Q&A with Gagan Biyani, President and Co-Founder of Udemy.com

Whew! It’s been a while since we posted. I figured if we were going to post something, it should probably be awesome! So, here is a Q&A session with Gagan Biyani from Udemy.com, a fairly new and, in my opinion, totally fabulous tool for education.

Haven’t heard of Udemy yet? Let me introduce you. To put it in simple terms, Udemy is a place for learning for people who love to teach and who love to learn! It’s online and anyone can use it. For more detail, let’s turn to what Udemy has to say about itself:

“Udemy’s goal is to enable anyone to teach and learn online. In less than 5 minutes, you can create your own online course on Udemy. You can upload presentations, videos, host live classroom sessions and write blog posts. It’s fast, easy and free.

By making it easy to teach online, Udemy also brings together the best teachers on the internet in an effort to educate the world. That means if you want to learn Multivariable Calculus, you can. If you want to learn Photoshop, you can. If you want to learn more about the metaphor for good and evil as presented by the dark and light colors in Star Wars, you can on Udemy.”

Wanting to learn more, I contacted Gagan who was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Check them out below and I hope you’ll enjoy!

Can you tell me a little more about why you created Udemy? I see on your website that you wanted to solve a problem – that teachers are often constrained by location – but was this an issue that you or Oktay faced personally? (At SAGrader, we’re all about time-shifted collaboration, so the “space-shiftability” (ha!) of Udemy really sparked my interest.)

Ultimately, we created Udemy because we saw a need. We’ve noticed there are thousands of people out there trying to teach over the internet, but they lack the technological capabilities to do it effectively. We didn’t necessarily face the problem on the teacher’s side personally, but we did on the student’s side. Oktay loves learning guitar and I personally watch entrepreneurship videos all the time, but the format and discoverability is very difficult. We created Udemy to solve that problem.

Would you say a majority of users are professors? Was that your goal? And do they take advantage of the “live” aspects of the site?

About half of our users are educators of some sort. They may teach subjects such as How to Paint on Silk or be experts in Innovation Training. We also see some High School and Elementary school teachers leveraging Udemy to augment the in-classroom experience. Over time, we expect more and more people to use the live tool, but currently the most active features are uploading video and PowerPoint content.

And, building off the last question, do you know if professors that use Udemy use it for their actual classes (for their current students to view) or do you think they use it simply because they are passionate about teaching and learning and wish to share what they know?

Currently, you can’t make money or make your courses private on Udemy. As such, the only reason anyone uses the site is because of their inherent passion for teaching and sharing information with the world! It’s great to see how many people are interested in doing that, but we definitely expect usage to increase when we enable paying for courses and making courses private.

I also read that Udemy can easily connect with Facebook and Twitter. Do you find your academic users using these tools and if so, in what ways are they using them?

The social tools are definitely in use! Almost every day, we see a few tweets or Facebook posts about Udemy courses. The Facebook “like” button has been particularly powerful for us, because it is really easy to like a course.

What will we be seeing for Udemy in the future?

The two big things are privacy and payment options. Many educators are interested in charging for their courses on Udemy so they can make some extra income. Others want to leverage Udemy to host private courses for select students. Both are highly requested features and we’ll roll them out soon!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Gagan!

To learn more about the gentlemen that started and run Udemy (Gagan, Oktay Caglar and Eren Bali), click on over to Udemy’s about page. Or, jump right in and start browsing courses.

  • csfalcao

    Udemy is the newer host of Discerne.com’s courses!