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Summary:

Udacity wants to go beyond an English-language audience – and it’s asking its users to help: The e-learning startup has partnered with Amara to add crowdsourced captions to its video assets. Amara previously partnered with TED, Coursera and the Khan Academy for crowdsourced video subtitles.

Udacity - Thrun

E-learning startup Udacity has partnered with Amara, formerly known as Universal Subtitles, to use crowdsourcing for closed captioning of its video assets. Volunteers can use Amara’s web-based captioning editor to add subtitles to more than 5000 Udacity videos, and Amara co-founder Nicholas Reville told me via email that he expects “thousands of volunteers join over the next month.”

Udacity made headlines just a few days ago when it raised a $15 million Series B round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures and others. The company’s free online classes have been attended by some 750,000 students since Udacity’s launch in January.

Closed captioning could not only help Udacity to make its content accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing students, but also be the first step towards an international expansion. Udacity co-founder and CEO Sebastian Thrun made this very point in a press release announcing the partnership, which quotes him saying:

“We hope that by engaging our users with Amara’s platform, we can make our content more accessible by adapting to our international population’s languages. That is ultimately the core purpose of Udacity. We want to democratize education by broadening access and delivery of high quality university learning and content.”

For Amara, the partnership with Udacity means that it is expanding its footprint in the e-learning space. The crowdsourced captioning platform has already partnered with Coursera, TED and Khan Academy. Reville told me that altogether, the platform has seen more than 68,000 volunteers subtitle more than 200,000 videos in more than 100 languages.

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  1. Sal Khan deserves all of the media and attention he is getting because of his tremendous vision, leadership, and work with Khan Academy. I first learned about his videos in 2009, after I had already been recording SMARTboard videos for my math students in my high school classroom. It turns out that we started about the same time, realizing that kids at all levels really responded to this new educational opportunity to be in control of their own learning through uploaded videos.
    The idea of Khan Academy, that our educational system needs to be improved, tweaked, rethought, and restructured, has been an inspiration for me as I continue to do my thing, at a smaller scale but in the same direction. My YouTube channel “Math Class with Terry V” is doing great, and has spawned my live online tutoring web site MathPowerLine.com. The point of this shameless plug is that I am not alone. Sal, you have generated a lot of thought and energy around this idea that our schools can be improved in dramatic ways, so thank you for being one of the first! Terry VanNoy

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