5 Key Software Development Technologies You Can Learn Online

The following is a guest post by Hardik Shah, a Tech Consultant at Simform, a leading custom software development company. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

In this digital world, there is no skill more valuable than programming and software development. Every year, thousands of software, apps and web apps are developed, catering to the growing need for enterprise and retail applications.

As the demand for exciting features, intuitive UI/UX and responsive solutions is increasing, the software development field is evolving with new technologies, frameworks, and languages. Also, the existing programming landscape is maturing with dynamic job roles designed for a modern software developer.

In this rapidly changing landscape, learning software development technologies and improving one’s skills is extremely essential. Not only does it boost employment prospects but it also increases the chances of grabbing a lucrative job offer from top industry names.

Also, if you are smitten by the entrepreneurial bug, then learning a thing or two about software development would make you better equipped to launch your own technology startup.

In this post, we’ll highlight five relevant software development technologies that you should master. You can learn these technologies online using online courses and open learning resources easily.

Once you learn any technology, you can search for jobs by googling “custom software development company near me”. You find that there are lot of software development companies that are looking for talented developers.

1. JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the most critical programming technologies on the planet. Not only does JavaScript make it easier to offer enhanced user experiences but it is easy-to-learn and master. JavaScript allows developers to create a full application suite without using any other technology. While JavaScript can support a client-side solution, it can also be used to develop a server-side application using the Node.js framework.

In fact, JavaScript is the base for several programming frameworks, making it a wise decision to learn JavaScript if you want to excel at software development and programming.

There are many paid and free courses on JavaScript that you can start with if you are planning to learn JavaScript online. You can start with this course on Udemy if you are looking to start from scratch and hone your software development skills.

2. Java

Java is one of the most popular programming languages which is used for iOS & Android app development along with other use cases. It was one of the first object-oriented programming languages that are still widely used in web development, software development, and mobile app development. Several Fortune 500 companies harness the Java technology for server-side application development, making it one of the most lucrative technologies to learn at present.

You can use Java to create highly scalable and robust software and apps for a large number of users, easily. Java can also teach you the basics of programming and can help you set a strong foundation for your learning and programming endeavors in the future.

This specialization by Duke University on Coursera can take you through the fundamentals as well as some advanced programming concepts.

3. Python

Python has a long history of supporting large-scale software development projects. Touted as one of the easiest programming languages, Python is known for its extensive support libraries, open-source background, and easy-to-learn syntax. Several large organizations, including NASA and Google, have used Python on several projects. In fact, many modern web development frameworks, including Flask & Django, are also based on Python. This means that Python still has a lot of scope in the programming industry.

So, you should think of learning Python for all its benefits and modern applications that are increasing day by day. This Coursera specialization by the University of Michigan is a great way to get started on your journey to learn Python programming language.

4. Blockchain

Blockchain is a relatively new technology that has already revolutionized many sectors and industries. The growing demand for Blockchain-based solutions makes it a lucrative technology to learn in the modern era.

Blockchain is all about using a decentralized consensus-based system for processing transactions between two parties without an intermediary. In recent times, many financial institutions have explored the scope of Blockchain for digitizing their processes. Also, the cryptocurrency hype associated with Bitcoin has made Blockchain a promising technology to learn and master. In the future, as the use cases evolve and more industries start adopting blockchain-based solutions, the possibilities for a developer would be limitless.

You can enroll in ‘Blockchain Revolution for Enterprise Specialization’ course available on Coursera to learn more about Blockchain and how you can master blockchain development skills for the future.

5. Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails technology is in high demand owing to the benefits it offers for employers as well as developers. Programmers can use the web app development framework for quickly developing, testing and deploying prototypes without much fuss. Several tech mammoths, including Airbnb, Twitter, and Shopify, have used the technology to create intuitive web apps.

Also, the open-source nature of the framework and easy syntax makes it a great option to get started for anyone looking to improve their programming skills online.

This course on Ruby on Rails can be a good start for you if you want to understand the framework and want to start building web apps, soon.

Final Words

Learning a programming language, framework or technology can be a gamechanger in your career. If you are already in the IT industry or are planning to kickstart your career, learning more about software development technologies is an easy and cost-efficient way. By completing the above-mentioned courses, you can definitely improve your programming skills and gain the agility and robustness modern companies require.

