Audacity is a word that means bravery – but do you have to be “brave” in order to give Udacity a try?

Udacity is an online learning platform that offers classes for students of any skill level. While the name indicates that taking Udacity classes is, in itself, a feat requiring great courage, that’s not the case at all.

Instead, Udacity was only named as such out of a desire to showcase its unique position in the online learning market. In 2011, when the online learning platform was launched, starting this kind of company was an act of bravery, as many ultimately failed.

However, Udacity is one of the few online learning platforms that has stood the test of time. Now worth more than a billion dollars with more than 11.5 million students taking online courses on Udacity at any given time, it’s a true success.

But is this e-learning platform right for you? Here’s everything you need to know about Udacity classes – and whether these degree programs (which are unlike any other!) are right for you.

 

What is Udacity?

Udacity is an American company that was founded by David Stavens, Mike Sokolsky, and Sebastian Thurn. The organization specializes in offering massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Its name is meaningful – the word “Udacity” comes from the founders’ desire to be “audacious for you, the student.” Originally focused on offering courses akin to what you might find at a traditional university, the school now offers additional vocational courses for professionals.

It originally began by offering free computer science courses through Stanford University, with the first class launched in 2011. Based out of Silicon Valley, the Audacity of today continues to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) and micro-credential programs (Nanodegrees).

The platform has partnerships with numerous well-known corporations, most of which are baked out of Silicon Valley. These include Google, Amazon, Nvidia, and Facebook. The partnerships make it possible for Udacity to provide students with up-to-date, hands-on knowledge in technical fields.

Because of this, tech-related classes are some of the most popular on Udacity (although that’s certainly not the only category of courses offered on this platform). Although Udacity is not an accredited educational institution and many programs are not credit-bearing, certificates are highly valued by corporations looking for new employees.

 

How Does Udacity Work?

Ready to get started on Udacity? Doing so is straightforward. Even if you have never taken online courses before, you shouldn’t have any problem signing up to take classes on this easy-to-use platform.

To get started, you’ll need to first choose a course. We’ll detail how to do this a bit more later on in the article. However, the most important thing to remember when choosing a course is that you need to make sure it’s the right one for you. Don’t choose a class on a whim. Instead, look closely at how the course will help you build your career and land a job after you finish.

Once you’ve selected a class, you’ll need to pay the associated Udacity fees. Some courses do not charge Udacity fees – they are completely free. Others, however, don’t come cheap, which is yet another reason why it’s so important for you to pick a class that you know is right for you.

Otherwise, you’ll be navigated through to the payment portal, which takes all kinds of payment options, including credit card and PayPal.

After you pay, you’ll progress to the onboarding process. In the onboarding process, you’ll prepare yourself for your upcoming studies. You’ll need to fill out a questionnaire, take a look at the syllabus, and plan out a personal study schedule. Udacity’s programming will also allow you to set up personal reminders to study and complete assignments – it syncs right up with your own calendar software!

The onboarding process is just one of many features that makes Udacity incredibly unique. At the time of writing this article, there weren’t any other platforms that offered such helpful, concrete processes to help you set goals – and that set you up for success.

After you’ve become acquainted with how Udacity works and how taking the courses will fit into your daily schedule, it’s time to start learning. You can access the syllabus or any point in the curriculum from the left-side menu. You don’t have to take courses in a preset sequence – you can move around the course to help meet your own unique learning needs and preferences.

Most of the classes are divided into ten or twenty-minute segments. This is highly convenient, since it means you can choose to spend hours on a segment each day or just a few minutes, depending on how much time you have available. Most courses are video lectures with quizzes and graded student projects wedged between the lectures.

There’s no set number of quizzes that you’ll be required to take when you enroll in a Udacity course. Most contain at least a few, and they usually are situated at the end of the course units.

They’ll help determine whether you understood the materials in the lessons. They are usually quite easy to pass as long as you pay attention and take notes while you’re moving through the lessons.

In addition to quizzes, you’ll also complete graded projects on Udacity. These graded projects are real-world experiences that are then reviewed by expert mentors. The goal of each project is to provide you with hands-on, practical experience. The mentorship experience is a unique feature of Udacity that you won’t find anywhere else.

When you’re done with your class, you’ll graduate with a certificate. In order to receive a certificate, you must pass all course lessons and complete your projects with a grade of “Meets Expectations” or higher.

 

Features and Functionality

Course Format

Each course on Udacity consists of various modules that contain video lectures with closed captioning. This is similar to the structure you would find with other MOOCs. You’ll also take quizzes that are designed to help you understand concepts and reinforce your ideas, as well as follow-up homework and projects. Most of the courses contain projects that operate on a “learn by doing” model.

