This past week, Udacity was offering a “Discovery Week” special of 50% off tuition for the first two months of the iOS Developer Nanodegree. I was very, very tempted. I however did not take advantage of the offer for the following reasons:
- I set out on this task to complete the requirements for the Nanodegree without signing up and thought it important to finish the experiment as originally laid out
- I am not yet finished
- Although I appear to be on schedule for finishing in the next month, I never know what might prevent me from doing so
- Every month I am not signed up for the Nanodegree is a month I don’t have to send Udacity any money
- In the past, Udacity regularly offered me the opportunity to sign up for the Nanodegree with the first two weeks free, which is cheaper than 50% off if I finish in the first two weeks
What would have tempted me enough to abandon my original plan and sign up? 50% off the first three months probably would have done it.
I have to say that I don’t think the subscription model is the right one for this Nanodegree. I would think a better means of monetization would be a fixed price with a six month payment schedule. If you finish early and want your Nanodegree earlier than six months, then pay the remaining tab early. If you need to drop out for a while and can’t afford the payments, fine, pause the payments and jump back in when you can afford it.
Yes, Udacity would potentially have to support students pursuing the Nanodegree beyond six months without additional funds coming in after that time (because they would have already paid in full), but I think those people would be few and far between and not likely to linger too terribly long. Getting their Nanodegree is incentive enough; they don’t need further financial incentive. If there is a significant cost associated with these stragglers, it can probably be spread across the student body (in the form of slightly-higher tuition) without negatively impacting the number of people signing up.