Applying Udemy’s instructional design model to online learning in higher education

Wilson, Shane (2021) Applying Udemy’s instructional design model to online learning in higher education.


As we emerged from the initial period of “emergency remote teaching”, educators refocused efforts on identifying proven models of online education. The instructional design models employed by commercially successful massive online open course (MOOC) platforms such as Udemy, Coursera and Udacity have gained significant attention from traditional educators as a result. Udemy provides comprehensive resources covering best practices in learner analysis, course planning, scaffolding learning activities and video production techniques. Udemy’s course design model places particular emphasis on active learning via instructional videos that incorporate learner focused activities and problem-based learning (PBL). These design strategies have been shown to be highly effective at promoting learner engagement (Hew, 2014) as well as being commercially successful. The Udemy platform is currently valued at $2 billion and has over 35 million students mastering new skills from 57,000 instructors teaching over 130,000 online courses (Udemy, 2020).

This work evaluates the application of Udemy’s online course design framework and provides insights into the use of instructional videos within higher education. An online module in Database Technology with 34 students at LYIT was selected for the study. Over 80 instructional videos totalling seven hours with accompanying activities, quizzes and additional learning resources were produced to assist students with mastering the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, in advance of attending online sessions. Online sessions focused on helping students to master the higher order skills by completing PBL exercises, often in collaboration with their peers. Students were encouraged to share their solutions by posting them online for peer review. Instructor feedback and sample solutions were outlined to further aid student understanding. This cycle of peer instruction, collaborative review and feedback continued for the duration of each online session. Students were encouraged to continue exploring the topic and related issues outside of class with peer communication facilitated by a dedicated virtual classroom within Microsoft Teams. This “peer support network” provided invaluable feedback, help and in many cases encouragement for students who required additional support outside of scheduled online classes.

Initial analysis of student engagement data recorded by the VLE and video streaming service are extremely encouraging. The average online activity of each student increased from 46.25 hours in 2019 to over 69.3 in 2020. While a detailed analysis of viewing data within the video streaming platform (Panopto) has yet to be completed, the headline figures are impressive. Over 18,500 minutes of video content were consumed by the students. Each student watched on average ten hours of instructional videos with a mean video completion rate of 95%. Viewing data shows that students will often replay videos multiple times. Analysis of user session timestamps suggest students will review videos to refresh their understanding of core concepts prior to completing practice exercises or formal assessments. Comparison of video length versus completion rates indicate that video length influences completion rates with students preferring shorter videos. Analysis of engagement data and informal student feedback suggests Udemy’s instructional design model provides an effective framework for online learning in higher educational setting.

View Item