Friday, August 31, 2012

Picture of the Day: Udacity students in West Africa

Everyday Udacity hears from enthusiastic students who are taking our classes. Last week, we received this beautiful picture of students at the Open University of West Africa, some of whom are taking Udacity's Web Development: How to Build a Blog.

Submit your student photos to and we will share them with the world on The Udacity Blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Automate Boring Tasks in Andreas Zeller's Software Debugging course

In addition to Loviscach's course, Making Math Matter, Udacity is also excited to release Andreas Zeller's Software Debugging: Automating Boring Tasks. Why learn to debug with Udacity? Zeller says, "Far too many people waste far too much time on debugging. Yet, debugging is hardly ever taught at school. With Udacity, I can help every developer learn to debug more systematically, more effectively -- and sometimes even automatically."

Zeller is a computer science professor at Saarland University in Germany. His work on debugging has had an impact on all types of programmers. Among Linux and Unix programmers, Zeller is best know for GNU DDD, a debugger front-end with built-in data visualization. Among academics and advanced professionals, he is best known for Delta Debugging, a technique that automatically isolates failure causes for computer programs.

By teaching with Udacity, Zeller states, "Through Udacity, I can reach more people than I could have in my classroom throughout my career. And my audience is not just enrolled students -- anyone interested in programming (an debugging!) can take the course!"

In this course, you will learn how to debug programs systematically, how to automate the debugging process, and by the end of this course you will have built several automated debugging tools in Python. More importantly, as Zeller points out, "Whenever we program, we occasionally make mistakes, and therefore, debugging is inseparable from programming. Better debugging makes you a better programmer and therefore, this knowledge is key to all sorts of software development."

If you are interested in taking this course, you should know basic programming (as taught in Intro to Computer Science), mostly because you will be building automated debugging tools. But as Zeller says, "If you always hated debugging, you're the perfect audience!"

Check out Zeller's course in the trailer below and Enroll Today!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Solve Real World Problems with Joern Loviscach

On September 3, 2012 Udacity is proud to release Joern Laviscach's new course Making Math Matter: Differential Equations in Action, as well as Andreas Zeller's Software Debugging: Automating Boring Tasks (more information on this class to come). In Making Math Matter, you will examine real world problems, like how to rescue the Apollo 13 astronauts, stop the spread of epidemics and fight forest fires using differential equations.

Loviscach, as both a researcher and a professor, is interested in applying digital media to education -- he has published 1,800 video lectures on mathematics and computer science on his YouTube channel, and he is known as the Salman Khan of Germany.

When asked why he wanted to teach a course at Udacity, Joern answered, "Given that German students love my style of diagramatical, common-sense reasoning, rather than strict proofs, I'd love to hear what international students think about it." He also hopes to share with the world what it means to learn in context: "Hopefully, I can convince many people plagued by math anxiety that math tends to be presented in a far more complex way than it needs to be. Also, that math makes sense after all, and isn't just a collection of funny notations and hard-to-memorize facts.

Teaching his students to apply mathematics in order to solve real world problems means a lot to Laviscach. As he mentions, there is a difference between being taught math and really learning math, "In this class I want students to get a gut feeling for mathematical models. I want to demonstrate that there is a kind of mathematics that can actually be applied in engineering -- believe it or not! Regrettably, this is not necessarily the math you learn, or should I say, the math you are taught but do not learn in a regular university course."

In this class, you can expect to think outside the box. You'll develop an intuition for the use of differential equations in the applied sciences, as well as how to build mathematical models for systems of differential equations. Along the way, you'll also learn to translate mathematical expressions into Python code in order to solve some tough problems. As such, it is a good idea to come in with a basic understanding of a typical programming language and it will be good to know how to solve quadratic equations. If you are unfamiliar with these topics, Loviscach suggests taking Udacity's Intro to Physics class first. He also notes, "You can get astonishingly far with just basic arithmetic -- if you have a good understanding of what you are doing. In this course we're not solving a single integral and we only compute one derivative the way it's done in school."

