Introduction to DevOps [New Course]

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We have some great news: we’ve worked with the folks at Nutanix to build a new introductory course—Intro to DevOps—bringing you methodologies, tools, and insights into the DevOps process and what it can do for your organization.

A modern software organization involves a lot of different roles: software engineers, operations engineers, and product managers to name a few. And given that the rate of change in technology continues to accelerate year after year, there’s an obvious need for organizations and roles to keep up or risk falling behind. That’s why the cluster of ideas around the DevOps movement has developed as a key response to accelerating change in the industry.

Once upon a time, operations tasks such as software testing and release management could be done manually by specialists. But as things have gotten faster, the world has come to rely on automated processes to accelerate or replace these manual tasks—freeing us “humans” to do more creative work. And ultimately, that’s a good thing!

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Introducing Google’s Design Sprint Process in Product Design [New Course]

Product Design via udacity.com

If you’ve ever helped create a product, large or small, you’ve probably used some aspect of product design, most likely without ever realizing it. Both the form and function of a product needs to seamlessly come together in order for it to be successful. As more and more companies come to this realization, the skill-set of a product designer with a deep understanding of how to communicate and test ideas is becoming a hot commodity.

Product design isn’t just about the UX (user experience) or UI (user interface) of a product. It is about materializing game-changing ideas into a product or feature that customers can use. Eric Eriksson, a well-known product designer, defines the role as being responsible to “identify, investigate, and validate the problem, and ultimately craft, design, test and ship the solution.”

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From Web Developer to Android Developer: How I Made the Switch

 

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Dmitry Mina was originally a web developer who completed Developing Android Apps: Android FundamentalsHe’s made great strides since then. He was successfully able to transition from web development to Android development in his current job, and was also asked to present his story at Google I/O in Kiev. Congrats, Dmitry!

As for Dmitry’s experience in Android Fundamentals? He felt the course allowed him to pull together various pieces of Android developer knowledge to help him learn to build a relevant app.

The app Dmitry developed is called “Is Air Clean” and uses the API Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA), which contains information about the carbon emissions of over 60,000 power plants and 20,000 power companies worldwide. CARMA provides awareness to carbon emissions all across the world with the understanding that the problem is not getting better.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Dmitry has to say about Android Fundamentals, his project and online learning in general.

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Someone Reviewed a Data Science Course, But What Does It Mean For You?

Chris Sunsong, a Udacity Data Science student, wrote a detailed review about our Data Wrangling with MongoDB course and its final project, both part of our Data Analyst Nanodegree curriculum. He provides great insight into the course experience, but what does his experience mean for you?

Skilledup review of Udacity data science course
via Skilledup

 

On Content:

“You’ll come out of the course a much stronger problem solver, and subsequently, a more valuable employee.”

The Data Wrangling with MongoDB course proved to be a bit of an surprising experience for Chris, who had expected a beginner course with a few videos, a few exercises and a project. However, what he got was an education that more closely mirrored a university course, teaching core principles and theories as well as how to apply them to real world problems. These courses are geared towards individuals looking to gain a deeper understanding of concepts in addition to how to use them.

With regard to programming languages, we delve into what goes on “under the hood” vs just learning language syntax. It may seem hard at first, and you may feel you are out of your comfort zone, but the results are well worth the effort.

On Quality of Instruction:

“Having someone directly from the company teaching the material certainly enhanced the legitimacy of the course by offering insight into how the technologies are utilized in a private-sector setting. “

Udacity courses are often taught by instructors from leading companies in industry, such as Google, Twitter, and Nvidia, ensuring a student is learning straight from the source. The Nanodegree programs are geared towards preparing you for a career in technology, so having our courses taught by industry makes them that much more applicable to the workplace.

On Projects

“It leaves you with a valuable, real life project that you can add to your professional portfolio and show off to employers.”

The capstone project of this course, along with the other projects included in the Nanodegree curriculum, is what you can showcase on your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Each project has basic guidelines but gives you plenty of flexibility to design the project in a way that best reflects your personality and your strengths. Once it’s completed, you’ll receive feedback from our coaches on best practices and tips for more improvement. Working on and improving upon projects that are meaningful to you also inspires the passion that employers look for in prospective employees.

On Employment Value:

“An employer could be assured that someone successfully completing one of Udacity’s courses would at least have entry-level skills in the topic at hand.”

Udacity courses and Nanodegree programs strongly advocate a “learn by doing” approach. This method involves less handholding than traditional coursework, but the challenges it offers help prepare you for the workplace, where oftentimes, a problem may not have an easy answer. Sometimes, what you learn goes beyond the original project to the learning process itself. Learning ‘how to learn’ can be just as important and applicable in a work environment as your technical skills.

So, is Udacity right for you?

“Udacity is most suited for highly independent and motivated learners. Successfully completing one of Udacity’s intermediate or advanced classes is no walk in the park, and you’ll need to seriously apply yourself in the same manner you would a university-level course.”

“Serious students with a strong desire to learn will probably find this to be the best single course provider for advanced tech skills desired by today’s labor market.”

If you want to learn to apply concepts to solving real life problems, and you’re up for a challenge, then a Udacity course or Nanodegree program may be your best choice to strengthen your skills for the workplace.


Thanks Chris for completing the course and taking the time to write such an in-depth review!

Best of 2014: Udacity Edition

Thanks for making 2014 a Udacious year! While we were busy building Nanodegree credentials with industry leaders, you were busy learning new skills and advancing careers. Thanks for letting us cheer you on!

