Bertelsmann offers 15,000 scholarships for Udacity’s Online Data Science Course

In a joint initiative with Google and Udacity, Bertelsmann, the international media, services and education company, is inviting the people 18 and older to apply for its “Udacity Data Science Scholarship Program,” in which the company will provide 15,000 three-month Udacity online courses in descriptive statistics.
The class, Intro to Descriptive Statistics, is billed as a starting point for further studies in data science and machine learning. The course requires five to ten hours a week of study and work over three months. The top 10%, or 1500 students, will be awarded one three Nanodegree programs: Data Foundations, Business Analyst, or Data Analyst.
The scholarships are part of a joint initiative by Bertelsmann, Google, and Udacity to promote digital skills both in Europe and globally. The companies announced a total of 75,000 scholarships last year. Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner recognized the project with a “European Digital Skills Award” for Digital Economy and Society in December.
Bertelsmann, which owns media properties around the world, including Penguin Random House, Gruner + Jahr, BMG, is funding this initiative to help address the shortage of workers with these skills. According to Bertelsmann’s CEO Thomas Rabe, “Bertelsmann is becoming more and more digital, so promoting digital skills is one of our top priorities. Data Science is particularly important for many of our digital businesses, and we are very pleased to be offering 15,000 scholarships. Together with our partners Google and Udacity, we are thus attempting to counter the shortage of specialists in the technology sector.”
Udacity is a venture-backed educational organization that is the outgrowth of the free computer science classes that Stanford offered in 2011, which over 100,000 people took. Udacity founder and president Sebastian Thrun describes their mission: “At Udacity, we partner with top employers like Google, Amazon and Facebook to build our Nanodegree programs, credentials backed and built by industry and designed to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.” He adds: “Together with Bertelsmann, we’ve now created an online learning pathway that opens up countless career opportunities. The global demand for qualified employees with advanced data analytics skills has never been higher, and successful graduates of our program will emerge job-ready in the field.”
Interested persons can apply now at The application window closes on April 22, 2018. Scholarship recipients will be selected in May 2018, and start the online course shortly thereafter.
Depending on their prior knowledge of statistics, mathematics and computer science, participants should plan on investing between 5 and 10 hours per week over a period of three months. The course is designed for both beginners and advanced students. At the end of the first phase of the scholarship program, the top 1,500 students can go on to earn a full Udacity Nanodegree credential, either in “Data Foundations,” “Business Analyst,” or “Data Analyst.”

Four Questions For: Sebastian Thrun

You’re the founder of Udacity, which aims to democratize education. What changes have you seen in education since founding Udacity, and how do you expect education to transform in your lifetime?
In the future, education will shift from once-in-a-lifetime to lifelong. We are already seeing an increasing number of people demanding new education and new credentials as they walk through life. In the tech space, Udacity has become the go-to place for millions of people, not least because of our very strong ties to the tech industry, who eagerly hires our graduates. I also believe the sky-high tuition fees of existing universities will crumble.
Considering the potential job loss that we will experience as AI and robotics industries progress, how should education change? What jobs should our children prepare for?
Technology is moving faster and faster. People live longer and longer. So this means education has to become lifelong. For our kids, more than any math or language skill will be the skill of learning to learn. The next generation has to make mental growth and lifelong learning a core component of their lives.
How do you believe that AI can positively enrich human life? What is there to fear regarding AI?
AI will make us superhuman. Just as cars have made us superhuman (we can now “run” at 100mph), and phones have made us superhuman (we can now talk with people thousands of miles away), AI will give us superhuman memory, problem solving abilities, and an ability to get things done. 300 years ago, most of us worked in farming, doing the same physical task over and over again. Today, most of us work in offices, doing the same mental task over and over again. AI will do to boring repetitive mental work what the steam engine did to repetitive physical work in the fields.
How do you feel that AI can impact higher education? Will you see this in your lifetime?
At Udacity, we are already using AI and machine learning to maximize the chances of positive learning outcomes. We use AI to analyze individual students, helping our staff to time effective interventions. We use AI to analyze our content, finding any and every opportunity to improve the student learning experience. And of course, Udacity heavily teaches AI. Our students can get a nanodegree certificate in machine learning, or self-driving cars.
sebastian thrun
Sebastian Thrun is the CEO of Udacity, a former Google Fellow and VP, and a Research Professor at Stanford University. He has published over 370 scientific papers and 11 books, and he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering in the US. Sebastian works on revolutionizing all of transportation, education, homes, and medical care. Fast Company named Thrun the fifth most creative person in business, and Foreign Policy touted him Global Thinker #4. At Stanford, Sebastian led the Thrun Lab in creating Google Streetview. Then, at Google, Sebastian founded Google X. He leveraged X to launch projects like the self-driving cars, Google Glass, indoor navigation, Google Brain, Project Wing and Project Loon. At Udacity, his vision is to democratize higher education. Udacity stands for “we are audacious, for you, the student”. His team created the notion of “nanodegrees” which empower people from all traits and ages to find employent in the tech industry.

Seeding the cloud — AWS gives credits with select edX certs

Amazon definitely wants enterprises to adopt its cloud, but it’s still wooing little startups too. This week, it said it will issue $1,000 in Amazon Web Services credit to any student who completes qualifying edX certifications in entrepreneurship. EdX is the online education platform backed by MIT, Harvard, and a raft of other universities.

AWS credits are available for many things — if you were a registered attendee of AWS Re:Invent last month, you can get $25 in AWS credits for filling out a survey. If you have some sort of service snafu, credits are often issued as make-goods.

But now that there are public cloud competitors to AWS, watch for more offers from [company]Google[/company], [company]IBM[/company], [company]Microsoft[/company], all of which want to woo startups and enterprises alike to their cloud platforms.  An edX spokeswoman said it has never done a cloud credit deal like this one before, but is open to working with other providers.

Hoping a thousand flowers bloom

For some time now, young companies that met certain criteria could get $25,000 in credit toward [company]Amazon[/company] cloud services. In September, [company]Google[/company] raised that bar to $100,000 in Google Cloud Platform credits, again for “qualified” startups. Not to be outdone, IBM last month said qualifying startups could get $120,000 in credit that can be used for SoftLayer infrastructure or BlueMix PaaS.

[company]Microsoft[/company] issues Azure cloud credits of up to $150 per month with MSDN subscriptions and there are other credits–up to $5,000 per month — for startups using its BizSpark cloud accelerator program.

And in terms of wooing developers learning their trade, Google also offers $500 in credit to students who take its App Engine Udacity course.

Clearly these vendors know that customer acquisition is critical and that a startup is using brand X Cloud the hope is it’ll stay there and start using more basic and higher end services.

It’s a great time to be a startup.

Harvard and MIT make a compelling case for MOOCs

A new study of data from massive open online courses offered by Harvard and MIT professors paints a different — and welcome — picture of the state of online education. Completition rates might be low, the authors argue, but that’s a misleading stat.

Revealed: the finalists for the 2012 Crunchies

Five finalists have been chosen in 20 different categories for the 2012 Crunchies awards, and we’re proud to release the worthy nominees today. Voting for the winners starts today, and the winners will be announced January 31st.