Udemy course helps instructor win award and get a job

udemyWe were thrilled to read recently that instructor Ahmed Alkabary was awarded a scholarship from the Linux Foundation—and his Udemy course played a role in his achievement. We got in touch to find out more about Ahmed, whose course, “Linux Command Line Basics,” has more than 49,000 students!


How did you hear about Udemy and why did you choose our platform for hosting your course?
I started using Udemy in 2013 when I was searching for online courses on Java programming. I was really fascinated by the ease-of-use and the unique nature of Udemy. It’s very simple, and Udemy offers a wide array of courses for many subjects. Some courses are free, which is really nice, and also the paid courses are not very expensive. The idea that you don’t need a subscription is really what I think makes Udemy very popular. I don’t like the idea of paying a yearly (or monthly) subscription to access just one course that I like. Also, all the courses are reviewed, which is a good way to know which course to purchase. The interface itself is very friendly, easy to navigate and to view videos. It’s very natural.

(When asked to share Udemy courses he particularly liked, Ahmed mentioned “Java Tutorial for Complete Beginners” by instructor John Purcell and “Git Started with GitHub” by instructor Jason Taylor.)

What was your goal for creating your Linux course? What were your expectations when you started out?
After I’ve completed my first course on Udemy (John Purcell’s Java course), I realized the benefits I got from the course. At that time there were barely any Linux courses on Udemy. I think I have great Linux skills so I asked myself, why not create a course that teaches the Linux command line? I also liked the idea that anyone could contribute to Udemy and, frankly speaking, it was just an experiment for me when I started. I had no idea I would attract all the students that I have now. It turned out to be a great experiment!

What did you do to prepare yourself to be a teacher instead of a student? Did you have any offline teaching experience?
I was a teaching assistant at the University of Regina for several computer science and mathematics courses. That’s where I developed a passion for teaching. So, I did a lot of research on what topics I should cover in my Udemy course and then revisited these topics myself to make sure I was ready to present it to my students. I also learned a lot about how to teach from the online courses I took on Udemy and elsewhere. They all kind of follow a pattern.

Any comments on the course creation process?
It wasn’t a very hard process to create the course on Udemy. It was actually very smooth. All I needed was screencasting software (I used Kazam on Linux). I also got a Blue Snowball microphone and used Sparkol VideoScribe to add animation to my course that would make it more engaging and interesting. The hardest part was actually finding time to do the video production.

What is your goal for students in your course? Have you had any notable interactions with students?
My number one goal is to break the fear that newbies have towards Linux. I notice that many people are afraid to use Linux just because they know that they have to use the command line at some point. I try to motivate the students with simple examples of why we need to use the Linux command line and the benefits of doing so in terms of performance, saving time, and opening up career opportunities.

I receive a lot of good reviews on a daily basis and messages from students telling me to create more courses. I occasionally receive messages from students thanking me for creating the course and telling me how this course helped them with their studies, certifications, and work. I’ve even received requests to publish my same course on other platforms, but I didn’t like that idea; I like to stay at Udemy.

In the Linux.com interview, you said you got your current job because of the Udemy course. Can you elaborate on that?
Yes, so basically Robertson College teaches online Linux courses, and they posted a job for a Linux instructor. I applied for the job and got hired just because of my Udemy course. I didn’t even have a technical interview. In effect, Udemy served as a skill verifier. So Udemy is not just a place where people can learn and teach, but it’s also a place where you can verify your skills and build an online portfolio. It’s brilliant in this way. Like, for example, if you like to develop mobile apps as a hobby, you can make a course on Udemy and chances are you will get hired!

Do you think you’ll create any additional courses?
I want to create more Linux-related courses in the future and also update my existing course and polish it to make it the go-to course for Linux newbies on the web. I think I can achieve that, but again the real challenge here is to find time and space!

Do you consider yourself the kind of person who’s self-motivated to learn new things, in general?
Definitely, I like learning new technologies and I like learning new skills. Learning is an everlasting and continuing process. I am a fast learner, too, which makes it easier for me to adopt new skills. I would say that life is not that interesting without learning new skills!

What do you like to do when you’re not working on a Linux project or teaching?
In my spare time I enjoy reading technology blogs to learn about any new changes or trends in the market. On a personal note, I like reading philosophy books and watching scientific documentaries. I also go for a swim at least twice a week.

Anything else to add we haven’t covered?
I do recommend Udemy to almost everyone I meet. Like, whenever someone asks me which online resources to use to learn a new language, programming, arts, etc., I always say Udemy.