Almost 25 years ago a young engineer started an operating system project "just for fun" to run on his own hardware. He opened it up to the world, and through a combination of good design and good luck, Linux was born. The Internet was the fundamental enabling technology of the large scale collaboration that produces Linux. The ability to cheaply and easily share files has created a system and community that has disrupted major industries, where Linux’ impact has been felt from super computing to mobile phones.
Higher education is facing a similarly disrupting force powered by the Internet—Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) make information available to anyone, anywhere, as long as they have a connection to the Internet.
At the Linux Foundation, our mission is to spread the use of Linux throughout the world while also doing core work to advance and protect the platform. Right now, our industry is facing a Linux talent shortage. We thought why not use the disruptive power of MOOCs to solve this problem? At the very least we can expose more people around the world to the potential that Linux brings.
So we’ve partnered with edX: the non-profit, online learning platform launched in 2012 by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to make our "Introduction to Linux" course free to anyone, anywhere in the world. This was previously a $2,400 course we offered through our Linux training program. Now anyone can access it.
The rise of the MOOC has been inspiring to watch, with more than 2 million people accessing just the edX courses (there are other MOOC providers) over the last 18 months. It is a very powerful thing to be able to give knowledge to people from diverse backgrounds in diverse regions around the globe. MOOCs offer us an important way to reach the masses with Linux learning material that can tap into an interest in technology that might have otherwise been left dormant. The result is very likely to mean more Linux professionals supporting the platform.
We’re pleased that the initial response to the "Introduction to Linux" course, which won’t be available until this summer, received more than 2,500 registrations in the first 24 hours and now has 38,000 registrations since it was announced last Thursday. If this is any indicator, Linux will be well supported for decades to come by an even more diverse community of talented contributors.