Author’s Bio: Hardik Shah works as a Tech Consultant at Simform, a leading custom software development company. Hardik leads large scale mobility programs covering platforms, solutions, governance, standardization and best practices.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Survey Reveals Current State of Online Education

The world of higher education always looks to study trends and data in online learning. Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States by I. Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman is an annual report published by Babson Survey Research Group. This year’s report a reveals a number of telling statistics about the current and future state of online education. Some important elements include:

  • The greatest barrier to online education is considered to be the extra effort that it takes to teach online.
  • The main factor in online education growth is considered to be future rise of general college cost.
  • Most academic leaders rate online learning equal or superior to traditional learning.
  • While more institutions are offering MOOCs, the percentage planning to offer in the future is decreasing.

Check out this video from Pearson Education to for a valuable oversight of the highlights from the 2014 “Grade Level” Report.

Source: Pearson Education

To MOOC, Or Not To MOOC [INFOGRAPHIC]

To MOOC or not to MOOC thumbnail

MOOCs are hot, but is the sizzle about to fizzle?

This infographic from TopCollegesOnline.org outlines the plusses and minuses of MOOCs, and highlights a surprising statistic about student success rates with MOOCs: According to this infographic, a whopping 93% of MOOC students fail their course!

The infographic also shows a timeline of the history of distance learning, and the emergence of the term “MOOC” in 2006.

To MOOC, or not to MOOC
Source: TopCollegesOnline.org

Google Partners with edX to Create MOOC.org

mooc-dot-org

In early September, Google announced its partnership with edX to develop MOOC.org, a website that will allow anyone to build their own MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and make it available to the public. MOOC.org will be powered by the Open edX platform, which is still under development.

As Cali Morrison, manager of communications at WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies, points out: MOOCs have always been “open” to all students around the world, and the new platform will allow MOOCs to be “open” from the provider’s perspective as well. With the Open edX platform, anyone can create their own online or blended course – whether they are a teacher, aspiring teacher, or involved in a business, government, or academic institution.

This wider range of MOOC-builders is important for the future of online education because it will stimulate creativity and generate innovative forms of online teaching.

According to Anant Agarwal, president of edX, joining with Google will allow the two companies to “shape the next generation of open education and learning.”

Last year, Google launched a Course Builder, which has been used to create numerous online courses. While Google does plan to maintain the Course Builder, the company will now shift its focus toward developing the Open edX platform.

In addition to developing the Open edX platform and MOOC.org, Google and edX also plan to continue researching topics related to online education. (For some of Google’s research findings, see Google’s Research Blog.) The creation of MOOC.org will help further this goal because more opportunities for MOOC development translates into more opportunities for MOOC research.

MOOC.org is set to launch in early 2014.

Sources:

* The MOOC.org logo is the sole and exclusive property of Google and edX.

Forging a Connection with 40,000 MOOC Students: A Princeton Professor’s Perspective

21250788_s - resized

How can you teach a course to 40,000 faceless students and still maintain some semblance of a teacher-student connection?

This was the challenge that Professor Mitchell Duneier of Princeton University faced last year when he offered an online course in introductory sociology. The non-credit course was offered free of charge through Coursera, and had an enrollment of 40,000 students from 113 different countries.

When Professor Duneier agreed to teach the course, he had several concerns: How could he possibly connect to such a massive faceless group of people? “Was it really possible,” he wondered, “to provide quality education to tens of thousands of students in more than 100 countries at the same time? And in a way that would respond to the diversity of viewpoints represented from six continents?” That the students came from such a diverse array of societies made it even more challenging for Professor Duneier to relate to them all.

Furthermore, Professor Duneier was concerned about his video lectures. In a traditional classroom setting, there is a natural give-and-take between professors and students that adds a palpable vitality and buzz to the lecture. But when recording a video lecture by himself alone in a room, Professor Duneier could feel the difference:

My concerns grew deeper as I sat before the cold eye of the camera to record my first lecture. With nobody to ask me a question, or give me bored looks, or laugh at my jokes, I had no clues as to how the students might be responding. Staring into this void, it was hard for me to imagine that anyone was listening. Can we even call these “lectures” when there is no audience within the speaker’s view? Aren’t those interpersonal cues—those knowing nods and furrowed brows—that go from the audience to the professor as crucial to the definition of a lecture as the cues that go from the lecturer to the audience?

