Should You Learn to Code With Udemy? A Udemy Review
To Udemy, or not to Udemy?
When you start looking for help online, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed by choices—coding bootcamps, paid classes, online tutorials…how do you decide which one is right for you?
If you’ve spent even a second researching how to learn to code online, you’ve definitely seen the name Udemy. Actually, they seem to be everywhere you look—even for more specific courses like SEO, Python, even bookbinding..
But is Udemy really all that? Or do they just have a great digital marketing department? Let’s break down how Udemy works, how it stacks up as a coding school, whether you should use it, and where to go next if you do (or even if you don’t).
Table of Contents
- Our Score
- What is Udemy and How Does It Work?
- Learning to Code With Udemy: The Pros
- Learning to Code With Udemy: The Cons
- The Takeaway
In the interest of keeping things simple, we’ll tell you right here that we give Udemy a 7/10 on average. Scroll through to read about Udemy’s pros and cons, plus see a detailed breakdown of our scores in our section “The Takeaway”.
By the way, here’s how Udemy stacks up against other online schools we’ve previously reviewed:
- Udemy: 7/10.
- Codecademy: 6/10.
What is Udemy and How Does It Work?
Founded in 2010, Udemy is an online learning platform—the same genre as platforms like edX, Coursera, Udacity, and Khan Academy—but with a twist.
Most online learning platforms either host their own curriculum content (Udacity and Khan Academy), or curate university course material (edX and Coursera). Udemy, on the other hand, identifies itself as a “learning and teaching marketplace,” meaning its user base is made up of both students AND instructors.
How does this work? The 130,000+ courses Udemy currently advertises on their site are created, owned, and managed by Udemy users. These courses range from free to paid. Absolutely anyone can create a free course, but users who want to charge for their courses need to apply to become a “premium instructor.”
The result? A whoooole lot of courses on just about every topic imaginable (including coding). So what are the pros and cons to Udemy’s unique approach, particularly when it comes to learning how to code?
Learning to Code with Udemy: The Pros
Udemy Has a Ton of Coding Classes to Choose From
Udemy offers over 2,000 coding classes, meaning you’ll have a LOT of options.
As of this writing, a search for “coding” on Udemy’s site brings up over 2,000 results. That’s a whole lot of choices. The upside? No matter what specific coding skills you’re looking to learn, there’s a very good chance Udemy has a class for you. It also means you’ll have a wide choice of classes even after you narrow down your topic.
Unlike platforms that create their own content (or even ones that curate from a limited amount of sources) Udemy doesn’t offer, for instance, just one HTML class taught in a specific style that may or may not work for you.
You’ll be able to scroll through a number of HTML offerings (or whichever language or skill you’re looking for), compare user reviews, and even preview classes before enrolling. This allows you to find a class and instructor that meshes with your particular learning style (though all this choice comes with some drawbacks, too, as we’ll explain below).
Udemy is Pretty Darn Affordable
Udemy classes can be as cheap as $10 and come with a 30-day money back guarantee, making Udemy a relatively inexpensive, risk-free option
Let’s face it: learning to code can be a PRICEY proposition. Tuition for in-person coding bootcamps ranges from $9,000 to $21,000 in the United States! Fortunately learning coding skills doesn’t need to be nearly that expensive.
As mentioned above, Udemy’s offerings range from free classes to paid, but even those classes that cost money (and are probably more attractive due to their instructors passing Udemy’s premium verification process) range between a more digestible $20-$200.
It’s worth noting that Udemy runs sales and discounts on paid classes, sometimes lowering them to as little as $10 (and even users who’ve already bought are eligible for these discounted prices if the sales occur within 30 days of a purchase).
If you’re wondering how long you’ll have access to classes after purchasing, all Udemy classes include lifetime access, along with a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the course. This all combines to make Udemy a relatively inexpensive and risk-free option for learning how to code.
Udemy Lets You Learn at Your Own Pace
Udemy’s classes can be taken online from your home (or anywhere else with an internet connection) at whatever pace works for you,
There’s a common catch-22 with learning to code: you want to learn coding skills so you can start a new career, but you’re still working at the job you want to pivot from, so where’s the time to take classes? With in-person programs like coding bootcamps this presents a BIG problem.
In addition to being expensive, traditional coding bootcamps require full time participation at their physical campus for the duration of the program. That means you’ll need to have funds for tuition and living costs, while not being able to work while attending school. For most of us, that’s just not an option.
Udemy’s classes or not only online (meaning you can take them from the comfort of your own home, or whatever other wifi enabled spot you find comfortable), but they’re designed to be self-paced. There’s no timeframe or deadline for completing a class after you’ve enrolled or purchased. You have lifetime access and can finish the course at whatever pace works for you.
Udemy Instructors Can Keep Their Courses Updated and Offer Q&A Support
Udemy instructors have the ability to update their classes as needed, and each course features a Q&A tool for receiving instructor support.
Another one of Udemy’s pros is the fact that instructors are able to update their courses in real time (based on any relevant changes to the topic at hand). Of course, there’s a bit of a catch here.
While classes CAN be updated, there’s no guarantee they will be—updates are completely in the hands of individual course owners. And that speaks to one of Udemy’s cons that we’ll explore shortly: your experience with the platform can vary wildly depending on which courses you end up taking.