Open Enrollment

With Udacity, you can sign up to take a class at any time. You can log in to a class at any time after the course has been launched – you don’t have to wait until a new one starts in order to join.

Udacity Certificates

In the past, Udacity issued informal certificates that indicated you completed an individual course. As of 2014, the platform stopped issuing these non-verified tickets. Instead, through a partnership with Pearson VUE, students of certain classes can take additional 75-minute final exams for a fee to allow courses to count toward employer-recognized credentials.

Launched in 2015, Udacity also offers the Nanodegree program. This is a paid credential program that will provide you with a more formal Udacity certificate upon completion.

Interactive Quizzes and Assignments

Something you’ll find on Udacity that is unique to this platform is that the quizzes are highly interactive. Many other MOOCs offer online courses with quizzes, but these are often left ungraded and are not required for you to progress through the material.

The quizzes on Udacity are not difficult to pass. However, they’ll serve as a convenient way to help you determine whether you understood the lesson materials. They relate closely to the course materials and most of the time, don’t require you to spend hours of time studying – you just need to pay attention to the lessons.

Udacity Plus

Udacity Plus, or Nanodegree Plus, is another feature that’s available through this online course platform. Udacity Plus is available for several topics with Udacity, such as Senior Web Developer, Machine Learning Engineer, and iOS Developer. These programs allow students to work closely with career services professionals and to become eligible for the latest and most in-demand tech jobs. Udacity Plus costs around $299 per month.

 

What Type of Courses are Offered on Udacity?

Although Udacity’s courses primarily fall in the “tech” category, you will have access to all kinds of programs when you choose this online learning platform.

The categories are as follows:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Business
  • Cloud Computing
  • Data Science
  • Programming and Development
  • Career

Of course, you’ll find many sub-categories within these larger program clusters, too. For example, in the Programming and Development category, you can take classes such as:

  • Agile Software Development
  • Android Basics
  • Android Kotlin Developer
  • Blockchain Developer
  • C++
  • Cloud Developer
  • Cloud DevOps Engineer
  • Data Engineer
  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Front End Web Developer
  • Full Stack Web Developer
  • Intermediate JavaScript
  • Introduction to Cybersecurity
  • Introduction to Programming
  • iOS Developer
  • Java Developer
  • React
  • RPA Developer with UiPath

 

How to Choose Courses on Udacity?

Ready to start taking classes on Udacity? Chances are, your biggest challenge isn’t going to be completing a course –  it’s going to be narrowing down your long list of options to select one in the first place!

There are several ways you can find a class on Udacity. The easiest way, if you already know what you’re looking for, is to search the Nanodegree programs (or free courses) by selecting either option in the “Type” section on the catalog’s left-hand side.

You can search the catalog to locate programs that meet your unique needs or you can search by your field of interest. You can also search by skill level.

There are Udacity purses that are meant to suit students of all backgrounds and abilities. Beginner programs, for instance, will help you build your foundational skills in a topic and are open to everyone, regardless of your experience or expertise.

Intermediate programs require you to have some level of knowledge before beginning. You’ll build upon these existing skills to enhance your knowledge of a specific field or tool. An advanced program, as you might expect, will require you to have some extensive expertise in a subject.

You can also search courses by the time commitment required to complete them. Search by “Estimated Duration” and you’ll be able to narrow courses down by time required, including those that take less than a month, those that take just a few weeks, and those that take quite a bit longer.

There are other ways you can find courses, too. For example, for each program page, you’ll find a “Related Nanodegree Programs” section. This section will include a list of other advanced programs that you might qualify for after completing a program of study.

You can also use the Udacity Pathfinder feature. The Pathfinder feature will allow you to answer simple questions based on your experience and interests before the Pathfinder directs you to your ideal program.

 

How Does Udacity Pricing Work?

It can be tough to find an online education provider that offers the classes you want to take – and even more challenging to find one with a reasonable pricing model. When it comes to the Udacity cost, it’s fairly straightforward (however, it’s important to note that Udacity pricing is not the lowest that you will find).

Udacity offers a few hundred courses that are completely free of charge. All you have to do is log on, start an account, and begin learning. The downside of these courses is that they tend to be limited in terms of their student-to-teacher and student-to-student interactions.

Once you start moving up the Udacity cost framework, you’ll find more opportunities – but also greater expense. For example, Nanodegree courses can cost $200 per month or more, lasting anywhere from six to twelve months. That means the cost of a Nanodegree can easily be $2400 or more.

For many students, this is viewed as an advantage. You know exactly what you are going to pay. For others, however, Udacity’s pricing model is less than desirable. There’s no middle ground between the free courses and the exorbitant ones – you either get all the features, or you get none of them.

