Democratization of Education: Data Science and Cognitive Computing

Since getting my very own first personal computer and internet access, I personally benefited from free online technology resources:

  • softwares
  • white papers
  • presentation slides
  • community sites
  • blog articles
  • tutorial videos
  • book downloads
  • body of knowledge repository centers

In 1999

Through these free online technology resources, I become a self-taught ninja in the leading message oriented middleware named MQSeries and mastered all aspect of the technology –  design, development, and administration.

MQSeries is one of the WebSphere software products that I did NOT learned from formal classroom courses by IBM Learning Services.

(MQSeries became WebSphere MQ and then now IBM MQ.)

Unlike learning MQSeries Integrator and MQSeries Workflow which both took taking formal classroom courses by IBM Learning Services.

(MQSeries Integrator become WebSphere Message Broker and WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus then now IBM Integration Bus.)

(MQSeries Workflow become WebSphere MQ Workflow and WebSphere Process Server and now IBM Business Process Manager.)

Hence, many other technologies can be learned free online by myself since MQSeries, my very first major success in online self study.

But everything was scattered and research diligence was needed to access complete resources.

In 2016

I decided to try Big Data University and ended up getting many badges and certificates from successfully completing the free online short courses and passing the corresponding free online exams.

Let us learn more about Big Data University from its inception as the DB2 University to its latest vision as the Cognitive Class.

DB2 University
Build SQL and DB2 skills for free today.

Big Data University
Build Data Science and Analytics skills for free today.

Cognitive Class
Build Data Science and Cognitive Computing skills for free today.


Posted on June 1, 2017 by antonio

Today, we’re renaming our site to Cognitive Class in order to better embody our focus on Data Science and Cognitive Computing.

One has been called “the sexiest profession of the 21st century” and the other is the biggest revolution in the world of computing since the invention of the Turing Machine.

A Brief History of Cognitive Class

When we – a small group of IBMers – first launched this volunteer initiative back in 2010, we chose to call the site DB2 University. Our goal at the time was to provide online data education and literacy free of charge. Our goal hasn’t changed; our name, implementation, and the industry itself have.

Most of our team had worked on DB2 at IBM and so we launched the site with a handful of courses related to SQL and specifically IBM DB2. Despite the limited amount of content at the time, we quickly managed to attract the attention of many professionals and students.

As the number of registrants grew, we quickly realized that our mission for the site would be to democratize learning beyond the scope of a single product.

Seven years ago our students were expressing interest in learning not just about databases but also about this hot new thing called Big Data. Our own team’s scope at IBM expanded to include emerging technologies in the cloud and analytics space. Big Data very much included. So in 2011, we renamed DB2 University to Big Data University.

We kept that name for six years and it has served us well. Our Big Data courses are extremely popular and the site has grown to just shy of 700,000 learners worldwide.

Our catalog expanded considerably and, despite our name, the site became an education and skill building tool for more than just Big Data. For Data Science at first, and in more recent times, for Cognitive Computing as well. (By the way, the latter is IBM’s favorite terminology for technologies that include, but are not limited, to Artifical Intelligence.)

Data Science and Cognitive Computing are the Future

Our industry never sits still. Teaching data analytics today is no longer just about relational databases. And it’s no longer about Big Data alone either.

Those two topics remain foundational, but the future of data insight that serves human and business needs lies in Data Science and Cognitive Computing.

As we go about creating more and more content that satisfies your demands for future-proof skills, we decided to double down on them. And with this new focus in mind, we had to pick a better name to represent our aim. We chose Cognitive Class.

The domain is a .ai to further reinforce what we are all about.

What it means for you

Realistically, not much should change for you in terms of logistics. Our emails will come from Cognitive Class rather than BDU. Your account will still work. The courses you’re enrolled in and completed will still be there. You keep your certificates and badges. (However, if you run into any issue, please use our Support tab to open a ticket with us.)

You can expect us to release many new courses on hot topics within our industry. Think machine learning, deep learning, AI, NLP, chatbots, blockchain, and so on.

We look forward to continuing to provide you with the indispensable skills you need to tackle the problems of the future. Please stay tuned. 🙂

PS: If you’re interested in becoming a course author, feel free to contact us. If you are a business or academic institution interested in deploying your own Cognitive Class, reach us via the Business page.


The democratization of knowledge is the acquisition and spread of knowledge amongst the common people, not just privileged elites such as clergy and academics. Libraries—public libraries in particular—and modern digital technology such as the internet—play a key role in the democratization of knowledge, as they provide open access of information to the masses.

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