Armed with an awareness of these challenges, Duneier plunged ahead into strategizing how to best run the course. Since there was no way for him to accept live questions in the middle of his recorded lectures, Duneier set up a discussion board for his 40,000 students to post questions and comments. And because there was such a large and diverse pool of students, the questions came fast and furious, on the order of thousands. Although Duneier couldn’t possibly read through all the discussion threads, he focused his attention on the discussions that generated the most responses.

To add a more personal element to the course, Professor Duneier instituted a weekly live video chat with 6-8 student participants. Together with Professor Duneier, the students discussed the weekly readings while the rest of the class listened in (or watched the recording later). He made an effort to touch on the issues that were raised in the most popular discussion threads. These live seminars and discussion forums were quite successful in helping Professor Duneier form a connection with his students.

With so much volume, my audience became as visible to me as the students in a traditional lecture hall. This happened as I got to know them by sampling their comments on the forums and in the live, seminar-style discussions. As I developed a sense for them as people, I could imagine their nods and, increasingly, their critical questions. Within three weeks I had received more feedback on my sociological ideas than I had in a career of teaching, which significantly influenced each of my subsequent lectures and seminars.

Not only did the students interact with Professor Duneier himself, but they also made an effort to get together and connect with each other, as Professor Duneier describes:

There were spontaneous and continuing in-person study groups in coffee shops in Katmandu and in pubs in London. Many people developed dialogues after following one another’s posts on various subjects, while others got to know those with a common particular interest, such as racial differences in IQ, the prisoner abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib, or ethnocentrism—all topics covered in the lectures.

Word of Professor Duneier’s MOOC spread throughout the academic world and several press releases mentioned the course, including a feature in the New York Times and a plug for the course in a TED talk.

Interestingly, however, in September 2013 – about one year after teaching his wildly successful course – Mitchell Duneier renounced his career as a MOOC professor out of concern that MOOCs could cause cuts in state-university budgets.

What will be the future of MOOCs?

Source: Teaching to the World From Central New Jersey by Mitchell Duneier on The Chronicle of Higher Education

Are MOOCs Just As Effective As Online College Courses?

21188069_s-300x300

In the past two years, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have become increasingly popular in the online learning sphere.

While MOOC enrollment can sometimes reach over 100,000 students, academics are beginning to wonder about how effective they are in providing a quality education. How successful are MOOCs in helping students acquire, retain, and apply freshly-learned knowledge?

In a recent OpEd article on Newsday.com, Marian Stoltz-Loike, vice president of online education for Touro College, wonders if MOOCs can truly be considered “education” or if perhaps they would be better described as “a new form of entertainment.”

In most MOOCs, “there’s no dynamic interchange between students and faculty,” she says. “You may love the History Channel, but you don’t expect a college degree for watching it for 1,000 hours.”

A true and solid online education consists of much more than watching video lectures or reading selected articles. Real education must include teaching critical thinking, creativity, and other higher-order thinking skills that can only come through collaborative learning, discussions, mentorship, multiple instructional methods, and personal interaction with peers and faculty. These factors are hard to come by in a MOOC course that has thousands of students, but are much easier to incorporate into smaller online college courses.

Read Marian Stoltz-Loike’s full OpEd on Newsday.com.

Are MOOCs Just Going Through a “Hype Cycle”?

16559707_s

While MOOCs seem to be the latest and greatest phenomenon to enter the world of online education, Ry Rivard suggests that MOOCs are merely going through a “Hype Cycle,” and predicts that “the mania over massive open online courses may be slowing down.”

Identified by Gartner Inc., an IT research and advisory company, a “Hype Cycle” describes the process by which new technologies are at first greeted with tremendous enthusiasm, reaching a “peak of inflated expectations” – but eventually level off after the initial excitement dissipates and more realistic understandings set in.

In the case of MOOCs, Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, suggests that the trend may have achieved so much popularity because MOOCs provide a high quality product for a wide audience at a low cost – sometimes even for free.

