Udacity looks to expand internationally with crowdsourced captions

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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