When a Harvard professor converted his course on Greek heroes into a MOOC, the enrollment went from a few hundred Ivy League students in Cambridge, Mass., to 31,000 students around the globe. For years universities have recognized the power of MOOCs, but high tech is only now embracing the format that it helped make possible. After all, cloud computing and global content delivery networks are at the heart of a MOOC’s massive scalability.
Recently MongoDB, the leading NoSQL database, began offering two MOOCs to developers around the world. And Google is now collaborating with edX to build a platform where anyone can put together and offer a freely available course. In 2014, it’s clear that MOOCs have well and truly left the confines of the university hedgerows.
MOOCs are a natural choice for companies that support the open-source movement. Like open-source software, MOOCs are driven by a desire for openness, transparency, collaboration and free access to knowledge and technology. The MOOC model makes two fundamental and disruptive assumptions: Information is everywhere, and powerful new knowledge is generated through widespread collaboration. This approach works for building world-changing software, so why wouldn’t it help solve the distribution problem in modern education?
As a founder of OpenStack (open-source cloud computing software), Rackspace has been offering free, open, online training and certification around cloud computing for several years through CloudU. But we’re now launching our first fully-fledged MOOC called “Evolution of a Solution.” A new MOOC is already in planning around big data.