Udacity drops free certificates

“We firmly believe that the money you entrust to us is worth every penny in terms of your learning success, and certificate value (and if you disagree, we have a 2-week money-back guarantee),” he said.

The move further distances Udacity’s MOOCs from the company’s original goal of reaching students struggling with access to higher education. In January, he said MOOCs were never meant to replace a liberal arts education. And in an interview with Fast Company last year, he said MOOCs were a “lousy product” when it came to addressing the needs of low-income students.

That’s a far-cry from what Thrun was saying in Udacity’s early days.

“I think [MOOCs are] the beginning of higher education,” Thrun told CNN in 2012. “It’s the beginning of higher education for everybody.”

That same year, Thrun told Wired that he predicted only 10 higher education institutions would remain in 50 years. Udacity, he said, could be one of them.

In November, Thrun announced a plan to “pivot” Udacity away from traditional higher education and toward employer-centric courses. Thrun framed Wednesday’s announcement in a similar light.

“We keep working hard to bring you the best learning experience. Sometimes it means making tough choices – this was one – to maximize the learning outcome for our students,” he said. “I can’t wait to see more employers seek you out for the skills you develop on Udacity.”

Follow Jake New on Twitter at @eCN_Jake.

Latest posts by Jake New (see all)