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This post originally ran on Linux.com on November 18. The next Introduction to Linux course starts on January 5. Sign up today.

Individuals inspire us. From the open source community to the maker community, individuals are changing the way software and hardware are built. Together they are advancing the most exciting areas of technology, from Linux to cloud and supercomputing to consumer electronics, the Internet of Things (IoT), commercial drones and much more. Hundreds of thousands of people are working today on what will be tomorrow’s biggest innovations.

That’s why access to learning is more important than ever. Training and education are essential for advancing key technologies and building careers. When equipped with the tools to create and innovate, individuals from anywhere are empowered to contribute to an ever growing technical community. In a world where the individual rules supreme, affordable, accessible training and certification opportunities become of the greatest importance for supporting the future of Linux and computing.

We’ve focused a lot of attention in recent years on making Linux learning materials more accessible to more people. This year, for example, together with our partner edX, we were able to offer our Intro to Linux course for free to nearly 300,000 people from all over the world. While the United States ranks first in the number of students taking Intro to Linux, it only represents about 30 percent of all class participants. The top geographies include the U.S., India, United Kingdom, Brazil and Spain. Linux attracted more people with this one course than the number of people who attended all seven games of the recent World Series combined.

What’s even more overwhelming is that our Intro to Linux course saw one of the highest enrollments of any class offered on edx.org this year. It’s also worth noting that while MOOCs have a reputation for low completion rates among registrants, the Linux course is ranking well above the industry average. This enthusiasm and participation bodes well for the future of Linux and the many individuals getting involved.

Through the process of bringing Linux to more people, we’ve learned quite a bit ourselves and are putting those lessons into action. For example, we just released an update to our edX course. The changes aren’t major but include technical updates and content changes to accelerate ease of learning. This is all the result of the community feedback. We also introduced in August a Linux Certification program for sysadmins and engineers. We designed this program to be accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world and to be distribution flexible. Professionals need more ways to demonstrate their knowledge, and employers want to know what they’re getting. Thousands of people have already signed up for the exams.

Individuals make up the global Linux community, and the power of the individual to advance Linux and new technologies has never been more evident. If this year is any indication of the growth of Linux and open source software, anyone who relies on this software, which is just about everybody, is in good shape for decades to come.

Guest Post: Jim Zemlin, Linux Foundation Executive Director

Photo of Jim ZemlinJim Zemlin is the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation. Zemlin’s career took root at Western Wireless, which had a successful IPO and was later acquired by Deutsche Telekom and renamed T-Mobile USA. He was also a member of the founding management team of Corio, a leading enterprise application service provider that had a successful IPO in July 2000. Other posts have included vice president of marketing at Covalent Technologies and executive director at Free Standards Group.

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