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Udacity lays off 125 people in global strategy shift (techcrunch.com)
182 points by acdanger on Dec 4, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 160 comments

I've completed 10 online learning courses and probably spend 20 hrs/week learning online.

Udacity Likes: I loved Udacity's production quality & instructors. I think they are generally awesome in the balance of teaching concept and practical knowledge. They also don't shy away from more complicated topics like autonomous vehicles, InfoSec, AI / ML, etc., which is a unique asset.

Udacity Dislikes: They are placing too large of a bet on the nanodegree concept. There isn't a clear ROI for students - and it's fairly clear that most companies don't really give a hoot about online certifications.

Their classes are too expensive. Both Udacity and Udemy have great Web Dev classes. Udemy's was $10 for 19 hours of content + responses to any questions I had within hours, and gave me everything I wanted + more. Unfortunately, I had to sift through the Bootcamp and Nanodegree madness on Udacity.

They are unaccredited. My company (maybe most companies?) only subsidizes classes that are accredited. I have a $10,000 annual credit and I use it all on university classes. I would definitely consider Udacity nanowhatevers if I could use my credit on them.

I got a bad taste in my mouth from Udacity when I tried their React Nanodegree. It was oozing with the expert-in-a-week, fake-it-till-you-make it mentality.

Early on, I asked for help for why my code wasn't working, explaining why I thought it should. My question was handled by the actual face of the course -- the ostensible expert, Richard Kalehoff, and yet he had only a superficial understanding. All his answers were some variant of "I don't know why this isn't working, copy the example more closely." The conversation went roughly:

Me: Why isn't this code working?

Him: Obviously, because you called .setState in multiple places. Didn't you listen to the lectures? It's asynchronous, so you can't guarantee that it happens in the expected order.

Me: Yes, I know, but the docs say that if you chain them as callbacks, you can ensure that they happen in a specific order <link>. Why isn't that working?

Him: I don't know, no one does it that way. I think it's being overwritten.

<several other commenters point out why that can't be the case>

And I paid $800 for that expertise!

If you've signed up for the course, you can see it here:


As much as I love Udacity lectures (see my pro-udacity rant above or below) some of the things they do don't scale.

They can take hours to perfect an explanation and examples and present it to you. That scales.

They cannot give quality feedback to 1000s of students.

I had a similar experience where they switched the sample data in one of the submissions, so the code would not work.

I don't blame the person for not catching that. Had they told me "this should work, but I don't know why it does not", I would have been fine.

Instead they made thing that they thought might work: Use an alternative notation for matrix multiplication which is different in "subtle ways" (it was identical), change the order of the inputs (the functions were commutative, but more importantly they should have known that), and some other nonsensical advice.

I would have respected them simply saying they don't know but actively bad advice is quite damaging.

It's majestically reasonable to expect experts to understand what they're teaching, doubly so when they are the literal face of the course.

That includes knowing how to use the single parameter on the most common React function.

Experts should of course.

But should the person who understands it best be the face? Or should the person who presents it best be the face? The person who understands it best might design the content, or check that it is accurate. The person who is most gifted at intuitive graphics should design the visuals.

I don't think the fact that the face of course is not an expert is a big deal. I do think they should not be answering the advanced questions. However, with 1000s of questions coming in, I don't know how they should solve that issue. They need a quick way of knowing which is the hard question and which is the easy one. (Is that equivalent to the halting problem? I think it might be).

"Why isn't setState doing what the docs say it should" is not an advanced question, and if he's not prepared to answer basic questions, he shouldn't be "faking it until he makes it" and doing office hours and charging $800 for his expertise. Being able to answer my questions is what I'm paying for.

He didn't simply say "I don't know", he confidently faked it until he made it and claimed that he knew the answer, which was false and based on not knowing how a common parameter worked.

I agree with you.

Or rather, it seems you agree with me.

Or perhaps we agreed with each other all along but I am not sure why it sounds like you're disagreeing.

Sorry, I misread your comments; it seemed like you were saying it was unreasonable to expect the kind of answers I was asking for.

I am sorry but nothing comes close to Udacity. (I don't know own stock, know anyone there, or anything).

Their classes as you say are clear but this doesn't do them justice. They are uniquely clear. There is no other place -- iTunes U, Masters courses, etc -- that reaches their level of clarity. And, as you point out, for the toughest subjects.

If I don't take Udemy, I can generally read the documentation or read through umpteen online tutorials and figure out how to get an app up in Rails/Django/React etc.

If I don't take the Udacity couse on (for instance) AI for trading that information would simply not be available short of a specialized course at one of the top universitys and even then it might not be of the same quality. I studied Machine Learning for my graduate degree and the quality is the same as the best professors there (as it should be! They took the clearest lectures and perfected it before they recorded and edited it).

I don't usually get fired up about online course providers but they have earned it.

How can you confidently say that Udacity is clearer than Master's courses in general? How many universities have you taken Master's courses from?

I agree with the previous poster; there is simply no place that provides you with bleeding-edge real-world projects that are doable within a month. I have a top 10 CS university M.S. degree so I can compare; Udacity also prepares many courses with top 10 university staff (Stanford, MIT, Gatech etc.)

That's a good question.

So I have only taken Master's courses at two schools, but I have taken many courses at these schools, and a few online.

The professors were from famous institutes and from unfamous ones. It was a top 20 (but not top 10) school. So assuming that it was a wide sample, I think I have some sense of how good the courses are.

You are right in that they might have even clearer teaching at the top 4 (Stanford, MIT, CMU and Berkeley), though some of the teachers I worked with had taught at some of those schools and/or got PhDs there.

> Udacity Dislikes: They are placing too large of a bet on the nanodegree concept. There isn't a clear ROI for students - and it's fairly clear that most companies don't really give a hoot about online certifications.

My company is really big and really old, and they do pay directly for nanodegrees through Udacity, and nanodegree completion is very much a factor in promotions because management has extremely poor insight into employee performance and this is one of the few verifiable non-trivial boxes you can tick. I don't know how common this is at other companies, but the strategy has worked for Udacity at least once.

The problem is that some of the Nanodegree's are fairly trivial to get as solution code is available on Github.

For me at least, the Nanodegree wasn't a defining feature for me so much as having very high quality produced videos.

You're setting a very high bar for 'trivial' in the enterprise programming world outside of FANG. Half of the developers in my company would learn a nontrivial amount from having to copy and paste solutions from github.

I have also done many MOOCs and I largely agree with you.

Concretely, I found Udacity was simply too expensive so I preferred Coursera as it had great quality at a good price.

Udemy is full of low-quality trash so I don't bother with it.

