Udacity- For Silicon Valley from Silicon Valley?

My thoughts after attending the launch of Udacity’s Android Nanodegree in India (in partnership with Google and Tata Trusts) @  ITC Gardenia, Bangalore (21 Sep 2015)

Is Udacity Silicon Valley’s foray into academia and education? Is it an incarnation of outsourced Silicon Valley training? Will it become a new campus for tech giants to recruit from? Is it a cooler version of Diploma /Certifications or a revamp of Correspondence courses? Will it tilt the education system?

In the era of instant gratification and almost instant food delivery, we are in a rush to pass through life faster than the speed of time. Nanodegrees are like those super highways – learn in half the time, and, land in that dream job much faster. All you need is a fat data pipe and a phone/computer.

In India, where education is a means to a job and livelihood for majority of the population, Udacity’s India launch is a lucrative venture. Partnering with the giants like Google and Tata Trusts, Udacity bolsters its credibility in the online education landscape in India. Tata Trust scholarships brings in the ‘philanthropic’ and ‘democratizing education’ angle to the mix. The 50% refund on course completion introduces ‘guaranteed money back’ to education system in India. The Android Nanodegree course is clearly a smart entry into the Indian tech market given India has the second largest developer population.

Online courses have been around for a while. But will bytes eventually replace bricks in academia? My view is that it should augment it but not replace the bricks. It would be a sad state if education becomes something that is purely transmitted through pipes and all interactions are purely virtual. It would only work if ‘mechanizing’ humans to do the job is the intent and not really developing a person. Bricks, real spaces and real interactions are required for a well-rounded development of a person. But if the future means extracting human energy to power machines, it’s a different ballgame altogether!

A disturbing fact I learnt was that despite being the land of the second largest developer population, only top 2% of the top 1000 apps on Google Play were created by Indian Developers’

Speakers at the event:
Rajan Anandan, VP and Managing Director, Google South East Asia and India
Ganesh Neelam, Development Manager, Tata Trusts
Sebastian Thrun, founder and CEO of Udacity
Peter Lubber, Senior Program Manager, Developer Relations, Google



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