The way we use data today is dramatically different from even 20 years ago, and there isn’t an industry or profession where big data isn’t valued.
As we see more of a focus on data and analytics being used to grow and adapt businesses, it makes sense to get ahead of the game and learn the basics of how big data works.
Can you take a big data online course for free? There are a handful of reputable online providers who deliver coursework on all aspects of big data, to give you a springboard into this area.
The free courses serve as a starting point for further studies or career development, and in these times when big data is so relied upon, it pays to be knowledgeable.
Whether you’re using a course to get into a new avenue of study or want to improve your knowledge for career prospects, enrolling in a free online course about big data is the best way to do it.
To help you out, we’ve chosen some of the better online courses you can take on big data and what each of them entails.
The Best Big Data Courses
Whether it’s modern, open-sourced materials and coursework you want or a stricter set of lessons to follow and a certificate at the end of it, there are some great free resources out there that can teach you about big data.
Check out the following online courses that can deliver the basics, and all without having to pay a cent.
#1 DataQuest: How to Learn Data Science in 2022
DataQuest has long offered people the chance to brush on their data-related skills and knowledge with a host of free courses and resources available, so it should be no surprise to see them on our list.
The best free course for big data beginners is the ‘How to Learn Data Science in 2022 (A CEO’s In-Depth Guide)’ and just by reading the title you can get a sense of what it covers, although it’s published as more of a guide than lessons.
This DataQuest course breaks the learning process into five steps, and according to the instructor, these are the keys to learning about data science.
You’ll need a reason to learn, then master the fundamentals, communicate results and findings, learn from your peers, and then challenge yourself by increasing the difficulty of your studies.
What makes this DataQuest course unique is that it’s offered by the CEO of DataQuest so you know you’re learning from someone knowledgeable.
Although it doesn’t follow the traditional framework for studies with set lessons, there are a lot of free resources published and the guide is easy to read through.
If you want to learn more about what modern data science means and have no clue where to start, we recommend this as your first point of reference.
#2 The Open Source Data Science Masters
For a unique approach to learning big data, why not check out the open-source learning environment offered by Open Source Data Science Masters.
This course features materials and content delivered directly by data scientists and other experts, featuring all of the core competencies you need to know.
The course features many different parts and even guidance on the best way to take each topic, but you’re free to follow the lessons any way you choose.
You’ll be rewarded with some of the most relevant and modern information on data science because it’s been sourced openly by the community, so you’ll struggle to find this caliber of information elsewhere.
Better still, it’s updated all of the time with new information, and in a field like data science having something so relevant is crucial.
You can take as long as you like to complete your studies with Open Source Data Science Masters and it’s all done online.
They do offer other paid resources for those who want to take their studies further, including textbooks and eBooks, but even those are affordably priced as well.
#3 Hadoop Starter Kit
Udemy is the home to many great courses on all topics and if data science and big data are your goals, you’ll find plenty there to suit your studies.
The Hadoop Starter Kit is one of the most popular, and it’s a free course that introduces you to the world of Adache Hadoop and walks you through all of its core components.
If you’re hoping to complete shorter bursts of study on big data, this is one of the more accessible ones, with the entire course taking just three hours and 20 minutes to complete.
With the aim of making Hadoop easy to understand, it slowly walks you through what the framework involves and how you can utilize it in your work as a data scientist or a similar type of professional.
The course is free to complete, but if you want to get certification that proves you’ve done it, there’s a small fee attached.
However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Hadoop-focused course as this one is delivered entirely by senior consultants at Hadoop and it covers everything you could ever need to know.
#4 Learning From Data
As one of the most respected educational institutions, the California Institute of Technology’s course on big data is high on our list.
The free online course is called Learning from Data and it’s marketed as a free introductory course on machine learning, so you can use it as a jumping-off point for all of your future studies.
Caltech promises that this isn’t a watered-down version of their other courses, but the real deal, and if you’re committing the time and energy into studying it, you can get great results.
The course is offered up as a YouTube video and is taught by Professor Yaser Abu-Mostafa with a range of content including a live broadcast of lectures and a Q&A session.
In the end, you’ll have a final exam and there’s even a discussion forum for you to chat with other students undertaking the course.