EdX has some excellent courses that aren't available elsewhere (for example, Plasma Physics) and also has much more reasonable pricing.

I mean, I live in Europe and for the price of an Udacity course I could attend a full brick and mortar course that is much more appreciated by employers.

Udemy's $10 courses are killing content creators that just stop publishing anything - would you spend months preparing quality content to get $400 overall earnings?

Udacity's ND used to be amazing, their Self-driving Car ND was the single greatest online course I've ever taken in my life. Sadly, they now dumbed it down, made it 2-term (original was 3-term). There were some issues with other NDs where marketing was not translating to real experience, such as AI ND, where 2nd term was so dumbed down it could be finished in a weekend, or the late changes to Robotics ND 2nd term that removed a real robot from the plan and instead offered academic discount on Jetson TX2. Also, Deep Reinforcement Learning project's scope changed massively for worse (instead of robot walking it turned into moving a robotic arm). Despite these warts, where else could you get intro to bleeding edge frameworks like TensorFlow/Keras/PyTorch 2 years ago on complex real-world problems (self-driving car, 3D object recognition etc.)? They simply had no competition there, but that market might be too small. Coursera/edX is way behind the curve with their academic courses.

>Coursera/edX is way behind the curve with their academic courses.

Academic courses aren't usually oriented around "bleeding edge" frameworks etc. That's not a judgement, it's just a difference between how university courses are usually constructed and targeted and how a course/book/tutorial/etc. about some current tech is.

I think the fact that many academic CS courses are based around understanding concepts rather than real world implementation makes it a more sensible choice to go with very stable, well proven technologies.

The truth is though...you need both. You need the technical knowledge and the practical skills.

I did a udacity class a few years ago, and it was good content. But with Coursea and EdX in the same space they seemed pretty comparable to the classes I took at those places.

I like Udemy but the content is definitely not quite on the same level. For me it was mostly about getting over the initial learning curve of getting used to something new (interfaces, set-up). As an intro many of the classes are definitely worth the $10-15.

>>Udemy's was $10 for 19 hours of content + responses to any questions I had within hours, and gave me everything I wanted + more.

To add to your point. $10 comes up to some thing 600 rupees in India. Most students can, and do buy courses when its that cheap.

Accessibility increases reach.

Are there any online educational sites that are accredited that aren't ... actual schools?

My company approved a nanodegree for me but I had to convince like 10 ppl that its legit.

I truly don’t get how sites like udacity are able to sell thousands of amateurish introductions to various trends, when you can literally follow CS50 in all its incantations for free on edX.org.

Sure it won’t give you a video guide of X popular framework intro-documentation pages, but it will actually teach you CS for free, and I’d argue, that if you can complete CS50x and CS50x Web, then you’ll never need a site like udacity.

I guess FOMO sells though.

> I’d argue, that if you can complete CS50x and CS50x Web, then you’ll never need a site like udacity.

Sure, but that's a tiny minority of people.

If you have the capacity to complete deep CS courses, you can buy a book for $12 and learn React or Angular or any technology you want.

Most people don't have this capacity.

> I truly don’t get how sites like udacity are able to sell thousands of amateurish introductions to various trends

1. People read that some trend gets you jobs.

2. People don't have the discipline or enough foundation to just buy the $12 book and learn trend by themselves.

3. People find a course online that is really basic and thus doesn't tax their mental resources while convincing them they'll be able to get job later in the trend.

4. People get job, or they don't (I bet they don't, since having low learning capacity isn't a good predictor for getting a job in an intellectual field), either way Udacity gets paid.

It's not a bad business model, but eventually it will collapse because customers routinely fail to obtain the key value proposition: tech skills or a job using them.

"4. People get job, or they don't (I bet they don't, since having low learning capacity isn't a good predictor for getting a job in an intellectual field), either way Udacity gets paid."

Arrogance crystallized. These kinds of statements give our entire community a bad name.

If a kid wants to learn how react works on a crowded bus and finds a book difficult to follow -- he has a "low learning capacity". What a terrible thing to say. Gross.

"Low learning capacity"... Ha! Intellectual arrogance. It's way too common in our field (Computer Science).

Exercises for anyone who thinks this way:

1. Pick an individual sport (running, swimming, biking)

2. Study an elite athlete in that sport

3. Try to get as good as them.

What you'll notice is that, in fact, you can get really really far.

Coding is the same way -- I doubt someone who can't get through a book would ever become Jeff Dean (same way most of us won't be Usain Bolt), but they can become employable and lead a good, meaningful, productive life doing coding!

Brains aren't so different from muscle fibers ... they can grow and learn anything with enough activation.

> Brains aren't so different from muscle fibers ... they can grow and learn anything with enough activation.

While this line of thinking has become en vogue, especially to dismiss the notion of IQ entirely, I think doing so causes more harm to individuals. Yes we all have the same malleable brains with the potential of learning, but it just seems like some people come out way ahead, and over the course of a lifetime, that head start becomes insurmountable, in my opinion, and Psychology 100% firmly agrees.

For all the flack the field of psychology gets, one of the most replicated studies in it's history is IQ and it's predictive nature of positive outcomes such as health, school success, job success, mental health, etc

First a quote, and then some sources.

"IQ doesn't necessarily set the limit for what we can do, but it does give us a starting point. And the truth is some people start ahead."

- IQ measured in childhood correlates with important life outcomes, including school success, job success, health, mental health, and longevity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4170757/

- All psychological traits are partially heritable, including intelligence http://www18.homepage.villanova.edu/diego.fernandezduque/Tea...

- The Heritability of IQ increases with age https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7a6b/ad93d88b0158d449881e56...

- One final one, having trouble tracking the source down but particularly relevant here to HN and YComb -- Higher IQ correlates to success of founders

Completely agree.

When I say intellectual arrogance ... what I mean is the following:

Many coding jobs are equivalent to being a brick layer (intellectually)

Most CS degrees teach you how to benchpress 500 lbs.

To a large degree you have to be genetically gifted to bench 500 lbs ... but you really don't need that to be a brick layer.

So my point is not that you aren't right... you are. But rather, my point is, there is a lot of menial work to be done that involves code... and not all of it has to be done by high IQ people. As "software eats the world" more and more work will be produced. Coding will become more like addition and subtraction. If you went back to the age of the greeks, they were probably sitting there thinking that no one would ever need to use this stuff except for "High IQ people" like themselves.

> Many coding jobs are equivalent to being a brick layer (intellectually)

Anything remotely as simple and repeatable as "brick laying" gets automated in the industry. Nobody pays the requisite >$100k/yr in the Bay for something that simple.

You complain about "arrogance", but your notion that there's many coding jobs out there that are as mindless as brick laying actually reveals a much sharper bias, and is simply untrue.

