The Magic of MOOCSE for IT Education
Who needs a specialty search engine when you've got Google? Actually, you do, if you work in IT. I'll explain why first, before I share the glories of one very special specialty search engine — namely, MOOCSE.com.
MOOC, in case you didn't already know, stands for "Massively Open Online Course." It's an emerging educational phenomenon resulting from a successful and productive conspiracy between online course platform providers (the guys who do the software that lets up to hundreds of thousands of students participate in the same online course(s) simultaneously) and course content providers.
Among those busily providing the materials to be taught (as well as the live or canned lecturers to teach them) are quite a few big-name colleges and universities. The best thing about most MOOCs, however, is that, unless you want a badge or certificate of completion to prove you've taken a course, they're completely free to the students who take them.
Why Do MOOCs Matter to Aspiring and Practicing IT Professionals?
In the course of researching a number of stories and articles lately, on topics ranging from cloud computing to cybersecurity to software-defined networking (SDN), one topic keeps coming up over and over again. There are a lot of different labels for that topic, but the most common by far is probably "skills gap."
Skills Gap refers to the millions of vacant IT jobs remaining unfilled in the marketplace right now because they're aren't enough people with the right skills and knowledge out there to hire to fill them. How does one begin to narrow such a heinous gap? Why, with technical training, of course.
And where can one find a great source for such training? In many MOOCs, as it turns out. That's why learning to use MOOCSE (and to separate the wheat from the chaff in its results) is becoming a key career maintenance skill for IT professionals, especially for those entering, just starting out in, or not yet at the mid-point of, their working lives.
Given that the average retirement age is creeping up and should soon hit 68, that means this applies to anybody under 45 for sure. Frankly, most people at or under 55, at least those who want to keep advancing and enhancing their current and future employment prospects, should also take note.
Teaming Up to Combat the Skills Gap
In interviewing representatives from Microsoft, Cisco, and Dell/EMC/VMware over the past couple of weeks, the same note has sounded in all of those interviews. Each and every one of these big-time organizations is keenly aware of the skills gap.
Each one also offers at least a few MOOCs through well-known platforms like edX (some offer many more than that). What's more, each one also has big plans to amp up their investment and activity in offering MOOCs to students and professionals interested in working in key patches of their intellectual vineyards.
For Microsoft, for example, this means you can visit their edX page and see over 80 courses available right now, for free. You can find a smaller number of such offerings from Cisco and Dell/EMC/VMware, and from many other technology companies as well.
Chris Roy, Director of Learning Services at Microsoft Learning told me in an interview two weeks ago that while the company is still developing and marketing MOC (Microsoft Official Curriculum) training directly to customers and through partners, it is eager to pursue all possible avenues to reach out to students.
The uptake of Microsoft's MOOCs has been phenomenal, Roy says. That's why they're planning to continue and to grow their investment in delivering training through that channel to increase the population of technology-savvy professionals and students who need to know technology fundamentals and platform or program specifics. It's the only way, Royh says, to meet demand and to provide eager learners with the skills they need to fill the jobs that employers desperately want to staff.
Follow-on conversations with Antonella Corno of the Cisco Learning Network, and David Graves at Dell/EMC Global Communications, convince me that most of the major technology players not only see things this way, but are taking big steps to cultivate mindshare and goodwill by offering free training now in hopes of big business later (an excellent case of "enlightened self-interest").
Thus, for example, Graves tells me that Dell/EMC's Academic Alliance program has already impacted over half a million students at over 2,500 institutions in more than 90 countries.
What Can MOOCSE Do For Me?
Remember the introduction of the Millennium Falcon in the first Star Wars movie? The same thing applies here: MOOCSE may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts. And like Han Solo, the MOOCSE creators have made a couple of special modifications.
MOOCSE is spun off from Google Custom Search, which lets users build a Google-fueled search into whatever site they're operating. Essentially, this means that you'll have to scroll past a pane of Google Ads to see your search results, which can be sorted, at your whim, either by date or relevance.
Be sure to pay attention to the tabs feature just below the "Course Search" button. Your results will be indexed by provider. So you can look at all the results together, or you can see just edX courses, or just the ones offered by KhanAcademy.org.
The search tabs let you browse results from 14 different MOOC providers (including a handful that are tailored to non-English speakers). Try them all. The Coursera tab, for example, has just two results if you search "hardware repair," whereas Khan Academy has 10 full pages of results that address that topic.
This is big stuff, folks: Get on the bandwagon and start poking around at MOOCSE.com today. Tell 'em, "Ed sent me!"