Udemy's Dirty Little Secret

Date published: Friday 19th of February 2016

Don't you just love Udemy? I do! I think it's one of my favourite sites on the web. The prices are good, the format of the site is good and the whole idea of being able to learn something, via video from the comfort of your home is - of course - fantasticola. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning about web development technology to check out sites like Udemy, Treehouse, Lynda and so on. It's certainly a great way to learn and perhaps a bit more engaging than books. I've been practically living in Udemy for about the past month and it has been a good experience.

However, Udemy has a dirty little secret. Actually, it has two dirty little secrets.

Since this is the Insider Club and you're reading the Inside Scoop, I'm going to tell you what those secrets are. It's important for you to be aware of what's going on.

First of all, I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Those than can do and those that cannot teach". This is particularly relevant for sites like Udemy. For example, I'm now on my third AngularJS course and, while I'm not going to give any names, I think there's at least one Angular course on Udemy where the instructor is totally winging it. Are you familiar with the phrase winging it? It's a phrase we have in the UK which means to do something without proper preparation or expertise. In my opinion, there are definitely instructors on Udemy who are winging it. There's ways to tell if an online instructor is winging it. For instance:

* Does the course seem to have 'holes' - i.e., critical pieces of information which have been left out? In the case of Angular, I'm seeing courses that have failed to cover data persistence, resource objects, using third party modules and even basic CRUD.

* Does the instructor give good answers when somebody asks a question or do they become defensive? An example of being defensive is, "well, what you've just asked falls out with the scope of this course".

* Does the instructor offer a lot of anecdotes about the technology? For example, "The funny thing about Angular is that it was named after the angles on the HTML brackets. At least, that's what Google say."

If the answer to any of these questions is yes then - be warned - there's a good chance that your course instructor is winging it.

My speculation is that sites like Udemy have encouraged a culture of professional, serial course producers. These are people who have little or no commercial experience, but they're just constantly racing to learn the latest new technology so that they can chuck it onto Udemy. It's actually not a bad business model, when you think of it. After all, some of the Angular courses on Udemy have upwards of 7,000 buyers. If somebody can throw together a course and get it onto Udemy then it's reasonable to assume that they can basically earn a year's salary for relatively little work.

Anyway, Udemy's second dirty little secret is this. YOU WILL NEVER LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM ONE COURSE.

This actually applies to not just Udemy, but all sources of IT education. The same could be said for books or even (I dare say) college and university courses.

The fact is, we all have different ways of coding as well as different ways of explaining things, understanding things and even thinking about things. Even if your instructor is a brilliant teacher who has the best intentions possible, then it's still not a good idea - in my opinion - to rely on just one person. I'm hoping that I can start dishing out some video courses in March. Yes! I DO think that I can teach better than most of the people on Udemy. I think that I can be funnier, more entertaining and above all, I think that I can connect with people who usually have a hard time learning (because I'm a very slow learner myself!). However, when my videos start coming out DON'T DEPEND JUST ON WHAT I'M TELLING YOU. If you want to really become an expert at a particular IT technology then you need to go to multiple sources.

In case you're wondering, the reason why I'm suddenly interested in web development is because the stock markets are currently making no sense at all. So, I've put my day trading activities on hold and I thought it would be nice to visit the web development universe once again.

Thank you for being here, stay cool and if nobody has told you that they love you lately then I want to be the first.

Macho love to you!


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