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education

Linux Foundation opens up free intro course to edX

Isn’t education amazing? It’s even more amazing when it’s free! In a good-hearted move by the Linux Foundation, the organization is planning to introductory courses to Linux on MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). You might remember MOOC more by the education institutions behind it, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Over 32 member schools participate in edX content offerings, and this recent moved by edX will expand these offerings to non-academic institutions like The Linux Foundation.

The particular courses will start out with familiar material The Linux Foundation has today, such as its introduction to Linux class. The intro course is aimed at those with very little experience in using Linux operating systems. Not much is known at this point about future offerings. Look for the course release date in the coming month ahead. The course, when offered directly from The Linux Foundation, costs a large lump sum of 2,500 USD, a figure which many, such as me can’t afford. While I likely will know most of the course content, I still plan on taking advantage of this amazing opportunity in education.

For those that have never heard of edX, the initiative is an amazing program that offers real classes, from science to art, and technology, from the best professors and university’s free can offer. Rather than settle for a simple video, edX courses help individuals in a variety of ways, including intuitive tools, videos, interactive labs, and more. The courses are available anywhere you have an internet connection, and the community surrounding courses is fully interactive, even between professors and authors.

“Linux has just seen this insane adoption across every sector of technology … as use of Linux rises we need to keep up with demand. This is a way for people to get familiar with Linux.”

Linux talent search

If you have been following the trends in the past year or so, Linux talent search is on the rise, but the pool of applicants and qualified professionals is smaller in comparison. Hint hint, I am one of those aspiring people.

Opening up edX educational offerings outside the traditional academia realm will be a great benefit to its recipients. Many information hungry people like me are always on the lookout to learn amazing new things, and edX does a fantastic job at introducing more and more imaginative minds to science and technology. Many recent statistics are showing increasing salaries for folks who know Linux technologies, at times getting as much as a 5 percent salary raise compared to 2.6 percent last year. Jim Zemlin, director of the Linux Foundation, hopes that the course will help completion rates, which unfortunately hover around 5 percent of those that signed up last year. Zemlin still welcomes the 505,000+ “course grazers” from last year’s statistics, that largely check out courses, but never complete them.

21st Century learning

Zemlin continues to tell interested folks to not expect immediate high-level work, but that acquiring self-taught skills could land someone a starting position. In my view, doing such a thing shows great initiative. Linux is largely a communal effort, and teaches many people how to work together and solve problems. Yes, of course there are some gray areas where in-fighting does occur, but the empowering nature of open source software is clearly evident. While the introductory course offered by the Linux Foundation won’t include C programming or advanced topics, rudimentary use and common concepts will be explored.

Online learning has most certainly taken off in the 21st century, an avenue more and more educational leaders are noticing as a popular, effective, and sometimes low-cost method to shape the minds of aspiring minds. While it is difficult to judge the success of edX courses by completion rate alone, Zemlin notes that “We don’t even know what the right metric for success for universities are. Is it that you passed or is it getting a quality education or is it that you obtained a job? There’s more than one metric. Focusing on completion rates is not right.”

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Also joining the ranks of edX course professional, is the International Monetary Fund, The Smithsonian Institution and the Inter-American Development Bank. Seven academic institutions also became edX members recently as well, including Colgate University, Hamilton College and the Open Courseware Consortium. Be on the lookout next month for new course offering, and subsequent news stories. I will most certainly be taking advantage of such a great opportunity to learn, as I hope you will as well.

Michael T. DeGuzis

Whether it be contributing an article online, engaging with the community, or diving head first into unknown waters, Linux is the focal point of my computing hobbies