Discussion with Udemy students results in new strategy #mooc #elearners #Udemy

Student engagement in the Mooc space is an ongoing mystery that I am trying to solve.

I published “Your Writing Process: 9 Easy Steps to Better Writing” a little over 2 months ago. At first I thought I was a genius and it was an instant sensation with 600 enrolled to the free course in the first week.

After 2 months, of watching the course completion statistics, I began to notice some interesting results. Despite 9 unsolicited and very positive reviews and over 1000 enrolled students, less than 1% of the students finished the course and only 119 had even started.

I decided to confide in my students and find out their opinions why this is the case. See below to read what they told me.

First you will see my announcement and then you will see their answers with the first names only and the links to their pages blocked out.

After about a 1.5 months on Udemy.

  • I have 1112 students.
  • 7 very good reviews.
  • 119 at least started (above 0% completion)
  • 11 achieved 100% completions.
  • Around 27 completed more than 50% of course
  • 993 never started.

Fascinating data points.

As Students why do you think so few who sign up actually ever take the course and less than 1% complete 100% of the course?

Would it be a better incentive for students to start the course and finish if I offered 15-20 minutes of real time feedback to students who completed the course?


If I charged a nominal fee ($5-10), would students be more likely to complete the course?

Thanks for your feedback,



  • James – At this point I have 183 courses in mycourses list. I think it is a matter of time. I signed up for your course. I have no idea when I will have the time and or finish it. It whenever I can get to it. I think this is probably true of others as well. · 8 days ago ·
  • Andy – The likely cause of the large gap between students who sign up and those that start and/or finish your course may be from the fact that it is a free course, with no barrier to entry. People with only a passing interest in writing may sign up for it as they are browsing the courses available on Udemy. Because it is more of an impulse “buy”, rather than a purchase made because of a burning desire or need to improve their writing, they have no motivation to really start the course with an intention of finishing. · 8 days ago ·
  • Andy – It is possible that you would have a higher finish rate if you charged a small fee, even $10. The other thing to try would be to rebrand it as an Executive Level writing course or something and charge $79 for it. Sometimes people associate a higher price with greater value, and do not see it as a greater risk. It’s hard to say what the best strategy is. · 8 days ago ·
  • Theresa – I signed up for it so I wouldn’t lose it. Plan to do it next year while my kids are doing homeschool. · 8 days ago ·
  • Tony – I’m one of the 993. I bought it while they were having a sale along with several other courses. I’m slowly working my way through those courses now. · 8 days ago ·
  • Tony – I can only guess at the reasons. Perhaps they signed up because it was free and then it turned out to be something different than they thought. Perhaps they found out that some actual effort was involved and quickly moved on. I think sometimes people look for things that will help them better themselves; however, they want the results by just clicking a button and not by exerting themselves in any way. I myself will finish the course in due time along with any others I feel will help me along the road to making money with my writing. I hope this helps. · 8 days ago ·
  • Robert – I have nothing additional to add Scott. It’s like most people who have lots of books on their shelves and yet they haven’t read most of them. They kid themselves saying “I’ll get around to reading this that or the other, someday”. It would take me years to get through all I have bought in bookshops. · 8 days ago ·
  • Susan – I signed up and didn’t start right away. I love to learn but I tend to overreach. I have decided to do 4 to 6 lessons a day — in alternating courses, until I get complete. · 8 days ago ·
  • me

    Sheila – I am one of the 11 who completed the course and wrote the review of my art class. I sent it in to the art instructor and had only 3 minor corrections to make and he complemented me on a job well done. This is the first writing course I have taken that I actually was able to follow and write an article from beginning to completion. The course was well done and with the example you presented and demonstrated on how you do it, really helped make it simple and easy to follow. I enjoyed the course very much.
    In addition to that, I took several other courses through Udemy and completed all of them as well. I paid for all of them except this one and enjoyed them all. It is good to have a class free sometimes when you pay for everything else. It won’t matter what you do, there is always going to be some who take advantage of the opportunities available to them and others who won’t be able to for a wide variety of reasons. There is a lot of work involved and sometimes the work is too much for various reasons, and there is nothing they can do about it,
    I also think it would help if people had homework to do in a certain time frame that might motivate people. I know many people want to know if they are getting it and want to get feedback on their progress.
    In addition, since I took the course, I have started working on an article I have been wanting to do for some time, but couldn’t get the information together in a well presented way, but now, I am using your method and so far, it is coming together nicely.
    I hope you don’t get too discouraged to continue, it is not anything you are doing that has caused this situation, but it is the result of a lot of people with a lot going on in their lives and have good intentions that aren’t always able to do what they would like to do. I hope this helps! · 8 days ago ·
  • Asian – Sometimes with the best will in the world, life just gets in the way. · 8 days ago ·
  • me

