Exclusive: Udemy lands on mobile so students can learn on the go

When it comes to picking up new skills, you might have all the motivation in the world, but actually finding the time to do the work is where the real challenge lies.
Since launching in 2010, online learning startup Udemy has offered learners the opportunity to take online classes from home. On Tuesday, the company upped the convenience factor with an iOS app that lets students take classes directly from their smartphones.
With 600,000 users enrolled in the company’s paid and free classes, Udemy is attracting a strong following. But given competition from longtime online learning company lynda.com, as well as startups Skillshare and Codecademy, Udemy clearly wants another way to hook and keep students. While lynda.com does have a mobile app for users, several other Udemy rivals do not.
udemy 3Dinesh Thiru, Udemy’s vice president of marketing, said the company’s students, many of whom are enrolled in classes with hopes of career advancement, are professionals with busy lives.
“They know learning is important, but they struggle to find the time,” he said. “We built the Udemy iPhone app to help them find that time… to enable them to learn whenever and wherever they find those extra fifteen minutes.”
From the new app, students can enroll in free and paid courses and access video and audio lectures, presentations, articles and other course components. It also enables students to save courses for offline viewing (for subway commutes and plane rides), as well as watch videos at accelerated speeds.
For now, the app isn’t available for Android (s GOOG) users and doesn’t allow students to interact with peers as they can via the web, but Thiru said those developments are on the company’s roadmap.
Udemy, which is backed by investors including Insight Venture Partners, Lightbank and 500 Startups, enables anyone from individual experts to bestselling authors to offer video-based courses. It currently offers more than 6,000 courses on topics ranging from web development and entrepreneurship to literature and fitness.