> Most CS degrees teach you how to benchpress 500 lbs.

Right... so you and your CS-graduating friends can "benchpress 500 lbs" intellectually, but fortunately most coding jobs are so trivial they're like "brick laying".

Who are you calling arrogant again?

In reality, this dichotomy doesn't exist. There's no upper-class/lower-class chasm in any tech company I know. Everyone is competing for the same jobs.

Maybe now you can understand why someone who never went to college and just completed a 4-10 month course finds it hard to compete with you Stanford kids.

Running security audits is the kind of highly repetitive task that both pays well over 100k and is directly comparable to laying bricks.

Automation happens, but you still need somone to supervise things.

I really doubt anyone can be paid a decent salary to do something "directly comparable to laying bricks".

Brick laying is completely repeatable iteration, requiring no modification or thinking. Anything "directly comparable" to that can be done by a program. That's not a job - that's a short programming project.

More broadly, there's always a set of roles which haven't been automated... just yet.

Being a sysadmin, for example, used to be a job. People used to be able to make pretty good living from managing a small custom set of servers sitting in a room somewhere. It was extremely common, too. Almost every company had some of these people on payroll. Must have seemed like a good, secure career.

It required a ton more learning, skills, and thinking than brick laying. Yet it got completely automated. Now we have devops, which are programmers who write programs to do what sysadmins used to do. Each devop is effectively replacing hundreds or more of those former sysadmins, by leveraging automation.

Brick laying is not that simple even if it seems that way. Which is one of the reasons it has yet to be automated.

Also, plenty of system administrators still make a good living out there. Just as their are still companies running 40 year old code. Automation is less about replacing every system administrator as it is allowing companies to have fewer of them. Which eventually means it’s not a full time job and it’s folded into other tasks.

Generally the costs of automation outweigh the benifits at some point and people sit in the middle. Look at a coke bottling plant and their is one manual step where a guy loads the can lids into the machine. It’s just one guy and he gets something like 1,700 cans a minute so it’s just not a big deal.

PS: See 5:00 to 6:00 on this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nHQXxhd4CHE#fauxfullscreen

> Automation is less about replacing every system administrator as it is allowing companies to have fewer of them. Which eventually means it’s not a full time job and it’s folded into other tasks.

Sure, but that's exactly my point.

One devop who is much more capable in programming, leverages his superior skills to automate away 20-50 sysadmins.

That one devop still has a job. In fact, he is probably promoted and makes more money than any of the single sysadmin he replaces, since he his set of skills and abilities is more rare. But that doesn't change the fact that 29-49 lower-skilled tech workers are now out of a job.

All these people went into sysadmin training because someone naively projected very high demand for their relatively limited skillset. Then they got automated away.

The same process is happening relentlessly. Ever more so as the cost of living in places like the Bay skyrockets. Companies employ fewer people, pay each of them more, but expect a very large amount of output from each.

So telling people "hey, you don't have to be smart, or learn much, to have a great career in tech" is simply misleading. Take a guess at the number of sysadmins who followed this advice, and have out of a job since the advent of the cloud.

I have worked with a few very productive, but also fairly dumb developers. IQ is mostly leverage, someone with a 90ish IQ is going to need to work harder to keep up, but frankly most develops don’t ouch much effort into their jobs.

How do you know someone has "90ish IQ"? Do you regularly administer standardized tests to your co-workers?

To inject some reality into these wild numbers being thrown around so casually: 90 IQ is the bottom 25% percentile. Someone with 90 IQ would be noticeably slower than about 75% of the entire population.

Not just "people and you know and worked with". Less intelligent than 75% of everyone in the US.

I really doubt you worked with anyone like that.

When folks talk about "you don't need to go to Stanford to be a programmer", they mean you can be a programmer with maybe 110 IQ (top 25%, which is still not what most of us here would consider "smart") versus 135 IQ (top 1%, which is what top tech is aiming to hire).

One of them mentioned their actual IQ. I have more or less used that as a benchmark. Guy was plenty well educated and competent, it was only really when he was trying to learn something that he seemed anyway out of the norm.

Anyway, I think people vastly over estimate IQ’s of people they work with. Look at the number of 17 year olds in the US compare that with the top schools minus smart people not going to top schools. Now consider each school gets a fraction of that and Stanford students really don’t have that high of a median IQ. Extreme outliers pull the average up, but the bottom 50% at standard are just not that impressive.

> One of them mentioned their actual IQ.

Very few people had their IQ measured properly.

Either way, I doubt you ever worked with a programmer who really did have 90 IQ. Not to put too fine a point on it: such a person would appear dumb and slow. It will take them a long time to understand anything. They'll be disruptive and a drag on everyone else.

There's a reason top tech spends billions (!) recruiting a highly intelligent workforce.

> Look at the number of 17 year olds in the US compare that with the top schools minus smart people not going to top schools. Now consider each school gets a fraction of that and Stanford students really don’t have that high of a median IQ.

Well, I did the math.

Per the NCES, there were 16.9m undergraduates in 2016. Stanford had about 7,000 undergrads the same year, which includes all departments, including non-STEM like Art and English. Let's say there are 10 schools at Stanford's level (there aren't). That still means schools at that top level will accept only 0.4% of applicants.

That means they could easily pick only candidates with 140 IQ or more.

Of course, they don't, but the IQ at these institutions will still be pretty high.

> I think people vastly over estimate IQ’s of people they work with.

I think you under estimate the IQ of people you work with :)

I'll be surprised if you worked with anyone below 100 IQ (population average).

In fact I'll be pretty surprised if you worked with any programmer below 110 IQ.

> Let's say there are 10 schools at Stanford's level (there aren't).

That’s way off base. Schools like MIT and Stanfard are comparable for CS students. But High IQ people are not so limited. So, you need to include say Cal Arts which absolutely stomps Standfard for people interested in Animation etc. Standfard might reasonably attract 1% of the very high IQ population if you assume high IQ people go to elite schools. But, as a CS student that took an actual IQ test and was classified as exceptionally gifted aka 160-174 IQ, I can say never had any interest in doing so. IQ tests are relatively uncommon now days, but historically high IQ people where very likely to choose local options and not infrequently avoid collage and join the military etc. There is very little evidence this has changed.

Anyway, 90 IQ is really close enough to average not to appear significantly different in most situations.

> 90 IQ is really close enough to average not to appear significantly different in most situations.

Population average? Maybe. Subpopulation of professional programmers average? Less likely.

Their are around 1.17 million programmers in the US, that’s far from an elite field.

