I’ve had a conversation about Udemy recently and we discussed how Udemy pushes up the number of enrolled students in your course. At first, it might seem like a good idea. Well, would anybody doubt about a quality of your course if you’ve had 5000 students enrolled? It might also be a good selling strategy – offer a free course, enroll thousands of students, then create a paid course and offer it for a discount to the students in your free course. Before you take this route, make sure you also consider the other side of the coin. I list at least a few questions that you shouldn’t forget to ask yourself:
- Will you have time to communicate with that many students? Even though it is not probable that each of the students will email you or ask questions – what if just 10% does? Will you have time to respond to each of them? Will you have time to communicate with them on regular basis? If not, it can cost you a really bad review, a very unhappy student (or a couple of hundreds of unhappy students), and your reputation can be in danger. Look at some of the MOOC examples and how successful they are (not really successful, if you don’t feel like googling right now…)
- Will you feel better if thousands of students enroll in your course, but not even ONE of them finishes it? Do you really care about the high number? Or do you really want to teach somebody?
- Will a high number of students bring you word of mouth advertisement (best for sales)? If you have only one student who finishes your course and learns something, you will more likely get another (paid) student because he will recommend you. If you have 5000 (free) students who do not even finish the first module, they will be useless if you want them to spread the word about your course – (unless you offer some incentives if they tweet about your course – but it’s not the same, because they will not be able to describe their real satisfied experience with your Udemy course)
- Will a high number of students make you a sought for expert? The answer to this one is NOPE. It is a difference to have those students enrolled and to actually know you and what you’re teaching on. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you create 6000 free coupons for your course. Most of those people who enroll in your course do it because it’s free and they don’t really care what you’re teaching – c’mon – it’s FREE! Another small group of students care about the subject - not the instructor – if the president Obama teaches it? It’s a good bonus for them, but they DON’T care about you, they just want to learn the subject. You may ask – what’s wrong with that? Well, if your course is not really good, they will forget about you the minute they finish it – IF they finish it. You need to impress them and communicate with them so they KNOW you (hardly possible with thousands of students, right?). It’s now about what you know or who you know – it’s about who knows YOU. Your goal is to have a reputation of an expert in your field so that people are LOOKING for your advice. When they come to Udemy and they know your name already, they will more likely purchase your course and actually finish it. Why? They know YOU, they trust you, and they want to know what you know. Do you want thousands of enrolled students in your free course or do you prefer a couple of hundred students enrolled because YOU are teaching them?
You can come up with more questions to ask yourself before you start that crazy “high numbers” campaign for your course. Let me know what do you think. How do you feel about the high numbers? What other questions should we ask to make sure it’s the strategy we really want to use on Udemy? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Have you already TAKEN a course on Udemy? If not, you should do that right away. It’s a great way to see how others create Udemy courses. You’ll learn a lot from the mistakes of others. For example, today I took a Udemy course and the instructor was literally reading the PowerPoint slides. Number one mistake in so many courses, both online and face-to-face. I think every instructor, trainer, teacher, and anybody who is trying to share knowledge should take a course on how to create an engaging presentation for education. So today I decided to share with you just a couple of quick tips to ensure your PowerPoint slides are “education friendly”.
- Use Pictures - I know it is much easier and faster to type everything. Maybe if you’re writing an e-book, there you can let your fingers get crazy on the keyboard. If you’re creating an online course, you should definitely use pictures in the slides. Why? You will help your students to remember what you’re teaching them. It’s the way our brain works. We remember better when we see images while hearing an audio then when reading and listening to the audio at the same time. If you read your slides, or fill them out with text and then narrate them, the working memory of your students gets overloaded. Of course, it is easy for the students to replay the lecture if they don’t remember everything. But they can as well look for the the information elsewhere and it may take them less time. Remember, you want to make your course effective and efficient. Use pictures!
- DON’T USE ALL CAPITALS – first of all, it means yelling in the online world. Second, it’s harder to read. Be aware – some of the templates are designed to use all capitals. All capitals may work for some occasions, but definitely not for education. If you want to highlight some information, make it bold, italics, or a different color. ALL CAPITALS work best for short words or phrases, but do not use them for whole sentences or the whole presentation.
- Make an Appropriate Number of Slides – it means not too few or too many. If you have too few slides, your students get bored easily. They loose attention. You have to engage them, so change the slides frequently – about every 30 seconds or so. Having too few slides usually happens if you make bullet points and type everything. If you use relevant pictures and graphics to make your points, you can increase the number of your slides. On the other hand, if you have 100 slides in a 5 minute presentation, it is probably too much. You don’t want to overwhelm your student either.
I have more tips, but I think you’ll learn best from the mistakes of others again. Review this video and you’ll immediately see what I’m talking about.
What are your experiences with PowerPoint? What do you like/dislike about the program? Share with us in comments.
After reviewing so many of the Udemy courses, I’ve decided to give you a couple of ideas on which tools you can use to make your course even better! Many of Udemy instructors use just videos to create their courses. In my opinion, those courses should not be called “online courses” because they are simply just copies of YouTube Channels or DVD courses. Online courses should have characteristics such as interactive, engaging, and should include opportunities for students to learn with and from their peers.
Let’s look at Udemy as an example. Udemy provides you with a basic online course “How to create a Udemy course”, right? What other resources are there for Udemy instructors? The Udemy Studio group on Facebook. I have already learned much more from the community of Udemy instructors in the studio than from the course itself! And that is what I’m talking about. Your students need that extra space where they can interact with each other, talk about the material and especially learn from each other. Every course on Udemy can have its own community. Why not? Why not bring students that have similar interests in one place where they can meet others, chat, give advice, and build knowledge?
