MIT debuts online Big Data course for tech pros

MIT debuts online Big Data course for tech pros

Want to learn more about Big Data? MIT is taking on the buzzy topic in an online course designed for tech professionals. The course, titled Tackling the Challenges of Big Data, runs from March 4 to April 1 and costs $495.

MIT Professional Education is behind the training. The Big Data course marks the first offering in the school's new lineup of Online X professional programs, which will be delivered via the Open edX platform (an open-source online learning initiative backed by Harvard, MIT, Stanford and others).

Topics covered will include data collection (from smartphones, sensors, the Web); data storage and processing (including scalable relational databases, Hadoop, Spark); analytics (machine learning, data compression, efficient algorithms); visualization; and a range of applications, MIT says.

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Five modules will address 18 topic areas with 20 hours of video. Learning assessments, case studies, discussion forums, and a community Wiki will be part of the course experience.

Tackling the Challenges of Big Data is geared for people who have an undergraduate-level education in computer science. Specifically, MIT says it's a fit for engineers who need to understand and apply Big Data technologies in their work; technical managers who want to familiarize themselves with emerging Big Data technologies; and entrepreneurs who want to gain perspective on Big Data trends and future capabilities.

MIT tapped 12 faculty members from its Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the School of Engineering to teach the online course. CSAIL is the largest research laboratory at MIT, housed in a 2004 building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. The combined faculty brings expertise in data, programming, finance, multicore technology, database systems, robotics, transportation, hardware, and operating systems.

Participants who successfully finish the four-week course will receive an MIT Professional Education certificate of completion and access to the group's professional alumni network.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and reach her via email at

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