Tag Archives: udemy

Udemy Skills Index

Udemy Skills Index 2014 – A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Udemy released its first Skills Index, an analysis of trends in American skills development based on data from Udemy’s top 100 paid online courses. The result: tech related courses are hugely popular on the platform which frankly is not a big surprise or keen insight.

Besides gathering data on the courses, Udemy surveyed 7000 Udemy students about their motivation to take courses online.

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EDUKWEST Monday Ristretto

Monday Ristretto: Lesson Plans, Career Plans, Expansion Plans

To get you up to speed for the week ahead, we serve you a Monday Ristretto here on EDUKWEST by picking the most important reads from the past week, putting them in a grinder and extracting the essential information for a short and punchy brew.

As every week, we’ve got three shots for you. Lesson plan marketplace Teachers pay Teachers raised venture funding. Chegg announces expansion into internships and career planning and Apollo Education enters Africa.

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EDUKWEST Monday Ristretto

Monday Ristretto: Growth, Innovation and Digital

To get you up to speed for the week ahead, we serve you a Monday Ristretto here on EDUKWEST by picking the most important reads from the past week, putting them in a grinder and extracting the essential information for a short and punchy brew.

As every week, we’ve got three shots for you. Udemy raised a $32 million Series C to grow broad, deep and abroad. Cengage Learning opened an Innovation Hub in San Francisco. Chegg’s digital revenue keeps on growing.

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Udemy

HEDLINE: Udemy raises $32 million Series C to Expand Internationally

Online course marketplace Udemy raised a $32 million Series C led by Norwest Venture Partners with participation of existing investors Insight Venture Partners and MHS Capital.

Udemy plans to use the funding to broaden and deepen its content library, expand its international presence and enhance product offerings.

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EDUKWEST Monday Ristretto

Monday Ristretto: Autism, Appointment and Opportunity

To get you up to speed for the week ahead, we serve you a Monday Ristretto here on EDUKWEST by picking the most important reads from the past week, putting them in a grinder and extracting the essential information for a short and punchy brew.

As every week, we’ve got three shots for you. Autism and tech made the headlines last week with Invention Labs raising $550k for its communication app Avaz and Cognoa launching an iPhone app to detect autism early on. Online course platform Udemy appointed its COO Dennis Yang as the company’s new CEO with Eren Bali taking the job as product lead and chairman. And last but not least, General Assembly launched the Opportunity Fund to bring minorities into tech.

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edtech news pinata

EdTech News Piñata – ENT #23 04-25-2014

This week on ENT we have EdTech news piñata with quite a few interesting stories for you that illustrate how fast edtech is developing in almost all parts of the world.

India makes the news with funding for a higher science social network and an autism app, and of course TutorVista founder Ganesh acquiring an online school for working professionals.

Adaptive learning platforms and services in the US and China accelerate through new fresh funding and the launch of new tools and services for a more personalized college admissions process.

Yik Yak leaves the cyberbullying scandal behind and gets more money.Curation startup Zoobean also secures funding.

The MOOC / LMS space continues to spark interest in Finland and the US with Guides.co certainly attracting a broader, more business-oriented audience.

Talking about growing a business, Udemy saw an important change of management this week with Dennis Yang becoming the company’s new CEO.

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Sympoz Craftsy

With $35 million in fresh funding Sympoz is powering the Gig Economy

Sympoz, the startup behind craft centered how to course site Craftsy, is quite a fascinating player in the edtech space. Though it has raised $56 million in total funding, with the latest round of $35 million in December, it has not received that much coverage.

Probably because the craft space does not seem to be that relevant in the overall picture of revolutionizing education and preparing people for a new world in which everyone needs to know how to code. Well, as you might guess already, I beg to differ.

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Udemy

Udemy’s new Commission Structure: 50% or Nothing

Udemy

Yesterday Udemy’s founder and CEO Eren Bali sent out an email to the instructors using the course marketplace to inform them about upcoming changes in the revenue share structure. From November 1st on the revenue share is going to be based on the source the student comes from. If Udemy brings a student to a course, the revenue share for instructors drops from currently 70% to 50%. If the student comes through the instructor, the revenue share increases from currently 85% to 100% for the instructor.

The reasoning behind these changes are growth. Bali and the team at Udemy believe that through the new structure they are going to be able to invest more resources into marketing, the platform and an affiliate network.

Is 50% commission fair to instructors?

Coming from the instructor’s side of the table I had my fair share of ranting about high commissions on platforms in the past. On the other hand, I totally understand that a platform like Udemy needs to make enough revenue to not only cover cost but to grow, especially when it raised significant venture funding.

And Udemy did something really clever here. I think, it was in the first interview I ever did for EDUKWEST in which Jon Bischke, back then founder & CEO of eduFire, said that marketplaces are a shared effort. The marketplace and its sellers need to work together in order to get customers. And that’s OK as long as the marketplace is actually delivering its promise of promoting the courses / lessons of its instructors in the first place and not relying on their instructors to do all the work themselves.

Attracting top instructors

This led to a killer argument: if you are doing all the work anyway, you can also host and sell your courses on your own. And that’s what top instructors usually did – or they sold their courses to platforms like Lynda.com that offered cash in advance. Udemy’s new revenue structure leaves top instructors who do their own marketing with no good reason not to use Udemy, to the contrary.

Besides getting 100% of the revenue for every student they point to their own courses there is a good chance of winning new customers through the platform and still earning 50%. Instructors also don’t need to care about setting up and maintaining a LMS on their own, don’t need to worry about the payment methods and they get a customer care team for free, as well. Sounds like a pretty compelling offer to me.

The new revenue share also leaves additional percentage points that Udemy can use to attract more affiliates who are generally used to commission between 50% to 75%. But the problem is that at the moment the really interesting courses don’t seem to be on the affiliate list. I dug into the vast back catalog, which is a daunting task in itself due to the huge amount of courses offered on Udemy, yet wasn’t able to find the courses I would be interested to promote.

Issues to solve

Maybe more quality courses will show up in the affiliate section when the new revenue share kicks in but this brings us to the biggest problem Udemy is facing to my mind: quality control. There is a certain waypoint in a marketplace when crappy content outnumbers the good or great one. I feel Udemy is past that point and it gets harder and harder to find good courses via the platform itself. Sure, if the entry point is the website or social profile of an instructor, the way to purchase is pretty straight forward. But if they land on Udemy and have to skim through tons of courses on the same topic, read the ratings and compare the prices it’s a different situation.

But that’s what Udemy needs to achieve, especially under the new revenue share model. Students who buy one course through a lead coming from an instructor need to buy at least one more course from another instructor on the marketplace for Udemy to generate revenue. That’s the advantage of controlled platforms like Lynda.com. They have control over the inventory, all courses have a certain standard of quality and there are not dozens of courses about the same topic.

Other marketplaces like eBay had to deal with this problem and came up with intelligent filters that learn about your preferences and only show you relevant content at a glance from which you can dig deeper if you like. I feel Udemy either needs to implement quality guidelines and curation before courses go live or work on filters that trim down the noise and come up with the courses that are most relevant to a student or affiliate.

And then there is still the question whether Udemy will be able to break out of its core market and enter new verticals, another essential step in order to reach their goal of teaching 10 million students, let alone 100 million. I feel, the team needs to go back in the trenches and seed new verticals like they did in the early days of their marketplace, getting in touch with instructors outside of the tech / startup ecosystem.