Potsdam. Today, the Hasso Plattner Institute begins a new era in open and free of charge online courses on the topic of information technology. Around 10,000 have already registered at the interactive Internet educational platform www.openhpi.de and can now start to use the first content. The first online course, offered by founder Prof. Hasso Plattner, co-founder and chairman of the supervisory board of the software company SAP, leads participants through the topic of a revolutionary new main memory database technology.

The so-called In-Memory Data Management enables the evaluation of huge amounts of data at lightning speed – something that in the past took hours or even days. This technology was researched under Plattner’s direction at HPI starting in 2007. Together with SAP, their partner in the industry, the Institute received the 2012 German Innovation Award for this work.

In the course week beginning today, participants can get a first glimpse into the topic area with five learning videos. Reading material to deepen acquired knowledge will be offered as well. An automatically scored test with 12 practice questions – e.g., access speed, compression factors or myths about separate data management – help participants to self-monitor their own learning progress. This is followed up by a short online intermediate exam.

The content initially involves establishing the requirements and characteristics of company applications as well as current hardware trends. The schematic structure of a new main memory database to fit these requirements finishes up the first course week. While fundamental background knowledge of databases is helpful for the course, it is not required. 

At openHPI there are no admission requirements for the online courses, which are embedded in a social learning network and held in English and German. The courses are led by HPI computer science professors. The Institute numbers among the pioneers of teleteaching in Germany and with its new offer is the forerunner in Europe. The structure is based on current approaches in the US, where the universities of Princeton and Stanford along with two other institutions recently founded the platform “Coursera.” The universities of Berkeley, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology now operate a further platform called “edX.” 

The offer from openHPI is directed, on one hand, at students who want to deal with the topic of computer science. “On the other hand, the target group includes professionals who would like to increase their understanding of computer science to use this knowledge for career development, as well as others who are just personally interested in IT topics,” said Prof. Christoph Meinel, Institute Director of HPI.

Starting in November, openHPI will be offering an introduction to the technology behind the World Wide Web. Gradually, the offer of open online courses will be expanded. “We will, for example, offer introductions to the basics of computer science. This involves the design and operation of complex IT systems, the functionality of the Internet and the WWW, security in Information technology and privacy protection in the digital world,” explained HPI director Meinel. He also announced courses about the current developments and innovations in information technology, such as the Semantic Web or multicore and cloud computing.