There are some ways to cut costs. One of these is to try to finish your courses as quickly as possible so that you don’t pay for many months of classes. However, you can also take advantage of various discount codes and apply for Udacity scholarships.

Udacity offers several open scholarships that offer serious discounts on courses (and even completely free Nanodegrees, in some cases).

 

The Advantages (Pros) of Udacity

Graded Projects and Mentorship Program

One of the biggest benefits of taking a class on Udacity is that you’ll have access to expert-level instruction and mentorship via the garden projects feature. When you take a class, you’ll also complete at least one real-world project that will then be reviewed by an expert mentor. You’ll be able to ask questions and get feedback from someone who really knows his stuff.

Career Services

Something else that’s more or less unique to Udacity is the ample access to career services. You can make use of Udacity’s career services as soon as you enroll in a program – you don’t have to wait until the very end. Udacity offers a multitude of career services, including cover letter reviews, resume reviews, LinkedIn profile reviews, and GitHub profile reviews.

All of these services are integral if you are planning on using your Udacity courses as a jumping-off point to a new career. You will have access to all kinds of resume templates along with a network of tech companies to help you gain the skills you need to be successful.

Excellent User Interface

Udacity is one of the most user-friendly online learning platforms around. It’s gone through numerous redesigns, so it’s safe to say that the designers at Udacity are always looking for ways to improve the experience for their students.

You’ll have no trouble finding courses that interest you and viewing the various segments therein, including options to continue course lessons or view upcoming deadlines. Everything is very human-centric and intuitive.

Expert Instruction

When you sign up for a course on Udacity, you’re not just paying for the course content – you’re paying for the prestige. Classes, there are taught by industry experts who really know their stuff.

Not only that, but many of the Nanodegrees contain “expert interviews.” These are sprinkled throughout the curriculum and help keep the course lessons fresh.

For example, you’ll be able to view interviews with people like Jennifer Dulski, the president of Change.org, as you complete the Digital Marketing Nanodegree. You’ll receive a helpful dose of motivation as you interact with the professionals in your courses.

Student Discussion Forums

For many years, Udacity lacked student discussion forums – this was a common complaint among many students who took the courses. There was no way to interact with other learners! Now, however, Udacity offers mentor help in addition to a feature called “Peer Chat.” With Peer Chat, you can collaborate with other learners and create discussions that mimic those that would take place at traditional universities.

 

The Disadvantages (Cons) of Udacity

Udacity Fees

One of the greatest disadvantages of using Udacity is in its pricing model. There are very few students who claim to appreciate the way Udacity structures its course fees. In the past, you could take classes that were based on a fixed pricing model. All Nanodegrees, for example, would cost a one-time fee.

That’s beneficial to the student because it means you will pay for access to the course and not be responsible for ongoing Udacity fees. You could take the course at your own pace.

Now, Udacity charges subscription-based monthly pricing. This encourages students to rush through the classes so that they can avoid exorbitant monthly fees. Some students might like this, but for many, it’s a hindrance.

Not Enough Practical Activities

Although Udacity does offer a variety of hands-on projects that you can use to build your career and your skills, these are limited for each class. There are several graded practical projects but not quite as many as the platform could (and should) include.

Lack of an App

Most online learning platforms feature mobile apps that will allow you to take your learning with you on the go. However, Udacity is not one of them. For many years, Udacity operated both an Android and an iOS app. These were removed in 2019 in order to “upgrade the learning experience” and Udaciyt has yet to release a new smartphone app.

 

The Learner’s Perspective

If you’re ready to start taking classes on Udacity, you might be wondering how the learner experience here compares to that which you’d find on other online course platforms.

Udacity classes are highly reviewed across most platforms. Most learners state that Udacity offers a fun, interactive learning experience. The programs offered here are not only designed to provide you with the skills you need to get ahead in your career but also pack information that will be valuable for many years to come.

Even the free courses tend to be highly rated. That’s not something you’ll find with all online learning platforms. For many, the free classes tend to be the “cut-rate” versions of the full-length, paid programs. With Udacity, great attention is given to quality across all aspects of the platform.

Not only that, but new classes are being listed practically every day. They’re taught by industry experts who have the skills necessary to add to the overall learning experience and with a wide range of course topics covered, you are sure to find something that matches your interests.

 

The Instructor’s Perspective

If you want to begin working with Udacity, you have two options for how you can get involved – you can become an instructor or you can become a mentor.

As an instructor, you’ll join a network of industry leaders and be able to market yourself as an expert, building valuable skills that can be transferred to any other job. Instructors are established professionals from Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies with extensive leadership experience and the ability to teach tough topics to students in more than 160 different countries.

