Android Basics Nanodegree: Review from A Graduate

I have been wanting to learn about developing an Android apps for a long time. A few months ago I tried to learn a little part of it when me and my friend was building the platform for a smart farming system for a competition. But I just couldn’t learn anything from it. Then, a local startup held an Android development learning program and I joined. Still no luck, since I was very busy with my coursework and had to abandon the program.

Last week, I don’t how, but I ended up on Udacity’s website. Udacity is an MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) platform which provides courses on programming, specifically in Android, iOS, and web development. Their homepage shows that they were opening a new Nanodegree program for Android development basics and were giving away scholarships for the first 50 graduates of the program.

I looked at the details of the program and they said that the program is aimed for beginners with no coding experiences. I thought, hey, this is the right program for me! Then I looked at the leaderboard to see how many students have graduated. At that time, it seems that there were only 5 graduates so far. That means there are 45 slot left! So, without further ado, I signed up for a trial for the program.

Within the first day, I completed 3 out of 10 projects. Then, I looked at the leaderboard at the time of update. My name still wasn’t there. I looked at the other participants progress and it seems like they were only advancing 5-10% a day. I really thought that if I continue working at that pace, I might be able to be the first 50 graduates.

On the second day, the lessons start get hard. I got stuck on some parts and were only able to finish 2 projects. That means I was already 50% in. I looked up the leaderboards again at the time of update. Still no sign of the appearance of my name. Also, suddenly there were already 20-ish graduates. I started to give up the scholarship.

When I was hanging around in the forum, I saw a post from Udacity’s staff that basically said that normally they require students to be enrolled for at least two months before they graduate (That’s $398!) but this Nanodegree is an exception. They said that there is no minimum time to be enrolled before graduation. That means, if you can finish before your trial expires, then you don’t have to pay!

I got the spirit back, so I tried to go back to the lessons and work on the projects. The next day, I saw on their homepage that they were giving 50 more scholarships. But I was thinking if I could complete the course before my trial ends, why should bother with scholarship? When I read the details again, I found out that they were giving away scholarships for Android Developer Nanodegree, not the Android Basics Nanodegree. Well, it got me pumped, if I could be in the first 100s, then I could take the Nanodegree I’ve wanted to take for a long time!

Long story short, I managed to finish all 10 projects in the 7 days trial period. But, the graduation requires verification of ID and it took more than a couple of days. Because of that, I got charged $199 only to wait for graduation! Ridiculous, isn’t it? I sent them an email right away regarding this issue. Thankfully, they refunded the tuition fee since it was not my fault that I couldn’t graduate before the trial expires.

Oh and for the scholarship, I don’t know. I managed to be the first 100 students to graduate, I was at the 76th position! But they have yet to give us words regarding the scholarship. Well, I don’t know but I think I’ll just wait on this one.

Now, on to the real review of the program…

I’ve got some pros and cons for the program, here they are:

Pros:

  • Excellent content. They managed to create such an engaging content and they taught it really, really well. The contents were really easy to understand and to absorb.
  • A lot of hands-on experiences. With their quizzes and projects, you really will get your hands dirty, and not in a bad way. I feel like it is easier to absorb something if you apply it right after you understand about it. And Udacity did this well. They give you a coding walkthrough and will let you try what you have learned on a lot of projects.
  • Portfolio building. Not only good to let you apply the knowledge, the projects are also useful to build your portfolio you can show to your potential employers, or to your friends!

Cons:

  • Incomplete program. When I took this program, they had 2 lessons on networking and data storage unavailable. They only provided some links that you can easily get with a little googling. But I couldn’t complaint since I paid nothing for this course and got a scholarship for the next program. However, I suggest you wait until these contents to be finished before deciding to pay for the program.
  • Too basic to land you a job. Yes, this Nanodegree won’t land you a job since this Nanodegree only covers pretty basic stuffs. However, it is a good start if you plan to pick Android Developer Nanodegree too.
  • Might be too hard for people who never code. Even though they said that this course requires no coding experiences, I would suggest you to learn basic coding skills first before taking this Nanodegree. Well, the first 3 or 4 lessons might be easy even if you have no coding experiences, but the lessons afterward will surely get you stuck. But then again, I felt that it was hard because I had to finish the whole Nanodegree in just 7 days (normally, a Nanodegree should be completed in 6-10 months) with 2 incomplete lessons. So, who knows if you can understand the lessons easily when they completed all the lessons and you take them in the recommended pace.

So yeah, overall this Nanodegree is very good and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to get started in Android development although it might be better if you learn basic coding skills first in a month or two.

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