Changing Course

It’s often hard to grasp the true scope and impact of our accomplishments until we see them out in the world. That’s what happened when app developer Alvin Lim saw someone using his app, Dimensional, on public transit. Sure, he’d built it and put it up on the app store. But seeing it in real life, in another person’s hands… that was a different story.

“I think that was the first time that I’d seen someone using it, sort of, in the public,” Alvin says. “And it put me into a state where I was a bit more reflective in terms of like, ‘oh, where did this come from?’”

It wasn’t a surprising question for Alvin to be asking himself, as app development hadn’t really been his focus for that long before he created Dimensional with co-founder Saeid Fard. In fact, his degree was in clinical health psychology. But the app, which is designed to improve the connections between people through personality science, was making a different kind of connection for Alvin.

“It was really cool that I just took this course on a whim one day and just built the app,” Alvin says. This course happened to be the iOS Development Bootcamp taught by popular Udemy instructor Dr. Angela Yu.

After his moment of shoulder surfing on transit, Alvin did what many of us do, he shared it on social media. This sparked an idea at Udemy. Of course, a big part of what we do is connect learners to instructors from around the world. This time, though, the connection would be in person. We would fly Angela to Toronto to meet Alvin for the first time and have our cameras rolling.

It was a match made in life-transformation heaven. Because Angela, too, has her own story of changing her life and career. She had once been a practicing surgeon before getting into app development, and then, ultimately, publishing courses on Udemy. As she explains in the video, she left medicine in large part because she wasn’t doing enough of what she loved: being with patients and making connections.

While it’s hard to say exactly how many apps have been built or lives have been changed as a result of Angela’s courses, she’s become accustomed to receiving messages from learners she’s inspired. She constantly sees the effect she’s having on lives. And it’s about more than just apps. She tells us about a mother who was going through a rough patch with her daughter. Then, one day, they both decided to take her Python course.

“They just started doing one hour together every day, learning programming,” Angela says. “And [the mother] said how for her daughter to see her struggle and for them to almost be learning buddies, they bonded — just in a way that they weren’t able to before.”

And Alvin sees the effects of what he’s done too. He sees the number of users grow, articles on Dimensional appear in blogs and publications — the big moment came when it hit number three on the Singaporean Apple App Store, right up there with Instagram and other big-name social apps. But perhaps, best of all, he got to see Angela become an enthusiastic user of an app she inspired him to build.

“It’s this effect where I teach somebody some skills and they go and build something better than I could do, or they go and teach somebody else,” Angela says.

This is the power of transforming lives through learning — and not just the lives of the learner and instructor. What starts when you press play on a Udemy course or publish your own course content can end up having profound effects, and the possibilities are truly endless. It can transform your career, your relationships, or both. And the lives of other people, too.

So the next time someone notices you’re using a certain app — who knows? — it could be the person who built it, or even inspired it.