It’s safe to say that massive online open courses (MOOCs) revolutionized the world of education. Where Harvard was an unattainable dream for most of us, it was now suddenly possible to study a course and get a certificate from the very same institute. Even better, this could be from the comfort of your own home and for a fraction of the tuition fees Harvard otherwise would charge. Alongside edX, Coursera and a few others, Udacity has become one of the best online course platforms and as we’ll see in our in-depth Udacity review – it’s a well deserved title.
Even though correspondence courses have existed since the late 1800s, MOOCs took the world by storm with their open arms and unbeatable flexibility. All anyone needed was a will to learn, a reliable internet connection, and depending on the course, a few dollars to spare to make what is probably the world’s smallest education fund!
MIT was the first institute to introduce MOOCs but since then many other universities and institutions have jumped onto the MOOC bandwagon. Today, Coursera, edX, Udemy and Skillshare are all household names. Established in 2011, Udacity is one such MOOC-based platform, providing online learning experiences to netizens around the world, with a specific focus on skill development. With a mission to “democratize education”, Udacity aims to impart “job-ready skills” to its users, making them employment-ready.
In this Udacity review, we’ll dive deep into what Udacity has to offer, ranging from how it works, what kind of programs it offers, why Udacity may be a better option than other platforms, and even what issues you may encounter while using it. Read on!
How Does Udacity Work?
Udacity works like any other MOOC platform, providing courses in a wide range of subjects that are economical, flexible, and open to all. More specifically, Udacity divides subjects into schools and each school provides the option of three different types of courses to users.
In the first part of our Udacity review, let’s take a look at the different schools in Udacity. It should be noted that the programs listed here are Nanodegree programs (explained later in the review) grouped by Udacity as per job competencies. Students can do these courses in the order suggested by Udacity or as per their own needs.
School of Artificial Intelligence
If Will Smith’s I, Robot is anything to go by, artificial intelligence is going to take over the world someday. The prevention of this is perhaps why the study of AI is one of the fastest-selling options out there. Jokes apart, AI is reported to create 2.3 million jobs by 2020 and with as little as 10 hours a week, users can eventually snag one of these jobs. The School of Artificial Intelligence offers courses based on four different categorizations, with courses offered in a pre-set order of increasing difficulty.
- Machine Learning Engineer: Important to software development, machine learning engineers are offered AI Programming with Python, Machine Learning Engineer (covering machine, supervised, unsupervised and deep learning), and Deep Structures and Algorithms (covering data structures, algorithms, problem-solving and intermediate-level Python topics).
- Deep Learning Engineer: Specializing in using deep learning to handle specific programming task related to artificial intelligence, deep learning engineers are offered AI Programming with Python, Machine Learning Engineer (covering machine learning, supervised and unsupervised learning and deep learning), Deep Learning (covering neural networks, Jupyter notebooks, CNNs, GANs and deep learning), and Data Structures and Algorithms.
- Artificial Intelligence Specialists: Expected to be a $60 billion industry by 2025, AI specialists are offered Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing, Deep Reinforcement Learning, Artificial Intelligence (including AI and search algorithms, optimization, planning, and pattern recognition), and Data Structures and Algorithms.
- Quantitative Analyst: The courses offered under this section are AI Programming with Python, Artificial Intelligence for Trading and Data Structures and Algorithms.
School of Autonomous Systems
Autonomous vehicles, such as self-driving cars, are expected to grow by as much as 42% by 2023. Professionals in this field are expected to earn anywhere between $300,000-500,000! You could be one of these professionals with a mere investment of 15 hours a week. Some of the courses provided by the School of Autonomous Systems are:
- Self-Driving Car Engineer: The courses offered under this section are Intro to Self-Driving Cars (covering statistics, linear algebra, C++, calculus and intermediate controls), Self-Driving Car Engineer (covering computer vision, deep learning, sensor fusion, advanced topics related to self-driving cars and localization), Data Structures and Algorithms, and C++ (object-oriented programming and memory management)
- Robotics Software Engineer: Courses offered are Intro to Self-Driving Cars, Robotics Software Engineer, Data Structures and Algorithms and C++.