The beauty of working with Udacity to teach your online courses is that you can develop and offer courses whenever and however you want. However, becoming an instructor on Udacity is relatively competitive.

In order to teach on this platform, you will need to have at least five years of field expertise in the topic in which you plan to teach. You also need at least a year of teaching experience and the ability to work up to 20 hours a week.

You need strong time management and communication skills along with the ability to work with other professionals. Of course, a passion for your field is also essential.

When you teach on Udacity, you’ll work in a unique environment that will allow you to blend your passion for your field with strong pedagogical design. You will be required to complete an extensive onboarding process to help you learn more about how to work with Udacity’s tools and course design processes. Then, you’ll be able to develop courses using the “Backwards Design” methodology.

This methodology will allow you to create lessons, assessments, projects, videos, and more as you work alongside Udacity team members. You will receive extensive training (20+ hours) in how to create projects, develop lessons, produce videos, and finalize your content before you even launch your course.

After the course has launched, you won’t have to do much – Udacity mentors will answer questions and Project Reviewers will grade assignments. You might just be contacted for course maintenance every now and then.

As an instructor, you can develop a full course or simply advise on a course outline or nanodegree design. You can build a course project or help complete content maintenance or refresh for a course that already exists.

Courses are pre-recorded. You will be expected to work a few hours during the week and up to 10 hours on the weekends (one of the disadvantages of using the platform). You will be paid with your compensation determined by your seniority in your field of work, along with the terms of your contract.

Now, if you want to become a mentor, your experience will be a bit different. Mentors work directly with students to help them navigate courses. There are lots of benefits associated with becoming a Udacity mentor. For starters, you’ll gain valuable leadership experience and subject-matter expertise.

The application process for becoming a mentor is far less stringent than it is for becoming an instructor. You’ll have to fill out an application and complete a situational and technical assessment to determine whether you have the skills needed to help Udacity students. Then you can start mentoring!

 

Conclusion

Ready to jumpstart your learning process and enhance your enjoyment of online courses? If so, you need to consider signing up for Audacity. Although it’s not the most affordable online learning platform you can choose from, it offers degree programs for students of all interests and skill levels. Consider giving Udacity a try – what do you have to lose?

 

FAQ

Is Udacity Worth it?

Only you can decide if Udacity, like all other e-learning platforms, is right for you. For many students, though, Udacity is worth it. Although its pricing has increased over the last few years, you’ll have access to more opportunities than you might find with comparable online learning platforms. In addition to a well-rounded curriculum, you’ll also be able to engage with unique services like mentorship and career resources. It’s definitely worth your time.

Is Udacity Legit?

Although Udacity doesn’t offer as many courses as Coursera or edX, two other e-learning platforms, the platform is 100% legit. It offers in-demand course topics and one of the largest selection of courses in the tech niche, so if that’s where your interests lie, Udacity is the right choice for you.

Are Courses on Udacity Free?

There are approximately 200 courses on Udacity that you can take 100% free of charge. However, there’s a trade-off here because you will not be issued a certificate. These free courses are usually offered as part of a paid micro-credential program that Udacity offers known as a Nanodegree.

Because many courses that comprise newer Nanodegrees are no longer free, the selection of free classes on Udacity has become more limited.

Are Udacity Courses Recognized & Accredited?

Udacity is one of the few e-learning platforms to offer courses that are recognized and accredited by major universities. While many online courses offer online virtual certificates or badges of completion, Udacity has several courses that come with an accredited certification – or culminate with the awarding of a real, complete diploma.

Can I Put Udacity on my Resume?

You can – and should – put Udacity courses that you have completed on your resume. Not only will this help show your employer that you care about learning and your ability to complete your job, but it will also show them that you have the skills necessary to do so.

While some online course providers don’t offer training that is recognized or accredited, the education you’ll get from Udacity is renowned. Feel free to put Udacity courses on both your virtual or physical resume to help you get ahead.

Can Udacity Get You a Job?

Many job seekers find that they are much more successful at finding work after completing a course or two on Udacity. This online course platform is a great way to show that you can deliver value to the workplace.

It’s not just the completion of the courses that will help you get ahead, either. Using Udacity to take courses will help you leverage your network and to work directly with career resources to help you be noticed by hiring managers or recruiters.

Udacity offers numerous Career Project services that will help you optimize your application materials. In fact, Udacity graduates get jobs at major companies like Facebook, Amazon, At&T, Google, and more – all the more reason to sign up for a class or two!

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Anthony Cornell

Anthony Cornell

Anthony Cornell is a freelance technology journalist. He reviews educational software and writes in-depth online course reviews from popular e-learning platforms. You can reach Anthony at anthony@learnacourseonline.com

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