Mobile Transforming Online Education for Digital Natives

Eren Bali, Udemy co-founder and CEO, sees mobile technology offering a new way of learning everything from software coding to salsa dancing.

Eren Bali co-founder and CEO of online education startup Udemy

"I think the biggest change is you can carry your mobile device in the classroom. The physical teaching environment can persist while mobile compliments all the shortcomings of the physical teacher in the traditional education system. It's a lot more powerful than the previous technologies that tried to change education," said Eren Bali, Udemy co-founder and CEO.

Amid a high-tech transformation of education that has made it personal and portable and let instructors reach thousands of students with Massively Open Online Courses, one startup is hoping to do for online education what YouTube did for online video.

Udemy, based in San Francisco, provides tools for creating online courses that enable anyone with expertise to teach online and even charge for their classes. The class offerings — there are more than 6,000 — range from beginning digital photography to yoga to software coding. More than 500,000 students have taken Udemy courses. The tools to create courses are free; Udemy pockets 20 percent of class fees, though many are free. So far, professors from institutions such as Stanford, Yale and Dartmouth have taught courses using Udemy, as have a host of stay-at-home entrepreneurs and subject matter experts.

CEO Eren Bali, who co-founded the company with Oktay Caglar and Gagan Biyani, discussed how mobile technology is transforming education, the challenges teachers face in keeping up with digital natives’ tech prowess and the opportunity that mobility provides for online education in emerging markets.

What’s the role of mobile technology in online education?

Mobile technology has been very effective in changing how people consume education because of (the boom in) Internet-enabled devices. Education so far has been very slow to adapt to these technologies, but in the last few years we have been seeing a huge change in the way it is operated and consumed. People are taking their content with them all the time and they are consuming it in whatever way they want. And this is basically a new way of learning because the technology is very close to the place that you are.

How do you see online education and mobile impacting teachers?

Unfortunately, the teachers will never be ahead of the students in managing the technology because younger people just grow with technology. Because of that, the teacher’s role has been changing. Nowadays, teachers can give students independent activities while they use their person-to-person time for exercises or more interactivity because it doesn’t make sense to make students sit in a classroom and watch the same content as everybody else. They can actually make use of technology and change how education is delivered. Teachers can use in-person class time for discussing the concepts they learned. They can talk more, they can write more while they’re in class.

What’s the future you see for online education content across different devices?

Mobile technology gives us a more types of content besides physical textbooks and even TV. Mobile is a lot more personal, a lot more interactive. You touch the content. There are new content formats that are more social. Videos, PowerPoint slides — all these different forms can be integrated onto a mobile device.

I think the biggest change is you can carry your mobile device in the classroom. The physical teaching environment can persist while mobile compliments all the shortcomings of the physical teacher in the traditional education system. It’s a lot more powerful than the previous technologies that tried to change education.

I think the classroom will become less like a classroom and more like a studio going forward, so it will be a lot more interactive. K through 12 probably will be slower to adapt, but in the next 5 years, I think the majority of higher education will change. We cannot (continue) the same as it is right now.

What is the potential for students in underserved areas and in emerging markets with mobile-enabled online education?

Especially with the most motivated kids, even though they don’t have the same access to high-quality education, they can actually be using the power of the Internet and mobile technologies to learn. Just by giving them access to mobile content they can change their lives and find opportunities that they never imagined before.

I think the role of the teachers is changing completely and this will affect emerging countries a lot more than developed countries because of greater access to education through mobile technology. The teachers who are good at interacting and engaging with their students will be able to deliver the best content and best education for those people. This will create more opportunities for people of developing countries.

Mobile Transforming Online Education for Digital Natives

Eren Bali, Udemy co-founder and CEO, sees mobile technology offering a new way of learning everything from software coding to salsa dancing.

Eren Bali co-founder and CEO of online education startup Udemy

"I think the biggest change is you can carry your mobile device in the classroom. The physical teaching environment can persist while mobile compliments all the shortcomings of the physical teacher in the traditional education system. It's a lot more powerful than the previous technologies that tried to change education," said Eren Bali, Udemy co-founder and CEO.

Amid a high-tech transformation of education that has made it personal and portable and let instructors reach thousands of students with Massively Open Online Courses, one startup is hoping to do for online education what YouTube did for online video.

Udemy, based in San Francisco, provides tools for creating online courses that enable anyone with expertise to teach online and even charge for their classes. The class offerings — there are more than 6,000 — range from beginning digital photography to yoga to software coding. More than 500,000 students have taken Udemy courses. The tools to create courses are free; Udemy pockets 20 percent of class fees, though many are free. So far, professors from institutions such as Stanford, Yale and Dartmouth have taught courses using Udemy, as have a host of stay-at-home entrepreneurs and subject matter experts.

CEO Eren Bali, who co-founded the company with Oktay Caglar and Gagan Biyani, discussed how mobile technology is transforming education, the challenges teachers face in keeping up with digital natives’ tech prowess and the opportunity that mobility provides for online education in emerging markets.

What’s the role of mobile technology in online education?

Mobile technology has been very effective in changing how people consume education because of (the boom in) Internet-enabled devices. Education so far has been very slow to adapt to these technologies, but in the last few years we have been seeing a huge change in the way it is operated and consumed. People are taking their content with them all the time and they are consuming it in whatever way they want. And this is basically a new way of learning because the technology is very close to the place that you are.

How do you see online education and mobile impacting teachers?

Unfortunately, the teachers will never be ahead of the students in managing the technology because younger people just grow with technology. Because of that, the teacher’s role has been changing. Nowadays, teachers can give students independent activities while they use their person-to-person time for exercises or more interactivity because it doesn’t make sense to make students sit in a classroom and watch the same content as everybody else. They can actually make use of technology and change how education is delivered. Teachers can use in-person class time for discussing the concepts they learned. They can talk more, they can write more while they’re in class.

What’s the future you see for online education content across different devices?

Mobile technology gives us a more types of content besides physical textbooks and even TV. Mobile is a lot more personal, a lot more interactive. You touch the content. There are new content formats that are more social. Videos, PowerPoint slides — all these different forms can be integrated onto a mobile device.

I think the biggest change is you can carry your mobile device in the classroom. The physical teaching environment can persist while mobile compliments all the shortcomings of the physical teacher in the traditional education system. It’s a lot more powerful than the previous technologies that tried to change education.

I think the classroom will become less like a classroom and more like a studio going forward, so it will be a lot more interactive. K through 12 probably will be slower to adapt, but in the next 5 years, I think the majority of higher education will change. We cannot (continue) the same as it is right now.

What is the potential for students in underserved areas and in emerging markets with mobile-enabled online education?

Especially with the most motivated kids, even though they don’t have the same access to high-quality education, they can actually be using the power of the Internet and mobile technologies to learn. Just by giving them access to mobile content they can change their lives and find opportunities that they never imagined before.

I think the role of the teachers is changing completely and this will affect emerging countries a lot more than developed countries because of greater access to education through mobile technology. The teachers who are good at interacting and engaging with their students will be able to deliver the best content and best education for those people. This will create more opportunities for people of developing countries.