edX: Programming language Scratch isn’t just for kids anymore

Scratch is a programming language built to help children learn basic programming skills. But now edX, the MOOC (for Massive Open Online Course) backed by top colleges including MIT, Harvard and Caltech, will offer a free Scratch course for anyone “regardless of age or digital skill.”

Registration is open now for Programming in Scratch” which kicks off February 2. The course will be taught by Colleen Lewis, professor of computer science at Harvey Mudd College, a tech powerhouse and another edX partner school.

Scratch seems to be gaining momentum as a vehicle for teaching kids to create their own animations and computer cames — MIT Media Lab offers an iPad app for that purpose, for example.

This story was updated at 10:09 a.m. PST to reflect that enrollment is now open.

Seeding the cloud — AWS gives credits with select edX certs

Amazon definitely wants enterprises to adopt its cloud, but it’s still wooing little startups too. This week, it said it will issue $1,000 in Amazon Web Services credit to any student who completes qualifying edX certifications in entrepreneurship. EdX is the online education platform backed by MIT, Harvard, and a raft of other universities.

AWS credits are available for many things — if you were a registered attendee of AWS Re:Invent last month, you can get $25 in AWS credits for filling out a survey. If you have some sort of service snafu, credits are often issued as make-goods.

But now that there are public cloud competitors to AWS, watch for more offers from [company]Google[/company], [company]IBM[/company], [company]Microsoft[/company], all of which want to woo startups and enterprises alike to their cloud platforms.  An edX spokeswoman said it has never done a cloud credit deal like this one before, but is open to working with other providers.

Hoping a thousand flowers bloom

For some time now, young companies that met certain criteria could get $25,000 in credit toward [company]Amazon[/company] cloud services. In September, [company]Google[/company] raised that bar to $100,000 in Google Cloud Platform credits, again for “qualified” startups. Not to be outdone, IBM last month said qualifying startups could get $120,000 in credit that can be used for SoftLayer infrastructure or BlueMix PaaS.

[company]Microsoft[/company] issues Azure cloud credits of up to $150 per month with MSDN subscriptions and there are other credits–up to $5,000 per month — for startups using its BizSpark cloud accelerator program.

And in terms of wooing developers learning their trade, Google also offers $500 in credit to students who take its App Engine Udacity course.

Clearly these vendors know that customer acquisition is critical and that a startup is using brand X Cloud the hope is it’ll stay there and start using more basic and higher end services.

It’s a great time to be a startup.

Harvard and MIT make a compelling case for MOOCs

A new study of data from massive open online courses offered by Harvard and MIT professors paints a different — and welcome — picture of the state of online education. Completition rates might be low, the authors argue, but that’s a misleading stat.

Want to be a reporter? Learn to code

Journalism schools have to do a much better job teaching prospective reporters about the programming skills needed to tell data-driven, visual stories on web pages, not front pages, says the executive director of Northwestern University’s Knight News Innovation Lab.

Software coding: not just for programmers anymore

The thought that everyone should write software is gaining steam. The reasoning is that if all the people who use software actually understand how to build software, everyone’s better off. But if everyone codes, what’s that mean for the professionals?

MIT and Harvard say open-source edX can educate a billion people

Charles River neighbors Harvard and MIT are working together on technology to power free, online coursework for students. The two schools will share ownership of the new $60 million edX initiative but the underlying MITx technology will be open-sourced for use by other schools.