Cloudera and Udacity partner to offer Data Science training courses

After launching the Open Education Alliance with some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley, Udacity has forged a partnership with Cloudera to bring comprehensive Data Science curriculum to a massively open online course (MOOC)  format in a program called Cloudera University — allowing anyone to learn the intricacies of Hadoop and other Data Science methods.

“Recognizing the growing demand for skilled data professionals, more students are seeking instruction in Hadoop and data science in order to prepare themselves to take advantage of the rapidly expanding data economy,” said Sebastian Thun, founder of Udacity, in a press release. “As the leader in Hadoop solutions, training, and services, Cloudera’s insights and technical guidance are in high demand, so we are pleased to be leveraging that experience and expertise as their partner in online open courseware,”

The first offering to come via Cloudera University will be “Introduction to Hadoop and MapReduce,” a three-lesson course that serves a precursor to the program’s larger, track-based training already in place. While Cloudera already offers many of these courses in Data Science, as well as intensive certificate training programs, in an in-person setting, it seems that the partnership with Udacity will translate curriculum that Cloudera has developed into a more palatable format for online learning.

Rumors are swirling that this partnership with Cloudera, as well as others with companies within the Open Education Alliance, opens the doors for Udacity to take a bigger role in providing Data Science education. An article on TechCrunch claims that the end goal would be to provide a fully-formed Data Science degree track, along with a variety of courses to help prepare people for a rich future in Big Data.

And that’s what all of this boils down to: demand. At Roadmap 2013 GM SVP and CMO Beth Comstock called Data Science the job track of the future, and as more big companies need a team of certified professionals to measure and track large amounts of data (and do something with it all), demand will only increase. Also, a multi-million dollar partnership was forged earlier this week by New York University, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Washington, in conjunction with the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, to solidify research tools and career pathways in data science. It’s no wonder that Udacity sees opportunity.

However, if expansion is in the cards, then the online education company has work to do. The company’s partnership with San Jose State University to bring online courses dissolved earlier this summer, after poor results in a spring pilot program. The partnership is expected to resume next year, but it’s not a great sign for producing a long-term course program without the help of a formal university.