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Udemy Review: Increase Your Skillset For Free or Cheap

Udemy Review: Increase Your Skillset For Free or Cheap
Candice Elliott Jul 9, 2018
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

College is expensive, but learning doesn’t have to be. If you want to learn a new skill without breaking the bank, check out our Udemy review.

More Skills, More Money

If you want to increase your income, one of the best ways to do it is to learn a new skill or improve an existing one. Learning and developing skills can mean a promotion, a raise, or even a change to an entirely new, higher paying career than the one you currently have.

One path to new and better skills is a college education or an advanced degree, but college tuition is insanely expensive. The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 year is $34,740 at a private college, $9,970 for a state resident at a public college, and $25,620 for out of state students at a public college.

But there are so many ways to increase and improve your skills without spending tens of thousands of dollars. One of the best ways to do that is with Udemy.

What is Udemy?

Udemy is a marketplace where instructors can post their courses. The courses available on Udemy are not created by Udemy, merely hosted there. Each course is designed and managed by the instructor.

When many people think of Udemy, they think of it as a place to learn to code, but Udemy covers a lot more than that.

There are more than 80,000 courses available on dozens of subjects and in dozens of languages. Topics include coding, language, music, technology, health and fitness, cooking, and entrepreneurship.

It’s easy to search for courses on Udemy. There is a full listing of the subjects offered on the home page, or you can use the search bar to find a course on the subject you want to study.

You can also search by skill level from beginner to intermediate, to advanced, by price, by language, and by course features.

You can see the cost of the course, a brief overview, and how many stars other users have rated it, one through five. The top seller in each category will be the first one you see.

If you don’t see the course you want to take, check back, new courses are constantly being added.

How are Courses Taught?

Courses are generally lecture format. If you were the kid who fell asleep in the back of the lecture hall, you might not love this method of learning, but most instructors use things like videos and slides too, so you’re not always just watching an instructor standing in one place and talking to you. Most courses also include things like quizzes, practice tests, assignments

Taking a Course

You can watch any Udemy course from a desktop or laptop Android and iOS app, and the Apple TV app.

There are no prerequisites to take a class. You can take any course you’re interested in. If you’re unsure if a course is right for you or if you would enjoy it, you can take a free preview of any class.

Instructors have selected a few of the lectures from their class that are available for preview. There are also reviews on each course from past students too.

All courses on Udemy are on-demand. You can start the course anytime, and there is no deadline to finish. This system allows students to learn at their own pace.

Feel like you didn’t quite grasp something discussed in a lecture? You don’t have to dig through your own notes or borrow someone else’s and hope you can catch up like you might have done in college.

You can just watch the lecture again as many times as it takes until you have a complete understanding of the subject.

If you have questions about the course or some aspect of the coursework, you can directly message the instructor asking for help. Some get back to you quickly, and some take longer, but because students can review the course and the instructor, it’s in the interest of the instructor to help students who ask for it.

Some instructors even have “office hours” where students can chat with them live via email or Google hangouts. You can chat with other students taking the same course too which might be a faster way to get a question answered.

After completing a course, you can still access it anytime at no further cost. If an instructor updates his or her course, you’ll have free acess to those updates too.

Who are the Instructors?

Instructors are not necessarily from the academic world. Rather they are people who have real-world experience in the subject they have designed a course in. Udemy doesn’t require that instructors have any special expertise or credentials.

Udemy does have certain standards that courses must meet in order to be sold on the site. A course quality assurance team makes sure that each course is up to Udemy’s standards.

The best way to determine if a course is worthwhile is to read the reviews left by other students. Another idea is to search for the instructor on Linkedin and see what their qualifications are.

Do they work with a company well known in a particular industry? How long have they been with that company and how long have they been in the industry? Have they consistently been promoted? You can learn a lot creeping around on someone’s profile!

How Much Do Courses Cost?

There are a lot of free courses available on Udemy, but most are priced under $200 although they can go as high as nearly $1,000. Courses often go on sale too. When I was writing this review, the site was offering a Fourth of July sale with lots of courses reduced to $9.99.

You can also find coupon codes available so before you pay full price, see if you can find a current discount code.

If you purchased a course you’re unhappy with; you can get a full refund within 30 days. For whatever reason, purchases made via the iOS mobile app are not eligible for refunds so keep that in mind. If all of the course content has been downloaded before you request the refund, Udemy may reject the request.

Is Udemy an Accredited Learning Institution?

Udemy is not an accredited institution. After completion of most courses, students will receive a certificate of completion, and a very small number do count towards continuing education credits.

Having completed a Udemy course is not something to include on your resume but what you learned can be included under the “Skills” section of a resume.

My Experience

Creating an account with Udemy is easy, you just need to enter your email and choose a password. You can then browse the courses. I selected Managing Your Personal Finances.

Of course, I don’t need a beginner level course on personal finance given that I write about the subject for a living but the course was free, and I wanted to take a course in a subject I already knew a lot about so I could better judge it’s quality.

I don’t know anything about car repair for example, so if I were to take a course on that, I wouldn’t know if the advice was good or bad. So I stuck to what I know for this review.

