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Udacity

Udacity Review

By: Udacity, Inc.

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Overview

Udacity provides free online courses for anyone who seeks to nourish their technical skills or want to learn a job oriented course. Various courses offered by Udacity include front-end web development, tech entrepreneurship, android development, data analyst, introduction to programming, and many more. Through its Nanodegree program, Udacity prepares industry-ready talent by providing career-focused technical learning courses and classes by the best instructors and experts.


Detailed Review

The millennial generation is obsessed with technology. Anything tech-savvy catches their interest; it may look like they have embedded it in their DNA. The scope of computing and information technology provides them with an excellent opportunity to continue with their pursuit to learn and excel. Udacity delivers such people a MOOC platform; which is easily accessible by anyone and consists of vast content.

Pros

  • Udacity’s program catalog holds a wide range of programs and vocational training that is IT related, especially in the field of programming and computer science.
  • Their nanodegree provides extra services to its students such as certificate, mentors, projects and its reviewers, career services among others.
  • They have partners such as Google, AT&T, Facebook, etc. They create the course content with the collaboration of such recognized names in the digital world.
  • These corporate partners also provide career opportunities for the graduates of nanodegree. Udacity also runs its career services.

Cons

  • Limited language support in their subtitles which are a part of the micro-lectures in their classroom.
  • A not-so-active students forum. The response rate is low, and the students have minimal interactions thus reducing the community involvement.

Introduction

It is an ancient thought that people learn until a specific age, and they are done studying. The current environment is for lifelong learners.

The past 2-3 decades brought about a trend of learning via MOOC. Such platforms are free of charge, open to all, accessible online, and have large size classes.

Unfortunately, their certificates are generally not recognized. However, their partnership with other colleges/universities or corporations can enable one to acquire certification after paying fees for it.

The learners are not satisfied by learning from boring textbooks, attending lectures where the only involved participant is the lecturer and then waiting for exam results.

To break this monotonous chain of events, students seek active and blended learning, whereby interactive video and audio lessons provide base knowledge.

The interactive material ensures the student absorbs and retains the coursework for a long time. The exams, tests, and quizzes can review the students' know-how.

The instant feedback related to online tests is an added advantage, as the student can re-attempt the failed questions on the spot.

Such flexibility and reliability are sought by learners who are staunch about their aim to advance in academics to secure a safe future.

We have seen the world shrink in size, all due to IT. Technology has practically made so many things a click away; from communication, transportation, business management to education.

There is also a change in attitude, and people now appreciate advancement in vocational training.

Prior occupations such as hairdressers, mechanics, electricians, technicians, etc. were thought to be unprofessional. But in recent times they are also more inclined to be proficient in their field.

Udacity provides online training to professionals in the area of data science, AI, business, programming, cloud computing, and autonomous systems.

It commenced as an experiment as the owner offered an online class and were blown away by the tremendous response. Over 160 000 learners around the globe enrolled, and it led to creation of Udacity.

They aim to democratize education; free access attracts a considerable base for learners who not only participate but can also contribute to the learning process.

Udacity is a MOOC platform thus offer several free courses. However, its specialty lies in its nanodegree. It is not an accredited degree but holds a respective place in the industry, especially with the partners.

Thus, Udacity is not a university, nor do they offer accredited degrees. They collaborate with industry partners and create the content for learning.

The partners also hire their program graduates, and it includes companies such as Google, IBM, AT&T, Facebook, Amazon, BMW among others.

There have more than 80 000 graduates and over 200 industry partners who assist them in content creation. Many organizations enroll their employees to Udacity’s programs.

Their programs include video-based classes, along with industry projects. They also provide 1-on-1 mentoring as well as career services.

With offices around the globe and headquarters in the USA, Udacity is an online learning platform that supports learning from their free courses and nanodegree.

Program catalog

The section lists out the vast collection of programs available for the learners. One can filter the content via program details or industry skills.

The program details provide options for free and nanodegree. One can also sort by using skill level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) or estimation duration in months for learning.

On the left panel, all the schools of Udacity are available along with their content offering. It includes AI, Data Science, cloud computing, programming and development, business, and autonomous systems.

The layout of the page is neat and clean, with nanodegree list given priority in terms of the space utilized for its display.

The illustrated list of nanodegree presents details such as the name of the program, the school, skills covered and the skill level.

All their IT programs are well renowned; however, some are more popular. It includes front-end web Developer, android basics, digital marketing, and AI programming with Python.

From the categories, we can identify one weakness of Udacity. They offer limited courses in non-technical areas.

It also focuses more on web development and less on mobile app development. Also majorly the courses are for the intermediate level learners, and beginners and advanced get a limited resource.

We observed that their program catalog majorly highlights their nanodegree. The nanodegree is for free, and its completion allows one to earn a certificate.

My classroom

The section hosts all the free and the nanodegree that the learner is pursuing. The UI is user-friendly with minimal crowding of tabs and sections.

There is an icon to get back to the catalog on the side panel. The user can edit account and enrollment-related settings via the page.

