Udemy – Academy of You

I came across Udemy after following a link on Facebook from a girl I went to undergrad with: Official Udemy Instructor Course by Kristina Ashley Bjoran.  Kristina’s video is the first in a series on how to create courses on Udemy. (I tried to embed the video file into the post but wasn’t able to for some reason.)

Udemy: Academy of You is an online learning site, and their goal–according to their About page–is to “disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online.”  It’s kind of like lynda.com with a social networking element: anyone can produce and develop courses and instead of just videos, Udemy also offers videos, powerpoint, pdfs, and other media files.

Udemy offer courses in the following categories:

The videos aren’t as professionally produced as Lynda, and many of the “Academic Courses” are simply recordings of class lectures.  Many of the courses are free, but a number of them do cost a fee, ranging from under $5 to $255.

I like the fact that anyone can upload videos, but it brings up many of the same questions I had while reading Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence (which suggested a more open publication process within the academy): How do you ensure quality with open source information? Who maintains it? And what are the incentives for creating quality content?

Udemy’s About page indicates that the courses are curated, but by whom? By what standards to they measure quality?  The site boasts that thousands of instructors have uploaded course materials, but with a full-time staff of just 15 men (I found it a little amusing that all the staff, advisors, and investors listed on the site are men), I’m a little confused about how the content is curated. The job descriptions listed for the staff include developers, programmers, engineers, social marketing, public relations, and user experience–but there really isn’t any mention of content analysis, evaluation, or curation.

I do think the site might present some really interesting possibilities for easily hosting materials for students enrolled in a “traditional” classroom. Udemy actually has a separate page marketing their site to instructors already teaching offline courses, explaining why they should use the site (and instructors from MIT, Yale, Standord, and UCLA are taking advantage of this).  Udemy allows you to to embed courses into websites using widgets, which could be useful if you already have a website you manage for your course’s content and don’t want your students to access yet another website for materials.

Note: Just a quick search for “writing” pulled up a pretty limited selection of writing courses–many of which are on grammar, second language issues, and “form writing” (application essays, resumes, employment application statements, 5-paragraph essays, etc.)

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Questions, Part 2: Usability and Assessment of eLearning Tools

  1. Is my intended audience students? Or the instructors who use the tools?
  2. How would I assess the success of writing elearning tools? By student progress and improvement? And how would I determine if that’s a direct result of the tool? Would I determine success by student completion/use of the tool?
  3. How does instructor perception of student success factor in?
  4. How does the instructor’s perception of decreased workload factor in? Is the product a success if it frees the instructor to spend time doing other things?
  5. How would I test for usability? (Is the technology and product design usable? And is the “information” and teaching method usable?)

Questions: Recreating Tools for Teaching Communication Online

Questions to consider about recreating tools for teaching communication online:

  1. I’m consistently frustrated that I can’t spend more time discussing the work produced by individual students. Although creating online teaching tools would mean extensive work on the front end (developing, writing, producing, editing the tools), would it actually free up more time to discuss individual writing?  How much “instruction” could I offload to spaces outside the classroom, so I can focus more directly on individual concerns inside the classroom?
  2. How do we ensure that students use the technologies/applications outside of class? What types of checks must be in place? And how do we do that without giving students yet another login name and password.
  3. What level of writers would this be most effective for? First year writers? Intermediate? Advanced? Undergraduate? Graduate?
  4. What genre of writing would this be most effective for? Academic composition (whatever that means)? Business writing? Technical writing? Web writing?
  5. Am I trying to focus on teaching global process (organization, arrangement, delivery), or local form (grammar, mechanics).

Annotated Bibliography Tutorials

I’m trying to think of how technologies can teach communication in ways that are MORE effective than traditional classroom instruction. In other words, rather than trying to simply REPLICATE in-class instruction with SUPPLEMENTAL tools, how might we RECREATE instruction techniques entirely?

Creating a tutorial similar to one of these could free up class time for writing and revision–and it could be reviewed by students multiple times, if needed.

I’d like to experiment with transitioning some of my current teaching materials into materials that could be used effectively online.  I searched for “how to write an annotated bibliography” on YouTube, and these were some of the more popular hits.

UMUC Library: How to Write an Annotated Bibliography Tutorial (5,235 Views) 

How to Write an Annotated Bibliography (13,401 Views)


Make an Annotated Bibliography (1,440 Views)


Creating an Annotated Bibliography (4,048 Views)