Granted, it’s a somewhat more abstract skill than most things. But, plenty of young children learn basic programming and brain development means a 90 IQ adult is generally more capable of preforming tasks than a 110 IQ child. Sure, the child learns faster, but that’s of limited long term value.

Honestly, building the same basic CRUD application for some random government agency is just not that difficult. People like that don’t make 200+k, but they make up the bulk of professional programmers out there.

PS: I did say he seemed a little slow for a programmer, but still capable of the job.

> Their are around 1.17 million programmers in the US, that’s far from an elite field.

There were 162.63 million people employed in the US as of October 2018, according to the BLS: https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet?graph_name=LN_c...

That makes programmers 0.7% of the total working population.

It can easily be seen as an elite field.

Tech companies could theoretically disqualify anyone with an IQ less than 130 and still be left with over x3 times more candidates than working programmer positions in the US.

You are assuming 25% of high IQ people theoretically enter programming which is absurd. Having a high IQ is only associated with ‘success’ not any particular interest. So, you see high IQ actors, athletes, soldiers, teachers, even janitors not just fields like engineering and mathematics which are thought to attract such.

Any profession that wants to attract 1+ million people simply can’t be that selective.

I'm sorry, but your arguments no longer make sense.

You keep making claims, then reliable data is presented to refute these claims, which you ignore, and pile up more unsubstantiated claims.

Most recently in this thread, you claimed:

> Their are around 1.17 million programmers in the US, that’s far from an elite field.

I showed by official BLS data that this means only 0.7% of US workers are programmers, and it can thus certainly be considered an "elite field", and employers can certainly limit job offers to high-IQ candidates. You just ignored that and proceeded to make absurd more absurd, patently false claims:

> Any profession that wants to attract 1+ million people simply can’t be that selective.

An absurd claim, demonstrating complete ignorance of statistics.

If I have to choose 1m out of 1.5m, I can't be very selective.

If I have to choose 1m out of a work force of 162m, then I can certainly be very selective.

It no longer makes sense to resume this discussion.

and it can thus certainly be considered an "elite field"

You are confusing theory with practice. In theory some field like investment banking could attract every single one of the smartest people, in practice that does not happen.

Doctors are considered an ‘elite field’ yet their are 950,000 active licensed physicians (ALPs) in the U.S. Lawyers are not nessisarily as presegious and cover 1.3 million jobs.

Sure, a top law firm, research hospital, etc can be selective. But, you don’t see even 1/5 of the smartest people enter any one field. Chess grand masters have higher IQ’s than the average population but that’s in large part because it’s a small group. Medicine, Science, Art, Law, Computers, etc all have very smart people at the top of the field, but the elite don’t represent the minimum. Even the professional world does not have a monopoly as you will find some people with 160+ IQ’s working in fast food or raft guides for various reasons.

I never said folks couldn't pick up a stack of books and in theory study well enough to get a good tech job.

I said they generally don't because they don't have the stamina, discipline, and curiosity to do so.

Some do. The minority. Most don't.

Respondents are attacking me as if I am saying this is how things should be.

Trust me, I wish it was the opposite. I've been involved in hiring in all my recent roles, and we'd be happy to hire anyone who has enough motivation, discipline, and interest in the field to learn CS and React through books and come work for us.

There's just not many of these.

I didn't make it so. I didn't stand behind people taking Udacity courses and whispered in their ear "give up!" like some sort of comical Satan.

If I could, I'd whisper "Try harder! You can succeed!"

However when I did end up interviewing folks coming out of code bootcamps, I ended up not being able to offer them a job.

Bluntly, most of them seemed to have no real interest in tech. They initially studied something else, were on a different track in life, typically had little interest in tech at best. Then they heard you can make 6 figures in tech no problem, and I met them 4-10 months later, often after they went through some lazy course designed specifically to game my interview process.

Results from recruiting straight out of bootcamp simply do not justify the effort.

In fact they're so bad that despite all our need for talent, we don't hire anyone straight out of bootcamp anymore. We'll gladly be your second job after bootcamp, but never your first.

Because the vast majority who even complete these bootcamps realize the money isn't enough to keep them engaged in a field they don't inherently like - which is why they didn't go to tech in the first place.

My impression is that a large majority of them leave the field after working for a short while on their new job. This is based on reports from friends in the industry + the fact we get a ton of resumes from people who just finished bootcamp, but very few from people who finished bootcamp and then worked in the industry for any amount of time.

All this is for people who signed up and finished a bootcamp, which is already a high bar. The amount of people who bought a "micro-degree" from commercial companies like Udacity is probably far larger, and only a tiny minority of them even completed this relatively easy course (look up MOOC completion ratios), let alone went through a bootcamp which is far more taxing and less accessible.

People will probably attack me like I'm the evil wizard who conjured this unfortunate situation. They're killing the messenger.

I think a lot of what you are saying makes sense. I'm looking at it from the reverse perspective: I've seen guys struggle through bootcamp and then make it in coding and land good jobs.

With that being said they were all quant majors in undergrad, and actually enjoyed coding.

I've also seen people with non-quant backgrounds land ok jobs doing menial coding (e.g working at an accounting firm on database stuff) ... but they are still making $50k-70k and happy about it... they got there by doing a coding bootcamp.

Those are the two categories I'm talking about. I'm guessing you probably work at a company like Facebook or Google -- and I agree those companies can't find good candidates that meet their bar. I've worked at those places myself.

> With that being said they were all quant majors in undergrad, and actually enjoyed coding.

Right, this is top edge of bootcamp folks, and these guys do get hired and do succeed.

You're talking about folks who completed a tough STEM degree and then switched to tech. These are the folks you know. But these are already pre-selected people. They were already in the top 1% "most likely to succeed" before they even set foot in the bootcamp.

You're missing the 99% who never went to college because they lacked the desire or ability to learn, then drifted into some skill-mill that took their money.

These are the majority of bootcamp graduates.

> I've also seen people with non-quant backgrounds land ok jobs doing menial coding (e.g working at an accounting firm on database stuff)

Ten bucks say these were non-quant college graduates, and probably a good college too. So now we're not talking about the top 1%, but probably top 5%.

What you're considering "menial coding" is just simpler jobs, but not really simple or brain-dead. That stuff gets automated... often by startups staffed by folks who went to Stanford CS.

Is there any other industry where people have to put up with this nonsense from hiring managers? You'd think a $100k javascript job was a partner at Goldman Sachs the way these guys talk about it.

> Most people don't have this capacity.

Citation badly needed for the ridiculous assertion that most people don't have the "learning capacity" for "deep CS courses" (whatever that means). The fact that one can reliably teach programming to eight year olds, boot camp graduates can get jobs in the industry with high probability, and just about anyone in any other scientific field can fill a data science position suggests that CS is not such a rarified academic pursuit.

