North Carolina-based Red Hat, Inc., a central cog in providing open-source software solutions to the enterprise community, is renowned for their effective style of certification and training. It's no secret that Red Hat offers some of the best training and certifications available.
But because the CertMag team always likes to know more, we decided to exchange a few emails with Ken Goetz, vice president of Red Hat Learning Services, to ask about their approach to training and their recently-released first official MOOC, "Fundamentals of Red Hat Enterprise Linux."
CertMag: The certification training industry is filled with dozens of companies. What makes Red Hat training and certification unique and distinctive?
Ken Goetz: What sets Red Hat training and certification apart is that we have so much experience actually using the products in real enterprise environments. We work with enterprises every day to implement, use, maintain, troubleshoot, and optimize these technologies, and we can integrate all of that invaluable and practical knowledge into our training and certification programs. Students want training that reflects the real world.
CMg: Why should a student or employer have their IT staff train directly with Red Hat or an authorized training partner?
Goetz: We care about making enterprises successful with our technology, so we go to great lengths to offer a best-in-class experience for our students. We offer subscription learning to support continuous development in the face of continuous technological change. We support blended learning by offering multiple methods for professionals to get trained, and we're global — we offer our training in over 200 countries and we translate our courses in up to nine languages. We bring this content to market faster than anyone else, and that means we can train students on the latest product releases.
CMg: How does Red Hat define ��best in class�� training and testing?
Goetz: "Best in class" simply means that we do it better than anyone else. In practice, it means developing content and exams that are mapped to relevant job roles and specific product solutions to ensure we're preparing professionals with the right skills. It also means we follow strict development principles to ensure we are maximizing the long-term value and efficacy of the training.
Some examples: every chapter of every course is task driven, we include robust and detailed narratives in the materials, include use cases in every section, and reinforce everything through hands-on labs built by seasoned experts to ensure they resemble "field truth." Our certification exams, specifically, are 100 percent performance-based and delivered with high integrity. By analogy, we make you fly the plane before you can get your pilot's license.
CMg: Red Hat's "Assess, Train and Validate" approach to training and certification is interesting. Why this format and how is it unique?
Goetz: Ask a typical IT manager to tell you the ROI (return on investment) for training they consumed and you'll get a blank stare. A surprising number of IT managers don't know whether the training their team members are receiving is actually making any difference whatsoever. So we adopted the "Assess, Train, Validate" slogan to remind our audience that training is just one part of a process of learning. This process begins with assessment of skills and ends with validation once the training has occurred.
CMg: How does the assessment process work and how accurate is it?
Goetz: We have found that two things are true: first, there's a lot of content out there. Second, it's amazing how often people over or underestimate their skill levels. Assessment is primarily about ensuring the right people are getting the right training. To facilitate this, we made available a large number of free skills assessments on our web site. These are not intended to be deep dives, but rather high-level barometers to give IT professionals an indication of where they need to start. We even have a group assessment to make it easy for a single IT manager to assess an entire team.
CMg: How have the results thus far been for the whole training model?
Goetz: Here are some interesting data points from our students: 86 percent said they save time performing their primary job functions as a result of the Red Hat training they've received. The average time savings was 3.75 hours per week, or 195 work hours in a single year. 95 percent say their Red Hat IT projects are more likely to succeed after completing training with Red Hat. 92 percent are able to work more independently and rely less on coworkers and/or customer support after taking Red Hat Training. We are very proud of these numbers because they tell us we're having a real impact on the success of our customers.
CMg: Congratulations on the release of the Red Hat certification and training team's first official MOOC, Fundamentals of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. What is it designed to authenticate?
Goetz: Our EdX Linux course provides an on-ramp to becoming a Linux professional for those who are new to the technology. At the end of the course, students will be able to perform basic tasks including installation and navigating the command line to manage users, groups, and basic processes. The certificate of completion affirms the student has successfully completed the course. In turn, students will be ready to step into Red Hat Linux Administration I (RH124), which continues the journey towards job role competency and earning an RHCSA (Red Hat Certified System Administrator) in Linux Administration.
CMg: Why did you decide to offer it as a MOOC?
Goetz: We've known that we wanted to do MOOCs for some time now. As the leader in open source, Red Hat is all about open communities. Partnering with MOOC providers allows us to broaden the reach of Red Hat by making high-quality training accessible to individuals who may not otherwise have access to our content. We hope to leverage the MOOC model to inspire the next generation of users and expand the community of Red Hat technologists.
CMg: How long is the course and can students receive a certificate upon completion?
Goetz: The course is 9 weeks, estimating 1-3 hours per week. Students may elect to receive a certificate of completion from EdX by passing all the assessments with a score of at least 70 percent and paying a small fee. However, it's worth noting that this is an EdX course certificate and not a Red Hat certification.
CMg: What sort of IT professionals can benefit from the course?
Goetz: As pervasive as Linux is in the enterprise, it's invaluable for a large variety of IT roles to have a basic understanding of the platform. That said, the course is ideal for developers, Windows, cloud, and network admins, and support professionals who have limited experience with Linux.
CMg: Any plans for future MOOCs?
Goetz: Yes, definitely. We will release a second MOOC title this month and we have at least five or six more exciting titles on our "idea board."
NOTE: Click here to learn more about Red Hat's training and certification.