I’ve been following (and even taking a few classes from) Udacity since they started in early 2012. For those who don’t know what Udacity is, it is an online for-profit online educational organization founded by Sebastian Thrun(one of the creators of the self driving car), David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky. Starting with just two courses, “CS 101: Building a Search Engine” and “CS 373: Programming a Robotic Car”, Udacity aims to help even more students worldwide.
Currently, 27 courses are offered by Udacity, and can be found here. The program has expanded from just computer science to physics, mathematics, and even business. Bringing on more courses and even instructors such as Steve Huffman (founder of Reddit) and Peter Norvig (AI Programming master), the program is quickly expanding and quickly grabbing more students as it creates more coursework and partnerships. The beauty of Udacity is that the courses are either free or low cost, allowing both students and full time workers the ability to take classes online when they have the time.
Here’s how Udacity works. You take a class, which spans the course of a certain number of weeks, giving you the ability to watch/read the coursework and complete the quizzes and homework. After that, you can complete a “final exam”, which if passed as well as all coursework, will award you a certificate of completion signed by the instructor at no further cost. As of 24 August 2012, through partnership with testing company Pearson VUE, students of CS101 can take an additional proctored 75-minute final exam for a fee of $89 in an effort to allow Udacity classes to count as an actual credential that can be showed to potential employees.
Last year, four new specialized CS courses were announced as part of collaboration with Google, Nvidia, Microsoft, Autodesk, Cadence Design Systems, and Wolfram Research were announced, to be launched in sometime this year.On Monday, Udacity announced a new initiative called the “Open Education Alliance”. Though there are currently only scarce details on this new initiative, as Thrun said that the goal of the OEA is to “commit to assisting in the curation and development of a new 21st century curriculum and to connect learners with opportunities in industry” and make Udacity a great source for high-quality education.
The goal of Udacity is to improve education around the world, and through these continuing partnerships, they are on track to become a incredibly place to teach anyone and everyone the skills they need to get a job or begin a new career through advanced skills they already have.