“We want Linux,” say 300,000 edX students

In case anyone doubted that Linux is the OS king among modern-day software programmers (or would-be programmers), here’s a tidbit: Some 300,000 people signed up for an edX course on Linux that kicked off in August, the largest turnout for any of edX’s 350 courses this year, according to edX president Anant Agarwal.

“This Linux course has been one of the top two MOOCs we’ve ever had,” Agarwal said in an interview. (MOOC stands for massive online open course.)

It’s been apparent for a decade that startups and older companies alike look for expertise in Linux (in particular) and open-source technologies (in general). That is one very big reason that [company]Microsoft[/company] announced last week that it is open-sourcing its .NET framework and associated tools. It’s taking the tools to the developers instead of expecting developers to flock to its proprietary tools.

As Linux Foundation president Jim Zemlin pointed out in a blog post, it’s important to make sure education and training are available to bring more qualified people into the Linux fold. After all, in Zemlin’s eyes, Linux leads the leagues in such arenas as supercomputing, in consumer electronics oh yes, the internet of things.

edX President Anant Agarwal

edX President Anant Agarwal

The course was developed with The Linux Foundation, which is an edX partner and clearly has a dog in this fight.

While it’s too early to gauge the completion rate for this class — the first batch of students is finishing it up now — edX stats show that 30 percent of those taking it are “actively involved,” meaning that they finish weekly assignments and engage with the content and community as opposed to simply signing up and disappearing from view. Average completion rates for EdX courses range from five to seven percent, so that 30 percent figure is a pretty healthy indicator that enrollees are motivated to finish the course and get their certificates.

Agarwal said 32 percent of enrollees were from the U.S., 11 percent from India, 4 percent from the U.K. and 4 percent from Brazil.

As for other popular coursework, Agarwal cited CS50, the introduction to computer science course prepped by Harvard,  a Python course from MIT and a Java class built by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as student magnets as well.

Photo courtesy of MTkang.