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    Udacity Review in 2020

    A bird’s-eye view

    Overview

    This Udacity review is one of many in a qualitative analysis comparing popular Learn to Code platforms using 6 categories, each with 5 distinct grades. This is a bird’s-eye view, rather than a comprehensive dissection of Udacity.

    Who is Udacity Great for?^

    • Beginners who can afford US$400/month and need the ability to reliably ask someone for help at any time.
    • Experienced developers interested in one of the topics covered by their free courses.

    Cost^

    1Most courses are US$100+/month.
    Cost category and grading details
    • Free: about 200 courses of widely varying length (1-80 hours expected completion time), which include:
      • a series of short videos
      • coding challenges (without any feedback on cause of failures, so not ideal for complete beginners)
      • quizzes
      • sparse descriptions of real-world projects which are not assessed
    • US$400/month: Nanodegree membership with about 50 programs (typically 80-160 hours of expected completion time each) with access to:
      • real-world projects with very short, high level video walkthroughs which are assessed personally by a teacher
      • real-time chat with other students and experienced developers
      • access to a teacher 24/7 with max response times of a few hours
      • career advice meetings related to resumes and interview preparation

    Teacher Feedback^

    5Projects are graded by a teacher. Direct access to a teacher is available within a reasonable timeframe.
    Teacher Feedback category and grading details
    • Free membership: Discussion forums with inconsistent activity
    • Nanodegree membership: Teacher feedback within a few hours of requesting it 24/7. This service is not matched on any other platform, but neither is the price. Real-time chat rooms with other students are also available.

    Range of Tools^

    3Most tools from the basket of tools are covered.
    Range of Tools category and grading details

    Udacity offers only a few hundred courses which cover the most in-demand tools.

    Computer Science^

    4Few computer science specializations exist.
    Computer Science category and grading details

    Udacity partners with the Georgia Institute of Technology for some of their courses. These courses are typically explore relatively deep parts of software and computer science. They used to partner with San Jose State University (who is still partnered with edX).

    Real-World Projects^

    5Real-world projects are presented with a description or walkthrough as a primary objective of courses -- by screened instructors.
    Real-World Projects category and grading details
    • Nanodegree membership offers great projects presented with descriptions which are graded by actual teachers.
    • Free membership offers project instructions which are not assessed by a teacher, or automated grader.Sometimes after a project, you’ll be presented with a quiz which should be easy if the project was completed successfully.

    Beginner Environments^

    2Beginner-friendly coding environment available intermittently, but not available as the primary method of learning.
    Beginner Environments category and grading details

    Udacity does not offer any interactive coding environments.

    Final Words^

    Udacity’s free courses are consistently high quality, however, their short, dense (with information) videos combined with the free membership’s lack of active discussion makes it a challenging format for many beginners. Udacity bridges this gap in their Nanodegree membership by offering real-time chat with other students and direct access to a teacher (aka mentor).


    Authors

    Twitter

    Sam Malayek works in London for Thought Machine, and uses this space to fill in a few gaps.