The Johns Hopkins Data Science Lab has been teaching massive online open courses for more than 5 years now. During that time we’ve reached more than 5 million learners who want to break into the number one rated job in America.
While we have been incredibly excited about the results of these training programs, we’ve also learned over the last 5+ years that there are still significant barriers to getting into data science.
- You have to know data science is a thing before you can start learning it
- Data science training programs often start by assuming advanced math or programming knowledge
- Data science training programs often require expensive computers
- Data science training itself is often expensive
- Data science jobs are concentrated in tech centers
- Getting a job in data science requires connections
About a year ago we started a project where our goal was to help overcome these barriers. Our goal was to create a system so that anyone with the ability to read, write, and do basic math could get into data science using nothing but a web browser and an internet connection.
Today I’m excited to announce the first part of our new system, a new set of massive online open courses called Chromebook Data Science. These MOOCs are for anyone from high schoolers on up to get into data science. If you can read and follow instructions you can learn data science from these courses!
The reason they are called Chromebook Data Science is because philosophically our goal was that anyone with a Chromebook could do the courses. All you need is a web browser and an internet connection. The courses all take advantage of RStudio Cloud so that all course work can be completed entirely in a web browser. No need to install software or have the latest MacBook Computer.
The program has several relatively unique components. It starts at the beginning, introducing data science, what it is, how it works. The Course Set covers how to use Google, through basic use of R and data analysis, all the way up to soft skills and getting a job. I’ll be posting more about some of the unique aspects later, but we are actively working to make this a program that anyone can do.
Finally, this set of MOOCs is our first set of MOOCs offered through Leanpub. Just like with books we have released in the past, each course has a free minimum price, so finances won’t be a barrier. At the same time, if you do decide to pay for the courses, all the money that makes its way back to the Data Science Lab will be used to support a new in-person tutoring and support system called CBDS+ that we are piloting in Baltimore.
This project is an exciting one for the JHU DaSL and I’m really grateful to all the people who have built the program. Shannon Ellis has done a huge amount of work in leading the project, designing the curriculum, creating the content, and fixing technology bugs. Aboozar Hadavand has been a huge help in creating content, designing the program, and helping set up our CBDS+ program that you’ll hear more about later. John Muschelli and Sean Kross have helped build new technologies that allowed us to produce the content for CBDS rapidly and efficiently using AI to synthesize videos and R to manage course publication. Leslie Myint, Sarah McClymont, Leah Jager, and Leonardo Collado Torres have all made important contributions to our final curriculum. The whole Leek Group as well as Ira Gooding and the rest of the Data Science Lab have helped contribute ideas and support. Finally, I’d like to thank Leanpub RStudio, and DataCamp for building the technology that makes our program possible. We are also grateful to a number of people who have graciously allowed their content to be used in our courses.
You can learn more about the program or sign up for courses at: http://jhudatascience.org/chromebookdatascience/.