Offering it through Coursera Berkeley decided to open some university colleges for students all around the world. Because persons of all ages, who want to learn should be able to. As Coursera puts it :
Coursera is committed to making the best education in the world freely available to any person who seeks it. We envision people throughout the world, in both developed and developing countries, using our platform to get access to world-leading education that has so far been available only to a tiny few. We see them using this education to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.
Sounds good doesn't it ? Anyway I subscribed to a number of these courses which I thought where interesting. I recently completed one, and that's the one I want to write about : Software Engineering for Software as a Service. As an Infrastructure Guy I regularly struggle to understand those weird Developer Guys. They regularly use terms like "Unit tests", "Nightly Builds", "Developer Frameworks" and so on. I thought I had a reasonable good idea of what they meant, but nope : I didn't.
After completing this course, I know have a much better idea of what it means to be a developer in these challenging times. Really. The architecture of a SaaS application is much clearer. Service Oriented Architecture. HTML, CSS, XML, Xpath : how all these come together in creating a SaaS app. How a SaaS app is meant to horizontally scale. How Rails On Ruby works and why it is such good match to create SaaS apps. What Behaviour Driven Development is. What Test Driven Development is. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on and on. And all of this was supported with videos of lectures, forums, homeworks and Quizzes (Exams if you will). Thought by Armando Fox and David Patterson (The man, the legend!) , it's really quite an experience.
I must honestly admit it was more difficult than I thought combining this with a full time job (and a family for that matter), and I regularly had to deprive myself of some much needed sleep, but I like to think it was worth it.
I can certainly recommend this course, and probably some others on the coursera site, but as I did not yet complete those I'll stay neutral. Anyway, there are all offered for free , so the only thing they will cost you is the effort you need to put in them (and mind you, it will be a non-trivial effort)
So give your mind a treat, go and subscribe !