Naspers half year results for the six months ended 30 September 2020. More info here.
back to news overview

Q&A with Udemy’s Gregory Boutte

Views, 6 October 2016
In Ventures, Views

Q&A with Udemy’s Gregory Boutte Udemy is a global online marketplace for learning that Naspers invested in this past June. The courses are taught by an expert instructor, and every course is available on-demand, allowing students to learn at their own pace, on their own time, and on any device. There is immense potential with online learning because people worldwide are constantly looking to increase their skillsets worldwide. Think about hiring a life coach, which could cost upwards of $300+ per hour session. On Udemy, you can get lifetime access to life coaching techniques for less than $100 for several hours of instruction – and this can reach anyone in the world. This type of disruption could transform education globally. Naspers will help bring Udemy’s platform to even more learners and experts around the world. 
To celebrate World Teachers' Day happening this week, we spoke to Gregory Boutte, the VP of Content from Udemy and asked his thoughts on innovation in education. 
What’s your role at Udemy?
I am the VP of Content at Udemy and my focus is to grow Udemy’s library of content and make sure the courses our instructors produce bring a great experience to the students. In fact, we have over 20,000 instructors who teach 40,000 courses in more than 80 different languages on Udemy, and we’re very proud of that.
What problem is Udemy trying to solve?
Udemy strives to help people build the lives they imagine by making education more relevant, accessible and rewarding. Udemy was founded to offer engaging, convenient, and affordable learning resources to anyone, anywhere. Through our marketplace, we connect students pursuing personal and professional goals with experts who have knowledge to share.
Education is seen as one of the slowest sectors to be disrupted by technology. Why is this?
It’s true that education has historically been slow to adopt technology and change, but we’re seeing the education space opening and changing dramatically most recently. It’s an exciting time to be in this space as we see new technologies and philosophies making tremendous progress. The Khan Academy is a very good example of how one organization can transform education (K12 education in this case) around the world. I believe we’re just at the beginning of realizing the full potential of online learning, and I’m passionate about how online learning can change how we live and work.
By 2020, how do you think traditional teaching will have changed as a result of technology innovation in education?
It’s hard to believe that 2020 is not that far away. We’ll see lifelong learning (professional and personal development learning for adults) come out of the early adopter phase and become mainstream. We believe that even more people and organizations will recognize the importance of constantly acquiring new skills and improving on existing skills. People will also recognize that online learning can be the most effective, engaging, and affordable way to gain and improve skills. Virtual reality and augmented reality are just a few of the additional technologies that can impact online learning. I imagine those technologies can actually define learning experiences and make education even more global and immersive. Imagine learning about the French Revolution while the storming of the Bastille is happening around you!
What is the most popular content theme or topic on Udemy? What does this say about the limitations of more traditional learning routes?
Historically, learners have turned to Udemy for technical and business courses, but we’re seeing a big increase in students going to Udemy for personal enrichment skills as well. For example, the top-selling courses in September 2016 were on playing the piano, public speaking, and meditation/mindfulness. This shows me there is not only a need to keep learning practical skills to succeed at work, but also a strong desire to explore interests that enhance our personal lives. When you offer a convenient and engaging way to learn, you see a shift in attitudes from “what do I have to learn now” to “what do I get to learn next.”
Of all the thousands of courses on Udemy, what's your personal favourite?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I can narrow it down to three. The first is Dan Holton’s Guitar Lessons: The Essential Beginner & Intermediate Course. That was actually the very first course I took on Udemy. I just took Become Better and Funnier at Public Speaking by David Nihill, and it was incredibly entertaining and practical at the same time. Lastly, Mari G’s Money Origami Gifts because it’s a great representation of the limitless possibilities of what you can teach and learn on Udemy.

Share this story