How course maintenance can boost your performance

Publishing a course is a big undertaking! When the hard work of production is over, it’s tempting to think you’re done with that content forever. But one of the best things about creating an online course rather than more traditional publishing is that you can keep making it better over time – and those efforts can help set you apart from your competition.


Why are course updates important?


Learners come to Udemy to keep their skills sharp. So, they’re looking for fresh, relevant, engaging content. When choosing between similar courses, learners may use a course’s last update date to gauge how likely it is to help them meet their goals today. Conversely, content that is out of date may provoke negative reviews, which may deter other learners from choosing it. 


Many of the highest-performing courses on Udemy are updated several times a year.


When should you update your course?


Every subject is different, and different courses will require a different game plan for maintenance. Here are a few things that might signal it’s time to make some changes:


  • The topic you teach has a material change: Learners expect to find the most up-to-date information and skills on Udemy. As new software versions, skill applications, or industry trends emerge, consider updating your course to address these new dimensions of your topic. Technical topics in particular require more frequent updates and clear labeling, as learners need to know which version of a software or programming language you’re teaching, and whether or not to expect the course to evolve with the tech. 
  • You notice a downward trend in your ratings: Over time, learner preferences can change, or you might reach a new audience with different expectations as your reach on Udemy grows. For example, having your content included in Udemy Business might expose it to a professional audience with a desire for more practical examples, or more concise explanations. Watch your ratings to determine if you need to make changes to address learner feedback.
  • You see opportunities to improve learner engagement: Your Performance dashboard lets you see which parts of your course are getting the most and least engagement. If you notice that a particular lecture or section isn’t resonating, it might be time to redo it. 


What kinds of updates can you make?


There’s no single formula for a great course update, but here are a few ways you could update your course:

  • Fixing issues: Maybe a review has pointed out some out-of-date information in a particular lecture, or Q&A is suggesting that you need to explain a particular concept more clearly. Maybe on rewatching your own course, you realize you made an error in your demonstration. Quick fixes can show learners you’re paying attention to their experience.
  • Including more practice: Learners – especially professional learners – love an opportunity to apply what they’re learning. Creating additional practice activities or case studies helps keep learners engaged and can help them see the practical value of your content.
  • Adding content: You may realize from Q&A or from industry insight that you have an opportunity to address additional topics in your course and better serve your learners. For example, you might add a section explaining the impact of recent macroeconomic trends or implications of generative AI with respect to your topic.


When you’ve made material course updates, be sure to update your landing page to reflect your work. You can also use this opportunity to ensure you’ve got the right keywords and messaging to set yourself apart.


Additionally, when you update your course, it’s a good idea to make an Educational Announcement to let your learners know what’s new. This can re-engage learners who are subscribed to your course communications. Learners who aren’t notified about new announcements (such as Udemy Business learners) can still access the announcement within the course-taking experience and benefit from the additional context.


What happens to the learner experience when you update your course?


Course updates go right to your learners, so when you hit “publish” on that new lecture or practice activity, they’ll see the change right away. While learners are generally excited to get new or refreshed content, here are a few things to keep in mind when updating your course:


  • Learner progress: Udemy lets learners track what percentage of a course they’ve completed (you can see most learners’ completion percentage for a given course in your Student List).

    When you make an update to a course, each learner’s completion percentage will be recalculated as the number of current lectures they’ve completed out of the total lectures now in the course. So, if you delete a section a learner has already completed and replace it with a new one, or if you add net new content to a course, learners will see their completion percentage drop. Learners who have already completed 100% of a course will retain access to their certificate of completion at its original URL, but won’t be able to generate a new one or access it via the Udemy interface until they complete the additional lectures or exercises.

    If you don’t delete existing lectures, but instead replace the content inside them (video or text lectures), learner progress is maintained. Similarly, if you edit a quiz rather than replacing it, learner progress isn’t affected. So, when you’re making nonstructural updates that replace existing lectures cleanly with new, equivalent ones, it can create a smoother learner experience if you edit your existing sections and lectures rather than deleting and recreating them.
  • Udemy Business admin reporting: Course progress for learners in Udemy Business is visible to their account administrators (e.g. managers, Learning & Development leads, etc.). Completion percentage in this view is calculated the same way as for learners, as described above.
  • Learning paths: Udemy Business customers can add content (courses, sections, or individual lectures) to “learning paths,” which are curated learning sequences for their employees. If you delete content included in a learning path, it will be removed from that path. As with learner progress, editing content instead of replacing it will preserve it within a path. 


When should you retire a course and produce a new one, rather than updating? 


Sometimes, you may find that your intended course updates are so extensive that the resulting content could be its own course. For example, the software you teach may have an extensive update that would require refilming nearly every lecture. 


Deciding whether to publish a whole new version of a course or update the existing one is fundamentally a business strategy decision. Here are some things you’ll want to consider when making that choice:


    1. Will there still be demand for the current version of your course? New technologies can coexist with older ones. If many of your learners may still be using the current version of your technology for a long time (e.g. Microsoft Office), you probably want to keep the current version of your course available to serve that need. Here, publishing a distinct version for the new technology probably makes more sense.
    2. Is there an upsell opportunity to current learners? Udemy learners generally expect that content will be kept up-to-date, but they understand that lifetime access doesn’t mean access to every major evolution of what you’re teaching. If you think that learners in the current version of your course are likely to view the updates as a new topic and see the value in learning it, you might consider publishing a new course that lets you re-monetize your current audience.
    3. What is the risk of giving up your current course’s traction? It can be tough to start from scratch on ratings, reviews, and discoverability. If your course already has significant traction (e.g. it’s high up in search results for your topic, or it’s included in the Udemy Business collection), you’ll want to consider how long it might take you to re-build that momentum with a new course. 


Note that if your course is included in Udemy Business and you decide to retire it, you’ll need to notify our Support team. It may stay in the collection 6-12 months after retirement from the Marketplace to give customers time to remove it from any potential programs.


About Udemy’s Marketplace Maintenance program


Udemy periodically removes content that hasn’t seen much recent learner or instructor interest. Stay engaged with your course and make regular updates to ensure it stays live on the platform. You can read more about the Marketplace Maintenance program in our Help Center.


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