Udemy Review! Future bright for lifelong learners

By April 25, 2016Uncategorized

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Udemy Review:   Future bright for lifelong learners

A few years ago I ran across a column that appeared in the local community newspaper written by a woman named Linda Eppler. I’m not sure where Ms. Eppler is today, but at the time, she was the communications director of an agency that provided services for the elderly in the community where I live, and she occasionally wrote a guest column in our local newspaper.

I never met Ms. Eppler, but if I did, I would say, “Thank You” because the column she wrote titled, “Future bright for lifelong learners” inspired me in so many ways.

I still have a long way to go before I am considered among the blessed elderly, but I’ve always considered myself a lifelong learner.

The column she wrote to inspire others to continue learning, was heart-warming.

I cut the column out of the newspaper, made a copy and stuck it on my refrigerator and it’s still there today.

Here’s the column  up there.  It’s looks worn, I know.   But inspiration comes in all different packages, including crumpled ones.

The magnet that’s holding the copied newspaper column reads what else, “I’m still learning.”

A few years after discovering the column, I found the magnet with the 4 little inspiring words on it, in a local gift shop and bought it.

I quickly replaced the old magnet with the new one.

The column begins

‘When Michelangelo was 12 years old, he applied for an apprenticeship with a local artist who asked him what he could do.   Having no previous training he responded, “I have the capacity to learn.”

Seventy years later, having achieved recognition as the greatest artist in all of Europe, he was asked what his motto in life was.   “Ancora Imparo,” he said.  It means, “I am still learning.”

I am still learning 

I graduated from college with a degree in English Literature and also completed the writing for film and TV program at a prestigious institution.  Although I’m not a senior citizen, graduation was a really long time ago.

A really, really, long time ago.  I have sons that are millennials.

Upon graduating, I discovered that obtaining a traditional and structured education was beneficial (even if very COSTLY) in some ways, but it did not equip me with straight to job skills, nor did it equip me to become an entrepreneur, which has always been my goal.

Having two degrees and a bunch of certificates certainly didn’t stop my never ending quest to develop both personally and professionally.

Udemy: Future bright for lifelong learners

I’m not alone on Udemy or as some think it’s called – You to Me – has 10 million + students on a similar quest.

If you aren’t counted in the numbers of Udemy’s online and on-demand learning platform, maybe you should be.   Long gone are the days when people leave school, get a decent job and don’t have to learn anything new.

Today you have to keep up with Millennials, new technology, and other skills to stay competitive in your field.    Udemy makes it easy to do so.

Udemy rocks enrichment, interesting and fun! (Anytime, Anywhere!)

Professional Development – I took a PowerPoint and also a social media marketing course.

Personal Development – I signed up for a pro speaker recording course that I’ll soon take.

Something enriching – I took a course on how to (what else) create an online course.

Something fun – I took a class on how to make bath and body products.

The platform exists for you to, TAKE A COURSE

IT GETS BETTER

Or, TEACH A COURSE.   Not only can you learn, but you can also teach and earn (income).

Udemy offers free course creation classes and provides hosting tools to empower you to teach.  You can share what you know with thousands of people and get paid to do so.

My story.

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Several years ago after writing a book about self-publishing, I started teaching a yearly one-day writing workshop sponsored by a local radio station. My workshop was popular, and I received a request to turn my one-day workshop into something longer.

Thus, the workshop turned into an ongoing seasonal boot camp that lasted several weeks, where I show participants how to write and self-publish their books.

A natural path that some take who get an English Lit degree gets a teaching job.  But I never wanted to teach at least not in a traditional school or university.

My writing boot camp (FBK’s writing Boot Camp) and soon to be Udemy course, allows me to teach my passion – writing – in ways that are fun.

However, as you can imagine offline teaching has limitations and drawbacks.

  • You can only help a limited amount of people unless it becomes unmanageable
  • Everyone doesn’t keep up with the pace. They miss classes and workshop to-dos

I charged a very small fee for the workshop, and I felt obligated to provide extra help and workshop sessions to those who missed.  I love helping writers, but there was just not enough of me to go around – I was exhausted.

I needed to find a better way, and voila along came online teaching.

  • You can help more students by teaching online
  • Your class is recorded, and it can be viewed by an infinite number of students from around the world who have 365/24/7 access to your lecture
  • The extra time you save can be spent adding more value to your course as you are now able to watch yourself teach and evaluate areas or material that you can make stronger.
  • You don’t have to worry about inclement weather (winter) or class scheduling conflicts. The class in online and on-demand and each participant can review lectures when they want and at their own pace.

You don’t need no stinkin’ degree

No college degrees don’t stink (stinky cost maybe), and you don’t need one or any certifications to teach on Udemy.  Udemy allows you to teach whether you have a Ph.D., an associate’s degree, three college credits, a GED or like my grandmother just an 8th-grade education.

The first course I am going to teach will launch in May 2016.  The course titled “How to write a nonfiction book:  The Secrets to a Super – Fast Draft”, will show students how to complete a draft of their book in a ten days.

I didn’t go to self-publishing book school to learn how to write books and eBooks in the New Writing and Publishing Universe or to learn how to teach a course on that topic.  I learned to write a book and teach book writing by doing. I read everything on the subject matter and took courses.