Learn from Joern Loviscach and Assistant Instructor Miriam Swords Kalk this September in Making Math Matter! Enroll today!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peter Norvig and Udacity host 13-year-old student

The future of education means creating a new generation of lifelong, self-learners. Last week Udacity hosted Danny, a 13-year-old Udacity student who has completed six Udacity courses, including Peter Norvig's Design of Computer Programs. He completed three of these courses with highest distinction, receiving a 100% on both the Intro to Statistics and Intro to Physics course exams. His parents and his younger brother accompanied Danny to meet the Udacity team and talk about the future of education.

Danny meets the Udacity team (from left: David Stavens, Danny,
Dave Evans, Peter Norvig & Andy Brown)
Dave Evans, course instructor for Intro to Computer Science and Applied Cryptography, spoke with Danny, noting, "It's amazing what Danny has been able to accomplish! Young people like Danny give a great sense of optimism about the future. He's been able to learn so much, mostly on his own. He's gone well beyond what most people learn in college, and has visions for using what he's learned to solve real world problems, like understanding climate."

Thanks for coming to visit us Danny and keep up the great work with your Udacity courses!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Proctored exam for Intro to Computer Science now available

At Udacity, we know that our students work exceptionally hard to complete the challenging courses we have to offer. As the online education lanscape continues to take shape, we know that many institutions are not yet ready to accept Udacity's certificate on its own. While we stand behind our certificates, we want to offer a pathway for students who need to take proctored exams to receive credit from employers, universities, and schools.

Starting today, as one certification option for our Udacity classes, we are happy to offer our first secure, proctored exam in partnership with Pearson VUE. The exam will cover basic knowledge of Python and Computer Science as taught in our CS101: Intro to Computer Science class. It will cost $89 and students should allow for two hours at the testing center, although the actual exam is timed at 75 minutes. Click here to sign up and find a testing center location near you.

Our goal is to offer several certification options for our students. For now, our certification, and the proctored exam with Pearson provide two options. In the very near future we will offer a third option -- a secured online examination that will be less expensive than the in-person exam. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Udacity August Newsletter: All the latest updates straight to your inbox!

Want to get updates on the latest Udacity news? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and receive the latest announcements from Udacity. This month's newsletter updates include:
  • Four new courses are open for enrollment.  Yes, one more added since our last announcement!  We are excited to add Steve Blank's EP245: Entrepreneurship, the Lean LaunchPad -- How to Build a Startup course.  Based on Steve's famous Customer Development process, you will learn the key steps to build a successful startup (or at least reduce the risk of failure) by "getting out of the building" to iterate and build a viable product. And remember, all of our courses are always open for enrollment at any time so that you can take them at your own pace. Check out our course catalog for one that matches your interests.
  • Udacity's first in-person proctored example through Pearson VUE will go live on August 24, 2012. For more information, check in with us tomorrow!
  • With 11 more placements and more than 350 employers signed up, we continue to help students connect with potential employers. Email your resume to Udacity's Career Team at studentresumes_at_udacity_dotcom.
  • Shop Udacity! Order t-shirts and sweatshirts from our new online store. All American Apparel styles come in men's and women's sizes. International shipping available as well.
  • Have you joined a meetup group yet? Udacity Global Meetup Day is September 15. RSVP in your community today!
We look forward to keeping in touch as we continue to improve online learning based on your feedback to make education more effective and enjoyable!  Subscribe to our newsletter today!

Monday, August 20, 2012

One more week left of the Secondary School Challenge; 10,000 units already completed

There's just one more week left for students completing the Secondary School Challenge! It's been incredibly competitive with over 2,500 students participating on more than 400 teams around the world. As of last week, 10,000 Udacity class units had been completed and progress continues to mount in these final days of the challenge. The highest scoring team so far, Team Renaissance, has completed over 800 units since the start of the challenge on June 25.

Kenny Song, one of the team leaders for Team Renaissance, has recruited about 147 students to join the team. Song has been ambitious this summer -- he has already completed four Udacity courses with highest distinction, and is currently working on two more.

"Udacity classes are a way to learn things I wouldn't be learning in school. Also, I have a summer internship that involved a lot of data analysis, statistics, and programming. I was actually using what I learned from Sebastian in Intro to Statistics in my work! I can't tell you how amazing it is to use a concept that I"ve learned to create something in real life," Song says.