Teaching is actually very different than ability to self learn. I taught a class of 8-11 year old lower income but fairly motivated kids programming with Scratch over summer. Everyone did reasonably well but exactly 2 out of the 26 demonstrated the ability to push further and teach themselves more than what I taught in class by experimenting with the platform. This ability becomes much rarer the older you grow.

Of course the ability to push further and teach themselves is rare. It decreases monotonically with time spent in formal education as intrinsic motivation to learn is extinguished.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations in the classroom: Age differences and academic correlates.

> Consistent with previous research, intrinsic motivation showed a significant linear decrease from 3rd grade through 8th grade and proved positively correlated with children's grades and standardized test scores

Enthusiastic students: A study of motivation in two alternatives to mandatory instruction

> The present study used Self-Determination Theory as a framework for examining age-related changes in motivation for 57 students aged 7-17 years in the context of two alternative educational environments: a home school resource center and a democratically organized school. Students completed the Academic Self-Regulation Questionnaire in order to assess their intrinsic motivation and three types of extrinsic motivation. In stark contrast to the well-replicated negative correlation between age and intrinsic motivation in traditional schools, there was no relationship between age and any of the four motivation subscale scores in the present study. Interpretations and implications of these findings are discussed.

Citation needed for the claim that 8-11 years old are at their highest for self motivation and ability to learn independently.

To me that sounds ridiculous. Especially since you based it their willingness to push themselves further in something like scratch (e.g. something they have no practical nor social reason to push themselves at).

I think he means core CS stuff like OS or compilers or algorithms. Programming =/= CS. You can be a good programmer who can build amazing apps or websites while having little idea about how an OS works or how to create/analyze some complex algorithm. I highly doubt most of those eight year olds or boot camp graduates can invert a binary tree.

No one knows how in to invert a binary tree until they learn what a binary tree is.I don't think the number of people who could learn computer science deeply is very small, although the number of people who really want to is probably small.

What’s strange is that people think “knowing how to invert a binary tree” is more important than “knowing how to program”.

Yes, I have a CS degree.

> What’s strange is that people think “knowing how to invert a binary tree” is more important than “knowing how to program”

More important: Knowing how to work with other people

I don't care how well you can code, if you can't interface with people and know how to switch up your lexicon there's going to be a problem in a lot of teams. I'm not a programmer, but when I'm in interviews for them I look to see how well they can interact & discuss their projects with me without divulging into intense CS discussion.

Having a CS background I agree with this.

Problems exist at many levels of complexity and they can be solved in many different ways. Clever architecture often beats clever programming.

I see a similar mentality in professors who boast of a low pass rate in their courses, like it's a good thing. They're trying to signal "this is a hard course, only the smartest folks can get through it. Plebs need not apply." But I feel the truth is closer to "I'm not a skilled teacher, and I have no interest in improving my skills".

The difference in teaching philosophy of these profs vs the ones who actually teach is the difference between a fashion model school and the army. The latter accepts anyone and trains them to succeed whereas modelling schools only accept good looking people to begin with.

Woah, where are they selling these $12 tech books? I just blew like 50$ on Manning's half-off sale ordering prerelease books. There was nothing below $40.

India, South East Asia and used books in Europe/US

Any way to order them online ? Ordering $50 for even basic algorithms books, just cause I want them on paper seems more than a bit excessive.

In College, I bought the Indian versions of my Econ/Finance textbooks on Ebay. Exact same content down the sentence, just in a plain cover and probably 25% of the college bookstore/Amazon price.

Agreed, $12 books would be a godsend.

Currently buy mine used on AZ most of the time, always pay around $30.

CS50 is an introductory course, I think almost anyone can do it. It may take a lot of effort, but once you finish, you’ll have obtained the ability to learn X from its documentation because you’ve learned basic CS and not just google coding.

> If you have the capacity to complete deep CS courses, you can buy a book for $12 and learn React or Angular or any technology you want.

But this is how you learn new skills, no? People were learning from books for ages.

> Most people don't have this capacity.

If you can't understand written word, how on Earth could I trust the code you write?

No, people (on any meaningful scale) have never learned from books without teachers. What scenario were you thinking of?

I think you're confusing Udemy with Udacity. I think this confusion is common, and probably not helping Udacity much.

Even Udemy is not that bad. If you wait for the right price you can get a decent introduction to a topic you are interested in. I learned to use Blender that way, filled some gaps with different platform SDKs and so on. Great way to kickstart a hobby.

I very much agree with that. Finding a decent course can be a bit challenging though.

My strategy is to filter for 4.5 or more stars and more than 1000 students.

I‘m not saying all courses below this threshold are bad but for filtering I‘m strict about these numbers. 4.5 is a good threshold because I found that even at 4.4 there are so much more courses that selection is a pain. Udemy conveniently has a filter with exactly this limit.

If a course is over 4.5 I don‘t care about the rating as long as there are more than 1000 students. There is a class of courses which usually have 4.7 or 4.8 stars and few hundered students but are terrible. I guess this where they land with bought students and ratings.

Which Blender course did you take BTW?

I've known Udemy for a lot of time but never really cared.

Until I started looking for courses on uncommon subjects I am interested in. Then I discovered a new world, basically.

I now always keep one eye on sales at Udemy, and will be spending 200€ on a single course in the following day.

Content quality, as always, depends on the course and the author but generally when it comes to IT and related stuff the rating is a good indicator of quality.

Udemy has literally always got sales on. I don't think I've ever paid more than £11 on a course

Once while logged into my Udemy account (with three past purchases) I was disappointed to see that classes were no longer on sale. But opening Udemy in a separate incognito window showed the classes at their usual heavily-discounted pricing.

I’ve seen the same and it has absolutely stopped me buying courses at Udemy (even for $11). I previously bought around 25 courses at $10-11ea and was probably good for another 100+ paid over the coming decade.

Worse for them, I’m a decision-maker on corporate training. 0 chance Udemy gets the nod there with tactics like this.

[0] - I have 42 total courses in my account. I didn’t bother to count how many were paid vs free.

> I now always keep one eye on sales at Udemy, and will be spending 200€ on a single course in the following day.

Are these not covered by the perma-sales?

No, the topic is very specific and AFAIK the course author decided that the course will never be part of sales.

Try this coupon code: 1218HOLIDAYSALEB

Yeah, it was not accepted. Thank you anyway :)

I ask a single question with every course I take: can I list three actionable things I learned from this course?

If yes, then the price was probably worth it.

I took a Udemy marketing course that regurgitated most of the information I already knew. BUT it included a bit about positioning that I adopted and which landed me more than $10k worth of clients.

