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!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mini Course Launch: Make Your Own 2048!

We made a Udacity version of the game, click to play!
If you haven’t played it yet, there’s a massively addictive game going around the internet. It’s called 2048.

This game is open-source, so anyone can download the source code, make some changes, and have their own personalized version of the game in minutes. 

We’ve launched the first lesson of a two hour mini course, Make your own 2048: Your Tiles. Your Styles, where you’ll learn to modify existing code to create your own version of 2048.

And you don’t need any programming background! We'll guide you in making your own completely personal version of the game. In the process, you’ll learn:

  • How a "real" program works, at least from a big picture point of view.
  • What HTML, CSS, and Javascript are and how they interact to make a functioning web application.
  • How to make small changes to HTML and CSS files that have very large changes in a program.
  • How to use Github to make a copy of an open-source program, make changes to that copy, create your own version, and then host that version so you can share it with your friends.
  • Why open-source is such an amazing idea!

If you need more convincing, try playing the Udacity version of the game or the original game by Gabriele Cirulli. Be warned though: you may spend the next few hours or days or weeks absorbed in this game. You may want to grab some food and let your friends know you might be out of contact before clicking.

Slide on, Udacians. Your tiles. Your styles.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Beyond Intro to Punch Card Programming: Best User Quotes!

At Udacity, we love creating courses to teach cutting edge skills. For April Fools’ Day 2014, we dialed it back a few decades and launched a cutting edge course from another era: Intro to Punch Card Programming! In the course, we cover topics like security risks (rats, fire and water) and getting your debugging cycle down to a single day.

As with all our courses, Intro to Punch Card Programming is geared towards skills that employers are looking for. For career opportunities, check out LinkedIn’s job posting for a Senior Punch Card Programmer.

We are BLOWN AWAY by the amazing responses we’ve received to the course and want to share some of our favorite comments.

Some of you are nostalgic:

Others have shared great suggestions for follow-up courses:

Some are interested in advancing their careers with punch card programming:

Last but not least, others are sharing the latest tech trends:

Inspired to take Intro to Punch Card Programming? You'll create your own punch card that you can share with friends on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

If you're looking to level up your skill set for the year 2014, check out our course catalog for courses in data science, web development and more!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Course: Intro to Punch Card Programming

Update -- Happy April Fools’ Day! Actually, programming pioneers from before our time did a ton of work with punch card programming so you don’t have to. To learn current cutting edge skills, check out Udacity’s course catalog.

Today we’re proud to launch our newest course, Intro to Punch Card Programming

In this introductory course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of punch card programming and practice your new skills by creating your own punch card programming deck.

Aachen University data center” by Jens Gathmann is licensed under CC-BY-SA
We’ll survey foundational punch card programming topics including:  

  • Security issues: rats, fire, and water
  • Storage: where and how to store your cards
  • Sorting: comparing techniques for real-world punch card sorting
  • Best practices: effective bribery of machine operators

Join us and level up your skill set with cutting edge technology in Intro to Punch Card Programming!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Coffee Break EP38 [VIDEO]: Fail Forward

Today, we’re celebrating mistakes! Yes, you read that right. Mistakes are awesome. 

Specifically, mistakes can be powerful learning tools. We see this all the time with ourselves, and with our Udacious students -- mistakes are opportunities to learn, and to learn better

Mistakes help us to problem-solve, and to test our understanding of key concepts. Sometimes, they're a chance for us lifelong learners to simply recognize that we've always got more to learn.

In the spirit of failing forward, here are some memorable mistakes we’ve made! Share your best mistakes in the comments, and mention @Udacity on Twitter with #FailForward.

Inspired? Go make some mistakes! See you in class!