That is why I’m introducing you to Google+ Communities. It is very easy to set up and maintain. You can read a little bit more about Google+ Communities here: http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/media/index.html.
Video source: Google+ on YouTube
The Google+ Community I created for you can be found here: https://plus.google.com/communities/110075826026578029676. You can join us and share ideas about your course, ask questions, and learn from other Udemy instructors. By participating in such community, you will also better understand how to create your own. If you need more information about communities in online courses, sign up for this blog to be the first to know about the upcoming Udemy course where I will provide more details. If you create a community for your students, I would love to participate as well! Send me an invitation and let me know if you need any help. Let’s make your students happy so that they recommend you everywhere and will be eager to take your next course! Happy teaching!
An Awesome Example of Course Overview
Finally I came across a Udemy course where the instructors takes the time to create an absolutely perfect course overview. He talkes about the navigation of the course, how the Udemy platform works, and even how students can operate the Udemy app on their phones! Thank you, Chet Davis for not assuming that students already know all of this!
Udemy instructors, watch and learn! If you don’t want to take the whole course, at least click on the free preview and see how a proper course overview should look like.
Mastering Keynote Presentations by Chet Davis
As I’m reviewing more and more course, I come across one major problem. Many of the Udemy experts assume that students already “know” when they start taking their course. The opposite might be truth. You never know what your students know unless you create a complex survey where you ask your students BEFORE they start your course, or unless you know the students personally. Not one students – all of them. Remember, every student is different. What is missing in many Udemy courses is:
- the proper introduction of the instructor – do not assume that students will read your bio or google your name. It’s your responsibility to introduce yourself within the course so students know who you are. I posted a great introduction earlier on this blog. You can see it here: Awesome Introduction
- the course navigation – do not assume that students know how to navigate the Udemy platform – many of them found a link to your course somewhere on the web and your course is actually their first online course ever. They don’t know how it works, so don’t forget to tell them. If you have more than one course, do this in EVERY one of them.
- prerequisite knowledge – sometimes you assume that students already have some knowledge when they take your course. State the prerequisite knowledge clearly in the beginning of your course – within the course, not in the description, since many students do not read that part. Make sure that students understand what they should already know before they take your course. Do not waste their time with an advanced course if they are not ready for that.
- purpose of the course – often Udemy instructors assume that from the title it is clear what the students will learn after they take the course. This is not always the case. Make sure you clearly state what is the purpose of your course within the course itself. The purpose might be to get a certification, or to be able to create a website by using WordPress, etc.
- required software – it’s easy to assume that students already have that little plugin which they will need in your course, or that software. If there are such components, make sure you provide links to them and instructions how to download them. Not every student will be a tech person, help them before they ask for it!
This is just a short list of what you can improve in your course to make your Udemy students happy. Do you want to learn more? A new course is coming soon. You will learn how to enhance your Udemy course and make your students even happier. They will talk about your course everywhere! ;-)
Do you have any other ideas of what not to assume when you create your Udemy course? Let’s discuss!
I hope you enjoyed the long weekend! I was actually working on the course reviews and I really enjoyed it! Over the weekend, I connected with some of you through Twitter, my Online Instructor Academy Facebook page, and Google+ community page. I would like to encourage all Udemy instructors, or those who would like to become Udemy instructors to connect. We can share ideas, ask questions, give ideas, or just hang out. You can choose a network which you would like to join, or you can join all of them. I hope to see you all soon!
To be added to the Udemy Instructors Twitter list – send me a tweet @MichaelaEdTech. To access the list go to https://twitter.com/MichaelaEdTech/udemy-instructors
Join the Online Instructor Academy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelaedtech
and the Udemy Instructors Community on Google+ https://plus.google.com/communities/110075826026578029676
Let’s connect and share ideas and best practices of online teaching!
Inspiration is important when creating just anything. If you want to teach online, you can also get inspired by successful online teachers. Moreover, if you do not have experience learning online, that should be your number one goal before you create any online course. I have taken several online classes and learned a lot about online teaching just from this experience. It is important to become an online student yourself. It’s easy to take any course on Udemy for the same reason. Especially if you will teach a course on Udemy, you should see how others created their courses there. There are tons of free courses if you don’t want to spend any money right now. You should look into a subject that interests you or one that you plan to teach. It’s great to see what the competition offers to compare the content and get inspired. Not only you can learn from the mistakes of other online teachers, you can also get some great ideas from their courses. Here I would like to point out that inspiration does not mean the same as copying. Let me explain this on an example.
Frequently, I participate in the discussions on Udemy Studio Facebook Page. If you don’t know that this page exists, you should definitely check it out. It’s an awesome place for Udemy instructors to get feedback on their courses, to get help with selection of programs and hardware to create courses, or to hang out with other Udemy instructors. Recently, somebody posted a video asking for feedback from fellow instructors. When I saw the video, I immediately recognized whom the author tried to copy. After reading the comments, I found out that it was not only me who figured this out. Therefore, you should be very careful not to copy anybody else. People will notice that. Maybe not right away, but sooner or later somebody will catch you and it might hurt your reputation. It’s great to get inspired by others, to use the same tools, or maybe a similar background. But it’s not cool to copy everything.
My advice for today: be yourself. Everyone is unique. Your students will appreciate when you stay yourself, enjoy the subject you teach, and forget about looking like the other successful Udemy instructor who made so much money creating online courses. You’ll get there too, with a little patience, hard work, and your unique voice, teaching style, and personality.
Do you have a favorite Udemy instructor that inspires you when you create your course?