I paid $20 for it. Good deal I'd say

Udemy is not that bad, it is WORSE, they have been aggressively sending ads for courses like this:


EDIT: not sure it's the same course, turns out there's many with similar names on Udemy...

The Youtube ads are so unbelievably patronizing that I wouldn't dream of giving them my money.

I agree. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard "Python's where it's at. You can do almost anything with it"

skips ad

Your drawings would look great in 3D!

If anything I think that Udacity might be hurting Udemy's reputation.

I've used both platforms. Udacity is absurdly expensive. I could buy a university course for the price of a Udacity course. The material is pretty decent and having live graders who give you feedback is pretty useful.

In a lot of cases Udemy is a bargain. There is literally ALWAYS a coupon code to get any course for $9.99. While it seems like 95% of the coursework is pretty weak, I have downloaded some truly excellent content. I can't recommend Todd McLeod's Golang courses and Chad Darby's course on Spring highly enough. 10 bucks is an incredible value.

At the end of the day, building portfolio projects with the skills you've learned from Udemy is much more valuable than whatever recruiting help Udacity provides.

In my book Udemy is the superior product.

After a free course on StackSkills a few years back I launched my first ever web site. The experience I gained from that launched my side project which has brought in a bit of extra income and a lot of personal satisfaction. After an excellent $20 course on Udemy, I launched an app to go with that side project which brings in even more extra income and even more personal satisfaction.

Am I a computer scientist? No. Would I get a job as a professional programmer? Probably not. But I got way more out of the Udemy course than I paid for, so I'm pretty happy.

I do wish there was less trash on Udemy though, as a novice its hard to sort through the chaff.

You launched an app, I think you could get a job as a junior programmer (heck, you're ahead of most) :)

Don't sell yourself short.

Rule of thumb: if there’s a perpetual 9.99 sale on, down from 120, it’s Udemy.

They surely hold the record for most frequent sales events of all time.

And if it isn't "on sale", just put the course in your wishlist and you will get an email containing the discounted course within 3 days. Hasn't failed me yet

You're right. I remember one with an amazing machine learning/self driving car course that I took a while ago, and another one known for selling stolen content, and I often don't remember which one is which.

I did, sorry.

I'd disagree with amateurish.

I agree that some of what they're advertising looks like 'intro to web bodging' and 'learn to mash tables without learning the maths', but there's also Norvig: https://www.udacity.com/course/design-of-computer-programs--...

Granted, I haven't actually paid them any money.

Norvig and Thrun's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class was pretty awful. I hope their offerings improved since the original class in 2011, but I'd be wary of paying money for any classes with their names attached to it. On the other hand, Widom's database class and Ng's ML class were excellent.

I thought the same thing but it really makes sense. The second you start going into anything challenging...your retention drops off a cliff. For Udacity, they have to give the illusion that MOOCs have high retention rates (because everyone criticizes them for low retention).

If you don't believe me then just go on youtube and look for some Stanford, MIT etc. course where they uploaded all the lectures. You'll see the first lecture has lots of view but if you scroll through the rest you'll see the retention drops significantly. I've ran some numbers on this and it turns out the biggest drop is actually in the second lecture.

You seem to be painting this as an issue of ability: intelligent people do real computer science. These people would never need a user-friendly course introducing them to a topic. Seems both uncharitable and untrue.

I’m a “buy a book” kind of person and didn’t get it until I used its value as a sensitive screener.

People can learn in many ways, but there’s a sheepskin effect [0] just by paying $49 to prove you end through it and got the button to add to LinkedIn. There are certainly false positives, but these courses are helpful to 1) help users sort out all the EdX vs. wannabes and 2) demonstrate willingness to learn.

Of course I would never use this to try to determine whether someone knows a skill or is competent or is a learning lover, but it’s helpful as one of many filtering criteria.

I also use it as a casual way to recommend training when I care enough about the person that they learn, but not enough that I want to answer every question that comes up with open courseware (eg, what’s a command prompt, why doesn’t this package work with that package, etc).

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheepskin_effect

"all its incantations" - did you mean 'incarnations'? (though I like 'incantations'! )

CS50 is great but many of the free courses on Udacity are superior. (Not all of them, but I would say more than half).

Also, Udacity is for learning self-driving cars, algorithmic trading, conv nets for object recognition and stuff you wouldn't get elsewhere.

I'm not sure about algorithmic trading, or what the self-driving car class contains, but there is tonnes of content on object detection and other recent AI breakthroughs.

I'm currently taking AI for Trading on Udacity and it's the best course I've ever taken. I highly doubt you could find a comparable course anywhere else.

> We will increase our investments in growth areas like enterprise and career development

I'm surprised the shift has taken this long. Employers will spend massively more on employee development than employees will.

Employer: $2,000 for a 5 day class? No problem.

Employee out of pocket: $150 for 6 weeks? I wonder if I can just read some tutorials.

Enterprise certification programs are very often money grabs that companies fall for and employees get saddled with participating in. The last thing I am interested in is sitting through a "React Certified Developer" exam. I hope that is not where the industry is headed.

It is interesting though, I can imagine it's really hard to hire good talent for many hiring managers because it is difficult to spot who is good or bad. I am sure they wish there was some kind of standard measure like other industries have.

There's a lot more to professional development than certification bs. I've not done anything on Udacity, but I've spent my employer's money on Coursera before and it was well worth the time. I've also spent 10x the Coursera's price on a 5 day training that was good, too. There's good material out there, money ready to be spent on it, but the the current business model doesn't tap into it well.

What standard measure is there in other industries?

I also find it ironic that most people take courses that benefit their employers...which really makes you wonder why more companies aren't just offering vouchers for people to buy self-study courses related to improving their productivity.

Because managers generally fear capable employees will take their jobs. And if the ecosystem as a whole is getting upskilled regularly, its very likely you won't a job as a manager anywhere ever.

Does getting a nanodegree from Udacity significantly improve ones hirability? For $600, it looks like one gets a shot at a nanodegree that has numerous soft deadlines, but with fixed, inflexible deadlines potentially piling up at the end of the course.

In my experience, having a mostly self paced class with no hard deadlines, then a stack of hard deadlines for projects at the very end results in stressed out students and a ton of poorly done work. Choose a model and stick to it, either its self paced with no defined end date, in which case people will learn at their own pace, or its a classic fixed format course, with a list of due dates published prior to the class even starting.

Edit: Additionally, the refund window seems much shorter than one sees at traditional colleges and there is still no accreditation for the nanodegrees Udacity lists. At accredited institutions, these types of workforce retraining programs have a bit more heft, and set you up to go straight into a decently paid job. It appears Udacity hasn't solved this problem.

