Google and Udacity have teamed up to offer a new scholarship for 50,000 people to learn web development or mobile development (Android) skills. It’s a big step for them. CodeNewbie spoke with Stuart Frye, VP of Economic Opportunity at Udacity, to find out what the student experience is like and why they’re launching the program now.
The goal is “[h]elping create upward mobility through better jobs in tech and software development,” said Frye. It’s part of the Grow with Google initiative, which includes several learning aids and a tour of cities that may not typically come to mind when we think “tech”, such as: Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Savannah, Lansing, Columbia, and Louisville.
This is the first time Udacity and Google have offered a scholarship focusing on the US. Frye explained that “[i]t’s part of a broader effort to revitalize the economy as we transition from sectors like manufacturing and transport.”
“We’re in an economic climate where a lot of states are feeling left behind,” he said. When he was researching labour statistics, Frye found that found 90% of software jobs are outside Silicon Valley, NYC, and the other major coastal cities known as wealthy tech hubs.
Frye hopes the scholarship can reach a broader group of students. Google and Udacity aim to help open doors for people who may not have considered coding before.
Scholarship recipients can choose between two paths: web development or mobile development (Android). Within these programs, you can study at a beginner or intermediate level.
What Students Will Receive
This new scholarship has two parts. In the first part, the “Challenge Scholarship” phase, 50,000 students will gain access to Udacity’s online, part-time web or Android programs for three months.
The top 10% of students who complete the “Challenge” phase will be offered the chance to move forward into 6-month Udacity nanodegree programs that build upon the skills they have already gained.
“Learning to program, there’s a mindset that takes time getting used to,” Frye said. “In programming work, it’s just wrong, over and over again, until it’s not…You have to get used to that mindset of ‘Hey, this set of code is going to evolve, until I get it all worked out, and it’ll finally — aha! — work.’ And I think, for the folks on the beginner path, some of the roadblocks are around getting comfortable with that mindset and getting comfortable with what’s going to feel like failure.”
Frye encourages students to reach out for help. His advice is to be proactive, “rather than thinking that if you ask a question you’re not smart enough, you’re not doing it right, you’re not the best in the class.”
“It’s hard. Especially if you’re new to tech, it can be an intimidating space to enter. We’re trying to make it as un-intimidating as possible through those [support] communities.”
Udacity has forums structured much like Stack Overflow. They’re “dedicated to asking and answering course-related questions, so as you watch a video, or attempt to do a quiz, if you have a question or run into a problem, you can post your question there. Our staff will be there to answer your question, if a student doesn’t get to it first.”
Outside the classroom, scholarship recipients will also have the Slack chat channels for each of the four tracks: beginner web, beginner Android, intermediate web, intermediate Android. Those Slack channels will also be staffed with community managers to facilitate student discussions.
Topics and Projects
In Phase 1: Challenge scholarships (3 months) students learn the following:
Beginner web development lessons show students how to build a basic website using two languages, HTML & CSS.
Beginner Android lessons teach students how to code to create a single-page Android app with images, buttons and text.
Intermediate web development lessons focus on responsive (auto-resizing), interactive web applications. They’ll also learn ways to make websites work well offline.
Intermediate Android lessons guide students through the creation of more complex, interactive, multi-screen mobile apps.
In Phase 2: Nanodegrees (6 months), the top 10% of students from Phase 1 gain access to the following project-based programs:
Beginner web development grads move into the Front-end Web Developer Nanodegree
Beginner Android grads gain access to the Android Basics Nanodegree
Intermediate web development grads progress into the Mobile Web Specialist Nanodegree
Intermediate Android grads proceed into the Android Development Nanodegree
Who Should Apply
Frye emphasized that the program is aiming to reach out to people who may not have considered tech-related education. The scholarships are open to people of any educational level, any career history, any age, so long as you’re over 18.
Also reassuring: “Staff and mentors will be available to answer questions that you have as you walk through the content,” he noted.
According to Udacity’s FAQ page, the average student spends about 10 hours a week on their lessons and projects. It was designed to be a part-time program than can fit into an already busy schedule.
The lesson videos are all pre-recorded. You can watch the videos at any time, on a computer or mobile phone.
Udacity has launched several scholarships with Google. “Women Techmakers [a global scholarship open to women] is one example of that,” Frye mentioned. They have also run scholarship programs across the European Union, Egypt and Nigeria.
We asked about typical students. Frye said they vary widely, including people who have dropped out of high school or business school, parents, people who feel stuck in minimum wage jobs. A few of their stories have been captured in videos here and here, as well as blogs here and here.
How to Apply
The deadline for applications is November 30th, 2017. Winners will be notified December 7th, and they’ll have access to their online classrooms December 11th. You can find more information and the application forms here.