Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Friday, September 22, 2017
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Summer School: MOOCs for Technologists 

Summer means the end of class for many youngsters, but it's an ideal time for HPC and IT professionals to take advantage of free and low-cost online educational programs that can advance their organizations and their careers.

Organizations want technology professionals to be knowledgeable about business, something they can attain via collaboration at work and via education on the larger trends and pressures facing their overall industry. By proactively studying complementary technology or business courses, IT and HPC professionals help their organizations address the skills gap: This year, 38 percent of employers report a talent shortage and 54 percent said this lack of appropriate staff affects their ability to serve client needs, according to Manpower Group's 2015 Talent Shortage Survey.

One-fifth of employers provide more training for existing staff, the report found. In 13 percent of cases, they use training to develop new skills; 12 percent rely on training to enhance employees' existing skills, Manpower found. Massive open online courses or MOOCs give employees an opportunity to expand into areas of interest that complement their capabilities and prepare them for new roles or responsibilities.

As high-performance computing technologies wend their way into enterprise applications such as big data, analytics, and storage, savvy IT experts delve into these solutions to learn their inner workings, integration challenges, and determine how they can leverage these products to benefit their organizations. Likewise, HPC adopters can better equip themselves to advocate the benefits of these technologies for applications beyond the lab or engineering department.

Authorities in both HPC and IT seek new methods of using HPC to garner the most from their investments in big data and analytics. And technologists continuously seek new knowledge in their ongoing efforts to stay ahead of the latest tools and techniques available in their field.

Free or low-cost MOOCs are accessible, low-cost ways for technology and business professionals to garner insight and training into new techniques, solutions, and practices to complement their existing skills. Options grow each year, with an increasing number of traditional education institutions such as Harvard (HarvardX) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MITx) offering MOOCs and an expanding base delivering certifications at the conclusion of their programs. In a recently released study of the past two years of its MOOCs, HarvardX and MITx determined of the 57 percent of students who intended to earn a certificate, 24 percent accomplished this goal. And of the 43 percent who were unsure or did not plan to pursue a certificate, 8 percent received certification upon completion of the online course.

Across a dozen courses, those who paid between $50 and $250 for ID-verified certificates earned certifications at a higher rate than other participants: 59 percent versus 5 percent, the report found.

Whether they choose to pursue certification or not, those seeking additional education to further their careers and improve their organizations' success can find a plethora of options, both live and on-demand.

Here's a summer sampler of MOOCs starting soon. Which courses have helped your career? What classes would you like to see offered online? Let us know in Comments.

BigData3Introduction to big data with Apache Spark - UC BerkeleyX

"Organizations use their data for decision support and to build data-intensive products and services, such as recommendation, prediction, and diagnostic systems. The collection of skills required by organizations to support these functions has been grouped under the term Data Science. This course will attempt to articulate the expected output of Data Scientists and then teach students how to use PySpark (part of Apache Spark) to deliver against these expectations. The course assignments include Log Mining, Textual Entity Recognition, Collaborative Filtering exercises that teach students how to manipulate data sets using parallel processing with PySpark."

  • Fee: None
  • Skill level: Programming background; Python experience
  • Software used: PySpark
  • Starts: June 1
  • Time required: 5-7 hours per week
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $50

 

The Analytics Edge - MITx

"In this course, you will learn how to use data and analytics to give an edge to your career and your life. We will examine real world examples of how analytics have been used to significantly improve a business or industry. These examples include Moneyball, eHarmony, the Framingham Heart Study, Twitter, IBM Watson, and Netflix. Through these examples and many more, we will teach you the following analytics methods: linear regression, logistic regression, trees, text analytics, clustering, visualization, and optimization. We will be using the statistical software R to build models and work with data. The contents of this course are essentially the same as those of the corresponding MIT class (the Analytics Edge). It is a challenging class, but it will enable you to apply analytics to real-world applications."

  • Fee: None
  • Skill level: Basic math
  • Software used: R and LibreOffice
  • Starts: June 2
  • Time required: 10-15 hours per week
  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate fee: $100

 

programmer

R ProgrammingJohns Hopkins University

"In this course you will learn how to program in R and how to use R for effective data analysis. You will learn how to install and configure software necessary for a statistical programming environment and describe generic programming language concepts as they are implemented in a high-level statistical language. The course covers practical issues in statistical computing which includes programming in R, reading data into R, accessing R packages, writing R functions, debugging, profiling R code, and organizing and commenting R code. Topics in statistical data analysis will provide working examples."