My pathway to getting a job at Buffer starts partially because of what I learnt in udacity's basic web development course. I had a degree in software engineering already but I knew nothing about actual web development itself. I'd never have started scoring the jobs I wanted that led me to Buffer without the udacity course. Admittedly the newer upfront massive payment is really difficult to stomach. 400 USD or a 100 USD per month for 4 months was ok. 999 for a front end web development nanodegree on the other hand is a tough decision [1]. 250 USD per month is not unreasonable but it makes the choice that much more difficult.

[1] https://www.udacity.com/course/front-end-web-developer-nanod...

Building a portfolio of open source work in conjunction with at-your-own-pace study is a great way to grow and showcase your abilities.

This portfolio is built by committing your classwork to git, I wouldn't say Udacity has this as a particular advantage. If I search for a course, usually the first couple results I'll get are git repos, regardless of the institution offering said course.

Right, building a portfolio isn't specific to any learning platform.

When I buy an online course or book, it is often reassuring for me that the course materials are available in an open source repository. This ensures that students can use the course materials in their personal projects, and increases the commonwealth.

The accreditation issue can't be tackled until you build high-quality courses in traditional subjects. That's what many of these sites don't get. You need to look at what traditional university is offering THEN REPLACE IT WITH SOMETHING BETTER. Physics 101 and chem 101 are still important and people need to learn these subjects. You can't just build a new "university" and then just have a bunch of buzz word named courses.

Until that happens, none of these MOOCs will obtain accreditation from any accreditation organization that is worthwhile. The quality offered by current MOOCs simply do not compare to what you learn from traditional university.


I count eight Master’s degrees. I’m sure you’ll agree Georgia Tech is an excellent university.


Ten Master’s degrees including Computer Science from UIUC and a Bachelor’s.

As far as accreditation or doing something better than a traditional university look to lambdaschool.com Zero to employment ready software engineer in eight months, not ready to be an intern, not well, we’re desperate we can train you, but solidly capable of most front end jobs, decent coverage of algorithms, data structures and basic computer science. They’re not MOOC as they’re neither massive nor open but they may be transformative.

$20,000 masters degrees isn't what I have in mind, sorry. That's just more of the same old same old. Nothing innovative about that.

The whole point of MOOCs is to delivery high-quality courses for free. If there is some sort of fee type system then it has to be affordable for everyone, even for people in places like rural India.

> The whole point of MOOCs is to delivery high-quality courses for free.

No, it's not.

It might not be to you, but it is to me. MOOCs is about demolishing the ivory tower of education privilege and making high-quality education accessible to all, for free. Also when I say free, I mean free as in not funded by the government type of free.

> It might not be to you, but it is to me.

It doesn't seem to be for the people that are running MOOC platforms, either.

> MOOCs is about demolishing the ivory tower of education privilege and making high-quality education accessible to all, for free.

It may be defensible to say that MOOCs are about lowering economic barriers to accessing education, but free isn't the goal (most platforms were purely free initially to establish mindshare, but that's a promotional expense not a sustainable business model.) Those that have retained a free option seem to have it largely as a tool for promoting paid certificate/credentialing programs.

Udacity has been much better than my actual university for almost every topic I've went to them for. I'm sad to hear they're going through this.

On the topic, how does their security nanodegree look? It starts early 2019 and I've been seriously considering it.

> Udacity has been much better than my actual university for almost every topic I've went to them for.

Which topics, in particular?

Andreas Zeller's "Software Debugging" course is excellent, although it's a topic that most universities wouldn't offer a full course on.

What did the course cover?

git & github, c++ for programmers, and some introductory networking material was very helpful. Their css videos were helpful too for organizing the material in a nice way, and they direct you to the documentation that lets you continue the subjects on your own.

I paid for their self driving car class, very early. It was a mistake to do that.

Not because the class material or teaching was bad. On the contrary it was very good.

Rather because they did not let me access the materials after the class was over. They would not let me postpone completion of the class based on my schedule.

It was very much like a real course. I thought it would be more like a course that I could complete on my own schedule if I missed their schedule. I didn't want their certificate. I just wanted to learn the material.

After paying over $600 for the course, it really rubbed me the wrong way that they shut me out of the course lectures and materials. It would not have cost them anything to allow me to learn at my own pace. But they decided to go that way.

One of the points that was really annoying and borderline fraudulent is that their free courses don't operate like that. Those materials are available to you all the time. It's just the courses you pay for where your experience is worse. Go figure.

Anyway, $600 was a cheap way to learn the lesson not to buy a course from them again.

I really think there's a place for a good company to sell courses on emerging technology, and to charge premium prices. They just have to understand that most people need to be able to tackle the material in a self-paced manner. Some of us have jobs and families.

Udacity essentially failed in reaching its base goal: becoming an university capable of issuing bachelors degrees, via the mooc teaching method.

No wonder it now needs "restructuring".

Coursera is going more in the way you describe: you can actually get a university degree from some institutions via Coursera and the degree says "Batchelor of XXX from well-known-university" (not "well-known-university online").

IMHO the big reason for the difference: Udacity original CEO: former professor (Thrun). Coursera original CEO: former president of Yale (Levin). This is not to imply one was smart and one was not; it just shows that the companies' implementations and objectives reflected the backgrounds of the respective CEOs. In the long run I haven't the faintest idea is better.

I do find the Udacity web site hard to follow, but I don't care at all about credentials/certification so might find the "nanodegree" idea more practical for my own purposes (compared to Coursera) if I wanted to take a class.

disclaimer: my gf works for Coursera, but honestly until she started there the only online teaching company I'd heard of was Khan. I learned all the info in the first two paragraphs from her.

> Coursera is going more in the way you describe

I should start keeping an eye on Coursera again.

Are US university presidents not required to be profs?

No. But it’s common in part because the faculty tend not to respect those who aren’t members of the club.

>the faculty tend not to respect those who aren’t members of the club.

Classic faculty.

They generally are, but I don’t know if there is a “requirement.” Levin, for one, was a professor of economics at Yale School of Management before he became president.

This seems like a necessary reset, especially given their very high valuation. I personally enjoyed most of Udacity's Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree. The content was great and at the time I had a very supportive mentor (gutted they got rid of this feature). Moreover, they have managed to build a large community of current students and alumni who keep in touch even after the nanodegree is over.

I would suggest they reduce the number of courses they offer and improve quality. I tend to see them as a more "premium" MOOC but I do agree that quality of content is variable depending on course.

Another area they should naturally look at is training for employees in corporations. I really hope Sebastian Thrun can turn things around.

