Learning Data Science through a free online course

Last year I shared information on the Machine Learning course I took on edX, which taught me how to implement Azure Machine Learning services, and allowed me to build predictive data models. I’ve subsequently spoken with people who took the course on my recommendation, and have built interesting predictive models for student behaviour. One person created a model that used the data in their Student Information System to predict which students would fail a course – and which is 90% accurate!

I know we’re not all data scientists, but if you want to get more involved in working with data, and want to learn about the advanced tools and techniques, then how about taking a whole course – not just a module – of a data science curriculum? I know this might seem like a ridiculous idea to some people (“Why would I want to become a data scientist?”) I’m actually really serious about it. Because in education we have a massive amount of valuable data that’s underused, and the skills to be able to work with this data – or to be able to understand what’s possible – are going to be incredibly valuable in the next decade. So you can either rely on somebody else to tell you what’s possible, or you can grab hold of the steering wheel and take charge!

The course is provided by Microsoft & ColumbiaX (which offers free online courses from Columbia University), and so it comes with absolute up-to-date technology and academic input, and it’s on edX, so it is free (you can also pay for optional verified certification).

Here’s the details:

Data Science Curriculum from Microsoft

Start or advance your data science career by learning the skills valued most by employers

Already considered to be one of the hottest jobs of 2016, the shortage of data scientists continues to grow. For qualified job seekers, this creates a tremendous opportunity. Understanding this, Microsoft has worked closely with leading universities and employers to develop a curriculum that will help prepare the next generation of data scientists.

To begin down the path towards an exciting career in data science, our employer-endorsed curriculum gives graduates an advantage over other job seekers by pairing university-caliber hands on labs with highly rated online courses to help you develop the skills that employers are asking for.

In the following courses, you will apply proven data science methodologies and principles while learning to use a range of common data science technologies to explore, transform, model, and visualize data, and create the next generation of intelligent solution.

You’ll Learn To

  • Use Microsoft Excel to explore data
  • Use Transact-SQL to query a relational database
  • Create data models and visualize data using Excel or Power BI
  • Apply statistical methods to data
  • Use R or Python to explore and transform data
  • Follow a data science methodology
  • Create and validate machine learning models with Azure Machine Learning
  • Write R or Python code to build machine learning models
  • Apply data science techniques to common scenarios
  • Implement a machine learning solution for a given data problem

Curriculum Path

The curriculum is made up of nine skill areas and a final project. One or more courses have been created for each skill area. When multiple courses exist, you only need to complete one course.

Some of the course units are open already, with further areas opening in June and July, so you can get started straight away.



Now that winter has finally arrived in December, then this seems like the perfect way to avoid the reality TV hell of renovation\cooking\relationship shows!

Find out more, and sign up here:

Data Science Curriculum on edX, from Microsoft and ColumbiaX

Comments (1)

  1. Mitchell Staples says:


    Did you need any background experience in Python etc to do the courses?

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