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The big question about openSAP HANA Course

I am one of more than 32 thousand people signed up for the openSAP course Introduction to Software Development on SAP HANA.
The course started on 27th May and runs for 6 weeks – but I am sure you could still register and join in now. The entire course is being delivered online and it is essentially free to take part. I say “essentially” because to fully benefit you will probably want to have access to your own HANA system to develop your code on. SAP have worked with Amazon and Cloudshare for this purpose so you will have to pay fees to one of these providers for your personal HANA system – or share one between a few mates.  😉

I was going to write a bit of a review of the course but really Kumud Singh has already done a great job of this so I would encourage you to read her blog What makes openSAP highly impressive!.

Instead let me share some early observations I have about the course.

It seems to me preparing and delivering a course online is not a lot different to doing one face to face. The same things make the course successful – or unsuccessful. My very rudimentary list is…

Step 1. Preparation. Have good quality content, well structured and audience appropriate.
Step 2. Exercises. Make them appropriate to the content, easy to follow, designed to reinforce new concepts.
Step 3. Delivery. Pick the best presenter. Ideally someone who is a subject matter expert, a good communicator, and empathetic.

For me this course is setting a new benchmark for SAP knowledge transfer. There is clearly a lot of work that has gone into all these aspects but the organization and delivery is all pretty seamless. I imagine that Thomas Jung has played a great part here although there is probably quite a team behind him that should get credit as well. I have been fortunate to assist Thomas with some of his SAP TechEd and Mastering SAP Technologies workshops over the years and his preparation is always meticulous.

An online course does require a good delivery platform, high production values for content (esp. video/audio), and a different mindset about the content. Anyone who has tried to get electronic copies of SAP training materials will know how precious SAP Education are about controlling there distribution. This must change in a world of online delivery.

Because the course is delivered entirely online the students can pick their own time to participate and take their own time to absorb the content. They can download the lectures and slides to consume at their convenience. The great thing about self-paced training is that you can rewind and replay key points until you fully understand them before moving onto more advanced topics – something that can be difficult in the traditional classroom environment. This is one of the things that Sal Khan often mentions as a key aspect of The Khan Academy.

And of course an online training experience like this provides scale. As mentioned there are more than 32 thousand people signed up for this course. If just 10% of them complete the 6 week course that is 3200 more people trained on SAP HANA development than at the beginning of the month. And the course can be run over and over again as demanded.

There is also a very active social component to the training as well. The openSAP platform has community areas and discussion forums so that students and instructors can share experiences, ask questions, work through problems together. A shout out here to the openSAP team who are responding to posts in record time. And of course those of us taking the course are touching base regularly through our usual channels like Twitter and SCN and keeping each other apprised of our relative progress. There is definitely more happening here than just training – there is a community building around this course.

I have no idea if openSAP is officially part of SAP Education. My impression of SAP Education is not that positive, and hasn’t been for such a long time, so from afar it is hard to see how that organization could have come up with openSAP unless major changes have taken place. If such changes have already happened then I welcome them – and if they haven’t then I suspect the SAP Education world is about to be shaken to its’ core. 😆

But the big question facing us all – is what happens next week? How long can this go on before we see some repetition? Can Thomas maintain the variety?

Here he is in week 1.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 9.35.31 AM.png
A nice opening gambit – safe and conservative.

And week 2.
Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 9.36.29 AM.png
Wow – that’s stepping it up considerably. It’s almost like he is about to go out to a disco.

Then week 3.
Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 9.37.43 AM.png
A bit disappointing really. Perhaps he attracted too much attention at the disco and wants to sneak in quietly and find a booth at the back this time.

Most impressively – no SAP logos anywhere. I don’t think we have ever seen Thomas without a SAP logo somewhere since the days of Kimball. What’s going on here – has someone moved my cheese?

I think he can do it. Three more weeks to go and I am betting on three new shirts. We haven’t seen a blue one yet so that seems pretty obvious. I suspect yellow might be a bit frantic for Thomas so perhaps a green. Then just one more and we are home. I always wondered what colour puce was. Perhaps I will find out. 😛
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  • Graham,

    You are such a spoiler, giving away the shirt color for week 3 😉

    I am really enjoying the course a lot and I am not a developer but the delivery is great that I can follow along.

    It is like having a your own SAP HANA Code Jam on demand.



      • Haha, I noticed the shirt colors as well and was already speculating for next weeks color.

