Udemy: Online course enrollment surged 425% amid lockdowns

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Udemy has released data highlighting people’s move to online courses during lockdown and the specific courses they’re enrolling in.

The San Francisco-based company, one of the prominent platforms in the “massively open online course” (MOOC) movement, said it saw a more than 400% spike in course enrollments for individuals between February and March. Similarly, business and government use increased by 80%, while instructors created 55% more new courses.

The data supports other reports from around the world that indicate the online learning industry has been boosted by lockdown measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. It also follows a trend in the business realm, which has seen demand for remote-working tools go through the roof.

Spike

Udemy’s data indicates that demand was starting to increase slightly in early March, before the first national lockdown was ordered in Italy on March 11. As countries around the world followed suit in the weeks that followed, enrollments increased by 425% in late March from the previous month’s baseline, and in the following month it has largely remained at above 300%.

Above: Udemy enrollment growth

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Digging down into the types of courses people have been studying reveals a lot about people’s current circumstances. According to Udemy’s figures, in the U.S. people have been leaning toward creative courses, with Adobe Illustrator lessons up 326%, while in India there has been a 281% rise in Business Fundamentals and a 606% growth in courses offering communication skills. Italy, meanwhile, saw a 431% rise in people seeking guitar lessons, followed by copywriting (418%) and Photoshop (347%).

Looking at the top-line growth figures, technical drawing has seen the biggest overall surge, with an increase of 920%, followed by Art for Kids (5315), pilates (402%), and coding for kids (375%). Looking at tech skills, specifically, Google’s open source machine learning framework Tensorflow has been in high demand, with a 46% increase.

Above: Udemy course demand

Founded in 2010, Udemy has claimed some 50 million student enrollments in its 10-year history, spanning 150,000 courses — ranging from communication and team management to coding and data science. Udemy raised a fresh $50 million in funding less than two months ago — valuing the company at $2 billion — which has turned out to be fortuitous timing as businesses and consumers will have to rely more on remote learning throughout 2020 and likely beyond.

Figures from before the pandemic indicated that the global elearning market was gearing up to reach $319 billion by 2025, up from $188 billion in 2019. With the future of work and education likely to become the norm for the foreseeable future, things are looking rosy for Udemy and its ilk. Moreover, Udemy’s data indicates that people are turning to online learning for both personal hobbies and professional development, which highlights how big its potential market could be.