3 Top Notch Student Projects

Here are some of our favorite 2014 student projects!

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Data visualization: the geography of American music

Beautiful, puppy-specialized website mockup

Are NYC subways more crowded when it rains?

 

Top 3 Nanodegrees

Our students were most interested in these three Nanodegree credentials, which industry employers built with us.

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Data Analyst – by MongoDB, Facebook & more

Front-End Developer – by AT&T, Google & GitHub

iOS Developer – by AT&T & more

 

Top 3 New Courses

You made these three courses our most enrolled courses released in 2014.

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Developing Android Apps – Built by Google

Programming Foundations with Python

Intro to Data Science

 

Top 3 Blog Posts

In 2014, you made these 3 blog posts our most popular blog reads.

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8 Skills You Need to Be A Data Scientist

Python vs. Java: Udacity Instructor Weighs In

5 New Web Development Courses Open!

 

Congratulations on making 2014 a stellar year full of learning new skills and discovering new career paths. Let us know in the comments what your favorite 2014 learning moments were and what your goals are for 2015. We can’t wait to see what you do in 2015!

Your Top 10 Swift Questions Answered

Swift is a new programming language developed by Apple for iOS and OS X. As we were preparing to create a course on how to use this new language, we asked you what questions you had about Swift, and you responded!

Top 10 Swift Questions Answered.  via Udacity

 

1. Why is the language called Swift?

We could make the obvious popular culture joke, but in all seriousness, the language was designed with two goals in mind:

  1. swift to code
  2. swift to execute

In terms of speed, Swift uses the LLVM compiler, and compiles Swift code to optimized native code depending on target device. In terms of learning curve, the Swift syntax was designed to be clean and easy to read.

2. Should I learn Swift or Objective-C?

Whether you should learn Swift or Objective-C was the basis of a discussion back in September, and the answer has not changed – Swift! Apple has made it clear that Swift is the cornerstone of the future of iOS development. Plus, you can still utilize Objective-C files alongside Swift code, so you won’t miss out on any pre-existing libraries and code.

Your Top 10 Swift Questions Answered.  via Udacity.

3. How easy is Swift to learn?

Swift was designed to be friendly for new programmers, and as a result it is incredibly easy to learn. According to Apple, Swift is the “first industrial-quality systems programming language that is as expressive and enjoyable as a scripting language.” Some have even called Swift the new BASIC.

4. Is it fast?

Apple boasts that Swift is up to 2.6x faster than Objective-C and 8.4x faster than Python 2.7. And why should you care about how quickly code executes? Well, faster running code makes for more efficient and smoother running apps, which makes for a better experience for your user.

Better performance equals better apps.

 

5. Why did Apple decide to create a new language?

Objective-C has been Apple’s primary programming language for app writing since OS X was created. In that time, programming languages and practices changed drastically, especially in mobile development. Rather than adopt a new, already existing language, Apple created a new language tailored specifically for development on their own hardware.

6. Can I create an app in Swift and submit it to the app store?

Absolutely! In fact, you were able to as soon as Xcode 6 and iOS 8 launched.

7. Why was there a need to go from Objective-C to Swift?

As mention in the answer to question five, after 20 years, Objective-C was starting to show its age. Plus, Objective-C is a difficult language for new programmers to learn, so the barrier to entry is pretty high. Swift provides a modern language tailor-made for Apple hardware.

8. How stable is Swift?

As with any new language, there is a potential for bugs. While you may encounter some trouble with the Swift language, the majority of issues were addressed before the 1.0 release.

The thing to most look out for is changes to the Swift language during each update. For example, when updating from 1.0 to 1.1, Apple introduced a new feature: failable initializers. You can expect that the language will change as more people use it and give feedback to Apple. Stay apprised of changes using the revision history for The Swift Programming Language.

9. What other languages is it similar to?

Swift is probably most similar in look and feel to Ruby or Python. Though you’ll also probably recognize some C syntax.

10. Is it compatible with iOS 6 & 7?

Swift can be run on iOS 7, but not iOS 6.

We just launched our first course in the iOS Developer Nanodegree, Intro to iOS App Development with Swift. Learn the fundamentals of iOS and create an iPhone app to disguise your voice!

Behind the Scenes: Making Courses at Udacity

Students First – that’s our motto at Udacity.

It’s the first thing you’ll see, painted over an entire wall, as you enter the office. It’s the first you’ll hear when we debate what we should teach and how we should teach it. It’s what drives our passion for crafting your learning experience, and it’s what makes our team so special.

It is a great experience being on a team that truly values the student learning experience and is always trying to learn and expand our pedagogy expertise. This passion we all share shines through in our course development process.

So you may ask, “What goes into a Udacity course?” Here are the four main chapters:

Planning

Starting with our first brainstorm for course topics, we keep students first by considering what skills they will need to land or advance their dream job. We develop an outline and discuss the best ways to teach our students the particular topic and how to get them involved through interactions.

Feedback

We script each lesson as if we were talking directly to the student complete with visual ideas and all!  We collaborate with other course developers and potential students to insure we are on the right track with what students want in how we’re planning the course.

Production

We film the course. We might not get every take just right, but it’s the bloopers that make recording so much fun!

Launch

We get the course ready for the site which can include programing feedback or quizzes or preparing a project so our students can have an interactive experience.

This entire process from start to finish is filled with creativity, teamwork, research, and quite a few laughs along the way. After all, if we don’t have fun creating the course, why should we expect our students to enjoy taking the course?