Win-Vector LLC has been offering a couple of online video courses on the topics of data science and A/B testing (both using R). These are high quality courses and well worth the money and time needed to work through them closely (with all materials distributed on GitHub).
Our current distributor is Udemy, which has just announced a unilateral change in pricing policy (March 2, 2016). This note is about the current status of these courses.
For a number of reasons (including a decision to write a new better R Shiny user interface) we have already moved the A/B testing course to free status and also made the videos available on YouTube.
For “Introduction to Data Science” we are still digesting the Udemy policy changes. We actually endorse the prospect of fewer pricing models (and to this end we have removed “Introduction to Data Science” from some alternate pricing programs such as Udemy for Business). This course remains a good study guide for getting into data science (assuming you have some of the prerequisite familiarity with R) and is a good companion to our book Practical Data Science with R. I’ll emphasize: this course remains high value and all we are discussing here is price and distribution. Udemy’s new policy has a price upper limit of $50.
To try to limit new subscriber confusion we have already lowered the course’s current price to $50 prior to Udemy’s scheduled April 2016 changeover. This will likely cost us revenue, but we want to minimize new subscriber confusion. Please understand that the price listed on Udemy is often nowhere near what arrives to us, and that some of the earlier pricing was to ensure that something is left by the time we get to our portion. Udemy could unilaterally discount the course by as much as 75% (or more in fixed price site wide promotions) and takes at least 50% if they decide they generated the lead- so we were lucky when we received even an eighth of the list price (and on average that is about what we made). We were not fully aware of some of the deep discounts, and we were offering the course at what we had reason to believe was a fair and competitive price.
There may be some positives in changing policy, as: Udemy pricing has been wildly inconsistent; we did not feel we had been fully informed on the full scope of discounts Udemy was offering on our work; and Udemy performed fewer outreach marketing efforts than we had hoped. That being said: we are still considering if we should continue selling new subscriptions on Udemy at any price (note: it is Udemy’s stated policy that current subscribers retain their access even if we “unpublish” the course, a policy we strongly approve).
We will be looking into other distribution and pricing opportunities going forward. So there may be more changes in the future. Win-Vector LLC gives out a lot of free material (mostly through our blog and our GitHub page), so we ask that readers not become too upset about changes in the distribution of some of our paid offerings.