Udacity GitHub & Collaboration

When we launched Udacity Blitz, we knew we were setting a course into uncharted waters. But we passionately believed that an initiative whose primary objective was to connect talented alumni with exciting work opportunities just had to succeed. Fortunately it has, and it’s a pleasure now to say we foresaw it all along!

New Course! GitHub & Collaboration

What we couldn’t have foreseen, was the role Blitz would come to play in helping Udacity—and specifically content developers like myself—build even more laser-focused content expressly designed to equip students with the in-demand skills they’ll actually rely on when they work at top tech companies. A new course we’ve just launched is a perfect example. It’s called GitHub & Collaboration, and it is the direct result of this symbiotic ecosystem that Udacity Blitz has made possible.

The Udacity Blitz Factor

When a client contracts with Udacity Blitz for a project, a Technical Project Manager (TPM) assembles the team, then oversees the experience from start to finish, ensuring that the project is completed on time and that it exceeds expectations. The TPMs have unique visibility into client needs and expectations and come to develop a thorough understanding of what skills really matter. At the same time, TPMs are Nanodegree alumni themselves, so they know firsthand what the engineering teams are going through on every project—what they’re nailing, and what they can improve to become even better software engineers.

The Feedback Loop

A natural feedback loop begins to emerge, comprised of Udacity Blitz clients, alumni software engineers, TPMs, and ultimately my team, the Learning Team—the people who develop Udacity courses. From our Udacity Blitz clients (by virtue of their project requirements) we gain valuable perspective on what skills are most in-demand in the marketplace. From our TPMs, we learn where our alumni engineers are most prepared, and what new tools we can give them at Udacity to become even better professional engineers. This information then funnels over to our team, and we incorporate it as we refine existing courses, and build new ones.

As I noted above, that’s how GitHub & Collaboration was built, and we’re very excited to make this free course available to our students!

Collaboration

The Learning Team actually had its sights set on creating a GitHub course already, but it wasn’t expressly focused on collaboration. Courtesy of the feedback loop described above, we recognized an opportunity to create a class that would deliver even more value to our students. Drawing on our experience working with some of the most innovative and successful technology companies in the world, we could provide our students the opportunity to master the real-world best practices of collaborating in a software team. Working with other developers means learning different features, new terminology (“forking,” “pull requests,” “merge conflicts”), and the unwritten etiquette around collaboration. The benefits of a course covering this kind of ground were immediately clear, so we quickly modulated our efforts and began building something we knew would give our students an ever more powerful advantage.

Building The Course

The actual process of creating the course was remarkable for its speed and efficacy. Thanks to all the insight from Udacity Blitz and the TPMs, the research stage (which can often take a month or more) was done in less than half the time. I can say with certainty that we got significantly more input early on than any other course I’ve ever worked on. It was the same for the testing phase—feedback was fast, focused, and effective. We made lots of adjustments along the way, and we produced a course in record time that contains exceptionally relevant and valuable real-world content.

On a personal level, it meant a great deal to me to create a course that genuinely reflected input from our student and alumni communities.

Connecting learning to jobs is what we do at Udacity, and the experience of building this course has added a remarkable layer to that process. The natural connections that have developed between Udacity Blitz and the Learning Team have enabled us to create highly tailored content at a pace that ensures up-to-the-minute relevance for our students. With the launch of this course, we’re able to give you the opportunity to master skills we know you’re going to use!

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Ready to learn the real-world best practices of collaborating in a software team? Enroll in GitHub & Collaboration today!