Thursday, April 24, 2014

Udacity for iPhone: Code on-the-go

Our students are busy people! It’s not always easy to dedicate time to sitting down in front of a laptop. Wouldn’t it be great if a Udacity course could fit inside your pocket, ready to be taken anywhere in the world? 

Introducing Udacity for iPhone, a new learning experience that fits into your lifestyle.

Download Udacity for iPad & iPhone at the App Store!
Whether you are on a train for your morning commute, relaxing on the sofa or have unexpected down time between meetings, you can now take a Udacity course wherever it is convenient for you.

In the spirit of accessing Udacity content no matter where you are, we are also introducing Offline Mode to both Udacity for iPhone and iPad

Download videos directly to your device, so you can always be learning even if you have no cellular signal. When you come back online, we’ll sync to make sure you don’t lose your progress.

Now that Udacity is available on all iOS devices, we are turning our attention to Android. We have heard from many students that you’d like to see Udacity on your Android devices, and we are working hard on bringing it to you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Course: Programming Beyond Hello World

Today, we’re launching a new introductory computer science course! 

In Intro to Object Oriented Programming, the sequel to Intro to Computer Science, you’ll learn foundational programming concepts and take a deep dive into a crucial coding tool called object oriented programming. Software engineers use this technique all the time to reuse and share code.

You’ll learn these concepts and techniques actively, by practicing your new skills in six fun mini projects. Meet your instructor, Kunal, as he introduces the course and a few projects you'll do:

Sound interesting? Here are all six of the amazing mini projects you'll learn with in the course!

Take a Break: Know a friend who works too many hours? You’ll write a program that schedules breaks throughout the day -- reminding your friend to listen to music, get up and dance, or just step away from the computer!
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Secret Message: Add some intrigue to your day by decoding a secret message. You’ll write a program that reveals a joyful message that you can share with friends.

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Draw shapes: Ever wonder how you could manipulate code into creating shapes? You’ll write a program to create different geometric shapes like squares, circles and fractals.

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Send text messages: Ever wonder how dating companies send texts to potential partners without sharing their phone numbers? You’ll write a program to do exactly this!

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Profanity editor: Imagine you get an email from your boss, requesting your help with something. You type, “I can take a shot at it” but accidentally use the wrong word (sh*t). Oops! You’ll write a program that detects curse words to save you from embarrassing moments.

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Movie website: Ever tried to get a group of people to decide what movie to see tonight? Lead the discussion by creating your own movie website so everyone can see the trailers for your choices!

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Ready to get started? Your first project, Take a Break, is waiting for you! See you in class!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Intro to Computer Science: Udacity’s Most Popular Course Rebooted

Dave and me (and champagne) 
celebrating the course launch in 2012

Hi, I’m Kathleen, Director of Content Development at Udacity. Today, I’m proud to announce the reboot of Udacity’s most popular course: Intro to Computer Science. In this introductory Python course, more than 400,000 students have enrolled to learn fundamental concepts in computer science and program their own search engine. 

Since we launched this course in February 2012, it’s been a life-changing (and career changing) experience for students all over the world, and we’re thrilled to add two key components that will give many more students the best learning experience possible. 

First, we’ve added an additional project for diversity in skill mastery. Second, we’ve opened up access to our personal Coaches and Verified Certificates.

Learn by doing: Projects

Tens of thousands of students have completed this course, building search engines and other neat projects like, KickSaver, where you can find and save Kickstarter projects before they end, and Youdacity,  a search engine for specific topics in educational videos.
Kicksaver, a project by student Connor Mendenhall

Youdacity, a project by student Sascha Coenen
Now, we’re excited to release a brand new project where you will apply your new CS skills to program your own social network. We’ll give you a set of relationships (i.e. strings of phrases like “Dave likes Maria, Muhammad and Kristy”) and you will programmatically organize them into a social network. With the social network you create, you can explore relationships and gain insight into how you fit into your own social networks.