Enthusiasm surrounding this challenge has been inspiring! Subsequent to the large number of students who are participating in the challenge, more than 200 students have inquired with their schools about receiving credit for taking Udacity classes. This follows in the footsteps of the Reynoldsburg, Ohio high school's announcement earlier this month that they will be enrolling 90 students in Udacity's Intro to Physics and Intro to Statistics courses for the upcoming Fall semester for credit.

If you are interested in learning about how to approach your school about getting credit for taking Udacity classes, contact Jason Soll, Challenge Coordinator, by emailing Jason at Udacity dot com.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

3 ways to make your Global Meetup Day event amazing!

Kevin English is the Executive Director of Da Vinci's Lab, a non-profit start-up that provides unique education opportunities in math and science for high school students through public-private partnerships. Kevin is currently facilitating a seven-week Physics 100 Meetup called PubLearn. He is also organizing a New Frontiers in Online Learning symposium, to be held in early August for educators and key community leaders. He can be reached at KevinBEnglish at gmail dot com.

September 15 is Udacity's first Global Meetup Day! Before your event there are three key things to do to make sure your Meetup is an amazing success.

Step 1: Purpose

First and most importantly, determine the purpose of your meetup. This may seem obvious (an maybe a little boring), but once you have  clear statement of what you are trying to accomplish, the probability that you accomplish it will be much, much higher.

There are two types of meetups:
  1. A one-time gathering of Udacians
  2. A recurring gathering of Udacians who are working through a course together. Each has a different purpose. 
For Global Meetup Day, I would suggest keeping a couple of goals in mind: 
  • encourage and facilitate introductions between Udacians
  • encourage the creation of follow-up study groups around specific courses/topics
  • perhaps, more simply, encourage each Udacian to meet at least two other Udacians that they can share long-term learning experiences with

Step 2: Location

Next, pick a venue -- a great venue! The venue should be easy to get to and centrally located. But more importantly, it should be a place that people want to go to, like that cool new pub in town. Make sure the venue has a meeting room; not some stuffy conference room off in the back, but a room where the vibe is alive and upbeat, and also where you can hold conversations as a group. Be sure that the venue has Wi-Fi and offeres food and beverage service to the meeting room. If the venue does not provide food, see about coordinating some refreshments with your Meetup groups members.

Step 3: The Action Plan

Make an action plan for the evening. What will people do when they arrive? How will you ensure that they mingle? How will you facilitate discussion throughout the evening? You should feel free to encourage other volunteers to act as greeters when people arrive. Name tags should be easily available. Suggest that folks put down both their name and the course(s) they are taking/interested in for easy introductions. 

If timing works out, tune in to Udacity's broadcast
On Saturday September 15, around 2pm PDT, you will be able to tune in to a live stream of Udacity's founders instructors and assistant instructors via USTREAM. Udacity's Meetup Everywhere Channel is where group members will be able to either watch the live stream or re-watch the broadcast later.

Additionally, Udacity will be following our Twitter stream for tweets that use the hashtag #MeetUdacity. By using the hashtag you can ask questions and comment on the conversation happening on the broadcast. Similarly, on USTREAM, viewers will be able to comment in the social stream on the right-hand side of the broadcast viewer. 

If you are interested in coming up with questions and submitting them in advance, simply use the hashtag #MeetUdacity and submit them via Twitter.

Closure and Summary
  • Udacity's broadcast promises to give Meetup group members something to talk about
  • You may want to encourage future meetup around spcific topics that come up
  • Wrap up. "This concludes our evening, but I would recommend that you stay a bit longer and socialize more. I will be here for another  30 minutes or so if you have any questions."
What I have outlined here is just a suggested format for a Meetup based on my experience. By no means is this the only way to do a Meetup. I would encourage you to be creative and find your own personal format. The goal is to have fund and play a bi tin the "educational sandbox."

Thoughts or comments, please let us know in the comment box below.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

3 new classes open for enrollment

The tweets are true! Udacity is announcing three new classes, check them out below and enroll today!

Classes starting September 3, 2012

Making Math Matter: Differential Equations in Action (CS222)
In this course you will examine real world problems -- rescue the Apollo 13 astronauts, stop the spread of epidemics, and fight forest fires -- involving differential equations and figure out how to solve them using numerical methods. Enroll Now!