- Autonomous Flight Engineer: Courses offered are Intro to Self-Driving Cars, Flying Car and Autonomous Flight Engineer, Data Structures and Algorithms and C++.
School of Business
The School of Business equips both beginners and advanced learners with business skills that let them achieve objectives with the use of design, analysis, strategy, distribution and user research.
- Digital Marketing Specialist: This section offers courses on digital marketing covering concepts such as digital marketing, social media marketing, Facebook marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and display and search advertisements.
- Business Analyst: These courses equip users with analytical skills for business, covering the use of Excel and Spreadsheets, data visualization, data dashboards and SQL, and predictive analytics for business, which includes data wrangling, A/B testing, segmentation, forecasting and classification.
School of Data Science
The School of Data Science offers users the chance to develop skills in visualization, data manipulation, machine learning, predictive analytics and data science. The school offers four different learning specializations:
- Data Analyst: This offers courses such as Programming for Data Science with Python, Data Analysis, and Data Structures and Algorithms.
- Data Scientists: Data scientists are offered Programming for Data Science with Python, Data Analysis, Data Scientist, and Data Structures and Algorithms.
- Data Engineer: Offers the same programs as Data Scientist with the exception of Data Engineer in place of Data Scientist.
- Business Analyst (same as the course provided by the School of Business).
School of Programming
Critical in today’s world, programming is an ever-required skill and programmers are ever-sought after! Whether you’re just being introduced to coding or can rival Marvel’s Skye, the School of Programming has something to offer everyone, provided they invest 10 hours of their time per week.
- Fundamentals: Introduction to Programming, Android Basics and C++ are the courses offered under this section.
- Front-End Web Developer: Front-end web developers are offered courses such as Introduction to Programming, Front-End Web Developer, React, and Data Structures and Algorithms.
- Back-End Web Developer: Offers Java Developer and Full Stack Developer in addition to Introduction to Programming, C++ and Data Structures and Algorithms.
- iOS Developer: iOS developers are offered Introduction to Programming, iOS Developer, and Data Structures and Algorithms.
- Android Developer: The courses offered here are Android Basics, Android Developers and Data Structure and Algorithms.
- Advanced Specializations: This includes Data Structure and Algorithms, C++ and Blockchain Developer.
School of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has gained in popularity due to the digital transformation it brought about, especially in saving data. This has created a huge demand for specialists in this field, which is why the School of Cloud Computing offers two different programs—the Cloud DevOps and the Cloud Developer program. The former is great for those looking for operational roles while the latter is great for software engineers.
Types of Programs Offered by Udacity
As mentioned earlier, Udacity offers three different types of courses. Each type of course requires a different time commitment.
- Open Courses: Probably the most commonly enrolled-in course, open courses cover a vast array of subjects and are designed for the leisurely learner. Learning is specialized to focus on certain technologies and job competencies, with interactive projects, exercises and lessons. These types of courses generally require a commitment of 1-3 months and while some have to be paid for, around 200 open courses are available free (though they don’t provide certification).
- Nanodegree Programs: A Nanodegree program enables learners to earn an online certificate in a chosen course offered by Udacity within 6-12 months with an investment of $200 per month. With this degree, users are eligible for entry-level analyst and programming jobs at firms like AT&T and other firms that Udacity has partnered with. Nanodegree programs follow a guided curriculum focusing on specific skill sets and competencies, expecting students to build portfolios and network with peers and mentors. Enrolling in a Nanodegree program also lets students receive feedback from mentors or coaches, code review and tuition reimbursement.
- Georgia Tech Degrees: Udacity’s affiliation to Georgia Tech lets the former provide serious learners with a Master’s degree in Computer Science that can either be taken on-campus or through Udacity’s site. Georgia Tech degrees are strict and structured, just like their cousins on-campus. Students are expected to take at least two courses per term, for six terms costing around $6,600. This program is also supported by AT&T and provides around 32 different courses.
