I recently received an email from Udacity as part of their promotional efforts on its new statistics course by Professor Sebastian Thrun.
Hi Lu Wang,
I am writing you to ask a personal favor. I am trying to break the student record for the largest online class ever taught with my new class "Intro to Statistics", which will begin June 25th. Sign up, forward this e-mail to your friends and family and let's set a new record!
The marketing strategy being adopted by Udacity now is to reach out through its previous course takers. It seems that this strategy not only geared toward adult users, but also high schoolers, as Udacity has also launched a challenge for high school students all over the world with a reward of a free trip to Stanford and a chance to ride in a self-driving car developed by Dr. Thrun's lab. The basic idea of the challenge is that one needs to recruit as many people as possible to sign up for any Udacity courses and finish those courses. The one who gets a team to complete the most number of courses by August 26th will be the winner.
Udacity is not only trying to break a record for their course enrollment, but is also endeavoring to guarantee that the enrolled users could complete the courses within a certain timeline. This attempt is closely aligned with the everlasting debate on the sustainability of online courses - how many people will persevere to the end? Though I'm not sure whether this mass promotion initiative will generate enough motivation to reach its final goal, I'm looking forward to the result, which will probably be a worthy takeaway for our mSchool courses.