"Education Must be Dynamic and Meet Individuals Where They Are, In Their Moment of Need"

Irwin Anand, MD, Udemy India in an interaction with Entrepreneur India shares his views on why the Covid-19 prompted shift to virtual learning is a fundamental shift that will sustain over the long term
"Education Must be Dynamic and Meet Individuals Where They Are, In Their Moment of Need"
Image credit: Udemy

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San Francisco-based online learning and teaching marketplace Udemy started its India operations in January 2019. As the managing director of Udemy’s India operations Irwin Anand will tell you, India is one of the top markets for the global edtech major.

“As one of the top markets for Udemy, India operations have been a priority. We continue to grow our team locally as we streamline our business and localize the platform,” said Anand in an interaction with Entrepreneur India.

Udemy has been clocking consistent growth in the Indian market, which was further catapulted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Since late February this year, course enrollments on the platform have increased over 200 per cent in India and about 425 per cent globally. In particular, three of the 130,000 courses offered on the platform have clocked phenomenal growth in the last six months—Communication Skills (606 per cent), Financial Analysis (311 per cent) and Business Fundamentals (281 per cent).

On being asked what is driving this growth, Anand says individuals and companies are increasingly realizing the importance of continuous learning and upskilling in today’s fast-evolving job market.

“Covid-19 accelerated these trends (individuals and organisations consistently upskilling) as companies and their employees had to transition to a new way of working and doing business practically overnight,” said Anand.

Besides India, Udemy has offices in Denver, Brazil, Ireland and Turkey.

Connecting Learners and Instructors

Udemy’s model is different from edtech majors such as Vedantu and Byju’s, as its platform offers professional courses beyond the K-12—kindergarten to 12th grade—curriculum. The platform offers about 130,000 online courses across categories like programming, design, music, marketing, health and fitness, business and data science, among others.

Moreover, the platform does not create the content itself. Experts from different fields sign up on the platform to develop their own courses.

Essentially, Udemy is a marketplace connecting learners and field experts.

“Our success is underpinned by our business model–Udemy has been an open, global marketplace from day one,” said Anand. “Being a marketplace allows us to have the most current and relevant courses that teach real-world skills. Learners can choose from the largest selection of courses based on their preferences around course type, timeline, and level of engagement with instructors.”

Globally, over 35 million learners and 57,000 expert instructors across 180 countries use the platform to learn and teach courses in over 65 languages. Udemy refused to share India’s share in the overall user base.

The company also runs a corporate learning solutions program, Udemy for Business that offers companies employee training programs and courses on the most in-demand skills that their employees can learn to become efficient collaborators. The companies can also host and distribute their own content.

About 80 per cent of Fortune 100 companies use employee upskilling prgrammes on Udemy, as per the company. In India, companies such as Wipro, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra and Tetrasoft are some of its clients for the Udemy for Business solution.

The Future of Learning

Anand points that Covid-19 has only accelerated the already growing online learning market. As students and teachers increasingly adopt and adjust to virtual learning, this is a fundamental shift that will be sustained over, he says.

“With greater numbers of people being exposed to online learning for the first time, we anticipate that many may continue to rely on learning this way in the future.”

Udemy has registered a significant surge in enrollments and consumption across consumers and enterprises in the last six-seven months as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted businesses across sectors, forcing them to re-think business models and up-skill their employees in line with changing demands. Also, paycuts and job losses have prompted individual working professionals to fill the skills gap and take up new professional courses to stay relevant in a competitive job market.

“These trends illustrate not only a need for learning, but a need for learning that’s accessible and flexible. It’s also clear that in order to be effective, education must be dynamic and meet individuals where they are, in their specific moment of need,” Anand added.

In the past few months, the company has released Udemy Free Resource Center, which is a curated collection of over 600 free courses to help students learn new skills during the lockdown. Additionally, it has witnessed a significant growth of 55 per cent in course creation by instructors since the first lockdown orders came out around February in some countries.

So far, the Silicon Valley-based unicorn has raised USD 223 million in funding over nine rounds, with the latest being USD 50 million funding in Series E round in February 220. Its investors include Insight Partners, Prosus (Naspers Ventures), Norwest Venture Partners, Stripes Group and Benesse Holdings.

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