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Udacity Review: Online Learning Platform for Tech Skills to Improve Your Career

Udacity is an online learning platform to teach you tech skills to improve your career prospects - Here's our full review with Pros & Cons
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The world of digital technology is only going to become more important as the 21st century unfolds. Udacity has a unique idea.

Instead of going to a conventional university, people can learn about valuable tech skills online. There is nothing wrong with going to a university, but a tech-focused education may be a better fit for people who want to get to work right away.

Udacity has created an online platform for people to learn vital skills that can help them succeed in the real world. It isn’t the same as going to an institution that grants degrees, but it can offer certification for people that want to have something to show potential employers.

Visit Udacity

What is Udacity?

Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens and Mike Sokolsky founded Udacity – a for-profit institution that provides online high-tech courses for learners from all over the world.

Udacity defines itself as MOOC-based online learning provider. It’s an online learning platform with a focus in tech related skills.

While Udacity’s focus was originally university-style courses for students, the company is now offering online education in the area of practical skills that can be turned into a paycheck.

Udacity Homepage
The Udacity Homepage

The aim is to help professionals or entrepreneurs improve their skills and push their careers forward. Udacity has developed a small and successful set of IT and full-stack programming courses since 2013.

The company maintains a unique partnership with universities and foremost corporations like Facebook or Google. These strong alliances have them create many cutting edge courses, covering any tech subjects from web design, cloud computing to tech entrepreneurship.

What Does Udacity Offer?

Many of the programs that Udacity offers are tailored to the tech sector’s particular needs so the information and knowledge they provide are relevant to the workforce.

Instead of learning about 17th-century French literature, Udacity will give students the skills they need to make money in the tech industry.

Currently, Udacity’s available courses include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Blockchain Development
  • Digital Marketing
  • Cloud Computing
  • Programming
  • Robotics Software Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Career Section

Students can enroll in Udacity’s courses at their own pace. Udacity courses include what you’d expect from standard technical university education, like online forums, online evaluations, and video conferencing.

Some of the areas covered
Some of the areas covered

Udacity at a Glance

The contents of the classes at Udacity are developed by industry experts. Students will have a chance to learn through doing real projects and approach different aspects of a task under a professional mentor’s instruction.

The mentors in Udacity are highly qualified and knowledgeable experts with years of experience in their relevant fields. That’s the key element that makes Udacity one of the leading platforms in the online learning world.

Why Choose an Online Tech Education?

There is a lot of pressure to get a 4-year degree from a university, but it might not be the best idea for every student. Most tech jobs will put a high value on a person’s capability, not where they spent four years of their early adult life.

There is nothing wrong with going to a university, but it is very expensive and will put you at a financial disadvantage compared to people who gained valuable skills at cut-rate prices, and then started making money with their education.

If you know that you like to work with code, it is probably a better idea to start with some affordable classes online. Going the university route will cost you a lot more money, and it may just be wasted time and money at the end of the day.

Nanodegree Programs Starting Soon
Nanodegree Programs Starting Soon

Get to Know Udacity

The Udacity platform is simple and intuitive to use. The Udacity homepage is visually simple, fairly generic-looking and informative. The company is aimed at delivering skills to its students, not creating a flashy website.

Udacity’s design does seem a little similar to Khan Academy – another popular name in the online education-based industry. Udacity manages and creates its own contents. Unlike Khan Academy, Udacity works closely with corporate partners as well.

The interface provides all needed general information and explanation about the site, lists of partners and other supplementary information. It is simple to sign up for anything that the company offers, or just read the FAQs to learn more about how to get going in the tech industry.

Udacity is absolutely free for those who want to learn to code, and it also offers paid courses. Every student will have different needs, and Udacity can help a wide range of tech students find information that will make them more valuable in the workplace.

An example of a course syllabus
An example of a course syllabus

Course Catalog

Around 60 online sections are currently available on Udacity in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Cloud Computing to Autonomous Systems, Programming and Development, and even Business. If you want to learn about something besides cutting edge technologies, this isn’t the online learning platform for you.

The number of courses Udacity offers is large, like most other online learning platforms. One of the things that set its courses apart from others is that they focus on specific industries, which are predicted to be high demand areas of employment in the future.

Udacity is ideal for intermediate learners with relevant experience.

The courses classified as intermediates are probably half of the catalog. There are also programs for New, Beginner and Advanced skill levels. Just about anyone who is interested in learning more about technology can find a way to move forward with the platform.

