has brought them. After all, you don’t want to learn social media marketing methods from someone who only has 300 followers.
Udemy vs LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning has many learning courses as well—but rather than being a marketplace to purchase individual courses, it has a subscription service that gives users access to all its courses. Unlike Udemy, you can get some credit for courses completed with LinkedIn Learning—certificates of completion can be displayed on your LinkedIn Profile, which holds more weight for employers. There is a vetting system for instructors as well; not just anyone can teach.
However, Udemy offers more topics than LinkedIn Learning. While LinkedIn Learning focuses on business and tech-related topics, Udemy expands into any topics such as baking, painting, or chess. LinkedIn Learning may be more expensive as well—a subscription can cost $29.99 a month. If you simply want to learn a single topic, that will cost you much more than Udemy’s $10 for that one course. Because LinkedIn Learning is a subscription service, you will also lose access to your courses once you end your subscription; as compared to Udemy, where you have access for life.
Udemy vs Treehouse
Treehouse follows the subscription model as well—there’s costing $25 a month. They offer a free 7-day trial to access all their courses, and also have a forum below each video in a course that allows for questions and interaction with the instructor.
However, Treehouse doesn’t have any apps, so you can only access it on your computer. Furthermore, it only has tech-related courses, and so may not have the topic you are interested in learning. Its cost is still more than a single Udemy course, and there have been complaints about difficulties cancelling subscriptions.
Conclusions For Udemy
You can learn almost anything with Udemy—but you should take care of how you do. Because of the complication of many videos and the review system, you’re not guaranteed that the information being taught is up to industry standards. While Udemy likely can’t help you professionally or academically, it can be very useful to learn things for your own personal use. The low price and range of topics makes it a great tool for personal growth, and to learn simply how to do something fun that you didn’t know before.