Udacity turns 5: Sebastian Thrun talks A.I. and plans for a nanodegree in self-driving cars2016-12-16,
[출처] VentureBeat_Feature_2016. 7. 4.

Udacity turns 5: Sebastian Thrun talks A.I. and plans for a nanodegree in self-driving cars

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) — distance-learning courses open to an unlimited number of people on the web — are estimated to become an $8.5 billion industry by 2020, up from almost $2 billion last year. Udacity is one of countless companies offering MOOCs and has raised more than $160 million in VC funding to date, including a $105 million round it closed seven months back. Competitors such as Coursera and Udemy have raised more than $300 million between them.

MOOCs, it is fair to say, are big business.

There are more than 11,000 people enrolled in Udacity’s nanodegree programs today, and in excess of four million people have enrolled in one of Udacity’s free courses. Last month, Udacity teamed up with Google yet again to launch an Android Basics Nanodegree aimed at those with little or no programming experience. To say that this course has proven popular is something of an understatement — it represented the company’s biggest ever nanodegree launch, with 1,500 students enrolling in the $200/month course in the first week alone.

“Part of this is natural for a fast-growing company,” said Udacity founder and president Sebastian Thrun, in an interview with VentureBeat on the eve of the company’s fifth anniversary. “Our brand awareness is increasing, so our launches have become larger and larger. But with the Android Basics Nanodegree, we are also addressing a huge market niche. There just wasn’t anything in the market before that would effectively teach people Android from scratch.”


In the shorter term, Thrun believes there are things everyone can be doing to improve education. Mojang, the Sweden-based game development studio best known for its work on Minecraft, was acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion back in 2014, and Microsoft has been making moves to monetize this acquisition through a new education edition aimed at schools. Thrun would love to see more of this across the education spectrum — not Minecraft specifically, but a more enjoyable and engaging experience for young learners. “I personally love Minecraft as a learning game,” he said. “It teaches my eight-year-old son so much — I dream that all education could be as fun and engaging as Minecraft.”

By Paul Sawers

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