Education

AT&T and Udacity partner to create the ‘nanodegree,’ a new type of college degree

Online education provider Udacity has partnered with AT&T to create a new type of college degree, the “nanodegree.” The vocationally focused nanodegree is designed to be a lifelong learning portfolio that would be widely recognized by the tech industry and far cheaper to obtain.

Since last year, Udacity, other online education providers, and Internet billionaires have promised to overhaul the clunky path to a diploma.

“We need to take what now exists as a dumb, static document and turn it into a richer, updateable, more connected record of a person’s skills, expertise, and experience,” wrote Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman.

Last year, on stage with California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun announced a new consortium of businesses, the Open Education Alliance, that would agree to recognize an industry-focused skills credential. The nanodegree is the first product of that promise, together with many of the original partners, from AT&T to Autodesk.

“It’s a failure of the community college system, the California state system, and the University of California system that that announcement was made,” said Newsom, who believes California education should do more to address the widening skills gap.

Details about nanodegrees are still forthcoming, but Udacity stated, “It should take a working student about six to12 months to complete without having to take time off.” Continuing, the blog explains, “Our early nanodegrees will prepare you for a job as a front-end web developer, back-end web developer, iOS mobile developer, Android mobile developer, or data analyst. The first nanodegree will start this fall.”

Other online education providers, such as Coursera, are designing their own certifications, which take about the same amount of time, depending on the course of study.

So, how’s the quality of the degree compared to a traditional diploma? To test this out, I’ve been taking the data science track at both Coursera and Udacity and comparing it to the master’s in mathematical behavioral sciences I got from UC Irvine.

On many levels, data science at Udacity and Coursera are superior. It’s completely up-to-date with the latest software, it’s problem-based, much (much) cheaper, and more flexible.

Don’t get me wrong: my master’s was fantastic for helping me think theoretically about data science and how to carefully determine cause and effect.

But it left me lacking the raw coding skills necessary to download a dataset and get through an actual project. For many data science jobs, the ability to run basic regressions and determine patterns in big datasets is more than sufficient.

You can learn more about the program on Udacity’s blog.

More information:

AT&T is bringing it all together, from revolutionary smartphones to next-generation TV services and sophisticated solutions for multi-national businesses. For more than a century, they have provided innovative, reliable, high-qualit... read more »

Our mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and c... read more »

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27 comments
PeterMing Cao
PeterMing Cao

Sebastian Thrun had collateralled with a criminal suspect named gabriele scheler in a series of fascism crimes starting from a Stanford campus atrocity case — Stanford police case number: IR #04-111-0335; Victim: Peter Cao; Criminal Suspect: Gabriele Scheler] —web link of the case with photo evidence is listed in my poster below— attention to the 7 photo evidence to see how cruel these fascists are —, which led to the tragic death of an innocent Asian Stanford student, Thrun is not innocent in an unsuccessful plotted murder on me either and I have been cursed by fascism powers from Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler’s side for many years.


There is actually a war between fascism and anti-fascism, at this stage, fascism still prevails in our lives; Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler are just front figures we could see in a fascism circle, there is a whole pack of fascists behind them to cover up their crimes and to retaliate on victims

Adam Reed
Adam Reed

In fairness it's not that huge, you can get vocational qualifications with various corporations (cough cough McUniversity). If you chaps could stop over-egging the pudding with the titles of these articles, that would be much appreciated.

Ryan Drake
Ryan Drake

Robbie Peck Time to get your coding degree whilst studying :)

Carlo Esplana
Carlo Esplana

AT&T and Udacity partner to create the ‘nanodegree,’ a new type of college degree

Rajesh Parmar
Rajesh Parmar

Melodramatic statement as the market has Coursera, Edmodo, Blackboard inc etc etc...lots of vc capital but little unity in the system to make it stick yet..Good luck.

Gerald Speers
Gerald Speers

I used their course to do some crypto stuff when they first launched to see what it was all about. My experience really was quite different from what you suggest. It worked for me, got some new skills, touched up some old skills. Great service. Great price.

Gerald Speers
Gerald Speers

I for one welcome our new educational overlords.

Michael Donovan
Michael Donovan

I'll grant the "skills" bit, but I'll still wonder about the "knowledge" part.

Mihir Sathe
Mihir Sathe

Nanodegree is not a problem. Nanodream is a problem.

Syamil Mj
Syamil Mj

If you can stop calling everything huge that'd be great. Yo mama is an exception.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash

Im pretty sure most of our education system will shift to this type of model in the future. It would be much more efficient and economical to learn 1 focused trade with the ability to learn other fields quickly if needed. I doubt this is going to be it, but it will be interesting to see how this type of movement progresses in the long run. 

David Siah
David Siah

stop giving every article the "This is HUGE" caption

Lauri Koobas
Lauri Koobas

It's OK. Exactly the same as Courseras 'specializations'.

Eric S. Kuhn
Eric S. Kuhn

The first lesson should be using different photography than workingnomads.co