Udemy's new iPhone app: The quest for video learning, anytime, anywhere

"It comes back to that need for time. Folks need to be able to get in, get out and keep moving."
- Dinesh Thiru, vice president of marketing at Udemy

In the education space and the world at large, time is of the essence. When we spoke with Udemy's President and COO Dennis Yang about the company's plans for mobile expansion back in December, he noted that "you need to be able to reach [students] when and where it's convenient for them." With this thought in mind, online learning marketplace Udemy launched its first iPhone app this week, tailor-made for its users' busy lives. 

After the app launched, Education Dive spoke with Dinesh Thiru, Udemy's vice president of marketing, about the needs Udemy wants to serve with the app. Thiru believes that consumption of Udemy courses will increasingly occur on mobile platforms. Udemy recently learned that 50% of its students cited the ability to take courses on demand as their number one reason for using their platform. Udemy wanted to further students' ability to access courses whenever and wherever they want to and, naturally, this led them to create their first mobile app.

In particular, Thiru cited offline viewing as one of the app's features which maximize convenience and save time for users.

"If you’re getting onto a plane and you’ve got five hours, you’re flying across the U.S., you can save that course and watch it while you're on the plane," he explained.

Thiru also noted users can watch courses at higher speeds: "To some folks that sounds a little weird. I wonder if I can understand the instructor that way? And it takes five or ten seconds, but then you realize, wow, you really can and it's taking you half the time to learn what you were previously learning."

The feedback Udemy received included a real-world example from one woman, whose story Thiru related over the phone.

"We were talking to a student recently—she works full time, she’s also a mom and she’s telling us about her day and she’s just swamped," he said." She’s working full-time, she goes home, she’s picking up a few groceries on the way home, she’s cooking dinner, some evenings she has commitments, on the weekend she’s taking her daughter to dance rehearsal and, at the same time, she’s trying to find time to keep learning. It’s hard. We’ve got to enable her to do it. She’s doing a two hour commute? We’ve got to help her learn while she’s on her commute. We’ve got to help her do it while she’s at lunch or after the kids go to bed. That’s really what the iPhone app is all about."

When asked about Udemy's plans for the future, Thiru said although Udemy started off its mobile expansion on an iOS platform, "Android will definitely be coming in the future."


Would you like to see more education news like this in your inbox on a daily basis? Subscribe to our Education Dive email newsletter! You may also want to read Education Dive's list of 10 iPad accessories that are perfect for classrooms.

Filed Under: Technology Online Learning
Top image credit: Brian Warmoth