        Given the background, I think blue may be a bit of a gamble, and green may be too “in your face”

        White is still an option, clean and sober. Puce, yeah why not.

        How about: light Urple?

        So far though, no stripes yet.

        On a more serious note; I agree that SAP education is a bit protective of their materials, but I always had a very good working relationship with SAP education. It does depend a lot on the trainers they put in front of the classroom.

        Often times, these are consultants who are hired to come and give a training once in their lifetime.

        Sometimes this works out well and they’ll be invited again. Too often, things go wrong.

      • Spoiler Alert: You are going to be disappointed because I did repeat shirts later in the course. Considering my wardrobe is mostly T-Shirts these days (the joys of working from home), I had limited choices for the course.  I even had to do a little shopping the night before I left for German to do the recordings.  I was also told no blue shirts because those blend in with the background.  We had some problems with the white shirts I brought because of my pale complexion (thanks long winter). They really do take the video production really serious!

        • Getting mixed messages here…high production values but not enough shirts for the talent. Next thing you will be saying your dressing room was inadequate. 😯

          • Yes, his dressing room was too small, and they did not have the correct number of red m&m’s in the dish either.  🙂



  • Hi Graham,

    Thanks for providing us with a new and fresh perspective on the opensap course 🙂 . I didn’t even know the word puce (even less what color it is). But I’m not alone it seems: on wikipedia it says there are multiple variations:

    So I guess we’ll have to wait a few weeks …

    Cheers, Fred

  • Hello Graham,

    I totally second you on the impressive efforts shown by openSAP. I’ve taken a lot of SAP Education courses and they just don’t compare at all to the high quality of openSAP. I’m also taking some MOOCs on coursera from highly reputable universities and I can say SAP openSAP team have done a great job with this first SAP MOOC and hope that they transform their SAP courses to the level of this one.

    Happy learning all,

    – Ali

  • Hi Graham,

    Completely agree with your assessment of the openSAP course. The content is fantastic and the site/delivery is very polished (Thomas is doing a great job). I look forward to hearing what course is coming next on openSAP. SAPUI5 maybe?

    For me personally I feel its mandatory to get your own HANA instance and get your hands dirty. I’m sure you could get through the course with great marks without any hands on experience, but for the concepts to really sink in I need to apply them in a real system. It would be interesting to know what % of participants have signed up to an instance in AWS/Cloudshare etc.

    On the shirts, I thought Week 2’s shirt was fresh out of the packet with those new crease marks you get. Maybe Thomas didn’t have a choice when he rocked up to the studio 😀

    Cheers, Stephen

  • Hi Graham,

    Very nice blog. Thanks. And I totally agree with your comment about SAP Education. Now that I spent 2 weeks listening thoroughly to Thomas for free with such a high level of quality in every aspect of the course, for sure next time I have some budget to spend on e-learning content, I’ll ask opensap what we can get for the money (or even make a donation) instead of taking the risk to run into the same troubles that I once faced after buying sap official OKP.




  • Graham

    Good points and I sincerely think this open format has a potential to disrupt the various training provided by other business units and organizations, which are profit centers as well. Will have to see how this shapes up in the SAP world..

    And oh, I almost forgot, my bet is on Orange or Yellow for week 4..

  • Graham, excellent read, as always! I’ve wondered for years why don’t SAP “sell” more to the developers? Retail knows this – “sell” to the kids and they will whine and nag the parents into buying in no time. I guess finally someone got a memo.

    Unfortunatelly I didn’t get a chance to join the course, but now I’m almost tempted to jump on it mid-term just to see how the shirt story unfolds. Place your bets now! 🙂

    (Fast-forward one week – Thomas shows up wearing a NASCAR uniform with endorsements from every software company imaginable. 🙂 )

  • Hi,

    It’s a fantastic opportunity provided by SAP to bridge the gap and make high quality content available in a fabulous package to people who want to keep updated with new technologies in the SAP world.

    I think Thomas is a awesum presenter and he just hits that sweet spot its so fun to go through his webinars or videos and all stuffs 🙂



  • Course is going great. I had few hickup setting up my HANA content for the course but resolved it with directions from Rich and Thomas. Cruzing along….

    PS: I think Thomas is going to wear a blue shirt  in week 4- just kidding…shirt does not matter, just the person (Thomas) and  thecontent for week 4!!! 🙂