Udacity planning to offer new courses developed by tech-industry leaders

Udacity one of the top MOOC providers is now focusing on providing learning opportunities for people wishing to equip themselves with high-demand digital skills. Apart from providing free online courses, Udacity is now offering advanced skills that companies like Google, Cloudera and AT&T want their prospective employees to have.

Udacity announced the new courses that will be available to students from January 2014. The “new course experience” as Udacity labels this initiative, rests on the idea that people will be more likely to sit through an MOOC if it teaches immediately applicable and pertinent tech skills. The initiative has been conceived by Sebastian Thrun, the co-founder of Udacity, when he realized that while many people would sign up for Udacity’s free courses, the percentage of students actually completing and passing these courses was alarmingly low. This is thus an attempt to redefine MOOCs through a lens of employability and actual industry demand.

Udacity will be offering courses such as Data Science and Big Data, Exploratory Data Analysis, and Mobile Web Development. Although these courses are planned for January 2014, some introductory classes are already available. What makes these courses different from courses Udacity is already offering is:

– The course curriculum is developed by industry leaders, including Google and Cloudera
– These are paid-for courses. Data Science and Big Data class, Introduction to Hadoop and MapReduce, will cost interested students about $100.
– Students will have access to project feedback that will further advance their learning.
– Verified Certificates will be awarded to students successfully passing the courses.
– People enrolling in these fee-based courses will have a guidance coach, offering them advice and support throughout the course.

These courses are not exclusively fee-based. Students can enroll in the free version of these courses should they want to. However, they won’t have access to services such as the guidance coach who is a service only available for paying students. It will be interesting to see, how the world will respond to this new educational turn of MOOCs and how other MOOCs providers will react.