The subscription is according to the nanodegree one selects to pursue, the rest of the content is free.

The student can click continue button given next to the course. They can resume with the program from where they left last time.

The courses the student pursues gets categorized into the latest activity and current course enrollment.

Their programs are short, approximately 2-4 weeks. They don’t demand much study time from learners, 6 hours a week should do justice to the course.

Free courses

Udacity started with a mission to make education accessible by everyone and not be limited by geographical or academic aspects. They currently have around 191 free courses in their catalog.

It is well known MOOC platform, so it caters its courses which come with no charges. Incredible feature is that in most cases, the students don’t need to have any prerequisite or requirements.

Only the zeal to learn and excel will enable one to complete the course independently. Such courses are self-paced; thus, motivation and dedication pay a significant role in the learning process.

Many people have a negative approach to the courses offered for free. They think they may not achieve much compared to the effort that they will put in the learning process.

But it may not be exact; one may not get perks such as mentors or certificate, but the content is quite similar to the nanodegree.

From time to time, professionals need to polish their skills and knowledge. The technological advancement has redefined norms, and what was trending last year may now be obsolete.

Such abrupt changes call for change in attitude and aptitude. The free courses collection can be an ideal way to gain more insights into one’s related work field.

Nanodegree

It is the trademark of Udacity; they collaborate with industry leaders and come up with ideal content. The course is aimed to provide the learners with the skills that are in demand in the current market.

The partners that assist in creating content also are open to recruiting the graduates of nanodegree. Reputable companies are associated with the likes of Facebook, Flipkart, Mercedes among others.

The Udacity team likes to refer nanodegree as a fourth-degree after the major 3 ones including bachelors, masters, and Ph.D.

The students get one-to-one technical mentorship to the projects that they undertake. Each student is eligible to conduct weekly sessions with the mentor.

The mentor will work with the student and create a learning plan. Their content calendar enables one to schedule the learning goals and meet the deadlines.

The student community is active in such programs. Peer-reviews provide ample room for learning where students discuss, pose questions, and seek answers.

These require students to have some prerequisites depending on the course and its complexity. Many MOOC platforms also design paid programs due to one primary reason.

That being that few people who start a free course make it to the finish line. Most students give up as they are not committed to the program, and moreover, they don’t have any financial concern.

A typical Udacity classroom

We now are clear that Udacity offers free as well as nanodegree programs. The nanodegree is further of two types, subscription, and term-based nanodegree.

The subscription is monthly payment whereas the term-based charges one-time payment for the entire duration of the program.

The curriculum develops skills that are sought after in the real world. The various partner provides in-depth details of the trends and innovation in the respective fields.

Accessing the free course is easy, and the nanodegree requires one to enroll and begin on the commencement date. Students also have deadlines to meet according to the time allotted.

The estimated time for completing the program is visible, and they indicate the prerequisites for the course.

They show the collaborative partner's name, and the next section generally illustrates what the student will learn. A user can download the syllabus to view the in-depth details regarding the topics in the course.

The free courses also provide details regarding the course details, duration, course leads, and the syllabus.

A learner kicks start his/her learning process and access the classroom page where all the lessons in the particular course are out listed. It shows the completion percentage under every lesson title.

The lessons are in a hierarchy; it further is divided into concepts. Each concept majorly consists of a tutorial YouTube video; however, few may be in text form too.

The first lesson starts with a welcome or introductory session. The default tutorials comprise of a tutor who gives instructions via video for learning purpose.

The classroom design is minimal, with navigation tabs of search, resources, and concepts. The resource section provides download options for the video, transcript and the tag to access the forum.

English subtitles enable the student to have clear understanding of the lesson. We can notice there is limited language support.

There is no provision for multiple or native languages, which is available in Khan Academy’s online learning.

Udacity delivers its concepts in bits; the video is short of about 3-4 minutes at the most. It increases the learners' attention and enables relaxed retention and memorization of content.

The user proceeds steadily following these videos at his/her own pace. However, not all the concepts are delivered using videos.

Although learning via video is a preferable method, but some notions are tackled better in written form.

They have used various activities to test the learners understanding; such as quizzes, exercise, and also projects.

 The auto-graded quiz provides the learner with an option to reattempt the question and also to know the right answer.

The instant feedback the system provides saves time for the students as they can judge their performance and identify their weakness.

Workspace required in coding and software development is available and, it is where the source codes files are grouped to work as a cohesive unit.

Udacity focuses on IT field related courses such as Java developers, C++, front end web developer, among others. The classroom enables one to see the codes output by running them on the workspaces.

During the lesson, if any learner wishes to find out a specific concept or know the meaning of the terminologies, then a search bar is available.

The propriety wiki provides real-time solutions to the problems encountered by the student while learning. They also offer mentors if there is need for personal attention by the learner.

Apart from these, there are many instances where students receive reference links to external articles and eBooks. It is gain additional knowledge regarding any topics.