  • Fee: Free
  • Skill level: Some familiarity with programming concepts will be useful as well basic knowledge of statistical reasoning
  • Software used: e-book R Programming for Data Science; GitHub account
  • Starts: June 1
  • Time required: 7-9 hours per week
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $49

 

Becoming a resilient person: the science of stress management - UWashingtonX

"Everyone experiences adversity and stress at some level, whether it’s the pressure to perform in school or work, relationship problems, financial difficulties, or simply the number of tasks to do in a short period of time. All stress isn’t bad, but chronic stress can take its toll on our minds, bodies, and behavior. Research has shown that people can learn and use specific resilience skills (such as optimistic thinking, relaxation strategies, choosing one’s attention) and positive routines (good sleep, scheduling in fun, and so on) in order to better manage stress, bounce back quicker after a setback, be more effective in their academic and vocational pursuits, develop stronger relationships with others, be physically and mentally healthy, and be satisfied with their lives overall. In short, resilience is ordinary magic and can be learned. It does not necessarily mean that you have to be born resilient or get lucky in life."

  • Fee: None
  • Skill level: All
  • Software used: N/A
  • Starts: June 2
  • Time required: 2-3 hours per week
  • Length: 8 weeks
  • Certificate available: No
  • Certificate cost: N/A

datascience

The Data Scientist's ToolboxJohns Hopkins University

"Upon completion of this course you will be able to identify and classify data science problems. You will also have created your Github account, created your first repository, and pushed your first markdown file to your account."

  • Fee: $29
  • Skill level: Some programming skills in any language; working knowledge of mathematics up to algebra (no calculus or linear algebra required)
  • Software used: N/A
  • Starts: June 2
  • Time required: 1-4 hours per week
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Certificate available: First of 9-part Data Capstone project
  • Certificate cost: $470 (for all courses and specialization certification upon completion of Capstone Project at conclusion of course)

 

Marketing for Non-Marketers - University of British Columbia (UBCx)

"Suited to managers in any field, this course will help you acquire a broad understanding of effective marketing strategy by adding core marketing concepts and techniques to your toolkit. You will emerge with proven tactical skills and a strategic framework that can immediately be used to differentiate your brand and further your organization’s goals.

Designed and led by UBC’s award-winning Marketing Faculty that include the 2015 American Marketing Association’s #1 ranked professor worldwide, a 2013 3M National Teaching Fellow, and the 2013 judge and online audience pick for the Economist magazine’s Business Professor of the Year Award, this course brings a marketing lens to complex business and organizational challenges to aid holistic decision-making that aligns customer and company goals. You will earn a professional certificate from the University of British Columbia and edX upon successful completion of this course."

  • Fee: $295
  • Software used: N/A
  • Starts: June 16
  • Time required: 3-4 hours per week
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: Included

 

phoneProgramming Cloud Services for Android Handheld SystemsVanderbilt University

"In this course we will learn how to connect Android mobile devices to cloud computing and data storage resources, essentially turning a device into an extension of powerful cloud-based services on popular cloud computing platforms, such as Google App Engine and Amazon EC2. This MOOC describes by example how to connect Android mobile devices to clouds via the use of object-oriented design techniques, Java programming language features, Jetty middleware, Java Servlets, the Java Spring Framework, and cloud computing platforms, such as Google App Engine. Although there will be 10 weeks of lecture material, the required core of the course is six weeks long and can be completed flexibly within the ten week schedule to provide flexibility for students during the summer."

  • Fee: Free
  • Skill level: Familiarity with general object-oriented design and programming concepts (such as encapsulation, abstraction, polymorphism, extensibility), fundamental Java object-oriented programming language features (such as classes, inheritance, interfaces, and generics available in Java, basic systems programming concepts (such as event handling, processes/threads, synchronization), and networking terminology (such as client/server and peer-to-peer architectures).
  • Software used: N/A
  • Starts: June 17
  • Time required: 4-6 hours per week
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $49

 

Scalable Machine Learning - UC BerkeleyX

"Machine learning aims to extract knowledge from data, relying on fundamental concepts in computer science, statistics, probability and optimization. Learning algorithms enable a wide range of applications, from everyday tasks such as product recommendations and spam filtering to bleeding edge applications like self-driving cars and personalized medicine."

