Big Data has emerged as one of the fastest growing fields in recent times and every business is looking to leverage Big Data to get ahead of the competition. It’s thus not surprising that the demand for skilled Big Data professionals is huge and far exceeds the current supply. So much so, that those with Big Data skills command high salaries (about 25- 50% higher than IT and other fields). It has become the field of choice for many IT professionals looking to fast track their career.
There were no courses in Big Data analytics, until even 18 months ago. However, today we are seeing a flood of courses on offer and many can’t decide, which is the right course for them.
I recently heard that Jigsaw Academy has launched its Big Data analytics course. What caught my attention was the fact that they claim to have India’s first globally recognized certification in Big Data. Now this is something I wanted to check out for real.
The first thing I did was check out the website – specifically the Big Data course page
Credibility of the certification
Jigsaw Academy has tied up with Wiley, a US based publication house, for the Big Data course. All of us, especially the engineers amongst us who swear by Resnick and Halliday know Wiley books. But what is less well known is the fact that Wiley also has a number of certifications, especially in IT.
What was interesting for me was that this is the first time Wiley has tied up with an Indian organization to come up with a joint certification – the Wiley-Jigsaw Big Data specialist certification.
The Wiley-Jigsaw certification certainly looks like the most credible certification available on Big data and should improve job and career prospects for the people, who undertake it.
Keeping the brands aside, let us look at the content of the course.
Comparing the Jigsaw course with the Edureka course, I found a huge overlap between the two. Both the courses cover hadoop, mapreduce, hive, pig and other popular Big Data technologies. However, Jigsaw’s course has an analytics orientation, while the Edureka course has a more technology orientation. It comes out clearly that Jigsaw has made a significant effort to make it more readable to a novice. Edureka, on the other hand, seems to be targeting IT professionals who are already familiar with technical terminologies.
Jigsaw Academy’s Big Data course has an edge when it comes to the analytics piece – they have modules on R and its integration with hadoop – RHadoop and RMR packages. Also, their case studies cover both structured and unstructured data. If their past case studies are anything to go by, students are in for some great hands-on experience.
This difference stands out, when I compare this course from Jigsaw with other courses as well. Jigsaw’s Big Data course is the first one, I have seen in the market, that has clear focus on analytics.
After certification credibility and course outline, another important evaluation criterion is overall student experience.
I asked Jigsaw for access to one of their Big Data modules. I came away very impressed by the quality of their videos and assignments. Their videos are superior to anything I have seen, including the MIT and Coursera videos. You can have a look at a sample video here.
I also managed to catch hold of two students, who were part of the pilot batch run by Jigsaw in May. Both students were very appreciative of the course.
Umang Chugh, an MBA graduate from AIM Manila, said “I had previously done some analytics courses from Jigsaw and I had really liked them. So when they invited me to be a part of the pilot for Big Data I jumped at it. They have maintained the level of quality we all know them for. Even though Big Data is an intimidating area for a newbie like me, Jigsaw managed to make the course simple and interesting.”
Yatin Gupta is another IT professional who enrolled for the pilot batch.
“What I liked best about the course is the support from the mentors, who are knowledgeable and very helpful. I also liked the case studies and the way they have set up their Big Data lab. It is very easy for a beginner to get started.”
Image courtesy http://www.allanalytics.com/ (source Rurtch Works)
Having heard all the good things, I asked them specifically about the things they did not like. Umang mentioned that he was looking for case studies in healthcare but did not find any. Yatin said that while the support from the faculty is great, he would have liked some additional classes on certain advanced topics.
The Wiley Difference
Finally, I wanted to explore the Wiley component of the course. Jigsaw has several analytics courses that are offered independently. What was the reason for the tie up with Wiley? What does Wiley add to the offering?
Wiley has pulled in Big Data experts from around the world to create some of the content for the course. Students receive books (e-copies as well as physical copies) of the course material.
“Wiley has the ability to reach some of the best Big Data experts for building the content. We have the expertise to deliver a great online learning experience. I think together we have the ability to create a world class course in Big Data analytics.” Says Sarita Digumarti, the COO of Jigsaw Academy.
“This is the first time we will be offering physical study material in the form of books to our students. And we could think of no one better than Wiley to partner with for this” she said.
What I did not like
One thing I did not like about the course is that it assumes its students are familiar with analytics and the R tool. I would have liked the R module to be included in the course itself.
We feel that a combination of our Data Science course (where people learn analytics with R) and the Big Data course is the ideal combination for anyone looking to enter into this field. Combining both the courses into one would make the course very long. We deliberately ensure that all our courses are less than 6 months.
The price point of the course is surely something I am concerned about. At Rs. 42,000 this is among the most expensive courses in the market currently.
“Quality comes at a price” was the short answer from Sarita Digumarti when I quizzed her about the course fee. “Our courses have always been premium priced and we feel this kind of pricing is essential for us to be able to continue to deliver the quality of the student experience we aim for.”
Currently, Jigsaw academy is offering an introductory discount of over 15% on their course. This translates to a saving of Rs. 7000 and makes this course very attractive (Update: This offer was valid till 31st August 2014 and has now expired. But you can still get some great discounts with offers on their site)
Is the course worth investing your time and money in?
Let’s look at the positives first – It offers a globally recognized certification, it offers Big Data with analytics perspective, it delivers a good student experience, the quality of the videos is top class and it leverages on Wiley’s 100+ years of experience in creating great content.
On the flip side, the course is pricey and it needs to be combined with their Data science course to get the full benefit.
Personally, if I can afford to spend Rs. 42,000 on a course, this is the course I would go for.
I hope this article will be useful to the hundreds of followers, who write to me for advise on the courses available in the market. And as always, I would love to hear your thoughts or comments. If you have further questions about this offering or other courses, let me know.