Udacity raises $35M as it moves to expand nanodegrees
- Udacity on Wednesday announced the completion of a $35 million round of funding from Drive Capital, Bertelsmann, Recruit (Japan), Cox Enterprises, Andreessen Horowitz, and Charles River Ventures.
- Sebastian Thrun's MOOC-provider-turned-vocational-learning-platform will likely use the funding in the expansion of its nanodegree program, created in partnership with AT&T to train students in particular programming skillsets that will help them land tech jobs.
- More specifically, the funding will help as the company looks to spread that program to other parts of the world — the current investment round included firms from Japan, Brazil, and Germany.
Udacity's pivot to paid vocational learning followed some less-than-stellar results in its MOOC partnerships with universities like San Jose State. The company's time in the MOOC spotlight was also the same period that many in higher ed were concerned about major disruption from the online learning model presented by it and peers like Coursera and EdX. However, concerns of free online courses undermining higher ed or professors being replaced by video instruction seem to have since dimmed given the aforementioned missteps.
That said, the pivot seems to have reinvigorated the company: As TechCrunch reports, 50,000 people applied for the $400-a-month nanodegree program upon its announcement. And that, of course, is now leading traditional higher ed to worry once more — this time over whether or not such a program could reduce interest in traditional liberal arts degrees and make massive dents in their bottom line.
Then again, 2U co-founder Jeremy Johnson's Andela, which reportedly aims to teach African students to code remotely for U.S. firms, could give students in the states reason to seek more than just a specific computer science skillset. Still, it doesn't seem out of the question that Udacity would expand its nanodegree offerings in time, as well.
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