Calling it the world’s first free massive open online course for IT and cybersecurity training, Greenbelt-based Cybrary.IT announced Tuesday that its classes are open to the public, with nearly 4,000 students already signed up.
“We are focused on providing comprehensive IT and cyber security training options for the underserved, underprivileged, and disadvantaged — people seeking to break into the IT field or advance in their current jobs,” said Ryan Corey, co-founder of Cybrary, in a statement. “Providing free online education eliminates financial barriers, allowing anyone to learn from and engage with the IT community. We’re confident our approach will ultimately reshape IT and cyber security training, welcome new minds into the profession, and lead to a brighter future for the industry as a whole.”
Corey worked for TrainACE before switching over to his new endeavor full-time. In his over 10 years in IT training, he said he’s seen would-be students bail on a career before even starting because of the cost of enrolling in a class (upwards of $2,000, he said) and of taking entry-level certification exams, which can range in the hundreds of dollars.
It amounts to a $2,500 entry fee to “take a shot at getting into the IT field,” he said.
Cybrary’s 20-plus courses don’t offer certification – that’s still up to students, as is landing employment (or moving up the ladder, as the case may be). But the rest of the preparation, unlike other IT and cybersecurity training models, is free.
Cybrary still has a business model, so there is a trade-off: the platform is advertising- and content marketing-driven, giving organizations a chance to reach students by sponsoring study materials, for instance, and selling books, labs and other “learning supplements.” Instructors are also given the chance to promote published work related to their classes on the website in the recommended study materials section of a class.
But Corey insists that’s no different than a professor at an accredited university who lists his book as required reading for a class – one that his students have to go out and buy. And in this case, anything required for a Cybrary class is already available on the site.
“Our intention across the board here is to never charge students,” Corey said.