Once I learned then came more “doing” – teaching book writing workshops, self-publishing, freelancing and ghostwriting.  My experiences gave me the credentials to teach on Udemy.

 

In college, I learned to write essays, TV and film scripts which are a very different kind of writing.  Was that learning helpful?

You betcha.

But if I hadn’t attended college, I would still be able to teach a nonfiction book writing course because of my real life and online learning experience.

Because you are reading this blog, it speaks to your understanding that online learning is important.

But right now your only focus might be learning online and not teach, and that’s perfectly fine.

But down the line if the “teaching your passion” bug hits ya, and you want to earn some passive income teaching online might be worth your consideration.

You can teach practically any topic, and all teaching styles are welcome.    Whether your personality is simple and professional or you have a laid back style, some online learner will be attracted to your teaching course.

There seems to be high demand for those who can teach technical things.  Many people who I know who teach the how to operate the latest software or app learned to do so by “doing” and by taking online classes themselves.

But hold on not so fast there are criteria you must meet. They don’t just allow you to slap a course up without going through a course review process. I’ve certainly had setbacks as have others in getting my course approved due to various issues, mostly technical.

I remember when I first heard about Udemy it was something I immediately wanted to do. After listening to the “Gurus” who sell you on creating a course quick like in a matter of days, I quickly joined the Udemy Studio, which is the official instructor community for current and soon to be instructors.

Here’s a tweet I posted in the Udemy Studio Facebook group

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That post was written in April of 2015.   I’m writing this post in April of 2016.  Why has it taken me so long to get my teaching course up on Udemy and to become an affiliate for the site?

Well aside from the deep fear that I had down inside me that told me that teaching an online course would be for me because technology hates me and I hate it.  There is a learning curve to getting into online teaching, especially if technology is not a strong skill set.  Technology causes “overwhelmity” a word I made up to mean to be 10Xs beyond overwhelmed.

The list below will scare ya if you have a desire to teach, even if you don’t  have that desire just reading the list a lot to digest.

Stuff you have to know to teach on Udemy.

  • Video, audio, microphone, editing, screencast, oh my!
  • You have to learn to be on camera, speak correct English on camera and not say um.
  • Write correctly (Grammarly link)
  • You may need to learn Google Slides or PowerPoint

Just when I finally learned my way around PowerPoint Udemy no longer allows just PowerPoint presentations by themselves, which means you have to include a video with it.

  • You have to learn a screencast software (records your screen) like Camtasia or Screencast-o-matic.
  • You may have to learn Canva (free), Prezi,  or Powtoon  (how to create graphics and video)
  • You have to learn to market. (Just because Udemy has 10 million users, not one of them will find your course if you can’t market it).

I hate to tell you that’s just a small list.  But here’s why you shouldn’t be scared.  Because if I can, you can too.

Many of the things on the above list you may know how to do. You might already make videos on your phone, use PowerPoint, be a good enough speaker.

Whatever is on the list that you don’t know how to do, you can take a course, ask any Millennial to help, outsource the services (very affordable to do so).

At the time, the list above did overwhelm me, and I didn’t even want to attempt to create a course with my schedule –

I was working several independent contracting jobs outside the home, writing and self-publishing books, helping clients and students to write and self-publish books, freelancing, and ghostwriting.

I knew I needed to free up more of my schedule, focus, learn and overcome fear.

If I can learn to create a course, anybody can because in that same column Michelangelo is quoted as saying these 6 powerful words, “I have the capacity to learn.”

I do, and you do too.

I took it one day at a time baby steps, and bite-sized chunks.   I remember saying to myself while recording one lecture that I thought sounded God awful that I was going to do it 100 times. I think I did it 90 something times.  I don’t think the 90th plus time sounded better than the first few, but at some point, you have to let go and move forward.

I have the capacity to learn

I know the above teaching part may have been a lot digest for some, and for other it might be a cake walk, and to some, it just might not be something you are interested in. Even if you aren’t interested in teaching, you have to be interested in learning.

Ongoing learning is so importance to your success – by dedicating yourself to learning you are an active participant in every aspect of your life.

We all have busy lives, still we must take the time to improve ourselves. I know change isn’t easy, which is what you are doing by learning something new.

The good news is you no longer have to bury yourself in big thick books to learn, there are many ways to learn online and on demand.  Udemy instructors do mash-up presentations.

A mash-up is where with one lecture you might do a talking head, another one a video presentation and so forth, you only have to browse Udemy’s catalog to see the interesting ways that instructors teach.

There are usually no textbooks, but the course will probably come with a few documents or a pimped out PDF which are usually presented in digestible bite-sized chunks.  Your teacher or professor is an instructor – whose only job is to make sure you enjoy learning.

How does Udemy work?

If you are interested teaching or taking a course on Udemy you simply join the site, it takes just a few minutes, and you enter your name and email address. Then start browsing the thousands of courses to take or to glean inspiration to teach.

I will continue to take courses on Udemy, and as mentioned my first course will launch in May,  to help writers write nonfiction books, with an interesting twist.

I’m proud of myself because getting my course up wasn’t without challenges.  Thank you for reading this post, please share it with someone who may be helped by it.

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If I can, you can too.

I am capable of learning.  I am still learning.

Are you?   Do tell in the comment section below.

 

FBK