Our 5 Favorite Free Data Courses

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Our 5 Favorite Free Data Courses

Although it might seem like a nearly impossible feat, it is never too late to learn about Big Data, Machine Learning, and everything in between. You can get test the waters or advance your existing knowledge with the following series of courses, free of charge.

Most companies, who understand the power of data, also understand the added benefit of having employees who understand new technologies and can generate valuable insights from collected data. Countries like France are investing billions into AI, to help open new job channels and offer citizens new skills. Additional to that, the International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that spending on ML and AI will have a significant increase in the coming years, from 12 Billion USD in 2017 to 57 Billion in 2021, so now is as good a time as any to start learning.

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Figure 1. One of the most sought after jobs of the century? Data Analyst

Without further ado, here are our top recommendations to give your data knowledge a boost.

For Beginners:

1. Big Data Fundamentals - Cognitive Class 
Big Data Fundamentals is a great introductory series that is part of the Learning Paths available on the site, a learning path is a series of courses, not just one standalone course. Big Data Fundamentals includes Big Data 101, Hadoop 101 and Spark Fundamentals 1. By taking this “path” you will be able to understand what Big Data is, how to use Data Sets and algorithms and practice through exercises to earn the Big Data Foundations badge and move onto Big Data Foundations – Level 2. One of the great things about badges is that you can show your progress and knowledge, and share it on your resume or LinkedIn profile. Cognitive Class is a learning platform formerly known as Data University, and offers a series of free courses divided into three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

2. The Open Source Data Science Masters
Different from the course mentioned above, as it is not offered by an organization, but is a collection of materials available online. User can learn Hadoop, data visualization, natural language processing of the Twitter API with Python and SQL and noSQL databases at their own pace, and get a taste of all the information available online. Users are expected to have some knowledge of programming before diving into the material.

For those with some prior knowledge: 

3. Artificial Intelligence - edX 
AI is key when it comes to solving problems, but do you know exactly how? Once you finish this extended course, you will be able to know the history of AI, how to create an AI agent, and how to apply and solve problems using Python and Machine Learning algorithms. To practice, students will be able to build their own basic search agent. As the course requieres some prior Python and probability knowledge, it can be considered a more intermediate course. edX is a MOOC provider that provides online courses from more than 100 universities. It is both non-profit and open source, having Open edX, an open-source platform that powers the courses. Open edX has a studio where courses are built, and a learning management system where the course material is made available. While the courses are fully free, the student can opt to receive a certificate at the end at an additional cost.

4. Intro to Machine Learning  - Udacity  
In this 10 week course, students will be able to get a complete overview of this "must-have" skill from the start. Udacity's course shows how to investigate data, from a ML standpoint, and how to obtain insights and through algorithms, identify patterns in datasets, and code with Python and apply outliers to improve the quality of your predictions. If this isn't interesting enough, you will practice detecting patterns in the email chain of one of the biggest fraud scandals in history, Enron. An intro to Data Science course would be good prior to this course, and knowledge of Python and statistics.

 For experienced users:

5. Become a Data Engineer  - Dataquest 
At an advanced level, Become a Data Engineer is a path that will help you handle large data sets, work with production databases and algorithms, and apply all of this to real challenges. This 3 step series is composed of step 1: production databases, step 2: handle large datasets in python, and step 3: data pipelines. Vik Paruchuri founded Dataquest in 2011, with a strong belief in the power of online education. Paruchuri wants others to make the most out of online learning, and Dataquest provides all the tools necessary to break out of a rut and start your data-driven path. Dataquest offers beginner, intermediate and advanced levels on a wide range of subjects free, with the choice of premium services at an additional cost.

As you can see, you can start learning about data once you put your mind to it, with a variety of online resources and on your own time. It's encouraging to see how many companies are dedicating themselves to teaching and making sure that budget or time constraints don't limit anyone who wants to make a career jump. So, what are you waiting for? being the journey today!

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