When the student is ready, udemy shall disappear

Or did I mean, “When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear.”?

Lao Tzu – https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1339572-when-the-student-is-ready-the-teacher-will-appear-when

I love that saying because it reminds you that as an adult you have to need to learn, not just want to. And this led me to a revelation on the learning sites I keep frequenting to advance myself in areas I find interesting, namely udemy.

Recently I’ve seriously wanted to understand more about Product Management and also Design Thinking and have been reading blogs on the gov.uk around service design and product management. It whetted my appetite enough to know I wanted to know more, so I put my money where my Lao Tzu is and purchased a udemy course.

It was the “Become a Product Manager” course actually. Without really thinking about it when choosing between them all I went for the one with more video hours. It seemed a good idea. More video is more learning right?

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

Turns out I was wrooooong. Even as an ID I should have known that was a stupid choice to make, but I’m afraid I’m not perfect in the evenings. The course is just some guy talking for ages around things that even I know he’s not totally correct on. And he’s making up acronyms all over the place like they’re industry standard pieces you’d repeat in every office… they’re not. Then there’s the fact that the module is actually just him talking… for hours… and hours… with a pop quiz on something sensical every now and again.

More video does not equal more learn


So, after trying hard… I’ve dropped that module, realising I actually do quite a lot of Product Management in my present Senior ID role where I manage the learning product.

Now, you’d think I’d have learnt after that, however I signed up to a Design Thinking udemy course with some kind Keypath sponsorship (we are VERY lucky and our boss protects a full hour every week for professional development – like you get in trouble if you skive). However, this module again seemed to rely on the andragogy that “more video = more learn”. I sat through a gruelling 20 minutes of a man smugly talking around Design thinking without actually covering any points or telling you where it was going. To make it worse his super sensitive microphone picked up him rolling spit around in his gob for all those 20 minutes. Again… a course that didn’t ask the learning to engage anywhere, didn’t test they picked up any points (not that he made any) and failed to map out the learner’s journey through the 400 minutes plus of him waxing lyrical.

Photo by Danny Postma on Unsplash

However, as I said, “when the student is ready” – so I’ve dropped the module and flipped to IDEO U’s free 5 email course on design thinking which is much easier to read and lays out where the learning is going and why. I highly suggest it if you’d like to understand the basics of an apparently messy and never ending process called “Design thinking”

So, where’s this going then! I can’t imagine even my Mum would have read this far, but, how would I make udemy to improve their learning Product? Well, with a bit of design thinking obviously.

  • To improve on Learning Design: Offer course designers some learning patterns / template to follow which encourage a mix of content delivery styles. This is showing Empathy towards people who are not IDs or teachers, show them a pattern with…
    • Videos
    • Simple HTML interactives
    • Set reading and discussion
    • Automated quizzes on real topics
  • To build on the Social-constructivism, you can improve the UI: Take a leaf out of Futurelearn’s book and make the comments ever present (not 200px wide and stuck on the side) so students can engage with the material between them and learn with / from each other
  • On upholding quality: Encourage the teachers do do less, maybe set a limit on video hours above which their course has to be reviewed. It’s presently a bit “myspace”, wild and messy without really doing what it’s meant to do. Go more “Facebook” and focus on making sure students are getting what they need by offering shorter modules

After writing these however, I suspect that udemy’s KPIs are more based on dollars to grow quick rather than actual learning, so they need to make an attractive offering and sell it quick so maybe their offering makes sense to them…

“Lots of video hours means lots of learning money”.

Actual udemy product goal… honest

By Dan Course

Senior Instructional Designer. Partnerships, people, products, delivery, agile tech and online edu. Naturally curious, innovative and willing to challenge the status quo.

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