Udemy redesigns to improve student experience, content discovery

On the heels of significant growth, Udemy, an online video course startup, today rolled out an overhauled website designed to improve content discovery and student interactivity.
In the past year, the San Francisco-based company said it’s seen 690 percent user growth, as instructors add 90 new courses (or 1000 hours of content) every month.
“When we first started… we built a product that delivers content but we didn’t know how people would be teaching and how students would be learning,” said CEO Eren Bali. The new site, he continued, will make it easier for students to interact with each other and their instructors as well as find the courses most interesting and relevant to them.
In addition to a new look and feel, the site added some new key features, including:

  • Personalized course discovery – a Netflix-like feature that considers interests, activity on Udemy and social data to recommend courses
  • A Quora-style Q&A feature to help students and teachers communicate
  • Time-stamped notes that help students match their notes with specific moments in a course
  • Student engagement enhancements, such as a full-screen interface and progress meter that shows how much of a course a student has completed

Unlike other education startups offering online courses, such as Coursera and Udacity, Udemy lets anyone create and offer a course.  Instructors can offer their video courses for free or charge between $20 and $250 (for paid courses, Udemy takes a 30 percent cut). Because it’s such an open marketplace, it can grow its content much faster than other sites. But while users may be assured of university-quality courses on Coursera and Udacity, the quality on Udemy is more inconsistent.
To keep the site from becoming a free-for-all YouTube for online classes, Bali said, Udemy checks the quality of the courses before publishing and won’t allow courses to go live until they reach a minimum standard. They also give instructors tips for improving the quality of their classes. Last month, they company said that some of the most successful instructors on the site have been able earn six-figures in sales from their courses.
“The thing that sets apart any company will be the content and the instructors,” Bali said. “I think we have two major advantages here – the size and the volume.”