A New Marketplace Standard for Free Courses

Free courses on Udemy are a common way that new students currently preview the Udemy experience. As the first touch-point for many new students, we require a higher quality standard for free courses that are live on the platform. This ensures that all students (both paying students and free students) have an amazing first experience with the brand, which encourages students to go on and purchase more Udemy courses.

What is the Quality Standard for Free Courses?

All courses, both free and paid, are measured on a Recent Review Rating – the average score of all of your reviews over the past 90 days (or the last 10 ratings).

We evaluate all free courses using their Recent Review Rating and a ‘confidence rating’. We use this ‘confidence rating’ in order to not unduly hurt free courses – a course with 1000 reviews and a 3.9 rating is a very different scenario than a course with 5 reviews and a 3.9 rating.

If a free course has a Recent Review Rating less than 4.1, an “At Risk” signal will pop-up in your instructor dashboard:
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If a free course has a Recent Review Rating less than 4.1 and is tagged with a ‘high degree of confidence’ the course will be hidden from Udemy’s search.

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What Happens to Free Courses Below the Standard?

When a free course has a Recent Review Rating less than 4.1 and is flagged with a ‘high degree of confidence’ the course will be hidden from Udemy’s search. That means that students searching for the course on the website will not be able to find it, and the course will not be featured in any Udemy promotions.

The course will, however, still be live both through its direct link, and via its instructor’s profile link.

How do I get back into the Marketplace?

If you have a free course that has fallen below the Recent Review quality standard, here are some techniques you can use to improve:

Mine the data in your reviews
Student feedback is priceless. Here’s how to best use it.

  • Export your reviews to CSV. You can filter reviews by star and tag reviews to determine trends. Spend some time really understanding what your students are saying.
  • Reply to students. Want more information from a student who left a low star? Did one student give very helpful feedback and you want more? Reply to your reviews to better understand what students mean.

Perform a self evaluation
Go through your course as a student, and look at your content with a critical eye. What are you doing well? What is outdated and needs updating? As a starting point, look at the following things:

  • Jump in quickly. Do you jump right into your course content after a brief introduction? Or do you have a long set-up lecture, a long personal introduction, and a long lecture about what this course is going to deliver? Cut all that intro and dive right into the content.
  • Practicality is king. Is your course content applicable to your students’ lives? Are you teaching them theory, or how to actually apply their learning? Udemy students are practical learners – they need to know how your course will change their life. Make that clear for them.
  • Know your category. What courses have high ratings in your category and subcategory? What are they doing that you could emulate? This is a great way to better understand what Udemy students want.

FAQ

Why does this only apply to free courses?
This standard currently only applies to free courses because of the high levels of enrollments of new students into those courses. It’s important for a new student to have an amazing experience with Udemy, otherwise they won’t come back and purchase more of your courses. While currently this standard only applies to free courses, we are exploring extending the standard to paid courses in the future.

How will I know if my course has been hidden from search?
If your course is tagged by our algorithm as “At Risk” you’ll 1) receive an email and 2) see a notification in your instructor dashboard:
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Because this new standard does not go live until July 13, you’ll also receive various resources throughout the month to help you improve.

You’ll also get an email and a notification in your dashboard if your course has been removed from Udemy’s search.

What happens if I switch my free course to paid?
If you have a free course that has been hidden from Udemy’s search and you switch it to paid, the course will be reinstated to search. However, because the course’s ranking is below the marketplace average, it may not be easily visible. We also highly recommend improving your course as, although this standard currently only applies to free courses, we are exploring extending the standard to paid courses in the future.

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