Udacity believes ‘Nanodegrees’ prepare us for the jobs of tomorrow—here’s a nano report card.
The pursuit of ‘lifelong learning’ has gone into overdrive in recent times, given the threat of automation and AI. Jobs of the future will be different from what they are today. YourStory recently caught up with Ishan Gupta, MD, Udacity India, and spoke to him about topics ranging from the future of jobs to how platforms like Udacity and its partners are working together to help people survive and thrive with the times.
A key part of Udacity’s focus is democratising education across platforms from the web to its mobile app and even offline sessions and ‘hiring drives’, codenamed ‘Propel’. Here is a story about where Udacity currently stands in India and an overview of its mobile app in this week’s App Friday’s story.
Story so far
Headquartered in Mountain View, California and with its Indian base in Bengaluru, Udacity was founded in 2012 by the trio of David Stavans, Sebastian Thrun, and Mike Sokolsky. As a massive online open course (MOOC) platform, Udacity’s first class was on artificial intelligence and the vision, as noted by Sebastian, was to transform people’s lives through education.
In October 2012, Udacity announced it global intentions by partnering with players like Google, NVIDIA, and Microsoft to provide free education online. Shortly after, the company announced that it had raised a $15 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Udacity then joined the unicorn club after raising a $105 million Series D round in 2015. Currently consisting of 300 employees globally, the venture has a Nanodegree programme through which it trains students for the ‘jobs of tomorrow’ through short self-paced courses. Now, in 2017, Udacity works with players like AT&T, Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com, and Cloudera to build technology courses designed to advance lifelong learning. Ishan noted,
We stand for the jobs of tomorrow, whether it is machine learning, virtual reality, robotics, or self-driving cars. Bengaluru is a hot market for some of these courses and sees the highest interest globally.
India and mobile focus
Udacity is active in 203 countries, with the United States, Britain, India, and Germany being the top markets. While India is not among the top markets in terms of paid subscribers, Udacity sees a lot of growth and the highest traction in terms of viewers from India.
The global team noticed this and hence set up a small team in Bengaluru in 2015, which Ishan believes set the pace for when he joined Udacity in January 2017. The 15-member India team looks after all operational aspects and also at providing a localised learning experience. Ishan said,
While the content at the core of a Udacity course taken anywhere in the world remains the same, we aim to provide a localised experience in some of the key markets that we operate in. This could be by tweaking user flow, engaging with corporates for enterprise sales, or some add-on lectures.
Ishan also mentioned that as mobile is gaining prominence as a learning tool, they are investing heavily in their mobile app to provide a great experience in terms of content delivery. Talking about the importance of being active on mobile and the web, Ishan remarked,
Millennials will probably consume content on mobile, then go and complete their projects on their workstations.
The Nanodegree experience
On signing into Udacity for the first time, users can browse through a catalogue of courses or use the search bar to find a specific topic of interest. The categories range from mainstream topics like Android and iOS development to niche topics like machine learning and virtual reality. For those who are not technology-savvy, there are 15 courses labelled ‘non-tech’.