One of the central themes of this blog is how the idea of sharing and openness that lie at the heart of open source have spread fruitfully to other domains – open data, open knowledge, open access are obvious examples. So it was perhaps inevitable that at some point I would write about the currently-fashionable MOOCs:
A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC; English pronunciation: /muË?k/) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user fora that help build a community for students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education.
But not just any old MOOC:
The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced it is building a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) program with edX, the nonprofit online learning platform launched in 2012 by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). More than 31 universities have partnered with edX and nearly two million people have accessed its courses online since it launched just 18 months ago.
The Linux Foundation’s move is eminently sensible given the following:
As Linux has become the fabric of computing, demand for talent to support it has skyrocketed. For example, according to the 2014 Linux Jobs Report, nine in 10 hiring managers are hiring Linux pro’s in the next six months. And, while talent isn’t bounded by geography, sometimes access to advanced Linux training has been limited. Employers are seeking Linux professionals in a market where not enough exist, while professionals struggle to find affordable, accessible training opportunities to advance their careers.
That’s obviously a nice problem for the Linux community to have, since it makes Linux skills even more valuable. One obvious way of tackling that problem is through a MOOC, as here:
The Linux Foundation and edX are partnering to develop a MOOC program that will help address this issue by making basic Linux training materials available to all for free. Previously a $2,400 course, Introduction to Linux will be the first class available as a MOOC and will be free to anyone, anywhere. The Linux Foundation is among a new group of member organizations edX announced today who will contribute courses to the platform.
What’s particularly welcome about this new MOOC programme is that it opens up professional training to a whole new category of people that hitherto have been unable to afford these kind of fees, however reasonable they may be. That kind of democratisation of knowledge is entirely of a piece with the other ways in which Linux has been breaking down barriers for over two decades.