3 Challenges Facing Online Education Today

The challenges facing online education.

Kunal Chawla, the instructor for Programming Foundations with Python, believes in stepping back from your daily activities every once in a while to review your own actions and assess whether you’re still on the path you want to be. Recently, he wrote about his thoughts on online education; this article was first published on Singularity Hub.


There are many things right with online education—like the plethora of free and easily accessible content developed by Udacity, Coursera and others. In particular, online education excels at teaching while using simulations and improving instruction by making sense of data submitted by the learner.

But many others have written about the power of online education. This article is not about that.

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Coffee Break EP36 [VIDEO]: Mobile Web Dev

Udacity, along with the Google Chrome Developer Relations team, has launched our new Mobile Web Dev course! 

Below, course instructor Chris Wilson speaks about mobile first design in a Google Developers Live course launch interview.

Here’s the full interview with Sebastian Thrun, Peter Lubbers, Chris Wilson, Colt McAnlis and Sean Bennett.

Start learning today, and create a first-class mobile experience for your web apps. See you in class! 

Udacity 2013 Yearbook

2013 was a great year with a lot of new milestones.  From our college credit pilots, to a full Masters in Computer Science degree, to the launch of our new industry-related tracks, starting with Data Science & Big Data, we’re looking forward to new innovations in 2014.

Full course experience


Starting in January 2014, we are proud to offer a full course experience to help you succeed! We offer ongoing feedback on your projects, guidance from coaches, and a verified certificate to help you advance your career in tech.

New professional tracks, starting with Data Science & Big Data


In our Data Science and Big Data track, you’ll learn how to harness the power of big data. Get started today with Intro to Hadoop and MapReduce, and stay tuned for Intro to Data Science, Data Wrangling with MongoDB, and Exploratory Data Analysis in February 2014.

Open Education Alliance


We’ve partnered with industry employers and educators in the Open Education Alliance to help bridge the gap between the skills employers need and what traditional universities teach.

Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science

Georgia Tech

We’re incredibly excited to offer the first fully accredited, massive Online Master of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Tech in collaboration with AT&T.

2nd Annual Global Meetup


We had a great time meeting students around the world at the Udacity Second Annual Global Meetup in July 2013.

Coffee Break EP34 [VIDEO]: Career Tips for Online Learners

As we approach the end of the year, we’ve rounded up career tips from industry experts, as well as Udacity students who’ve used our courses to advance their careers in tech. Enjoy!

Visit our course catalog to get started learning new skills and building your online portfolio today.

Don Norman on Creating Online Design Course

Don Norman
Don Norman

Design, the discipline, is about the construction of interfaces that match the abilities and needs of people and technology in order to make products and services effective, understandable and pleasurable.

Design is also is about innovation, experimentation, about pushing the envelope of what can be done.

My book, The Design of Everyday Things, has lived a happy, 25-year life, getting people to look at the world differently, to view the world through the eyes of a designer, to understand why things work and why they don’t.  But 25 years is a long time for a book to remain relevant, and although the principles of interaction are unchanged in these 25 years, technology has dramatically changed. Hence, time to update the book, which has been done in the newly revised and expanded edition (published in November 2013).

So why not innovate? Allow the world to experience the delights of design?  Udacity is a great vehicle, for it too is exploring pushing the boundaries. MOOCs, or Massive Online, Open Courses are a relatively new phenomenon. They can attract tens or even hundreds of thousands of students in a class. But so far, they have been most successful in hard-core science and technology courses, places where there are correct and wrong answers. What about design, where although there are principles, design is still primarily guided by subjective measures. Although there are bad designs, wrong designs, and atrocious designs, there are no “best” designs, no unique design that is “correct.”  Design is a tradeoff among many factors, including the need to satisfy multiple people with one design (an impossible requirement), the huge variability in people’s needs, preferences, and styles of doing things. There are also technological and resource constraints. Some desirable things may not be possible with today’s technology or even if they are possible, they may exceed our skills, or cost too much, or take more time and people than are available.

How do we teach this in an online course?

This is our experiment. I teamed up with Kristian Simsarian, a former designer at IDEO and now head of the Interaction Design department at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco, California. Chelsey Glasson, User Researcher at Udacity, assisted and provided much of the “tablet exercises” and quizzes that are the hallmark of Udacity courses. We are trying numerous experiments in this course, some of which will have the problems that all first releases suffer.

Student engagement is critical in design, where each of you can learn by critiquing and assessing the work of fellow students. (Critiquing does not mean criticizing: it means evaluating, understanding, commenting on the good features and the bad, where the aim is to increase everyone’s understanding and to make the work better.)  But there are no good computer tools for supporting the kinds of interaction we would like to see.  Even as I write this, in the first few days of the course, we see that many people are using the forums wonderfully well, while others are confused and puzzled, wondering why we are using this system.  I fall into both these camps.  I love many of the submissions (especially the answers to the Chinese Puzzle Pot), but I too have been confused.

Take the confusion as a learning exercise. Analyze the problems, suggest solutions. And let us know.

So enjoy, discuss. And someday we hope to have even more courses for you.

Don Norman
Silicon Valley, California

Coffee Break EP27 [VIDEO]: Unlearning

At Udacity, we’re all about learning new things. Our mission is to empower you to learn — whether you want to build your own search engine in Intro to Computer Science or build a blog in Web Development, we’ll help you learn how!

Today, let’s talk about unlearning. Have you ever had to unlearn prior knowledge or mental models to make room for new ones? Let us know in the comments!

Megan: From Researcher to Developer

Megan Marsh

Meet Udacian Megan Marsh, who learned Python with Udacity in Intro to Computer Science, and recently jumped from a career in research to tech — congratulations to Megan for starting a new job as a junior developer with Sauce Labs last week!

Why did you take Intro to Computer Science?

I’d taken a Computer Science 101 course in college and was left really disappointed with it, so I wanted to revisit concepts in CS101. I also wanted to learn Python, and since the class was taught in Python it was a way of killing two birds with one stone.

How did you become a software developer?

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 CS101 with Udacity, I was able to pivot and I started at a position as a junior developer at Sauce Labs last week.

My career change was thanks in large part to my Python projects. I posted my Udacity assignments to my GitHub account, along with my own projects. Having a solid foundation, and being exposed to good code in the class, has really helped me build the confidence and skill I needed to make such a profound transition.

What are your biggest takeaways from your time learning with Udacity?

I love online learning because you can work at your own pace. When I didn’t understand something or my attention waned and I totally missed something, I could just replay the video. It’s such a radical thought, that you can take a course and become informed on something without having to grovel or pay out the nose for that knowledge.

Advice for other students?

Come up with a project that’s your own. Something you actually want to see in the world. Having something of your own is really helpful as a learning tool and motivator.  I wrote a script that randomly emailed my husband once a month and told him to buy me flowers. It’s a fairly simple concept, but I had to learn a lot of things to implement it.