Learn with us: Coaching 

We’re proud to open capacity in Coaching for Intro to Computer Science. You can think of Coaches as your personal programming trainers who help you across the CS-skills finish line, in the best shape possible.

Udacity Coaching starts with an on-boarding interview where you’ll tell your Coach what your goals are for the course and beyond. Together, you’ll come up with a learning game plan that includes pacing, milestone goals, and anything else that might help you learn. Inside the course, you’ll have access to on-demand chat tutoring, and you’ll be able to schedule video sessions for extra in-depth tutoring.

Udacity Coaches (and a Squishable)
When you reach the end of the course, you’ll submit your final project (in this course, the Social Network project) to your Coach, and we’ll give you detailed code feedback. For many students, this personalized feedback helps them take the leap from writing proficient code to writing truly elegant code. 

Join Our Community

Making a career change is no easy feat; this is why we are so proud of our many students for whom Intro to Computer Science was the first step down this impressive road.

You might recognize Megan from our homepage. Megan was a medical researcher who took Intro to CS and pivoted in her career to become a software developer. She says, “Transitioning out of research and into tech was a big step! In college I majored in kinesiology, and I worked as a researcher at UCSF. After taking Intro to CS with Udacity, I was able to pivot and I started at a position as a junior developer.”

Megan started her career as a software developer after taking Intro to Computer Science

Coming from a non-technical background myself, learning to code unlocked doors for me in my non-tech career. As a data analyst on Google Maps, it became clear I needed to learn to code in order to increase my team’s impact. With Python, I was able to build lightweight automated tests to help us work more efficiently, and I was able to build prototypes of tools I hoped to get developed by our engineering team. I've been promoting coding to everyone I know ever since (lucky I found this position at Udacity!).

I hope you are as inspired as I am by the many Udacity students who’ve taken this course as a first step towards changing their careers, and that you'll join us. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Awards for 12 Udacious 2048 Games!

Since launching Make Your Own 2048, our 2 hour mini course on HTML and CSS basics, we've been unbelievably impressed with the games you've made while learning.

We decided to give superlative awards to some of our favorite games! (Note that these categories are completely made up and, like this course, intended to be fun.)

Want to make your own version of the game? Take the course! It’s quick and it’s meant for complete beginners. Within 30 minutes, you’ll have your own version of the game to share.

Most Intergalactic Version

Jasmine's Star Wars 2048 is the most intergalactic version. And it’s got a hilarious “try again” message.

Most Bumpin' Version

Make sure you turn the volume up when you play SeeKasra's version. It’s got an incredibly catchy beat.

Most 8-Bit Version

In Egemen's version you watch everyone’s favorite plumber increase in resolution (and weirdness of outfit).

Most Fashionable Version

Shoes. So many shoes! Combine them in Merel's version to get more!

Most Motivational Version

By going through powers of 3 instead of 2, the numbers get bigger faster. Sometimes it’s nice when things are easy. Try out Delodephius' version.

Most Civically Responsible Version

Combine tiles to go through the steps involved in the process of converting a bill to a law in Zachary's version.

Most Banana-Based Version

How is Vittoria's version so addictive!?! You’re just making new bananas! I don’t know why this version is so fun, but it is.

Most Unintentionally Sadistic Version

A + A makes B. B + B makes C. Going from A to K just feels like it should be way easier than going from 2 to 2048, but it isn’t. Be careful with this version.

Most Novel Version

Combine short books to make longer ones! This definitely makes Chelsea's version the most novel.

Most Likely to be Accepted for All Debts Public and Private

Combine small coins. Make bigger coins. Get a bitcoin to win. Try David's version!.

Most Fundamental Version

Start with atoms and keep combining until you get... well, you'll have to play Tali's version to see.

Most Likely for the Ratio of Successive Tiles to Approach the Golden Ratio

This game is interesting since--except for 1 and 1--you aren’t allowed to combine the same tile. Give David's version a shot if you want to learn more about the mathematically beautiful Fibonacci series.

