Udacity announces nanodegrees

Udacity and AT&T recently collaborated to create a series of ‘nano’ classes designed for the working professional to pick up new skills without having to take time off. Read the full release here.

nanodegrees allow anyone to sign up for a class and learn the skills needed to become an entry level front-end web developer, back-end web developer, iOS mobile developer, Android mobile developer, or data analyst in 6-12 months. At first, this sounds similar to several initiatives already available online. The Verified Certificate through edX or the Signature Track at Coursera both offer certificates that carry more weight than their regular certificates of completion. Udacity’s new degree also runs into the same pitfalls as its competitors: The cerfiticates do not seem to valued by employers and do not offer a significant advantage to the free courses offered.

However, the nanodegree has one big advantage over certificates from other online educators: its partnership with AT&T. The telecommunications company is offering 100 paid internships to students who complete the course. Students know that there is at least ONE corporation that takes these certificates seriously and will hire based on their completion. I hope more companies will follow suit, but corporations want to be leaders and innovators, not followers, so I worry that bureaucracy will prevent additional partners as nanodegree is seen as “AT&T’s initiative”.

Either way, this is a big step forward for online education. An online degree finally has the ability to land you an internship with a legitimate corporation!

The New York Times also printed an article about nanodegrees which details more of the effectiveness of MOOCs in general rather than the actual nanodegree.

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