Welcome to the diary of my attempt at online continuing education. Beginning Monday, February 20, 2012 I am trying tio navigate through “Softare Engineering for Software as a Service“. Now taking a continuing education course is unremarkable in and of itself and hardly worthy of a few tweets, emails or a random blog post. There are a number of attributes regarding this class that, for me at least, are compelling.
- This free course is through UC Berkeley by professors Armando Fox and David Patterson. It parallels a regular university course that began in January. >> I believe we are near a major disruption in the educational system – certainly in higher education. Universities like Cal Berkeley, Stanford and MIT (through MITx ) are making course work available at no, or low, cost to anyone with a computer and internet access. Of course it is not – yet – the same as getting a degree. It is a huge step in the “democratization” of education that may have profound effects on the for-profit educational system.
- The programming language is Ruby on Rails. I admittedly have only heard about Ruby, I have no hands-on experience. Additionally, Agile development methodology will be taught and used in the course. This is an area I have some experience with. In the interest of full disclosure, I lack the prerequisite proficiency in C++, Java, etc. I have dabbled in C++ and Java. My background is littered with scripting languages. So it’s possible that I will be stopped at the beginning.
- As the title states the course focuses on programming for cloud based SaaS. Obviously cloud computing is gaining importance throughout IT shops and for casual users also. Most of the apps everyone is using on smartphones have some component residing on cloud-based architecture. Gaining a better understanding of the cloud can be a good thing for those of us in the SAP technical areas.
- The coures requires a virtual machine, running Linux, for the sandbox for building and running the programs. One can choose to install a local VM – VirtualBox or through Amazon’s cloud service EC2. From the Amazon cloud the courseware and the virtual machine environment are both available. It makes sense to me to take a course about programming for the cloud on a cloud service. Accessing the cloud frees me from a single computer for working on homework and quizzes (yeah the course has those too!)
- Finally, the course text is available as a Kindle title, for $9.95. This will be my first e-book experience but this too is a trend in education at all levels that can help reduce costs as well as paper consumption.
Why blog it? First I think it will be an accountability point for me. By committing to blog frequently about the experience reinforces sticking with the course through the 6 week schedule. So for the 1 or 2 who stop by to check on progress. I pledge to present an honest account of the course, the programming language and the cloud-based delivery mechanism. This includes all grades good or bad.