Udacity Offering Innovative Approach to Online Courses

Most of the advertisements for online courses that you come across look and feel very similar to 30-minute late night commercials trying to sell you dreams for peanuts. The notion may hold true for some of the courses which promise to enable you build an e-commerce giant like Amazon after attending their 20-day course. But there are some courses, conducted by imminent experts and reputed universities which are being lapped-up by students across the world. Take for instance the online course “Building a Search Engine” designed and conducted by computer scientists Sebastian Thrun and David Evans. While Thrun is a research professor at Stanford apart from being a Google fellow, Evans teaches at the University of Virginia.

A Big Draw for Students

The course is conducted by the start-up Udacity in conjunction with these two professors. The people behind the course were a big draw for students across the world. Registrations started on January 23rd and to date, around 90,000 students across the globe have enrolled. It is termed: Massive Open Online Course(s) (MOOCs). This new age educational tool is fast gaining popularity among students because of the ease of access it provides and more importantly, the affordability.

Not the First Time

Last fall, when Stanford University introduced an artificial intelligence course, around 160,000 students across 190 countries enrolled. Again, Thurn along with Peter Norvig were conducting this MOOC. Though 200 students showed interest in attending the course the traditional way, the numbers came down to 30 by the end of the course as majority of them preferred the online version. What enhanced the appeal of the course was the fact that a slew of volunteers offered to translate the course into 44 different languages enabling non-English speaking students to imbibe the knowledge it offered. Machine Learning and Introduction to Databases were two other MOOCs which garnered a significant number of enrollments. The university, enthused by the response is contemplating introducing 13 other MOOCs this fall.

The Missing Pieces

There are many MOOCs that are obviously popular among students; however, what they lack is accreditation from a reputed organization. Though Stanford University does not have this problem, companies such as Udacity do. Udacity, however, is of the opinion that with time, even these problems can be sorted out.