Saturday, April 18, 2015

Upgrading yourself Online: Coursera and Udemy

I think that the soul grows old once we start to stop learning.

Shoutout to the sweet couple at Bf Gf Money Blog for this good lobang they found! 

Udemy is a website that is very similar to Coursera. I think those of you who have tried your hand at some free online courses must have definitely stumbled upon Coursera. I remember taking courses on Philosophy and Roman Architecture maybe 2 years ago when my mind was more curious about breadth of knowledge.

Nowadays, I have to grudgingly admit that I think about personal finance and money a lot. I know it is a problem, it is making me a more dull person. Who likes listening to people talk about the markets or the economy? I don't even watch news anymore, it is so inconsequential. I make it an extremely strong effort to steer clear away of all these topics when I am out with my friends. It makes social time a lot more fun by not being so serious all the time.

So, when I stumbled upon Udemy, it renewed my interests in learning new things once again. It is very similar to Coursera.

Coursera has free courses offered by universities and taught by professors. I find that the courses on Coursera are quite serious academic stuff and they are prepared and taught quite professionally. Why wouldn't they be? These professors have been doing it on a daily basis in real life for many years already! Courses like "Finance for Non-financial Professionals" and "Personal & Family Financial Planning" would probably be better, cheaper and less biased than paid ones you can find being advertised. There are plenty of other subjects covered other than stuffy business ones, and they go all over the place, like "Fundamentals of Human Nutrition" and Psychology, Music, Arts, Programming!

However, one of the biggest limitation of Coursera is that these courses are not "on-demand". That means that the courses and materials are only open for access during a certain period, which is usually the duration of the course and maybe a bit of extra. Another limitation are the types of courses available. Because they are university courses taught by professionals, there are limits to the type of content that is available, as well as the type of teachers conducting the course.

This is where Udemy comes in. All courses are on-demand, and the course contents are permanently available, meaning that access to them don't expire. This is really important if you want to learn something at your own pace, which is probably why we are turning to learning over the internet in the first place. Since pretty much anyone can sign up to publish and teach courses, you get people from all over who are very interested in teaching. The ability to teach isn't a piece of paper that says you are qualified to teach, but it is mostly the experience in the content and also a passion to share that knowledge.

One of the main things that I have found browsing the Udemy site is the content of the course. While Coursera teaches a lot of courses that you might be able to find in a university, many of them are purely academic and it is to increase your knowledge and understanding of a specific topic. On Udemy, it seems that most of the courses are aimed at teaching very immediate, actionable skillsets, such as language speaking, photography or software training. The goal at the end of the courses all seem very similar - to equip you the a specific skill that you were looking to acquire, and to ensure that you can perform that skill.

So, I find Coursera very enriching mentally, but not so useful in real life. I find Udemy much more focused on practical usage. Because of the focus on acquiring specific skills, many Udemy courses also teach you how to monetize that skill further down the road once you have practiced and improved it. Becoming a freelance web page designer, app builder, dog trainer, Airbnb host, bartender, photographer has never been so simple and easy before.

I think that I have shared this before casually perhaps just rambling in previous posts, but one of my interests is actually in education and teaching. If not for the lower pay and weirder hours (relative to by current job), I might have probably ended up as a teacher today.

So, it came to no surprise that the course that caught my eye the most is a course about teaching online! Very inception-ish, I know. Because of the really good deal being offered by Udemy now, all courses on their website cost only $19 to take (until Monday). This course about teaching online costs $499 regularly, so only paying $19 for this course would be a total steal for me! I think online teaching is a great idea. You develop and publish a course once, then collect passive income on it! It has no on-going costs, it has no expenses. There are no hassles involving renting a venue, organizing classes, dealing with tough or disruptive students. I don't see any RISKS involved in such an online venture. The worst case scenario? You spend a month planning, producing, publishing your content and you have no students. Even then, it would still be a learning experience!

Of course, the biggest problem that I have is that I don't really have anything to teach yet. I won't want to teach anything related to finance, unless it is in academia. Blowback can be huge, and basically anyone that takes your course will just be gunning for stock tips. Lame.

As much as I want to learn new things, I'm actually going to be very occupied over the next 2-3 months. I have a project at work ending soon, and I'll be starting a even bigger one after that. I'm already committed weekly to a language learning class. I also haven't finished reading my books and the RES course notes. I haven't started a series of posts that I have been wanting to do. And I also haven't trimmed down my watchlists of stocks. Seriously guys, where do all the free time go?

Anyway, the point of this post is to help shed some light that it is entirely possible to learn things and skills to upgrade yourself. Sign up for a course, acquire a skill, improve that skill and freelance on weekends. Design a logo once every weekend for $50 and that's $200 a month. Help a friend design a simple website for their small online business and charge them a rate below the market. Beef up your portfolio with small and simple jobs and one day who knows, with your own proprietary template, you can do quick weekend jobs and beef up your income by a sizable amount.

Too many people complain about their situations in life and what are all the reasons caused by everyone else that put them in such a position. They believe that where they are is where they always will be and they can't do anything to change their future.

The path to anywhere worth going isn't easy. Learning and developing a new skill isn't easy either. If it was easy, everyone could do it and it would become absolutely worthless.


  1. High Five !

    I use Coursera too! We have been trying to launch a Udemy course too but work-related commitments keep hindering us at the moment.... Will share with you when it finally happens!

    1. Nice Bfgf, any sneak preview what the course might be about? Wish you guys all the best!

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    Love from Asad Niazi


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