COLLEGE COUNSELOR: Udacity and the Evolution of Nanodegrees

The problems facing higher education today are legion: escalating tuition costs; spiraling student debt; political correctness; underachieving students; professorial emphasis on research to the detriment of undergraduate teaching; adjunct professors earning starvation wages, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. One company, however, within the MOOC (massive open online courses) ranks, Udacity, appears to have latched onto a solution that addresses many of the abovementioned ills: its nanodegree programs.  The founder of Udacity, Sebastian Thrun, is a German polymath, who as a graduate student at the University of Bonn created an armless cleaning robot, RHINO, which could digitally map out a room, locate messes and bark out commands to start cleaning. Though RHINO might raise a few eyebrows, it brought Thrun to the leadership of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL),…


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