They have a student hub which is a chat platform for communication between fellow students, and mentors.

Generally, the forum section is not active, and thus the response rate from the students is relatively low, very few learners engage in the forums.

All the nanodegree have some numbers of projects which need to be submitted by the end of the program. These projects are industry-specific and Udacity provides profession people to review such tasks.

Projects

The students attend video classes, gain theoretical knowledge. They need to apply that to practical situations; thus, the projects provide an opportunity to show their skill mastery.

The projects undertaken by students address real-life issues, and it prepares them to face the challenges they can face when they get hired. It includes tasks of developing apps, search engine, games, etc.

These Udacity’s reviewers oversee the projects; they are experts in the related skills. They currently have more than 900 reviewers who provide feedback to the students work.

The projects review duration is within 24 hours; however, it depends on the turnover of the total project submitted.

Each project comes along with rubric, which outlines the rules for conducting the task. The reviewer uses the provided rubric and assesses the project.

If the project meets all the terms, the learner earns a “meets specifications grade.” If unable to confine all the conditions, then the students get a “requires changes grade.”

 As such, the student needs to rectify all the correct and submit again. The correction is possible by looking into the feedback and comments the reviewer provides for the project.

After making the necessary amendments, the student can resubmit the project. Of course, the programs need to be free from plagiarism to be accepted.

The students have a limitation on the number of resubmission of projects. One should complete the necessary task within the deadlines and continue with the next set of skill development.

The student can earn the credentials for the nanodegree without going through all the courses in the program.

It reflects the worth of projects, if a person has the set of skills and knowledge to complete a project successfully, then he/she is eligible to graduate.

Thus, there are no pressuring students to complete all the course content. Upon completion of all the requirements regarding a program, the student verifies their identity, goes through an exit interview.

He/she then receives the official Udacity Nanodegree certificate of achievement. The document can be shared and printed by the learner.

Career services

No one will refuse a lucrative job offer after learning and educating oneself. A well-deserved job secures one’s future and provides scope for enhancement in the career.

Udacity provides career service to its graduate from nanodegree to fill the gap between learning and career.

They provide communication skills to the graduate and train them on how to tackle interviews with the top tech industry companies.

They also work on the resume of the student, refine it to make it eye-catching to the recruiters. Furthermore, they help to avail online profile on job-related websites such as LinkedIn and GitHub.

Their career service is currently only for the US. The career portal enables to book a career coach. A personal career plan gets drafted, and it addresses the students career-related questions

The graduates have high chances of getting employed by giant companies such as Google, AT&T, and other Fortune 500 organizations.

The nanodegree empowers the graduates with the latest know-how of technology in the areas such as AI, machine learning engineers, mobile apps developers, among others.

Their career resource center provides guidance, advice, and tips to all the learners, not limited to the nanodegree students.

Conclusion

Udacity fulfills the notion of a MOOC platform, as it offers various courses for free, and it is open for all. They have structured courses which earn you certificates in the form of nanodegree.

Their program catalog is abundant with various industry-specific programs. They are more focused on providing technical courses relating to the IT industry.

The free content is accessible by all, though it lacks guidance and the learner is solely responsible for successful completion of the course.

On the other hand, the nanodegree students receive various support services such as mentors, discussion forums within the student community, career services and projects review and feedback.

Their projects provide students an opportunity to apply their knowledge and solve real-world problems. The reviewers are experts who assess the projects and provide the required feedback.

They earn a certificate upon submitting all the projects and meeting the requirements of the program. They also have to go through an exist interview for that.

The certification can land one with a job with their sponsors/partners such as Google, AT&T, Facebook, etc.

They also create events and programs which can enhance the skills and knowledge base for people looking forward to excelling in their field.

One such is the online master’s degree in computer science. It is a tie-up between Georgia Tech, Udacity, and AT&T.

Udacity has its footprint in corporate training as well. The employees enroll in nanodegree and discover the latest and groundbreaking skills in their industry.

The EMC dashboard monitors the performance of the employees, and they can participate in the projects that address the current issues.

On the downside, the certificates from the nanodegree are not that recognized as Udacity is not an accredited educational institute.

The certificate does not display the quality of participation of a learner, as there is no grading system. The projects either get a meets specification or requires changes grade, which is quite vague in itself.

The pricing of the nanodegree can be another limiting factor. Other similar platforms such as FreeLearn and Udemy can provide related courses at a better rate.

They pronounce that the student can reach the mentors via their weekly sessions or on the 1-to-1 encounter.

However, in many cases such an arrangement may not shape out well, causing students to miss out on interaction with personal tutors.

The same applies to the free lessons which receive very little or no support, and there is no certification, hence tricky to show one’s eligibility.

Thus, Udacity can only be recommendable for learners who are tech-professionals and are not beginners in IT-related courses. Moreover, they should be ready to spend big bucks on the nanodegree.

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Company Information

Company Name: Udacity, Inc.

Founded In: 2011

Address: 2465 Latham St, Mountain View, CA, USA

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