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Hacking Education with Udemy

I few times a year, I offer to write an honest review about a relevant product if the company is willing to donate to a charity of my choice. Udemy, a web site that makes it easy to take and design courses online, recently took me up on my offer, donating money to Urban Teaching Center, a D.C.-area non-profit that sends highly-qualified teachers to the schools that need them most.


Hacking Education

Education is being disrupted. There’s near universal agreement on this point.

Experts can now reach students directly online. These students, in turn, can now hack their education experience — building valuable expertise in exactly the areas they need, all for a fraction of the cost of traditional schooling. (If you doubt the power of this disruption, check out Scott Young’s MIT Challenge.)

The question now is what will this new world look like?

Udemy, an online education platform, offers a glimpse of this future. I recently spent an entertaining morning exploring this site, and was impressed by the scope of their offerings: over 1000 courses in topics that range from geeky (I was drawn to Zed Shaw’s Learn Python the Hard Way) to artistic (Carol Robinson’s free Music Theory course has over 2700 students).

Turning toward the details, the underlying idea driving Udemy is simple: the site makes it easy to both take and offer courses (free and paid).

The most basic courses consist only of video lectures. The more advanced courses mix video lectures with workbooks, samples, and sometimes audio that can be downloaded to your iPod.

All the courses I sampled provide lifetime access (once you buy the course, the material is yours forever) and a 30-day guarantee (a sign of confidence given that 30 days is enough to watch all the material for most courses).

The platform is cleverly setup so that you can access your courses from any Internet-connected device, and the user interface is crisp and intuitive.

Summary: As the education model continues to be disrupted, there will be lots of sites trying to match students with teachers. Udemy’s advantage is that they’re taking the time to get the details right.

10 thoughts on “Hacking Education with Udemy”

  1. Thanks for the information. I just took a free online course offered by Stanford university. It is an interesting experience to become student again. I will definitely explore Udemy.

  2. I’m just getting interested in online courses, so this was a great heads-up. I signed up to take a quick look right now, and I was completely blown away by how polished the first steps of the process were: I clicked a few interest group, entered a couple specific interests, and immediately was shown a cleanly laid out grid of free and paid courses…that actually looked interesting. This sounds like ad copy, I know, but it really was impressive. Looking forward to checking out the course content.

  3. I LOVE because there is NO TIME LIMIT for the course you bought. Unlike other sites like, etc. I can buy the course and learn at my own pace and not get worried getting charged monthly. I usually purchase courses that are in the $15-$30 range.

    My ONLY complaint about Udemy is that one of the courses I bought was bogus. The “trainer” uploaded FREE youtube videos on Udemy and charged people for it. I already contacted Udemy for a refund and to ban the guy but have yet to receive any reply. My advice before buying is to view the free previews first and look at the ratings.

    Other than that, Udemy is my fav website now when it comes to online learning! 😀


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