MOOCs Shift From Curiosity to Employability

Higher Ed & Post Sec, Learning, Online & Blended / by

With huge investments and lots of fanfare, massive open online courses (MOOC) are the higher ed topic of the year. They’ve been around for years, but when more than 100,000 people signed up for a Stanford artificial intelligence course it was obvious that MOOCs had arrived.

Because MOOCs primarily serve non-consumption (in the parlance of Innovator’s Dilemma) at this point—they will complementary not competitive to traditional higher for the next few years.

Companies are joining the MOOC party, especially those that promote open educational resources (OER). In June, Google ran a power search MOOC. Today the developer of  MongoDB, the leading open source database company, announced today that it will offer two courses on the edX platform. MongoDB is a leading, unstructured database with more than 150,000 downloads per month. Mongo is a hot skill set, usually number two after generic HTML 5 jobs on recruiting boards.

The free, open-source database launched in 2007 by former DoubleClick Founder and CTO Dwight Merriman. Under the new 10gen education program, founder Merriman will be teaching a MongoDB DBA course. The MOOC will allow thousands of interested coders to learn directly from the guy who wrote the code.

The two classes, MongoDB for Developers and Mongo DB for Administrators, will begin in October and will be hosted on edX, the Harvard and MIT online content partnership. The courses will last about six weeks and will include interactive projects and frequent assessments.

This is the first edX partnership with a non-university. Anant Agarwal, president and first professor at edX, said, “We are pleased to team with MongoDB on its new 10gen Education program worldwide. EdX utilizes MongoDB and our new collaboration is the natural evolution of our relationship with 10gen.”

Andrew Erlichson, VP of Education at 10gen, anticipated building the courses on the edX stack and “contributing code improvements to the university partnership.” Erlichson wasn’t sure massive open online courses (MOOC) would change the higher ed landscape, but he was certain that they would reshape professional development. He noted that a soft launch of the courses quickly resulted in 5,000 signups, about three times the normal annual training quotient for 10gen.

Another reason to pay attention to this deal: 10gen has raised more than $75 million and is backed by leading venture funds including Sequoia, NEA, Flybridge, Union Square, and In-Q-Tel.

MOOCs won’t have much impact on first-tier higher education, but as Andrew pointed out, they are expanding professional learning opportunities. As certification and market signaling options expand (as noted here), MOOCs and other anywhere, anytime learning options will devastate expensive weak-brand third tier colleges and put tremendous cost pressure on state universities.

MOOCs and other learning resources are reshaping how people prepare for employment. With clarity around job requirements, lots of learning options, assessments that let learners show what they know, and portfolio and recommendation systems, we will see less consumption of traditional higher ed and more consumption of free or cheap just-in-time, highly relevant skills training.

Learn about 10gen Education and register for M101: MongoDB for Developers. The news release follows.


News Release: 10gen to Offer Free MongoDB Training Online

New Collaboration with edX Will Bring Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to Developers Worldwide and Help Advance NoSQL Skills

NEW YORK and PALO ALTO, Calif.—September 25, 2012—10gen (the MongoDB company) today announced that it will offer free online MongoDB training courses starting in October. Under the new 10gen Education program, 10gen’s instructors will teach a series of courses designed to reach hundreds of thousands of software developers interested in learning how to use the agile, scalable MongoDB platform as the foundation for building new applications. This program will help advance the skills of developers and administrators working with MongoDB, the world’s most popular NoSQL database.

10gen CEO, co-founder and lead MongoDB developer Dwight Merriman will teach the first course, MongoDB for DBAs. Students may now register at education.10gen.com, with classes to begin in October.

10gen has entered into a technology collaboration with edX, the not-for-profit online learning collaborative founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Under the collaboration, 10gen and edX will collaborate on software and technology for online learning.

Massive open online classes are a new breed of online learning that has emerged over the past year and feature highly interactive pedagogical techniques that have transformed the experience of traditional web-based training. A select group of the nation’s top universities are pioneering MOOCs, with early courses on technical topics drawing mass participants worldwide that could never be reached through a physical classroom.

“Teaching MongoDB online through the innovative MOOC format allows us to make our best instructors available to users worldwide,” said Andrew Erlichson, vice president, Education at 10gen. “Offering online classes is a natural fit with our open source approach and a logical extension to the dozens of MongoDB events we hold around the world each year.

10gen Education will provide in-demand technical training to a global audience at no cost—at a time when unemployment rates are high in many parts of the world while demand for skilled MongoDB developers continues to accelerate. The new program democratizes MongoDB training by making it possible to teach hundreds of thousands of people online successfully.

The 10gen MOOCs will be grounded in highly interactive content combined with hands-on practical assignments to provide a positive and rich learning experience. Each course will be delivered in consumable video chunks with interactive quizzes and other built-in activities to ensure the participant remains engaged and on track with his or her progress.

This post was first seen on HuffPo.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is founder and CEO of Getting Smart. He is also a partner in Learn Capital and a director of iNACOL, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners, Strive for College, and Bloomboard.

4 Comments

Muvaffak GOZAYDIN /

My comments Tom :
1.- I am very glad to know you .
2.- I have been involded with online learning for the last 17 years , I am devoted to online .
3.- Non of the online courses offerred by 1300 colleges in the USA are wortwhile + they are as expensive as oncampus .

4.- I concluded
” ONLINE must have millions students in order to be effective. That millions can be achieved only by globalisation and by TOP SCHOOLS of the world ”

That is what MITx is . They were on the right tract that Harvardx and Berkeleyx followed MITx.

5.- You say
” … with huge investments …. ”
referring probably edx as well. Not so . MIT had already spend huge money for OCW since 2001 therefore additional money is not too much for MITx.
Therefore their cost per person per course is less than $ 1 . They can sell it very easyly at $ 10 . That is a beauty. It is self financing .
Yes for new projects huge imvestments are required. I spent $ 1 million per course for a physics grade 9 course lasting 100 sessions for K12 . MIT does not need to spend that much .

6.- You say
” .. they will be complementary not competitive to traditional HE for the next few years …. ”

You are right . But they will be very disrupting after that few years . But let it be .

7.- EDX ; I support very highly. But they may need many learning software, technological tools for online learning , regarding theory of learning . Let related people help them .

Karen Bowden /

Can you please clarify the following sentence from your first paragraph? “…they will complementary not competitive to traditional higher for the next few years.”

Tom Vander Ark /

Hi Karen, I mean MOOCs are currently additive to Higher Ed. Participants are overwhelmingly degree holding adults engaging in continuing education, not students replacing credits with online courses.
However, the 10gen announcement (along with the flood of anywhere/anytime learning options like Udemy & Skillshare) is moving into job training categories historically dominated by community colleges. LIke the growth of online colleges, MOOC are beginning to replace degrees and disrupt traditional higher education.

Tom Vander Ark /

10gen just hit 30,000 enrolled in their two online education courses (launched 7 weeks ago) with great feedback on them.