May 8, 2017

My Udacity experience

                                                                                           (source: Udacity)

I love the idea of MOOCs. MOOCs make education accessible for everyone with internet access, it is great that one has a different type of option to look for the education he/she prefers. I experimented with the MOOC Udacity because at the moment I am interested in topics like artificial intelligence and programming. 
Udacity offers computer science related courses. Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky founded Udacity, which is a for-profit educational organization to offer online courses. The name Udacity comes from the idea to be audacious for you, the student as the companys desire, according to Thrun. It is now focusing more on vocational courses for professionals, whereas before, they aimed more at offering university-style courses (wikipedia).

On Udacitys web site it is written:
Our mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers.
Education is no longer a one-time event but a lifelong experience. Education should be less passive listening (no long lectures) and more active doing. Education should empower students to succeed not just in school but in life (Udacity).
Those are some bold words and very enticing to me.

The web site design was simplistic and clear, in my opinion. It was easy for me to find what I was looking for. And the course classification was also clear. I tried the understand artificial intelligence option. After clicking on it, I needed to choose my level of understanding A.I. and input my email address. And  off I went!

The video popped out was fun, it was a youtuber introducing what A.I. can do and very brief introduction of the course in an upbeat and youthful way. It was a hook to get people interested and excited. As I got all psyched up, it showed the current enrollment is full.....I had to get on the waiting this course is not yet available for me.

I tried another button classroom on the home page and searched for Artificial intelligence”. I clicked on the course  'Knowledge-Based AI: Cognitive Systems'?

I needed to register for Udacity for the videos, so I did. The classes were very well designed and delivered, I felt like I really learned something in a very structured way. Between videos there were questions for me to answer, this is good to test if I paid attention to the class. At the end of the course there is a feedback pop-up that I can make suggestions to Udacity, which I think is great.

Daniel (2012) mentioned that new MOOCs are open to enrollments but not necessarily open to license. In terms of legal statements, Udacity has these words:
Except as otherwise expressly permitted in these Terms of Use, you may not copy, sell, re-sell, display, reproduce, publish, modify, create derivative works from, transfer, distribute or otherwise commercially exploit in any manner the Services or any Content. You may not reverse-engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise access the source code for any software that may be used to operate the Services (Udacity).

So it seems like there are very limited things one can do with Udacity content, even though they claim to be working under the Creative Commons license (Udacity). But for me as a curious learner, I was happy already that I got to watch the videos.

My suggestions after trying out Udacity is, if they can be interactive on a real-time basis it would be great, for I have immediate questions in the video I can pose the questions right down the comments section (like in youtube), instead of going to another page for forum. It would be also great if I could directly share the video at the exact minute/second where I would like to talk to my friend about, without having my friend register and look for the minute/second. I am training myself to get used to online-education as I see the advantage of fast access, but I do think the real-life interaction in real-life classrooms is something that online courses can hardly make up for.

If I do not have to care about accreditation and all the credential issues to prove to anybody, I think Udacity is a good source for personal knowledge gain. Overall, I am very optimistic about MOOCs because it provides another option for people even though they are not flawless.


  1. I was really surprised when I read about your experience of getting on a waiting list to attend. Honestly, this seems to go against everything I would expect an open online course to be.
    I am curious now: Did they offer a reason for limiting class sizes?

    1. I do not really remember the exact words they gave me but yeah it seems like this course has a different model compared to the accessible one. Udacity is a for profit mooc if i remember correctly. So maybe it has sth to do with that. Not sure.

  2. I also see it as an very special form of the genre, because it seems that they are creating a very exclusive type of open, which leave me some questions, like which algorithm decides who is able to watch and who is not? Is it first come first serve? Or can one gain different levels of access through working with Udacity?

    But the layout looks great!

    1. yeah the waiting list thing i dont know what they are doing there. The accessible ones are levely designed.

  3. Udacity seems to offer a very smart combination of free and charged courses. Furthermore, they are cooperating with industry or some universities for teaching and certificates. So those courses are just available for a limited number of people and can be costly, however always less than a university fee e.g. in the USA. Personally I think Udacity is specialised in providing advanced training for self-improvement for people already working in a field or wanting to improve their skills. And for that I am convinced they can supply high quality training compared to many typical local advanced training facilities.