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5 Free IT Training Courses Available On edX

Ed tittel and Aaron Axline

When someone offers you something for free, there are usually one or more strings attached. When it comes to free IT training, that "string" has usually been below average quality for either the content or the delivery method, if not both.

In recent years, quality issues around free training have been mitigated by the proliferation of Massive Open Online Courses. MOOCs have attracted course providers from major universities and technical schools around the world. IT vendors like Microsoft and Cisco have also offered courses in MOOC form.

An organization named edX is emerging as one of the premier MOOC providers. A joint project by MIT and Harvard University, edX has established itself as a leading source of online education across multiple fields, including information technology.

Here’s a look at some of the most popular IT courses currently on offer from edX, along with some IT certification tie-in information.

edx-coursesedXCredit: edX


Note: Students can also opt to pay a fee to receive a certificate of completion from the course provider, which can be attached to a resume or added to a LinkedIn profile.

Introduction to Computer Science

    Provider: Harvard University
    Self-paced course

The Intro to Computer Science course is a great starting point for budding software developers. Students are introduced to several programming, scripting and web languages, including C, PHP, SQL, and HTML. This course could lead candidates to pursue the Microsoft MTA certification in the Developer track, and then carry on to the full Solutions Developer (MCSD) credential.

Introduction to Java Programming – Part 1

    Provider: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Self-paced course

Java is one of the most popular programming languages in use today. Java programmers looking to get certified should look at the Oracle Certified Associate – Java SE (x) Programmer track to validate their knowledge and skills with a certification. The Intro to Java Programming course offered by the Hong Kong University uses real-life problems to teach students Java basics in a fun and relaxed way.

Excel for Data Analysis and Visualization

    Provider: Microsoft
    Start date: September 29, 2015

Excel continues to be a key component in Microsoft's Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. Microsoft's premier certification for its BI solutions is the MCSE: Business Intelligence credential; not an easy certification to earn but highly valued in the industry. The free Excel course available through edX covers data models, data mashups and includes how-to information on gathering and transforming data from multiple sources.

Learn HTML5 from W3C

    Provider: W3C
    Start date: October 5, 2015

The release of HTML5 has enabled dynamic, rich media websites that don't choke browsers to death with performance issues. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has put together an excellent HTML5 course for intermediate web developers. HTML5 certification is available from W3Schools and is an integral component of several Microsoft MTA and MCSD exams as well. This free six-week course uses interactive examples to help students master HTML5.

Introduction to Linux

    Provider: The Linux Foundation
    Self-paced course

For those interested in learning Linux, this self-paced course offered by the Linux Foundation can help you get a good grasp of the fundamentals of the open source operating system. Those interested in getting certified can look forward to LPI's Linux Essentials certification or CompTIA's Linux+, which uses the same exam objectives. In fact, IT pros who pass the Linux+ exam can automatically get the LPI LPIC-1 and the SUSE Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) certifications simply by applying for the credentials.

To learn more about these and many other free IT courses, visit

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