Software Debugging: Automating the Boring Tasks (CS259)
In this class you will learn how to debug programs systematically, how to automate the debugging process, and build several automated debugging tools in Python. Enroll Now!

Class starting October 1, 2012

Intro to Theoretical Computer Science: Dealing with Challenging Problems (CS313)
This class teaches you basic concepts of theoretical computer science -- such as NP-completeness -- and what they imply for solving tough algorithmic problems. Enroll Now!

Note that all of our classes are open enrollment. This is based on your feedback as we continue to push innovation in pedagogy. We continue to learn and improve the educational experience at Udacity with you, our students. Open enrollment means that you can learn at your own pace and access all of the information you need (problem sets, answers, discussions) at any time to support your learning experience. Check out our full course catalog for descriptions of all of our classes.

We'll see you in class!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Download your organizer packet for Udacity's Global Meetup Day

Already, over 270 communities have been created on Udacity Meetup Everywhere! The largest Udacity community, Koyampattur, India, has held two study groups already, and their goal is to get 200 Udacians for Udacity's first Global Meetup Day!

Live Broadcast on USTREAM

On September 15, Udacity students and friends around the world will meetup to celebrate in the spirit of "back to school" for Udacity's first Global Meetup Day. Since such a high volume of meetup communities have formed, we have decided to switch our dial-in platform from Skype to a brodcast format using USTREAM. Everyone can tune in to our broadcast LIVE at 1pm PST via USTREAM, as well as submit questions and comments via chat and Twitter. More details about our broadcast channel to come!

Udacity will be the official organizers for Meetup sites in Palo Alto, CA, where the lovely folks at TrialPay have generously invited us to use their space, as well as in San Francisco, CA and New York City, NY. There may be a few more locations that pop up courtesy of sponsors, which we will announce here in the weeks to come.

International Community

For our international communities, given the time zone challenge, we will set up a live (video) call with Sebastian and other members of our team for the top ten communities with the largest number of attendees. Koyampattur Udacians, you guys are well on your way there!

Resources for Organizers

For Meetup organizers around the world, we have put together a PDF packet with flyers that you can post up to spread the word about the event, as well as table tents to put up on your event tables. For U.S. Meetup organizers there are also custom flyers for your timezone. For global organizers (outside the U.S.) there is a general flyer where you can fill in the location and time for your meetup. Download your packet NOW!

Thanks again for everyone's energy and enthusiastic support. Meetups are a reflection of the communities that have already sprung up to start studying, discussing, socializing, and sharing together. We can't wait to celebrate on September 15!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finished your final? Get an official Udacity certificate

 So you've just finished your Udacity course final! Congratulations! Now, how do you tell the world?

Follow these three easy steps:

1. In the top right Welcome, (Student Name) menu, access the My Transcript page.

2. Click the Complete Course button next to the course.

3. Your certificate will be ready for download in a couple of minutes!

NOTE: You can always return and continue taking a course if you feel like you need more time for mastery.

Here at Udacity, we want you to succeed. Even after you have completed a course, all of your work from the class is saved. Therefore, you can improve the level of achievement on your certificate by re-enrolling and resubmitting your final. Course forums and all learning materials will be fully accessible to you even if you have already completed the course. 

Also, even if you've finished a course, you can always go back and review the material without enrolling.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tips for organizing your Udacity study group

Organizing a Udacity Study Group using Meetup Everywhere

Last week Udacity launched our Meetup Everywhere page! If you set up a Meetup group on our Meetup Everywhere page, ( you probably noticed that the Udacity Global Meetup Day was set up automatically as your group's first scheduled meetup. 

You should also know that in addition to worldwide meetup events, you can also set up additional meetup groups through Meetup Everywhere anytime for your local community. To do so, simply click on your community and click the "+ SCHEDULE A NEW MEETUP" text (image below).

In between global events, organize study groups or social meetups and keep in touch with your Udacity community! Looking for tips on starting a local study group meetup? This week Kimberly Spillman writes about best practices for organizing and executing a great study group using! 

How to Plan a Stellar Study Group

Kimberly Spillman is a Meetup study group leader in San Diego, CA. She began studying with Meetup groups during Norvig and Thrun's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class, a group that grew to over 200 people, with about 10 showing up each week. Spillman is an embedded software engineer at ViaSat. 

