In recent years we have seen a trend emerging in education. Free learning has been making huge waves, and the term MOOC is what is bringing about that change. MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) that have launched in recent years include companies like; Khan Academy, which has brought math and science classes to the world for free; Codecademy, which offers free coding learning; and Coursera, which provides online classes from some of the world’s top universities. We have caught word of a MOOC that will launch in January called Cybrary, which provides free IT and Cyber Security training classes to the world.
So far, from what we can tell on the website, Cybrary’s training offering includes classes that prepare people for some of the more popular IT and security industry recognized certifications, such as the CompTIA A+, Security+, ECC’s Certified Ethical Hacker and the CISSP from ISC2. The site also includes advanced skill sets, which are not intended for certification, such as their Post Exploitation Hacking and Advanced Penetration Testing class.
MOOC’s Emerge as Online Education Sentiment Grows
The explosive growth of MOOC’s is showing us that the sentiment towards online education is growing more favorable. As younger generations, such as the Millennials, come of age and become a major subset of the world’s workforce, online education grows faster. These younger generations seem to be well prepared and extremely accustomed to learning online and at their own pace. Online education has been in a tremendous growth phase since 2002. Now with the success of companies like Codecademy, people are starting to realize that learning can, and maybe should be, free for everyone. This shift in the approach to learning is giving more people the opportunity to build skill sets and achieve an education that may have previously not been affordable to them. Emerging economies and even tenured professionals from the world’s largest economies all are benefiting from these winds of change in education.
As our readers know, the IT and Cyber Security industries are in many ways built around a proof of skill sets which is led by certifications. Many companies hiring practices are built around finding employees who possess these certifications because the certs validate their skill set, at least to a certain extent.
Addressing the Cyber Security Skills Gap
The skills gap in Cyber Security is perhaps the most glaring need that is addressed by this new trend of free online education. SC Magazine wrote an article discussing this challenge as not only being a current one, but one that is actually going to become far worse in coming years. Another study showed that the skills gap would grow to about 47% in 2017.
This skills gap is likely due to the lack of affordable training. Cyber Security changes so quickly, and yet training for both basic skills as well as advanced skills has traditionally been extremely expensive. Codecademy and now Cybrary seem to be directly tackling the issue of putting hard Cyber Security job skills into the hands of anyone that may want them.
The Effect of MOOC’s on Emerging Economies
It was only a matter of time until the IT and Cyber Security training industry, as well as education as a whole, took a major shift towards more social equality. Companies like Coursera, Codecademy and now Cybrary are leading the charge. Free education options are expanding, and as they grow and have success, it seems that education and technical job skill sets will no longer be reserved for those who can afford it, but rather it will be for those who are willing to work hard to achieve it.
Even with the presence of MOOC’s, there may very well still be numerous limitations to the growth of technology and innovation in the world’s emerging economies, but free online education is definitely a step in the right direction. As opposed to having to build out an internet infrastructure as well as invest heavily in an educational infrastructure, perhaps now the more important aspect to educational advancement, is simply stable access to the internet.
Time will tell how much impact these free MOOC’s will have on global problems such as the Cyber Security skills gap and the technological growth in emerging economies. It is safe to say though, free online education and training is well worth giving a try.