Udacity Intro To Programming Review : 9 Pros and Cons You Should Consider

udacity intro to programming nanodegree review

In this Udacity Intro to Programming review, I shall be talking about my journey from a non-CSE background to programming.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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I signed up for the 4-month paid nano degree offered by Udacity for ‘Intro to Programming’. The course was made up of 10 modules teaching the basics of 4 different programming languages: HTML, CSS, JavaScript & Python. Within the modules were 3 graded projects to complete to secure the knowledge learned from the prerecorded lectures and written materials provided.  

Signing up for the course, I was lacking in any real programming experience and was going into the course with not much prior knowledge. I previously had heard of Udacity as I was a participant in their ‘Front End Web Development scholarship course along with Google, but I did not complete it due to university commitments. 

Always having an interest in programming, I believed this was a good place to start as it covered many different types of programming and seemed to provide the foundations of many different languages and technologies to be able to base future learnings off.

In this Udacity’s Intro to Programming Nanodegree review, I will discuss the syllabus in detail along with some pros and cons to help you decide if its worth it.

Udacity’s Intro to Programming Pricing

Udacity offers 2 ways of funding your nanodegree:

  1. Upfront payment – Gain full access to the course resources for 4 months
  2. Monthly payment – Get access to the course resources for as long as you want with a reoccurring monthly payment 

I used the monthly payment and paid every month to gain access to the course resources. 

The nanodegrees are pricey compared to some of the competitors and the current prices at the time of writing are:

– Upfront Payment – £916

– Monthly payment – £329

When signing up, Udacity was offering a 50% discount on nanodegrees, so I was able to get a discount on the normal pricing. By the looks of their website, they seem to offer discounts quite frequently so if you are considering a Udacity nanodegree, then look out for these. Udacity’s prices are remarkably high

The content of the course can be accessed from other courses that are a lot cheaper or even completely free. However, the review of code and career advice that Udacity offer is completely different and invaluable if this is something that you would use. 

Personally, unless I was looking to change career or learn something very niche, I would use cheaper resources in the future. However, Udacity’s reputation as well as the additional services that they offer their students is vastly different from any other course I have come across. 

Intro to Programming Nanodegree Timeline

Udacity state that it takes most people to complete the course within 4 months. However, it is completely self-study so you can complete the course in your own time. Four months is an achievable target for most people, but with commitment, this can be completed in less. 

Other people, who have less computing and programming experience may take longer to complete the nanodegree. The monthly payments make this achievable but could work out even more expensive for some students. 

This makes the pricing strategy of their course questionable as it may make it difficult for some people to complete the course due to financial difficulties if they find it harder than anticipated. Especially considering this course is meant to be a complete introduction for beginners. 

However, I completed the course in under 4 months, and I believe most people would be able to also. 

Also Read: Alice Bedward- My experience with Udacity

Syllabus of Udacity’s Intro to Programming Nanodegree

Lesson 1 – Introduction to HTML 

The first module within the syllabus is a complete beginner’s guide into the mark-up language HTML. This language is mainly used to create the content that is seen on web pages. 

The different parts of the lesson are made up of short lecture clips where instructors will explain key concepts of the different sections followed by written materials going into these concepts in more detail. At the end of most of these sections are sets of questions that test your knowledge on the areas that you have just learned to ensure that the concepts are well understood. 

It was encouraged to write notes within these sections using the HTML concepts learned to gain hands-on experience of writing using this language. This was then submitted at the end of the module but was not marked. 

The layout of the course was well structured and the small questions at the end of the section distilled my knowledge on the areas that I had previously covered. Some of the lectures were quite short, so this may be a negative point for some people if they prefer listening to people explain concepts rather than reading them.

However, as moving on through my programming journey, I have started to realize that reading documentation is an especially important skill, so I found it useful to develop this as I worked my way through the course. 

Lesson 2 – Intro to CSS

The next module within the syllabus was an introduction to CSS. CSS is used to style and position the content written in HTML on the webpage. This lesson was structured in the same format as lesson 1, but with a graded assessment at the end of the lectures. 

The same instructors were used within this lesson as in lesson 1.

A key concept I would like to share in this Udacity’s Intro to programming nanodegree review is that the instructors went through was how to select the different elements within CSS and how to use this to change the look of the content on the webpage. 

It was clear the concepts that the instructors were going through and again, the questions at the end of each part of the lesson were extremely helpful in securing the knowledge and concepts covered. 

Project: Animal Trading Card

The project was to build an animal trading card using HTML and CSS. At the beginning of the project, you receive a checklist of everything that needs to be covered to pass the project and be a step closer to achieving the nano degree.