Below she writes about best practices for organizing and executing a great study group using!

Participating in Udacity Meetups is extremely rewarding because it is a a great way to showcase and develop your leadership skills for the workplace, as well as being a great way to meet people, make friends, and create future business contacts. Studying with others also keeps you motivated to complete your course!

Starting a Meetup group may sound daunting, but it isn't as difficult as it seems. Study groups work well if at least one member can dedicate a little extra time to book locations, and extra credit for coming up with interesting supplemental materials.

Study groups can meet anywhere, for example, my study group meets in co-working spaces (specifically, Ansir Center and CoMerge) where we are able to use the space for free. Different communities may have different options such as libraries, community center, or businesses' conference rooms.

For our study group we'd often have a demo, watch some of the lecture videos together, and leave some time to ask each other questions. We have had some really great topics during our study sessions, including:

  • A robotic enthusiast member brought in their latest project, a robot, to show us
  • Alternative ways of solving class problems (after everyone had completed it, of course!)
  • Software tools related to subject matter
  • Work on outside projects related to the material
  • Review of the week's materials
Other ideas include:
  • Bring in members of the community to speak on the week's topic or issues related to the class
  • Work together on problem sets

Getting Started

Here are a few pointers:
  • Schedule and announce the meetup (Meetup page, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs) and start gauging interest
  • Find a location that will accommodate the number of people coming and the type of things you want to do
  • Decide on a rough agenda for the night, which should include what all the members want to do
  • Ask others to help and possibly rotate the responsibility of organizing the meetup among group members
Don't forget that studying doesn't have to be all work. We found that socializing afterwards was a key component to forming relationships and keeping us coming back!

Thank you Kimberly! And stay tuned next week to read about tips for organizing your best social meetup from another Meetup maverick, Kevin English.

Friday, August 3, 2012

High school offers credit for Udacity classes; Challenge expands winning teams

Udacity's Secondary School Challenge has 
been receiving a lot of great positive feedback from students taking courses this summer. In fact, 99% of students who responded to a recent survey said that they would like to continue taking Udacity classes, even during future summer vacations!

Fueled by student momentum, the STEMx network of high schools and Ohio's eSTEM Academy in Reynoldsburg have announced that they will be enrolling 41 students in Udacity's Intro to Statistics class and 49 students in Udacity's Intro to Physics class for fall semester credit. This will allow eSTEM to tap into off-site teaching talent and help drive high school students to excel in college-level courses.

With just one month left before the winners of Udacity's Secondary School Challenge are determined, we are excited to announce that we have expanded the number of winning teams from five to seven! Also, stay tuned because in the next two weeks we will announce the rankings for units completed per team, which will ultimately determine the winning teams. 

Below are the highlights from the survey given to challenge participants:
  • 71% of participants are high school students
  • Over 75% of participants are enrolled in Intro to Computer Science, over 50% in Intro to Statistics, and around 40% in Intro to Physics
  • 99% of students polled said they are likely to continue taking Udacity classes after the challenge and during future summer vacations
We look forward to seeing how many courses students around the world will complete this summer and hearing about the skills, projects, and insights from their experience. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Study together with Udacity Meetup Everywhere

Organized by Udacity students, Udacity Meetups are the best way to find other local students motivated by curiosity and a love of learning. Get together to study, hang out, ask questions, share ideas or even build the next "big thing!"

Start organizing and studying together TODAY! Here are three simple steps for finding or organizing a Meetup in your area:

1. Find or organize a Meetup. Check out our Meetup page, where you can view a list of Meetups that have already been organized. If you see a Meetup in your area, click the red button to show your interest.

If you do not see a Meetup in your area, add your city by entering it in the location field below the map.

2. Let everyone know. Post comments on the Meetup events page, Udacity's Facebook Page, and on Twitter using the hashtag #MeetUdacity. Comments posted to the Meetup events page will be sent to those who show interest.

3. Confirm the event. Once all of the event details are ironed out, the organizer should confirm the event.

For updates on emerging Meetup groups:

Follow us on Twitter: @Udacity
Like our Facebook Page

After your event, share your photos on our Flickr Group!

If you have any questions, let us know by emailing:

Stay tuned for more information on the first Udacity Global Meetup Day, coming up on September 15th.