Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Conduct Low Cost User Research

The best way to make an app (or any product) that your users love is by understanding your users, and that means conducting user research. While big companies like Google can afford to conduct sophisticated and expensive user research studies, basic user research can be done very cheaply.

Listen to Rich Fulcher, an Android designer and developer, as he first explains some of the ways Google conducts User Research and then discusses some of the low-cost techniques you can use to improve your products immediately.

If you want to learn more, check out UX Design for Android Developers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Intro to the Design of Everyday Things, now available with the full Udacity goodness!

Did you know that you’re a designer? It’s true! We all incorporate a little design in our everyday lives, whether it’s crafting an email or rearranging the knick-knacks on our desk. Design happens whenever we change our environment to make things a little bit better.

In Into to the Design of Everyday things, you'll learn to appreciate good design in products you use every day.
Today, we’re happy to be offering the full goodness of the Udacity experience for Intro to the Design of Everyday Things (including Verified Certificates, extra material, and Coaching). It's available with a 2-week free trial.

If you’ve ever been curious about the principles of design, we encourage you to join us in class. You’ll learn about design concepts like affordances and signifiers, learn how to recognize good and bad design in your everyday life and how to talk about design. This course really does offer something for everyone, regardless of whether you have design experience or not.

See you in class!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Data Visualization Case Study: How Bad Is Your Commute?

Hi, I'm Chris and I teach Data Analysis with R!
Data Analysis with R is a mouthful. Whether you know a lot about analyzing data or are looking to share numbers in a presentation, I want to show you how easy it can be to make sense of data and communicate it to an audience. Let’s start with a question.

How long does it take you to get to work?

My Udacious colleagues travel all across the Bay Area with commutes times as long as 2 hours and as short as 2 minutes. With your commute in mind, can you think about which cities have some of the worst commutes in the world? Go ahead, jot down some cities.

IBM conducted a Commuter Pain Survey (2010) and determined which cities had the most commuting woes, such as terrible traffic and crowded busses. Researchers ranked 20 cities on a “pain index” based upon many issues. One way of making sense of this data is by looking at a table like the one below. How does your list of cities compare?

Pain Index
Buenos Aires
Los Angeles
Mexico City
New Delhi
New York
Sao Paolo

While this table delivers the data, our brains digest data visualizations, like bar charts and scatter plots, much faster than numbers. If you have ever scanned an excel spreadsheet, you know what I mean. Here is the same data in a visualization.

Made in R with safe colors for those who are color blind. I actually like this better.

By reordering the data, the visualization draws the eye towards the worst cities at the top of the diagram and the less “painful” cities towards the bottom of the chart. Additionally, color serves to draw the eye to particular cities: Beijing, Mexico City, and Berlin. Color might seem like an odd addition to the bar chart, so let me connect it to another visualization.
The chart above shows the percentage of drivers who would spend more time working if their commute times were considerably less. Notice that even though Berlin’s pain index is about a quarter of Beijing and Mexico City (from the first diagram), the same percentage of drivers would prefer to work. Now that’s dedication!

If you want to dedicate time to create visualizations like this one, then join myself and members of Facebook’s Data Science Team in Data Analysis with R.

I know commuting can be a pain but making sense of data should be easy.

Chris Saden
Course Instructor, Data Analysis with R

Friday, July 25, 2014

New: Machine Learning Courses, Upgraded

We are expanding our Machine Learning course offerings, developed in partnership with Georgia Tech, to include projects, coaching support and Verified Certificates!

The courses are taught as an engaging dialogue between two eminent Machine Learning professors and friends Professor Charles Isbell (Georgia Tech) and Professor Michael Littman (Brown University).

Ever wonder how Facebook knows which friend of yours should be tagged in a picture? Or how Siri understands the questions you ask her? 

Machine Learning: Supervised Learning addresses these issues and many others (such as how to stop credit card fraud!). In the final project, you take on the roll of a real estate agent in Boston and use Machine Learning to estimate the best selling price of a client's home. 

Perhaps you're curious about how Spotify suggests songs for you or how Amazon knows exactly what you would like to purchase. Machine Learning: Unsupervised Learning explores different machine learning approaches that draw inferences from unlabeled datasets. In the final project, you will have the opportunity to build a movie recommendation engine (like Netflix's!) to help users decide what movies they should watch. 

In Machine Learning: Reinforcement Learning, you will learn algorithms to design self-learning agents (like us!). The course is concerned with the actions that software agents should take in a particular environment in order to maximize rewards. 

To test your skills, you will design an agent that can play Pacman.

Find the course that interests you most and remember, you can now ask coaches for advice and feedback. We're here to help. 

Happy (Machine) Learning!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Course: Computer Networking

Do you remember how often Twitter crashed in its early days? Or how all productivity in the workplace immediately tanks in the rare occasions that Google Drive is down?

Network Engineers manage issues such as those.

Today we are introducing Computer Networking, an intermediate course to help you better understand the technologies that power some of our favorite platforms, throughout time.

Designed for students with some background in Computer Networking, this course covers Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Data Networking and Content Distribution. 

You will take a hands-on approach to learn these concepts, using Mininet (a network emulator) to see how a computer network functions and what factors contribute to its efficiency.

Ready to learn?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Course: Software Development Life Cycles

Software engineering is much more than programming. It encompasses a wide range of systematic tasks from gathering requirements up to testing and shipping the final product.

We are very excited to introduce Software Development Life Cycles, a course created in partnership with Georgia Tech as a part of the Online Masters Degree in Computer Science. Taught by Professor Alex Orso, the class covers software phases, requirements engineering and software testing methods.

You will go through all the stages of software development as you design and build your own Android app for the final project. You will also learn about:

  • Integrated Development Environments (IDE)
  • Git (and Github!)
  • Unified Modeling Language (UML)

Ready to get started?

Monday, July 21, 2014

NEW! Earn a Certificate for Intro to Java Programming!

Learn Java from Cay and Sara
Today, we are excited to announce that you now have access to coaching support and can earn a certificate for Intro to Java Programming!

Java was initially released in 1995 by Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle). It was designed to be platform-independent, with the slogan “write once, run anywhere.” Java is also an object-oriented programming language, meaning you can use code written by others to create your own programs.

Intro to Java Programming teaches you everything you need to know to get started as a Java programmer. With the paid course experience, you’ll have access to a personal Coach to help you tailor your learning goals and answer any questions that you might have about the course material. After passing an oral exam, you’ll also earn a certificate verifying your new programming skills.

Java is a great language to learn if you’re looking to become an Android Developer. Upon completing the course, you’ll be perfectly poised to continue on to Developing Android Apps.

We’ll see you in class!