Introduction to Linux on edX

Tux

I am gearing up for the Introduction to Linux MOOC being offered by the Linux Foundation on the edX platform. Since I am currently studying for the LPIC-1 certification, I feel this course will be useful as supplemental training. The course begins on August 1st. Enrollment is still open. There is no fee. That’s right, this is free (who says there is no such thing as a free lunch). The course has the support of Linus Torvalds, the principal developer behind the Linux kernel (He released the initial kernel back in 1991, and it continues to be developed, along with many other tools and utilities, by the ever-growing community of GNU/Linux enthusiasts). As its name implies, this particular course is an Intro course. It promises to give a solid foundation to build upon. From the description on the edX site:

Upon completion of this training you should have a good working knowledge of Linux, from both a graphical and command line perspective, allowing you to easily navigate through any of the major Linux distributions. You will be able to continue your progress as either a user, system administrator or developer using the acquired skill set.

So, grab a distro of your choice (a good place to look is here), install it on your system, or run it through a Hypervisor like VMware Player or VirtualBox, and sign up for the course. Perhaps I will see you in the discussion forum?

A General Note about MOOCs
I have been exploring several MOOCs since last year and have found them to be helpful in terms of continuing education. Now don’t get me wrong, some MOOCs are better than others. It really depends on several factors. First and foremost is the mindset of the student. Are you a self-motivated learner that doesn’t need a lot of hand-holding? Are you disciplined? Does time management come relatively easy for you? If so, you might be a prime candidate for a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

Another factor that comes into play is the platform offering the MOOC. My favorite so far– hands down–has been Coursera, where I have successfully completed four courses as well as auditing several others. I am currently enrolled in several courses there at the time of this writing, and will continue to go back again and again as long as I keep finding subjects of interest. They have a wide selection, not just technology, math and science either. They are one of the few I have found that also offer humanities courses.

I have also tried Udemy. This platform is alright, but not really what I am looking for. It has a mix of free and paid courses. What I have found is that the free courses are often very general, to give you a taste in hopes that you will then be willing to pay for the higher level courses. There is not much of a discussion forum to speak of, and that is important to me (see below). Though if I want a general overview of a topic and I can’t find it on another platform, I’ll check Udemy to see what is available. I have never paid for a course because I haven’t been all that impressed with the free courses, so I don’t know if the paid ones are worth the cost.

Lastly, I have tried edX. To be fair, I only attempted one course with edX, so my experience there is limited. That said, the course I took had some technical issues that ultimately led me to discontinue the course and write off edX as a lost cause. One of the driving factors behind a MOOC is the discussion forum. This is where most of the action happens. In a sense, one can think of the discussion forum as the virtual classroom where students, instructors and TA’s gather to discuss the lectures, exchange ideas, and engage more fully with the coursework. Without a stable and active forum, a MOOC is little more than a series of video lectures. My first experience with edX was that the discussion forum kept crashing.  It is possible this was just an issue with that one course. That is my hope, because it was very frustrating. I know it was not my system. I have plenty of RAM, a large hard-drive, and a fairly powerful CPU. My Internet connection is fine as well, and I have not experienced any similar issues on other platforms. This all adds up to it being on edX’s side. Yet I am going to give them a second chance. They are offering a course on Linux, so they got my attention (I’ve been looking for one on Coursera with no luck).

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4 thoughts on “Introduction to Linux on edX

  1. Reblogged this on All Things Moocable and commented:
    Ever wonder what kind of people enroll in Massive Open Online Courses and what they are looking for when the take them?
    I first met William over a year ago while taking a truly inspiring course on Coursera. Writing ll: Rhetorical Composing was offered by a very talented Ohio State University team. The course is coming up again in September, and I highly recommend it. But back to William. William’s musings offer some good insights into the mindset.

    William is one of those amazing people you run into here and there in the course of a lifetime. That person you just assume will be just another acquaintance, but instead becomes an indispensable friend and definitely that guy on your short-list of go-to for collaborative projects people.

    William has put together some thoughts on his Massive Open Online Courses experiences and his future plans.

  2. Good to hear from you again! Let us know how you go with the course. Not that I’m about to do a course on this subject (I don’t have the background), but I, too have found the discussion forum set-up on Coursera to be the best by far. I tried an iversity course and the forum didn’t seem to really work, it was just a jumble of random comments with no real way to keep a conversation going or keep track of people.

    • Much appreciated Heidi! I’ll keep you updated about the course, and the edX platform. I really love Coursera. I’m sure it has a lot to do with how many of us connected there, and stayed connected afterwards. That was (and continues to be) such a positive experience for me, it is hard to top. The format of the discussion forum on Coursera is really wonderful. Other MOOC providers should take note. I am willing to give edX a second chance. My first experience was not so good, but like I mention in this post, that might have been a one off issue rather than a persistent weakness of the platform as a whole.

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