Why Use Udacity
As of 2019, Udacity has over 80,000 graduates, 200-plus industry experts and over 100 enterprise customers. Impressive numbers aside, Udacity, despite its limited offerings, provides students with a guaranteed job through its Nanodegree program, unlike other online learning platforms. Some of the other advantages are:
- One-on-One Mentorship: Students are assigned mentors who provide feedback and support throughout the course duration.
- Flexible Learning: Most courses on Udacity are self-paced and can be paid for through easy monthly installments.
- Real-Life Case Studies and Projects: Due to their partnership with an impressive number of industry experts, Udacity’s students get the chance to study and learn from real-life projects and case studies.
- Career Coach and Career Services: Udacity provides students with services such as career advice, resume-building support and prep advice for interviews to help make the career path less rocky.
- Impressive Partnerships: Udacity currently has partnerships with Google, AT&T, NVidia, IBM, AWS, WorldQuant and Intersect, with some of these partners providing jobs to certified Udacity Nanodegree holders.
Udacity Features Review
In this part of our Udacity review, we give you a list of features that users should look for in any online learning platform, with a specific focus on how Udacity fares in each of these criteria.
Considering that the website is all users have to navigate their journey of learning, it’s highly important that learning platforms offer easy, straightforward and clear websites. Most often, students decide on which platform to use based on their first impression of the site.
The Udacity website is neat, precise and informative, though not very differently made from other e-learning websites. It allows students to search for specific courses or explore their programs to find what they want, or explore courses based on skill or by the school. It also clearly states its partners as well as the impressive numbers it’s racked up over the years. Easy to navigate and providing all the required information, Udacity scores big in terms of its ease of use and user-friendliness.
If you say price doesn’t matter, you’re probably lying or have a will to learn that can rival Hermoine Granger’s. Either way, different online platforms have different pricing options, such as subscriptions, one-time payments, or bundles. Most online platforms have a hard time finding the right amount to charge customers, with the whole business vs educating all dilemma. For this reason, some courses are free and some are chargeable.
As mentioned earlier, Udacity offers around 200 free courses. Enrolling for these courses as going to the site, registering and starting the learning process! However, free courses rarely provide the chance to interact with other students or teachers, too. Nanodegrees require a monthly subscription whereas Georgia Tech degrees call for a one-time payment. Perhaps the biggest problem is the huge gap between the free courses and the paid-for open courses. The least-priced course is around $800!
The Experience of Learning
Learning happens best when you enjoy it. Boring lectures that are hard to understand can majorly slow down the learning process. Udacity, at least with regard to its free programs, provides interactive lessons, exercises and videos that keep students engaged.
Quality of Lessons
What you learn is highly important, especially when you’re paying for certification. Many students depend on these online courses to build their job profiles and skillsets. Udacity’s courses offer pretty great content with real-life projects and case studies from industry experts. As mentioned earlier, they’re interactive and fun and there’s hardly any scope to go wrong when you have the kind of industry experts on board that Udacity does.
Final Thoughts on Udacity
It would seem that the popularity of MOOCs and the competition among e-learning portals are correlated, with an increase in one causing an increase in the other. With plenty of new kids popping up all around the block, existing platforms need to stay on top of their game, whether it’s by adding new features, introducing new courses, roping in more industry experiences, or offering great pricing on their packages. If learning has always excited you, these platforms are God’s gift to mankind!
Udacity is a great platform to turn to for some quality learning. However, there have been reports of unsatisfactory customer service and the lack of a student community. Considering that there are no provisions to interact with other students, this isn’t surprising. Additionally, the portal only focuses on IT-related courses, which leaves out students who are looking for other areas of study. Lastly, if you’re going to enroll for a course that isn’t free, be aware that this might burn a hole the size of a pancake in your pocket.
Well, we hope this was the comprehensive Udacity review you were looking for. Like someone famous some time said—“Be curious, not judgmental!” May the force be with you on your journey of learning!