Popular cloud computing school
Popular cloud computing school

Getting into Tech

Each course has several units consisting of video lectures with closed captioning. The instruction works in combination with interactive quizzes to enable students to understand concepts and reinforce ideas, as well as follow-up homework.

Programming courses use the Python language; programming assignments are assessed by automated grading programs on the Udacity servers.

Udacity works with corporations in a variety of ways: as marketing partners, as recruiting partners, and in certain cases directly as a corporate trainer. You can see the company makes frequent announcements about those collaborations throughout the year.

Scholarships are another way for Udacity to work with corporations. Companies will sponsor scholarships, occasionally limited to a specific geographic region. This is a great way to learn more about a relevant tech industry, and also perhaps land a job as you train directly for a company.

Udacity Features

Udacity has a lot of features that are worth exploring in detail. The platform used to have a good catalog of free courses. However, the model of open courses like catalog was gradually removed out of their concept and replaced by Udacity’s newer Nanodegree programs. The company then released the Nanodegree Plus program, which helps students after they have completed the initial educational programs.

Udacity Nanodegree

Udacity announced the Nanodegree program in 2014, after removing free certificates from all its courses. The Udacity Nanodegree allows you access to a particular subject for around 6-12 months and after finishing your desired course, you will receive a certificate of completion.

A Nanodegree costs $200 each month and you can learn at your own pace.

It’s suggested that you should spend at least 10 hours a week following the course as Udacity returns half of the money if you pass your Nanodegree within 12 months. Udacity became the first MOOC provider to achieve profitability in large part due to the Nanodegree program.

In 2017, Udacity revealed new Nanodegrees, including: Robotics Flying-car, Intro to Self-Driving Car, Digital Marketing, React JS, Data Foundations, Design Sprint Foundations, Google Adwords, and Learn ArKIT.

Nanodegree Program
Nanodegree Program

Recently, there have been some changes in the content and price of the Nanodegrees. Udacity has launched more Nanodegrees than ever before, but they also stopped a few programs and canceled others.

Udacity also transformed its approach to Nanodegree creation by focusing on smaller and leaner contents. In this way, the content-creation team can generate Nanodegrees faster. This streamlined creation process has helped Udacity speed up the launch of Nanodegrees.

When you choose a Nanodegree program, you’re laying a stepping stone on a new career path. Keep in mind that it’s not the company or the position you’re following, but your self-development that matters. You should be able to compile a few areas of expertise and find entry-level work in the real world.

Udacity Nanodegree Plus

Udacity Nanodegree Plus is basically a level-up of the Nanodegree program, which comes with a job guarantee. This special form of the program enables you to get a real job after you successfully complete your Nanodegree program within 6 months.

The Udacity Nanodegree Plus costs $300/month and is eligible for four Nanodegrees: “Android Developer,” “iOS Developer,” “Machine Learning Engineer,” and “Senior Web Developer.”

Udacity Nanodegree Plus is not the first program with a job guarantee, but such services are typically much more costly and are more difficult to gain entry into. What makes Nanodegree Plus so distinctive is the lack of an application process. Once you complete the program, you will acquire a skill, receive a certificate, and have a portfolio to demonstrate your skills.

The benefits that students can get from Nanodegree Plus program are undeniable. Unfortunately, in 2017, Udacity announced a gradual removal of the guaranteed job feature of the program.

Instead, they decided to add a new Career section to the course catalog. It could be a huge disadvantage for Udacity, but on the bright side, you are trained and prepared with powerful tools and skills before attending any interviews or seeking job opportunities with the newly added section.

Udacity Pricing

The Fee is probably the biggest concern for students who are just starting out and seeking an online learning platform. There’s no standard when it comes to pricing courses and features, and each platform has plenty of methods for their fee plans.

Udacity’s courses have no fixed fee structure. Each Nanodegree runs off a completely unique price and can depend largely on-demand, the format of the course, start dates and end dates.

Prices range from $199 to $3,000 USD. Many Nanodegrees are offered on a monthly subscription, but other Nanodegrees are based on a fixed price and term. A few of the longer Nanodegrees are divided into several terms.

A Nanodegree course can take around 6-12 months. If you are unable to complete it in time, you will get a month extension to complete it at the end of your course.

After that month, you will lose access to the content without termination and need to register again for a brand-new term. However, if you complete the course in the required time, you will maintain access to course materials and be able to review it anytime you want.