    Scott Kramer – Thank you all dearly for the thoughtful feedback. Not only did I learn from the insights offered, but I must say I admire the concise writing. I have two more courses on the way and will keep you all posted as they are finished. Best regards, Scott Kramer · 8 days ago ·
  • Tea – I am new to online learning, but am thrilled with the many possibilities. Perhaps a bit too much so. Like others above, I have entered more than a few classes just to be sure I do not lose them. I am a mother of two, looking for work, and currently taking 3 classes which are NOT self paced. Since they are already in progress and I have to swim if I don’t want to sink, they take priority. I cannot do All The Courses all at once, but when my schedule opens up, I want to have interesting courses like this one already on lock down right where I can find them. · 2 days ago ·

So my change of course has begun.  First, I  have begun to charge for the course. I charged $30 to begin with and lowered it to $19 after two days and no new bites by students.  I was averaging 10-15 enrolled a day when it was free. So far there have been no new students. With this, I am going to begin a marketing effort using Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter to build awareness and to distribute Udemy coupons. Finally, I am going to get two more courses launched in the next two months.

I accept that fact that I may have far less students by charging.  The hope is that the students that do sign up are invested in the course and actually finish it. If after a month there is no significant shift and a regular enrollments then I will lower the price again.

I will keep you all posted on my results.  If any educators would like a coupon to try the course and review it please email me at uwritingprocess@gmail.com


Panel: Do you even need to go to film school? Conclusions! (Part 5) #elearner #Pi8 #PTW15 #onlineeducation

And finally that dreaded question all tech-savvy self-guided learners are asking with the emergence of online education:

Will film school become obsolete as all the skills and tools are available for free or low cost online?

Here are some highlights:

  • There will always be people who need the structure of a film school; they will need the guidance of an instructor.
  • Film schools teach within the parameters of the skill. If you go to light a scene and you don’t have the 6 ton truck of lights, you still need to know how to light the scene.  Through school you learn there are many ways to skin a cat.  It is about learning to understand where and when you are in the situation. A film school education can lead you to this understanding.
  • eLearning offers the place where theory and concept are delivered at your own time and at your own pace and the classroom and the field will be used for doing and making and getting teacher and peer feedback.
  • The eLearning massive open online class and highly populated communities are great for the mere numbers. In a class of 20 you may have 3 or 4 highly motivated students, but out of ten thousand students, 2000 are superstars. You are more likely to build a network with many more highly motivated filmmakers. Instead of spending a year trying to figure out an answer, you can just ask someone you met online that knows the answer.
  • Every lesson you can think of is online. At first as a teacher, I was worried that they don’t need me anymore.

I realized that people don’t  necessarily know what that thing is that they need to know right now.  They know there are 10,000 things they can go learn how to do. Without someone experienced seeing what they are doing right now and saying this is your next step. I’ve been there before.

  • Film schools offer that mentor or curator role to professionally guide a student’s education.
  • Online education will not do away with traditional educators, but it should free them up. The role will change.  They must know who the students are and know where they are in their knowledge and experience, so they can work as a guide and give the students a little nudge to move beyond each individual’s developmental level.


Yes, there is still a need for film school, both artsy and technical. It also seems very clear there is huge value in these traditional institutions embracing and helping cultivate online learning resources to work as supplemental education, so the students have a complete education. They should additionally move towards the flipped classroom model so students can use the time in the classroom for primarily doing and making, and teachers can become guides, curators, and mentors.

Will Online Education Transform Filmmaking? Open Question Session (Part 4) #elearner #Pi8 #PTW15

Considering the unique technical needs of filmmakers, how can educational technology be utilized on location to offer more of a mentor and apprentice dynamic?


From the discussion, these are resources available that offer some of these benefits

What may one day be possible:

Even though the serious film student puts time into the classroom and they are self-taught using the latest online film education, the student may need real-time resources that offer mentoring from experts when the young filmmaker reaches an impasse on location as they are shooting a film.

Imagine a subscription service for film and video production mentoring by industry leading professionals that can be accessed anywhere and anytime through an IOS or Android app using text or video chat.