However, after the initial dust has settled, educators are beginning to take a step back to evaluate the plusses and minuses of MOOCs, and what their role should be within the realm of online education. “We’ve jumped right into the ‘chase’ without much of a discussion about what problems they could help us to solve,” said Dan Greenstein of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We have skipped the big picture of where higher ed is going and where we want to be in 10 or 20 years.”

Meanwhile, Sloan Consortium’s 10th annual survey has reported that only 2.6% of higher education institutions currently use MOOCs, and another 9.4% report that they plan to use MOOCs in the future. The other 88% of Chief Academic Officers are either undecided, or have no plans to offer MOOCs in the future.

“Academic leaders remain unconvinced that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses,” says the Sloan-Consortium report. But they do believe that MOOCs “provide an important means for institutions to learn about online pedagogy.”

What does this mean for the future of MOOCs? Will MOOC popularity continue to rise, or will popularity drop and then level off, as Gartner’s Hype Cycle predicts?

Innovative Online Physics Course With Real World Applications

Dr. Michael F. Schatz, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has recently developed an innovative MOOC that uses technology to help students understand physics concepts as they apply to their everyday surroundings.

The course, called Introductory Physics I with Laboratory, is a combination of video lectures, quizzes, and homework assignments.

For the Laboratory section of the course, students are required to prepare video lab reports: Using their smartphone or a webcam, each student records a moving object in their environment and analyzes the object’s motion using open-source software such as Tracker.

After analyzing the path of motion and relevant data, students prepare a five-minute video lab report in which they explain the data through the lens of physics theories and build models using Virtual Python. The lab reports are shared among all students and receive peer reviews.

For a sample video lab report, watch the following video created by Rebecca Fallin, in which Newton’s Second Law of Motion is used to analyze the motion of a ball.

Introductory Physics I with Laboratory was first offered on May 20th and ran for 11 weeks. According to Georgia Tech, a total of 17,000 students enrolled in the course from around the world.

Another 16-week long course is due to begin on August 19th. In this second round of the course, Dr. Schatz plans to focus more on tests and quizzes, placing less of an emphasis on the lab reports.

See below for Dr. Schatz’s introductory video explaining more about the course:

What is the Difference Between xMOOCs and cMOOCs?

While each MOOC has its own unique structure and style, MOOCs can generally be divided into 2 categories: xMOOCs and cMOOCs.

The original MOOC: A cMOOC

The terms “cMOOC” and “xMOOC” were coined by Stephen Downes, co-creator of the first cMOOC to hit the web. Launched in 2008, the course was called “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” (CCK08) and eventually had a whopping 2,200 students enrolled in the course.

cMOOCs are based on the learning theory of Connectivism which emphasizes the power of networking with other individuals, gleaning from diverse opinions, and focusing on end-goals as the foundation of learning.

According to George Siemens, co-creator of that first MOOC, cMOOCs are “based on the idea that learning happens within a network, where learners use digital platforms such as blogs, wikis, social media platforms to make connections with content, learning communities and other learners to create and construct knowledge.“

The participants in a cMOOC take on the dual role of both teacher and learner as they share information with each other and engage in joint experiences and discussions. As Jonathan Haber puts it, the cMOOC is “mirroring the open vision of the web itself” because the educational content is continuously generated by the online community and shared with others in an open manner.

The emergence of the xMOOC

Although the initial MOOCs were based on the Connectivism theory of learning, several top universities – such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford – have begun to offer MOOCs in a somewhat different format, termed xMOOCs.

Instead of being structured as an open online community of learners, xMOOCs are based on a more traditional classroom structure: They are a combination a pre-recorded video lecture with quizzes, tests, or other assessments. xMOOCs are centered around a professor rather than around a community of students.

As George Siemens so succinctly put it: “cMOOCs focus on knowledge creation and generation, whereas xMOOCs focus on knowledge duplication.”

The world of xMOOCs is expanding to cover more and more topics every day. Courses can be found on Coursera, EdX, UdacityNovoEd. and ClassPert (a free search engine for online courses).

Despite their shared goal of providing open and free (or relatively cheap) education to the public, xMOOCs and cMOOCs have distinctly different structures and qualities. Each form of MOOC establishes a different type of learning environment and is appropriate for distinct methods of knowledge acquisition.