By John K. Waters
For-profit online education provider Udacity and Google today unveiled a new micro-credential program, the Senior Web Developer Nanodegree. The online program is designed to provide students with "the tools, frameworks, and techniques needed to write robust code for progressive Web applications that are secure and easy to use," said Sarah Clark, program manager in Google's Developer Training group, in a blog post.
"Progressive app," a term attributed to Google developer Alex Russell, refers to apps that "earn their spot on our home screens over time and preserve URL-based nature of the Web" and work offline. According to Clark, students who spend approximately 10 hours per week on the course should be able to earn the credential in 9 to 12 months.
"Along the way, you will also learn how to integrate new technologies," she said, "such as Service Worker and Web Components, and work extensively with Gulp and other tools. You'll hear from Google experts, such as Ido Green, Jake Archibald (co-author of the Service Worker spec), Luke Wroblewski (author and strategist), Paul Bakaus (Studio 5 CTO, Zynga) and Alice Boxhall (author of the Chrome accessibility developer tools)."
The program is being offered in both paid and free versions. The paid program, which leads to the certification, includes code-level project reviews and feedback, coaching, support from a cohort of peers, projects that build a portfolio of work and career support services. The free version includes the same instructional courses, quizzes and projects, which students can take at their own pace, but does not yield a certification.
The new Nanodegree is the ninth member of Udacity's lineup of industry-led, career-oriented, online certification programs and the latest of several programs developed with Google. The company introduced its Android Developer Nanodegree in July at the annual Google I/O conference. The company's current Nanodegree lineup also includes: Front-End Web Developer, Tech Entrepreneur, Data Analyst, Full Stack Web Developer, Intro to Programming and iOS Developer
Udacity has trademarked the term "nanodegree," but the concept of an institution-agnostic micro-credential isn't new, and the company isn't the only provider. Earlier this year Coursera announced partnerships with Google, Instagram and others to provide a series of "microdegrees."
Udacity's Nanodegree curriculum is the result of a strategic pivot by CEO and co-founder Sebastian Thrun, whose company had been one of the leading providers of MOOCs for higher education. In 2013 Thrun abandoned the MOOC, declaring that his company had "a lousy product," and announced plans to shift focus from higher ed to corporate training.