- Enroll if you need little push and have ample time to work on the course projects.
- If you are a self starter or have time-constraints, you can learn Android (with free videos) sans the certificate.
- Udacity’s career resources and forums are very good.
My time line
Today I graduated Udacity’s Android Nanodegree. It took me 13 months (average is 9-12 months). I was working full-time while doing the course causing the delays in completion. I am sad that I missed out on 50% tuition discount (applicable for finishing course within 12 months). Anyways.
The video lessons for the course are excellent. They are created (mostly) by Googlers from Android team. The concepts are explained with clear code examples, charts, and sprinkle of humor. The lessons are split into very tiny sections. In each section, a concept is explained, implemented by coding and you are asked to code side-by-side. This helped a lot! The lessons are of top notch quality and cover entire gamut of Android landscape.
Course requires you to complete these 9 projects:
- P0: Static android app, just to ensure Android development environment is setup correctly. [Very Easy]
- P1: Basic app to create project structure and understand activity life cycle. [Medium]
- P2: Advanced app to implement ContentProvider, Loaders, SyncAdapter, Services etc. If you survive this, you will complete entire Nanodegree. So hang in there. [Hard]
- P3: App to address corner cases, to add design elements and to use Google Cloud Messaging. [Medium]
- P4: App to understand advanced usage of gradle. [Easy]
- P5: App to implement Material design. [Medium]
- P6: App for Android Wear. [Medium]
- P7: Planning for final Capstone project. [Easy]
- P8: Final full-fledged project aka Capstone. [Hard/Time-consuming]
I found the P2, P6 and P8 to be the most time-consuming. I suspect most Nanodegree students who’ve left the course must have done it in P2. Probably this is why Basics Nanodegree was launched, to not overwhelm students. Projects are to be submitted for review. The reviewers are fairly quick to review the projects and provide feedback.
- Communication - Udacity sent emails around project deadlines. Other than that, entire nanodegree is self done, and thus can feel lonely. I think Udacity can improve in this area.
- Discussion forums - One of the best resources to resolve project specific issues. Mentors are very quick to response and community is very helpful.
- There is an option to schedule one-on-one discussions with Udacity mentor for any doubts/issues. I never used this.
- Webcasts - There were lot of webcasts at beginning explaining various libraries and such. Though lately, these are not very frequent.
I think last year when Nanodegree programs had just started Udacity was more personally involved. Now that they’ve scaled, most the communication is left to the site/community, and self-motivation of the students.
Learning Android itself was a bumpy train ride. Android is quite extensive and some times overwhelming. It has to be learned one step at a time. I made notes during the whole course. Also, I had to rely heavily on StackOverflow and sample Github code to complete the projects.
The career resources of Udacity are excellent. There are lot of articles about Careers, Finding Jobs, Writing Cover Letters, Interview preparation etc. Also, there are reviews done of your Resume, Github/Linked-In profiles, Udacity itself has recruiters on the platform. I have updated my profile though I have not received any interest from any company.
Udacity showcases profiles of students who have received jobs after completing the course.
Though, there are no statistics about what percentage of students get placed and with what average salary. Thus, certificate value is big open question still. I have just finished the course, and I’m planning to apply for jobs later this month. Will update this post on any related news.
In hindsight, I spent way too much money for this certificate (13x$200). Though, if I hadn’t had the pressure of those monthly-payments, I wouldn’t be so keen to finish the course. So I am happy to have done it. Now, eagerly awaiting the Google Cloud Nanodegree to launch.