UX Designer Nanodegree Program
UX Designer Nanodegree Program

Free Courses

Udacity provides 200 courses entirely free to students. You can enter the platform, register and start learning. These courses have little interaction between students, or between students and instructors. If you want to test the water before getting into the full platform, trying these courses lets you do it for free!

Moreover, since the day Udacity was launched, the number of free courses has decreased drastically each year. This sharp decline demonstrates Udacity’s concentration on paid content and further distinguishes its business as one of the world’s leading open course providers.

Udacity – The Rundown

Udacity is a leader in tech-focused online education. It offers no-frills educational programs that are aimed at getting its students prepared for jobs in the real world, and not forcing people to learn about subjects that have little or no practical value in the working world.

Udacity Pros & Cons

Like any learning platform, Udacity isn’t going to be a perfect fit for everyone. The company is laser-focused on delivering high-quality tech education, and not much else. It certainly isn’t a one-stop-shop for a liberal arts education!

Udacity Pros

  • Content Quality: Nothing is more important than the quality of content in creating an online learning platform and this part is where Udacity shines. Udacity’s content is tailored to meet the needs of their students. They’re splendid and well-structured in a helpful format for active learners.
  • Mentor Quality: Udacity guarantees that you get a positive learning experience from industry experts. The mentors are engaging and knowledgeable and will help keep you going on the path of learning. Plus, lesson materials are also developed by experts from big names like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Github.
  • Project-based Approach: At Udacity, you learn through real projects. This approach will help you feel like you’re working in an industry environment. Udacity gives complete assistance with the projects by specifically telling you what to do in a step by step format. Eventually, these projects can be a highly relevant portfolio that you can pitch to potential employers.
  • Partnerships: High-tech courses are developed in partnership with well-known tech corporations such as Google, Facebook, Mercedes Benz, and WorldQuant. All these courses are followed by one-on-one academic mentoring and real-world projects.
  • Career Section: This newly added section offers a great career preparation. In every step of the job-hunting process there are many supportive resources, such as resume creation tools, cover letter editors, practice interviews and specific interview questions. In some cases, they can set up 1 on 1 sessions for you to interact with your mentor.

Udacity Cons

  • Price: Udacity’s prices are not really cheap for an online learning platform. For this reason, Udacity courses are mostly for entrepreneurs or employees who seek to expand their skills and knowledge, rather than beginners or hobbyists.
  • Highly Focused: The relevance of the content is a double-edged sword. The tools and subjects that the platform offers are very specific. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do in life, this isn’t the place for you.
  • Certificate: The certificates that Udacity offers look pretty simple, they are quite easy to fake. This is something that the company will need to address, especially given the costs involved for students.

Conclusion

Udacity is perhaps on the expensive side when it comes to online educational platforms, but when compared to the costs involved with a traditional university degree, it is a steal.

Students can learn a lot on the platform, and they don’t even need to do it on a full-time basis. If you are searching for a way to add to your tech skillset, Udacity is worth a look.

As the world shifts to a fully international economy, the role of traditional education is likely to change. Simply put – universities are just too expensive. Most people can’t get a university degree without taking on large amounts of debt, and this isn’t likely to be a sustainable business model.

Udacity have created a very high quality learning platform which will teach you the skills to rival a university education. Working closely with their teach partners such as Facebook and Microsoft, you can be sure that you will learn required skills to help you gain employment in your chosen area.

If you want to learn more about how to get started with Udacity, or want to try out some of the free courses, just click right here to visit their website. You can start learning whenever you want, and it doesn’t cost you a thing to try it out!

Visit Udacity

Udacity

9

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Fees

9.0/10

Reputation

9.0/10

Customer Support

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • High Quality Content
  • Excellent Mentors
  • Learn through Real Projects
  • Partnered with well known tech companies
  • Free options

Cons

  • Can be costly
  • Courses can take months
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Nicholas is an experienced Finance Journalist who has written for a number of prominent online publications. He grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a father that would read him the Wall St. Journal along side of other bed-time fare. He has traveled extensively, and been lucky enough to study a changing global economy in person. Nicholas spent many years in the Southern Cone of South America, sometimes in the middle of the countryside where livestock starts its journey to all points of the globe. Today he is thoroughly bemused with the stance that Central Banks have taken in the wake of the 2008 meltdown. There is no telling what will come out of the global financial system next, but he is glad that he lives somewhere that gold can be bought and sold readily! nick@moneycheck.com


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