Tag Archives: education

Coursera is Expanding – New Courses Starting Today

Since recently announcing $16M in funding, Coursera has been making quite a bit of noise. Last fall, Stanford University decided to freely offer a couple computer science classes online. The response was huge, and that led to the creation of Coursera.

The courses are no longer limited to computer science, and Stanford is no longer the only school involved. Here is a list of academic areas being offered and another list with the schools involved.

Academic Areas

Universities Involved

Although, not all of the courses will be directly related to data science, many of them are very close. Naturally Math, Statistics, and Computer Science areas have direct relations to data science. However, some of the other areas such as Networks, Biology, and Economics are some of the most popular application areas for data science. This is very exciting. My only concern is that the courses are a bit too much like traditional university courses with specific start/end dates and homework due dates. It will be interesting to see if the course structures change over time.

Anyhow, the following courses are starting today. Signup and start learning.

  • Machine Learning – A major focus area of data science
  • Computer Science 101 – probably a good starting point if you don’t know how to program
  • Compilers – good for understanding how programming languages work
  • Automata – hard to explain in 1 line, but it contains some fundamental principles in computer science
  • Intro to Logic – learn to reason systematically
  • Computer Vision – not sure of the relation to data science, but I am sure there is one, if you know, please leave a comment

Are you going to enroll in any of these courses?

College Graduates Not Ready For Big Data

This infographic displays the need for colleges and universities to start preparing more data science graduates.

Do You Need College To Be A Data Scientist?

With some of the top tech entrepreneurs in the U.S. either dropping out of college or not attending, there is some debate about whether college is the right choice or not. This post will focus on college for data science. However, for college in general, if you know what you want to study, then college or graduate school is a great option. If you are going to college because you do not know what else to do, I would say college is too expensive for that.

College?

Most would agree that an undergraduate degree in some highly analytical field (math, CS, economics, physics) is definitely beneficial. Plus college has a strict set of guidelines and a specific order for the learning. A formal degree program often provides the necessary motivation for a person to continue learning. The U.S. college education system is not perfect, but if it keeps a person from quitting, it will help to reach the goal of becoming a data scientist.

All this leads to a second point. Only a few colleges offer undergraduate degree programs for data science. Thus, graduate school or more learning will still be required. College should provide the necessary prerequisites and many employers will pay for the continued learning.

No College?

A highly motivated person could probably learn most if not all the data science skills on the internet for free or very low cost. The key is being a highly motivated person. That person must have the drive to not quit when the learning becomes difficult. Also, there are no classmates or professors to help with difficult concepts. Sure, the internet can help there, but it requires a bit more work to find the help. Plus, knowing what topics to learn and in what order can be challenging. Already, this blog has much helpful content, but it is not organized based upon a sequence of learning. Not attending college presents some obstacles that only the most highly motivated students will overcome. As more and more learning resources appear online, the no college option may become more popular.

What is the Answer?

Strictly speaking, I would say the answer is NO. However, many people will not succeed without the rigor of school, and some companies will not hire a person without a degree. So, college is not 100% essential to being a data scientist, but for many it is probably the best option.

Data Science Education Week

Yes, I just declared this week as Data Science Education Week. As far as I know, I have no authority to do such a thing. Hey, I did it anyway. All week I will be posting information related to data science education. So, pull up a chair and get ready for some serious data science education topics.

List of Free Courses Online

Having trouble keeping track of what schools offer what courses for free online? Problem solved!

Class Central maintains a updated list of courses from Coursera(Stanford), Udacity, MITx, and others as they become available. Not all of the courses are related to data science, but I still thought it was valuable to share the link.

Check it out and start learning.

Learning Statistics for Data Science

Statistics – This is a topic that could use some more attention from the online community.
I would love to see Stanford (or Coursera) offer a free statistics course online much like the other free courses online.

I did find a series of Youtube videos by Daniel Judge, a Professor in the East Los Angeles College Mathematics Department. The videos start at the very beginning of statistics. I have watched a couple of the videos, and they seem quite good. Daniel does a nice job of explaining the information. Here is the first video in the series.

Stay tuned to the blog in case other stats options appear online. Also, please leave a comment if you know of some good online statistics resources.

More Free Courses from Stanford

Also this spring, Stanford will be offering two more courses that might benefit a person learning data science.

If you feel these 2 classes might be a bit too advanced at this point, then here are a couple more fundamental computer science classes.  If you are new to computer science and programming, CS 101 would be a good choice.  If you are not not as new to computer science or might be a bit rusty on your core algorithms knowledge, then Design and Analysis of Algorithms 1 might be appropriate.

Actually, the courses are no longer being offered by just Stanford.  A few others schools have been added.  The courses are now being offered through Coursera. Plus all the courses are free.