Online course providers typically target students, but Udemy is going after an underserved group: professionals.
The San Francisco-based company launched “Udemy for Organizations” today to help companies train their employees. The available courses include soft skills, like people management and public speaking, as well as training in common programs, like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Excel.
A small business might decide to buy twenty licenses for the marketing team to refresh their understanding of Excel — Udemy offers a popular Excel for beginners and intermediaries online course. Alternatively, if the CMO has been knee deep in spreadsheets for years and has knowledge to share, employees can create their own Udemy course.
The company will be rolling out its new corporate training and development program during the coming weeks.
“We have formal education on our platform — but much of it is skill development and life-long learning,” said Dennis Yang, Udemy’s COO, in an interview.
Udemy is one of the well-known providers of massive open online course — dubbed “MOOCs.” While it’s rival Coursera has focused on enlisting lecturers from top colleges like Harvard and Stanford to teach college-level students, Udemy has excelled at professional and corporate training.
It’s also a potential revenue opportunity; Yang said it’s free for customers to register to Udemy, but the company charges for some courses. In future, they will consider offering a site-wide license for larger organizations.
One of the biggest challenges for MOOCs is to convince people to take courses for the sake of learning. For this reason, Coursera received widespread attention from educators and policy-makers when a handful of its courses were approved for college credit. A few months later, a landmark bill was proposed in the Senate to force California’s public colleges and universities to give credit for online courses.
Yang said they will leave it up to the organization to provide “branded recognition” for employees that pass one of its corporate development courses. The hope is that employees will earn promotions and salary boosts by picking up new skills from Udemy, and continue to enroll in its online courses.