  • Fee: None
  • Skill level: Intermediate
  • Software used: PySpark; previous experience with Spark or distributed computing not required
  • Starts: June 29
  • Time required: 5-7 hours per week
  • Length: 5 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $50

baseball1Sabermetrics 101: An Introduction to Baseball Analytics - BUx

"This course will cover the theory and the fundamentals of the emerging science of Sabermetrics. We will discuss the game of baseball, not through consensus or a fan’s conventional wisdom, but by searching for objective knowledge in baseball performance. These and other areas of sabermetrics will be analyzed and better understood with current and historical baseball data."

  • Fee: None
  • Skill level: All
  • Software used: Learn basic R, SQL
  • Starts: July 7
  • Time required: 6-8 hours per week
  • Length: 10 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $25

 

 

Innovation and IT management

"IT changes the manner and scope in which businesses operate and compete. Innovations in IT have led some businesses to flourish, while others have faltered due to massive changes brought by this industry. IT is notoriously hard to manage. The challenge of managing IT is ensuring that the intended changes and innovations are realized, and the unintended ones are kept under control. This course will cover basic concepts of information technology management."

  • Fee: None
  • Skill level: Intermediate
  • Software used: N/A
  • Starts: July TBD
  • Time required: 4-6 hours per week
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $25

 

Cloud Computing ApplicationsUniversity of Illinois

"Learn of 'cloudonomics,' the underlying economic reasons that we are creating the cloud. Learn the basic concepts underlying cloud services and be able to use services like AWS or OpenStack Dashboard to construct cloud services or applications. Demonstrate your ability to create web services, massively parallel data intensive computations using Map/Reduce, NoSQL databases, and real-time processing of real-time data streams. Use machine-learning tools to solve simple problems. This course serves as an introduction to building applications for cloud computing based on emerging OpenStack and other platforms. The course includes concepts of: bare-metal provisioning; neutron networking; identity service; image service; orchestration; infrastructure as a service; software as a service; platform as a service; MapReduce; big data; analytics, privacy and legal issues. "The course will also include example problems and solutions to cloud computing, including hands-on laboratory experiments (Load Balancing and Web Services, MapReduce, Hive, Storm, and Mahout). Case studies will be drawn from Yahoo, Google, Twitter, Facebook, data mining, analytics, and machine learning."

  • Fee: Free
  • Skill level: Basic networking, such as using sockets
  • Software used: OpenStack
  • Starts: August 24
  • Time required: 6-8 hours per week
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $49

bigdataKnowledge management and big data in business – the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPolyUx)

"The business landscape is changing so rapidly that traditional management, business and computing courses do not meet the needs for the next generation of workers in the business world. Most traditional methods are of repetitive and of a rule-based nature will be gradually replaced by artificial intelligence. In the knowledge era, the most value added job will be to manage knowledge that includes how knowledge is created, mined, processed, shared and reused in different trades and industry. At the same time, the amount of data and information (pre-requisites of knowledge) is exploding exponentially. By 2020, IDC projects that the size of the digital universe will reach 40 zetabytes from all sources including, websites, weblog, sensors, and social media. Big data will transform how we live, work and even think. These trends and more will have a profound effect on how we see the world and create policies."

  • Fee: None
  • Skill level: Introductory
  • Software used: N/A
  • Starts: August 25
  • Time required: 4-6 hours per week
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Certificate available: Yes
  • Certificate cost: $50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author: Alison Diana

Managing editor of Enterprise Technology. I've been covering tech and business for many years, for publications such as InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Florida Today. A native Brit and longtime Yankees fan, I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats on the Space Coast in Florida.

2 Responses to Summer School: MOOCs for Technologists

  1. Julie Ellis

    Thanks for the detailed description of all these courses. I think it’s a great way for all who don`t want to stop learning during the summer or to get ready for new session.

     
    • Alison Diana

      My pleasure. In going through so many courses — both in tech and non-tech — it really made me want to take several courses over the summer. Think I’ll tackle one or two in my “free time!” Please share your experiences if you take any of these (or the many others I was unable to include). There are many archived sessions, too, especially for those who don’t care about getting certified and are pursuing additional learning out of personal interest or for a specific goal.

       

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