I wanted to give my impressions of the course and to encourage as many folks who are interested to take the free training that 10gen is providing. The next DBA course begins on April 29, and the MongoDB for Developers course (for Java developers) starts on May 13.
There are six weeks of lectures, and a seventh week for a final exam, which is really a hands-on project.
Each week is divided up into six to twelve video “lectures”, of varying length. Some of the lectures are only three or four minutes long, though some are as many as fifteen to twenty minutes. Most of the video lectures are followed by one or two quizzes. These quizzes are almost all multiple-choice questions. You’re given up to three chances to get a quiz answer correct, and can even peek at the answer before submitting your solution. While this may seem like a way to cheat, you’re really cheating yourself if you make no attempt to answer the quiz questions honestly. If you don’t understand the material in the lectures, you will not be able to complete the homework. Think of the quizzes as a way of checking your understanding of the video lectures, and re-watch any lectures where you found the quiz difficult.
There are typically four or five homework problems per week. These are primarily not multiple-choice, but worked problems that require you to actually perform various operations with MongoDB. If you haven’t mastered the material in the lectures, you will not complete the homework successfully, as the problems are not trivial.
The Less Good
Like most MOOCs, this is no substitute for an instructor-led class. You can’t ask questions of the instructor in real-time, but only through the course message board.
The quizzes are somewhat simplistic. This may be somewhat attributable to the test engine that 10gen used (). It would be helpful to students if the questions weren’t multiple choice, and required a bit more understanding.
I found myself referring to the excellent on-line documentation for MongoDB to fill in gaps that were left by the lectures themselves. Many weeks I found myself wanting more information than the lectures provided.
It’s free! 10gen is very wise to offer this training free to the community. The more folks who know how to use MongoDB, the better it is for MongoDB and 10gen.
The DBA course is taught by one of the founders of 10gen, Dwight Merriman. To have someone at that level spending precious time on instruction tells me that 10gen clearly values building up its user base and community.
The homework assignments really test your understanding of the material. 10gen was very ingenuous in making it difficult to cheat on the homework questions. I think the homework is the best part of the course, actually. I’ve referred back to homework questions several times to help me solve a problem at work. The course would be even stronger if similar effort had been put into the quizzes.
I’m really grateful to 10gen for making this training freely available. I was so impressed by my experience with MongoDB for DBAs that I’ve registered for the MongoDB for Java Developers course (M101J) , which begins on May 13. Can’t wait!