Finally, hand-in-hand with course updates, is the fact that Udemy’s instructors are available for Q&As. Udemy’s Q&A feature allows students to read previous answers from instructors, ask their own questions, or even answer questions for other students. This kind of support is a lot more helpful than reading a text or watching a video in a vacuum, but again the quality of support is totally dependent on the quality and commitment of the instructor.
Learning to Code With Udemy: The Cons
Udemy Doesn’t Offer Big Picture Guidance
Udemy’s “class-by-class” approach to learning to code lacks a strategy for turning coding skills into a career.
Our Head of Content Marketing, Kit Warchol, offers her hands-on takeaway from Udemy’s piece-by-piece format:
“I’ve used other online schools for deeper dives into topics (like General Assembly for Digital Marketing) but often use Udemy for bite-sized classes. Most recently, I took the SEO course by Moz. It’s great in that you can find very specific courses, but the quality is definitely hit or miss.
In the case of the Moz SEO class, I quickly realized that these were just the Whiteboard webinars that Moz offers on its own site, but they repurposed them into a ‘class.’ Kind of annoying to discover, but also…convenient because they put them in one place on Udemy, I guess?”
Yes, there’s nothing stopping you from piecing your own big picture together course by course, but there’s something to be said for the efficacy of learning skills in a way that shows you how to turn them into an actual career. This kind of presentation simply isn’t part of Udemy’s format, which means if you’re looking for holistic guidance you’ll have to look elsewhere (or supplement Udemy with other learning platforms).
Udemy Isn’t a Consistent Learning Experience
Taking classes from a ton of different instructors means you won’t get the kind of consistency you’ll find from a full service coding school.
Similar to its lack of a big picture approach, Udemy’s marketplace structure means there’s no consistency to its instruction style or course quality. This is a natural tradeoff that isn’t all bad—the sheer quantity of Udemy’s content means it can’t ALL be quality—but, if you’re brand new to coding, the last thing you need to get bogged down with is sifting through classes to find the right one.
Yeah, you might get lucky with Udemy and find a class that’s the right fit on your first try…or you might get stuck in the discovery process and lose valuable learning time.
Warchol found this to be the case in her own experience:
“Class quality completely varies depending on creator, so you never know for sure what you’re going to get. That means classes can feel dry or lightweight, and you won’t know it until you’ve dived in. But I’ve found some good courses on there as well. It’s sort of like going to a flea market—you gotta dig to find the gems.”
One of the clear cut advantages to other coding school alternatives is a more consistent approach to curriculum and instruction, and a predictable level of course quality. If you find a bootcamp or online school whose general teaching style meshes well with the kind of learner you are, and whose courses are consistently solid, you can expect to receive that style and quality for the duration of your coding education. That kind of consistency just isn’t a given with Udemy.
Udemy’s Learning Community is Limited
Udemy’s instructor and student interaction exists, but is more restricted than you’ll find with other coding schools.
Here’s a little secret about learning to code: in theory, you can learn just about anything you need to know by hunting and pecking your way through Google searches and developer forums. So what’s the point of paying for classes?
When you pay to learn to code, you’re paying for the curation of all that information, the guidance and support of a professional instructor, and a moderated community of other students who can help one another out. In other words, you’re paying for community. And when you pay for a Udemy class you ARE paying your way into an instructor and student community…sort of.
Like we mentioned earlier, Udemy courses come with a Q&A tool that makes them a LOT more useful than reading a tutorial on your own—you’ll be able to ask your instructor questions and even use the Q&A tool to interact with other student’s questions—but Udemy’s Q&A format is inherently more restrictive than being able to ask questions in an in-person bootcamp course or chat freely in a Slack room in a more full service online class.
Depending on how important instructor support and student community is to you, you’ll need to know that Udemy’s community exists, but is ultimately more limited than what you can find through other platforms.
Learning to Code With Udemy: The Takeaway
Final Score: 7/10
Ease of use: 9/10
Course Quality: 7/10
Instructor Support: 7/10
Career Counseling/Job Placement: 0/10
Refund Policy: 10/10
Udemy is a relatively inexpensive option for trying some beginning coding classes, but you’ll probably need to upgrade to a more dedicated coding school if you’re serious about making a career pivot to tech.
With all of these pros and cons in mind, what’s the final takeaway when it comes to learning to code with Udemy?
Our verdict: with their abundance of sale priced and classes and money back guarantees, Udemy is a solid platform for trying out beginning coding courses…but it’s a starting point, not an end point.
Udemy’s classes offer you a chance to get hands on with specific coding languages and learn some fundamentals, but—if you’re really serious about becoming a professional web developer—you’ll need to supplement Udemy’s courses with a platform that helps connect the dots into a career roadmap.
The good news is, this doesn’t need to mean jumping from Udemy’s a la carte online offerings to something like a pricey, in-person bootcamp. Plenty of other online platforms combine Udemy’s affordable, self-paced format with more full service instruction and career guidance. Aaand, since you happen to be reading this article on our site, you know we’ve got to plug our own alternative.
And if you want to put together a complete tech toolkit, take a look at our Skillcrush Break Into Tech program. This personalized online training program gives you:
- Access to 15 fun and interactive classes in technical skills and career development,
- Regular 1-on-1 career counseling sessions to keep you informed and inspired
- AND the most supportive learning community you’ll find anywhere in the world.