You’ll be asked four questions designed to help improve course recommendations for future students. The questions are multiple choice and cover how familiar you are with the subject, whether you’re taking the course for personal or professional reasons, why you’re taking the course, and how you plan to use what you’ve learned.

My course came with a 19 page PDF book.  The book is cute, filled with well-designed infographics.

There are nine videos in the course, and they all consist of the lecturer, who is never seen on camera going through the PDF book on his computer screen.

The first video in the course is a short introduction, about 40 seconds in length. The second was about the same length and explained the outline of the course.

The first lesson video was eight minutes long and covered budgeting and saving. There is a good, easy to understand explanation of inflation and how it affects the value of your money.

There are nine videos in all, totaling about 40 minutes. Each one is simply the lecturer reading through the PDF book without expanding on the information beyond that.

The personal finance subjects covered include saving and budgeting, managing debt, being prepared for “what ifs,” investing, and retirement planning. There are three supplement guides included with the course on budgeting, loans, and insurance.

At the end of the course, you are invited to rate it. I was happy with this course. For the person who has no idea about any aspect of personal finance, the course is a good place to start. The concepts are clearly explained using examples a beginner can understand and provides good tips for those who want to take control of their money.

Would I have been happy to pay for it if it weren’t free? No probably not. Not because the information wasn’t good, but the lecturer didn’t do much more than read what was written in the PDF book and the course wasn’t very in depth, being only 40 minutes long. If I’m paying for a course on personal finance, I would expect each topic to be covered in more depth.

For a complete novice, each of the subjects covered could fill up way more than 40 minutes rather than the seven or eight each was given.

Because my course was only 40 minutes long, I was able to complete it in one sitting. For longer courses, you can “Bookmark” your place in a lecture that you can’t finish all at once. When you’re ready to resume, you can go to the Dashboard” and pick up where you left off.

Pros of Udemy

Udemy really has a lot to recommend it. It’s convenient. You can learn on your own schedule, at your own pace, and anywhere you have an internet connection. Udemy is relatively affordable especially if you catch them when there’s a sale, or you can find a good discount code.

Udemy is risk-free. If you are seriously considering a career change that requires you to go back to school, Udemy is a great way to try a new subject matter on for size before making the big time and money commitment required to go back to college.

If you’re an accountant who wants to learn to code, you can take a course (or two, or three) on Udemy to see if you like coding or have an aptitude for it. Starting college and then finding out you don’t like something or aren’t good at it is a pretty expensive lesson.

Its also risk free in that if you don’t like a course you’ve started, you can get a refund.

Udemy offers such a wide range of subjects and not all of them are designed to boost your career or earning power. Learning new skills should be about more than those things. You can take a course on nutrition, on yoga, or on drawing for example.

You could also take a course or a few courses that could help you start a side hustle. There are courses on Ecommerce which can help you learn how to sell things online. There are classes on traditional and digital marketing which can teach you how to promote your online store.

There are photography courses to teach you how to take better, more appealing photos of the things you sell in your store. You see where this is going. You could use Udemy to teach you how to start a side hustle and then how to make it lucrative enough that you can quit your 9-5 and do it full time.

Cons of Udemy

As much as we love Udemy, nothing is all good so there are a few cons too. Because instructors are not vetted by Udemy, you don’t know if they are knowledeble enoough in their subject that they can teach it to other people.

If you don’t know anything about the subject you’ve chosen to learn, you’re going to have a hard time even knowing if an instructor knows their stuff or not. You can read the reviews from past students but at best, that is going to allow you to make nothing more than an informed decision.

Even those reviews may be suspect. There seems to be a pretty wide consensus that many of the reviews are fake, that is they’ve been written by people with a vested interest in selling the course they’re reviewing.

This may or may not be a big deal to you. People same the same thing about reviews on sites like Amazon, Trip Advisor and Yelp too. If you think the reviews are a little too effusive to be genuine, toss out the best and the worst and pay attention to the ones in the middle.

I think the pricing may on Udemy is a bit disengunous. It seems to be on the same model as The Great Courses. I love the Great Courses and have several (never to learn a skill, just to learn about subjects I was interested in like The Romantic Poets and A History of the Middle Ages). Their courses are pretty pricey but they were always on sale.

Udemy courses seem to always be on sale too and for pretty steep discounts, like marked down from $195 to $19.99. So if you want to take a course, wait for a sale. You won’t have to wait long.

Udemy isn’t going to make you an expert in a subject you know nothing about. Most of the courses are not designed for that.

If that’s what you’re looking for, you might want to get a foundation with some Udemy courses and then check out Coursera which works with universities to design their courses, some of which even have degree accreditations.

Do We Recommend Udemy?

We highly recommend Udemy. It’s a great, free or relatively low cost way to gain or improve skills that can help improve your career, your finances, and your life.

While you wont come out an expert on any subject by taking courses with Udemy, you can get a solid base of knowledge and take it further if you wish or think it would be beneficial to you on a different platform or even in a real world class room setting.

Udemy is also a great way to use free time to do something more fun and productive than watching television. Why not learn how declutter your home or bake sour dough bread in your spare time? Two courses that Udemy really does offer! See? Something for everyone. Happy learning!

Candice Elliott

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