Love what you've seen? This is just a fraction of the games that our amazing students have made! You can find more Udacious versions of 2048 in the discussion forum thread. Or you can take the class and make your own. Beginner's welcome!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Phasing out certificates of free courseware completion

Since its inception, Udacity has issued many tens of thousands of certificates. To get such a certificate, a student had to sign up and make it through the online courseware. Identity checking was never part of our certification. Neither were mentor-supervised projects, which we now offer for an increasing number of courses.

We have now heard from many students and employers alike that they would like to see more rigor in certifying actual accomplishments. We owe it to you, our hard working students, that we do whatever we can to ensure your certificate is as valuable as possible.  So effective May 16, we will stop offering free non-identity-verified certificates. The courseware will still be available, so you can still learn for free. But you can’t get our credentials unless you give us a chance to find out who you are and vouch for your skills.

Discontinuing the “free” certificates has been one of the most difficult decisions we've made. We know that many of our hardworking students can’t afford to pay for classes. At the same time, we cannot hope that our certificates will ever carry great value, if we don’t make this change. 

If you are currently enrolled in free courseware:

You can still earn a certificate of completion if you complete that class before May 16th, at no extra cost. 

If a paid experience is available for that courseware, consider upgrading to earn a Verified Certificate. For a relatively modest tuition fee, you can receive feedback on an interesting real life project (part of our assessment). You can interact with a wonderful group of mentors who will guide you through onboarding and exit interviews. Our assessments are now based on a final project, so it is much more rigorous than mere “course completion.” We firmly believe that the money you entrust to us is worth every penny in terms of your learning success, and certificate value (and if you disagree, we have a 2-week money-back guarantee).

If you have earned certificates of free courseware completion:

We recognize that you have worked hard and learned a lot, so these certificates of free courseware completion will remain available for you in your profile.

We keep working hard to bring you the best learning experience. Sometimes it means making tough choices - this was one - to maximize the learning outcome for our students. 

I can’t wait to see more employers seek you out for the skills you develop on Udacity.

Thanks for learning with us.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Course: Programming Beyond Hello World

We are thrilled to introduce our newest course, Intro to Object Oriented Programming: Beyond Hello World! The course opens on April 23, 2014, and you can save a seat by pre-enrolling today. 

What will you learn? Great question! We’ll let your course instructor, Kunal, show you the course map and the big ideas you’ll learn together: functions, classes, and object oriented programming.

In this introductory programming course, you will take a deep dive into Object Oriented Programming, a technique used by software engineers to reuse and share code. You’ll learn key programming concepts, and you’ll practice your skills by creating mini projects in every lesson. 

We’ve heard that programming can be intimidating for newcomers, and we’ve created this course to make sure you have a great learning experience. No surprises or leaps of logic -- you’ll learn by doing real world projects that reinforce and build on the foundational programming concepts covered in this course. 

Happy learning! Save your seat today for our April 23rd launch!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Course Launch: Unsupervised Machine Learning

We’ve launched a new course, Machine Learning 2 - Unsupervised Learning, from our Georgia Tech Masters in CS track! 

Join Professor Michael Littman and Professor Charles Isbell for an in depth look at how to use unsupervised learning techniques -- including randomized optimization, clustering, and feature selection and transformation -- to find structure in unlabeled data. 

Below, the professors introduce unsupervised learning concepts in 2 minutes (and cover muffins, breakfast burritos, and ice cream on the side):

Unsupervised learning is a machine learning approach that draws inferences from unlabeled data sets. For example, when Netflix predicts what movies you’ll enjoy, and when Amazon recommends products you might want, that’s unsupervised learning at work! 

In this course, you’ll put unsupervised learning to work by building your own recommendation engine, using clustering algorithms, to predict movie recommendations for thousands of users.  

Happy (Machine) learning!