By the time that I had covered the first 2 lessons, I felt ready and prepared to tackle this project. I enjoyed applying the concepts to a real-life project rather than answering questions and this made me feel more confident that I had understood the concepts that the instructors had been covering in the previous lessons. 

Once the project was submitted, it gets reviewed by one of the administrators on Udacity and they compare your code to the checklist provided at the beginning of the project. Even when all of the items on the checklist have been agreed by the administrator, they still provide you with feedback on your code and how you can make it better in the future. 

Lesson 3 – Intro to Python

All of lesson 3 was a complete introduction to a new and separate coding language – python. This was taught by a separate instructor compared to HTML and CSS but was taught in the same way as the previous lessons. 

This was a lot trickier than learning HTML and CSS as it is a trickier language to learn. However, the instructor made it clear and went through the language step by step. This lesson took me a lot longer to get through than the previous and I did have to do some separate research to secure some of the information that was covered. 

Project 2 : Adventure Game

The project was to build a text-based adventure game, where the player could input responses and the game would differ depending on their response. The course was designed so it built up to this project by designing some smaller games and using the language in different ways. 

I found this project a lot harder than the previous project and had to refer to my notes when coding this game. However, the project helped me so much in developing this language as a skill and I felt a lot more confident after completing and passing this challenge. 

This lesson is followed by more Python lessons that are extra-curriculum and are not required to complete the nanodegree. 

Lesson 4 – Intro to JavaScript

This lesson was again taught by a separate instructor but was taught in the same way as the rest of the course. The lesson covered the introductions to JavaScript and how to use JavaScript to create web-based apps. 

I found this lesson to be very intense and a massive step-up compared to the previous lessons that had been taught. There did not seem to be much gradual progression through the course, so I found it hard to fully understand the key concepts that the instructor was trying to get across. 

However, the questions at the end of the topics were very well written and helped me get through the lesson. I do not think I would have been able to attempt the project at the end of this lesson without the questions to secure knowledge. 

Also Read: Udacity’s Java Web Developer Nanodegree Review

Project 3: Pixel Art Maker

This is the last project of the nanodegree and was by far the hardest. We had to make a pixel-art maker where the user could change the color in the separate squares and the size of the grid to create pictures. 

I struggled a lot with this project and had to use the Udacity resources to get myself through it. The resource I used was the student forum where you could post questions to other Udacity students doing the same nanodegree as you. The community on here was helpful and always willing to try and help. However, as they were students also, some lacked the knowledge to be able to answer the technical questions asked by students. 

Another resource I would like to talk about in this Udacity intro to programming review was the student to administrator forum. I could post a question on there that would be directed to one of the Udacity administrators to answer. Udacity claims that the answers will be provided by someone within 24 hours, but my questions were always answered before this. 

What else you get with Udacity

Udacity nanodegrees provide some extra features which Udemy, Coursera etc don’t provide.

Mentorship:

The main advantage of selecting Udacity’s Nanodegree is that it provided 1:1 mentoring support. Having someone to clear all your doubts whenever required helps a lot. Also recently they have moved to group mentoring support but it still helps a lot in the same way.

Project review and Feedback:

The quality of the feedback is very high of your work. The mentors help in giving personal feedback without any hesitation whether it be good or bad which I feel is very good because you get to know where you are wrong.

Overview of Udacity

Pro’s

– Supportive community that you can work and network with 

– Real-life, graded projects to apply knowledge learned

– Career Services and an increasingly positive reputation amongst tech companies

– Online support from Udacity administrators

– Questions at the end of each topic

Cons

– Very Expensive

– Changing instructors every couple of lessons 

– Only written assistance, no face to face 

– A lot of reading compared to videos

Do I Recommend Udacity’s Intro to Programming Nanodegree?

The course is well designed and suitable for a beginner to start their coding journey. I believe this nanodegree is for someone who has a keen interest in learning to code but is not quite sure what area of coding they want to learn, as this course has an overview of many different areas.

The course also has an incredibly supportive community and great features including the online grading and mentorship from some of the administrations. 

However, the course is very pricey compared to some of the competitors offering similar courses out there and there is only written assistance, so nothing face to face. 

Overall, my Udacity experience was positive, and I would consider using their courses again in the future. 

udacity intro to programming nanodegree review

Lewis Forfar

The last few months, I have been working on developing a new skill that I have always had an interest in, Programming. From this, I am going to keep looking to expand my knowledge of programming by focusing on front-end web development.

Here’s my story.

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