I am currently going through the self-driving car engineer nano degree and I completely disagree. The content was not useful for anything besides trying to to make students be able to complete the projects. They completely skip over and hard theory or mathematics probably because most people would struggle with it

In all fairness there is a big difference between research AI and applied AI/ML. You can spend lots of time on the former before even touching a keyboard. But people can do useful things with the latter with a fairly light dose of theory.

I did the first semester of that course. It was ML 101 repeated several times. It lacked any rigor. I hope to god no-one who finishes that course has an important job working on self driving cars. Moveing fast and breaking things shouldn’t apply to driving.

I completely agree with the quality arguments.

Everyone...let's be honest with ourselves and what we want from these moocs. I don't know about everyone else but what I want is high-quality courses that are online and basically free. Ads are okay and premium features are okay (like live tutoring or a human given lecture). When I say high-quality I want the content to be similar to what you would get from a Harvard, Stanford or other top university in the field in terms of the content. I want to learn the same topics. Don't water it down and make it simple. I want the real deal with the difficulty and all. Once that is accomplished..work on building tools that make these subjects easier to learn.

This is quite a hurdle to build but ultimately this is what we need. We need a free online university that teaches the same material you would learn from a top university. I don't like the watered down MOOCs that udacity, coursera and udemy offer.

I don't know about everyone else but what I want is high-quality courses that are online and basically free

What you want then is EdX. Every course is backed by a real-world institution that people have heard of, and they are free to audit, pay only if you want the certificate and/or to support their nonprofit mission

There are occasional trash courses on EdX though. If I hadn’t already started on LouvainX’s MicroMaster’s in International Law Amnesty International’s course on the law of asylum and refugees would have turned me right off. The intellectual level of that course was round about middle school.

I've had the same issue! People say that EdX is so great and it is equivalent in course quality but it simply isn't. I haven't' seen that. All of the courses are heavily watered down...and I mean significantly watered down like you don't even learn 20% of what you learn from the traditional course in college.

I've tried EdX as well and no that is not what I want.

> We need a free online university that teaches the same material you would learn from a top university.

I think this is Khan Academy [0]. It is a great resource that I've been using for quite a while. They even gamify it a little with points and avatars that you can buy. Funny thing is, like a lot of traditional universities, it lags behind on buzz-wordy courses.

[0] https://www.khanacademy.org/

Khan Academy is no where near what I have in mind. Khan Academy is a tutorial site, not a replacement for traditional courses. Big difference.

Khan Academy is far from a tutorial site. They have entire lesson plans, lectures, reading assignments, tests and a decent and helpful community in the comments. They cover just about all the material from Kindergarten to a Bachelors Degree.

Khan Academy is a better educational environment than I've ever experienced.

I've done the same comparison and there is no real comparison. Khan excels in the k-12 area because most of the schools these days have extremely limited curriculum and generally teach a series of limited topics in each subject they teach. Sure, for that type of stuff Khan is okay. When you get into the university level stuff...it is definitely not what you learn from a BA degree.

Absolutely not surprise.

Unicorns like Udacity have extremely high valuation but are barely making any money.

Most of their spendings goes into Marketing and not actual R&D for education.

> Unicorns like Udacity

I thought that was an hyperbole. Then I checked on Wikipedia: "While not yet profitable as of February 2018, Udacity is valued at over $1B USD having raised $163M USD from noted investors".

Probably a good moment to remember that "unicorn" is an arbitrary label and valuations are entirely based on subjective speculation and extrapolations that may be entirely unrealistic.

It's never about how much money a company can make, it's only about how much someone might pay for that company. At the end of the day, a lot of startup investment is more like trading baseball cards than producing anything of actual value to consumers.

>Most of their spendings goes into Marketing and not actual R&D for education.

My facebook newsfeed is flooded with their advertisements lol and I don't even use the newsfeed much.

Hopefully they make their classes focused more on teaching useful information than trying to make students feel good about completing projects that have the challenging portions already completed. I am going through the self-driving driving car nano degree and I do not see how this could do much to convince an employer you know anything

Yeah, that's what happens when you focus on buzz word trends. Self-driving car is a hip term right now but there is a ton of science, math and engineering that goes into it. For Udacity, which needs to impress investors, they need to focus on the money and that is by selling hyped up courses that make people think they're learning something. In reality, it is just the high-level overall of it with nothing significant. If they actually focused on the real science and engineering of self-driving cars then most would flunk of it very quickly...and no one would really want to go that route...unless you are a major geek of course that likes a challenge. The truth is the amount of those geeks that exist is very to the amount that would pay for the buzz word course. So of course udacity is going to focus on where the money is at.

Not surprised. I took one of their courses and found it to be incredibly shallow in comparison to actual college courses and edx. It's closer to those baby youtube tutorial video than anything that resembles a course.

Anyone notice the google trademark has been remove from their android course?

yeah, and in the course, you do get all those tutorial together. I never actually completed any course there.

What's the difference between Udacity and Udemy? Are they the same company?

Also, I'd love to hear about your favorite online courses. I took Andrew Ng's Machine Learning and Dan Boneh's Cryptography (both on Coursera) and they were excellent.

Udacity's clean, curated, well designed approach lost to market based diverse mooc approach by others.


They would argue that they're bringing the barrier down substantially.

In what way? They offer lower quality learning than is freely available for any topic they cover. Paid courses don't bring the barrier down very much.

I don't feel that the quality is an issue with Udacity. I once paid for an AI Nanodegree course (which I did not complete) and was very satisfied with the course material, assignments, support and evaluation process(es).

Maybe there are free university courses that will provide students with more in-depth knowledge but the Udacity courses are designed to be more job-ready and less academic and I think it does a good job at that.

Unless the course is objectively bad - giving wrong or misleading information, for example - having more always a good thing. Different people learn better from different styles of teaching.

I think people use the concept of different learning styles so that there can't be anyone who works harder or is smarter than any other person.

Video learning for topics that do not directly benefit from it (learning JavaScript, for example) are geared towards people who are lazy, because it requires them to think less. You can read MDN (which has beginner resources) and come out twice the programmer of any video course. With videos, it's easier to let information wash over you without having to work as hard, and as a side effect, you learn less.

Any technical course on Udacity I guarantee I could name multiple written ones that are just better.

It's lowest common denominator learning.

I wasn't talking about videos vs text, but about ways of explaining things. Some might learn better from MDN, others from Zed Shaw's Learn JavaScript The Hard Way, for example; neither is necessarily worse.

I had that experience in intro to statistics in college; I found the classes and the accompanying texts (written by the teacher) confusing, and it wasn't until I got an alternative textbook that I got the concepts. Yet most of my peers seemed to do OK, even those who usually struggled more than me, including in other math subjects.

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