This isn’t a course that you can come into completely green though, as you’ll need some prerequisites like calculus and basic probability under your belt.
If you’re interested in machine learning though, it’s worth brushing up your skills and enrolling in this famous online offering by the California Institute of Technology.
#5 Intro to Machine Learning
The Intro to Machine Learning course is offered by Udacity and focuses on using pattern recognition for both fun and profit.
You’ll be able to complete the course over 10 weeks but there is some flexibility to allow you to learn at your own pace, however, it is recommended to follow their timelines for study.
Udacity has a range of free data courses available but this is the most popular, and it claims to be your first-class ticket into the world of data analysis careers.
You’ll only need intermediate skills to complete it, so brush up on areas like calculus before signing up, but it’s full of rich learning content that can be surprising to see when undertaking a free course such as this.
The Intro to Machine Learning course by Udacity features interactive quizzes, a variety of modules, and other engaging recourses.
Forming part of their Data Science Nanodegree, you can take it with other courses or on its own, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most insightful teachings on machine learning and pattern recognition that are out there today.
Better yet, it’s free of charge to take and covers 10 different topics that are important for learning the basics of big data, so there’s no reason not to sign up.
#6 Big Data Fundamentals
Big Data Fundamentals is seen as one of the most comprehensive online courses you can take for free, and it’s offered by the edX platform.
The course is delivered by the University of Adelaide and looks at how big data is causing organizational change, with some of the key focuses being on data mining and algorithms.
To complete this course, you’ll need to commit to around 10 hours of study per week at least, and be prepared to take the lessons over 10 weeks.
edX recommends that their students undertake courses like Programming for Data Science and Computational Thinking and Big Data before they enroll in this one, both of which are offered by edX themselves.
The Big Data Fundamentals Course covers one new topic each week and you can complete it at your own pace.
Although there’s a lot to learn, you’ll be rewarded with a university-grade education without paying a cent, and leave with a good understanding of big data and how it impacts organizational change today.
For a free course, it’s one of the most comprehensive, but you should have some basic comprehension of data science before enrolling.
#7 Data-Driven Decision Making
Coursera offers another course on how data is influencing business decisions with their Data-Driven Decision-Making program.
This free online course can be taken at your own pace with a recommended 9-10 hours spent completing it, so there’s not too much information to digest.
Professional services network PWC offers this course through Coursera so you’re getting the benefit of two industry leaders in one.
The Data-Driven Decision Making course features topics like data analysis and data visualization, both of which are relied upon heavily in business today and will become more common in the future.
As a beginner-level course, you can enroll in this with minimal prior knowledge of data science, so it’s one of the better ones out there aimed at newcomers.
This course is just part one in the five-part series offered by Coursera titled Data Analysis and Presentation Skills: the PwC Approach Specialization, so there’s the opportunity to take your studies even further if you want to.
Even though it’s free, you’ll get a shareable certificate once you complete it, which is ideal for showing employers and peers. With the trusted name of Coursera behind it, having certification for this course would be a smart move for your career.
#8 KDNuggets Data Mining Course
KDNuggets is one of the better-known websites focused on data science, so it makes sense that they offer some tools for learning the basics to their readers.
You can complete a single-semester course on data mining that has been created by Professor Gary Parker of Connecticut College and Dr. Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, serving as an introduction to data science for those thinking about going further in their studies or careers in this area.
The KDNuggets Data Mining Course can be taken at your own pace as all of the course materials are downloaded as a PDF.
The one-semester introductory course gives you the basics of data mining and how big data is used, including algorithms, machine learning, genomics, artificial intelligence, and more.
On the downside, some of the information here can feel a little dated, with some of the course content being published in the early 2000s.
However, it still gives you the basics of how data is used and analyzed in business (see also our favourite business analyst courses), and the general principles that it operates on haven’t changed. For a free course, there’s still a wealth of knowledge that can be learned, so it’s worth spending the time to complete.
Getting Ahead with Big Data
The world is changing fast, and there’s no doubt that data science and analytics will play a huge role in all industries and areas.
Getting your foot in the door and understanding the basics of big data with one of our picks for free online courses is the smartest thing you can do to stay ahead in your career.