Saturday, June 15, 2019

Another way for Udemy to screw things up

Udemy now expires all free coupons older than 30 days. This is to prevent "coupon abuse", though they don't say what that actually is.

It's in Udemy's interest that people pay as much as possible for every course they take. Some instructors use free coupons for a class intended to be free, to attract customers who might later pay for a  course. Yes, you could make a course free from the get-go, but experience shows that those who take such a course tend to discount it, to give it exceptionally poor evaluations (ratings). That's evidently just part of user mentality.

I have two such courses working via free coupons. Even if I make a new coupon when the old one expires, that new one will not be in circulation, that is, people won't see it.

Both from student and teacher points of view, I recommend Skillshare over Udemy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Udemy introduced "charm pricing" (e.g. $14.99 instead of $15). Odd thing is, I could swear I'd read that consumers don't like it, and tend to be turned off by it, even if it increases sales. Udemy thinks it'll "generate more sales for you by better highlighting your course's value to students!" Doh!? What kind of BS is that?

And if research showed that "charm pricing" was better, why haven't Udemy (a marketing organization, not an education organization) been using it the past 4-5 years?

(I have no respect for Udemy's research based on past events.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Response to quora question about Udemy

This is a response to a question on Quora: How much money did I make in my first year on Udemy?

This question depends so much on when I started, how many classes I had, and other factors that it isn’t worth answering with numbers. My topic is game design, a niche, so I’ve never made the vast sums some instructors have.  I will say that I make less now annually, despite having many more classes.

Udemy has turned online non-degree teaching into a low-brow, commodity market, and that’s not the kind of class I make. I conceive of a class as a sort of online book (or part of a book), a treasure-trove of information, not as an entertainment or a bagatel. I discourage the not uncommon notion of the Age of Instant Gratification that a 30 or 60 minute class can tell you “all you need to know” about a topic. That’s a ridiculous idea that fundamentally rests on the also-ridiculous notion that there’s a “secret formula” or set of secrets that you can quickly learn to become an expert at something.

By changing the pricing standards twice, and by constantly engaging in what I call kamikaze marketing that reduces all classes to $10 (unless the instructor opts out), Udemy has shoehorned virtually all classes into a $10 market. Instructors price classes where they want, but can only discount them 50% (instructors earn more per registration from their own coupons than from Udemy’s sales). So many make their classes $20 (and consequently short) and discount to $10 constantly. I am in process of doing this myself with a second account, but only ut of necessity. I had to use a second account because you cannot choose to have some of your classes in the kamikaze marketing sector, and others not.

Commodity marketing of courses can be an insult to the intelligence - a “$199 course” for $10? , really? - but that doesn’t seem to make any difference to the typical student.

I make more now from Skillshare, which is subscription based, and I think subscription based online non-degree teaching will ultimately prevail over the kamikaze. Time will tell.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A messy failure?

In early 2014 I was recruited to offer online courses at LFE.Com. Not seeing any advantage over my existing platforms, I declined.

But I still get some of their emails, and a few days ago I received notice that they’re shutting down. This is supposed to be orderly, according to a second email, enabling instructors to choose to allow members to download courses. But whenever I go to LFE.COM I get searchfusion - as though the website no longer exists. Same result two different days with both chrome and mozilla.

LFE was like Udemy in that it sold individual courses, there was no subscription. Given how my Udemy revenue has collapsed, I’m not surprised to hear of a similar enterprise throwing in the towel. I still think that subscription will win in the long run, that Udemy has killed the goose by driving prices down to $10 for everything, but who knows?

Added note: my reply to Zeev G. didn't get through: "The recipient server did not accept our requests to connect. Learn more at https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7720 [lfe.com 75.126.100.17"

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Udemy problems and Amazon rumors

Following the poorly-considered price changes on Udemy at the beginning of April, my Udemy earnings are about a quarter of earnings in the three months before the changes. I believe a big mistake was limiting course prices to $20-50 instead of $10-80 or even $100 (in other words, in line with books prices). I never participated in Udemy's kamikaze marketing, or in affiliate marketing, so limiting the maximum discount to 50% made no difference to me. Yet Udemy-driven sales have dried up nonetheless.

You might want to read "Growing Pains at Online Education Startup Udemy as Amazon Rumors Swirl"

https://www.inverse.com/article/17307-growing-pains-at-online-education-startup-udemy-hit-as-amazon-rumors-swirl

Speaking of Udemy, the article ends: "It seems there’s no end to the funds pouring in to bankroll the company. But for instructors trying to make a living, it may be another story."

I still suspect the long-range future of online courses of this type will be on subscription services (LinkedIn bought primary practitioner Lynda.com, before Microsoft bought LinkedIn). 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reactions to Completely Free Classes

I've been offering online audiovisual classes for more than two years.  Most of my Udemy courses (https://www.udemy.com/user/drlewispulsipher/) cost modest sums, $39 (with coupon) for the most expensive, in line with book prices.  (After all, they're oral books, practically speaking.) One offering is free with a coupon, another is absolutely free.

I've found that the hardest critics are the people taking the absolutely free course. The ones using a coupon to take a course for free are much like the ones paying for a course, in their ratings.  It's as though the free(loaders) are looking for TV, looking to be *entertained*; the poor ratings typically refer to production quality (which is not TV quality, no more than any classroom instruction), while the good ratings refer to the content.

The absolutely free course consists of videos from my free YouTube game design channel, which I state up front. I get fairly-rare criticism on the channel, but not like this offering on Udemy.

I'm told that in the business world, customers don't respect or value what they're given for free. Perhaps the same thing is happening here.

The moral? My intention to have no more free-without-coupon courses has been confirmed. There will be more collections (not really courses) from my Channel, but free by coupon only.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Marketing, or Teaching?

Teaching on Udemy can be a trial for an actual professional teacher (or a retired one, in my case).

Fundamentally, Udemy is run by marketers and the marketing mentality, not by teachers. The people in charge see metrics, they see dollars, they see number of users per month, they don’t see education, or even just training.

Though recently there have been turns for the better, such as banning some of the most egregiously questionable classes such as “Get rich quick” and weapons training.


Another place where this marketing orientation is obvious is in how they treat courses.  Courses must be approved. They focus on appearances rather than on quality of information. For example, the standard advice is to write a script for each video, which I think is really bad advice.

Thanks to 17,000 classroom hours of experience, I do fairly well recording screencast and voice together.  If I screw up sufficiently I'll cut it out or do it over.

But usually I don't have to edit anything.  Of course, I do not want to be television-slick, because that's not how the messy process of education works and not how the real world works. I’m not competing with television presenters.

We need to stop pretending that learning is easy, that it's much like rote memorization; conveying that to students is a LIE, unless you are only training people to follow steps.  That works only in the simplest kinds of problems.
"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest."Mark Twain
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle