Microsoft DAT101x Data Science Orientation Review

At $25 (beta price), this orientation course is overpriced for what it offers.

Update: To follow my progress in this program, check the Microsoft Professional Program tag.


I’ve mentioned in my Getting Started with Data Science tips that I’m currently taking the Microsoft Professional Program for Data Science.

The program is still in beta, so:

1. Microsoft needs the feedback, and

2. Potential students would want to know if the program will be worth their time, money, and effort.

The program is pretty extensive, so I thought it best to break my reviews by course as I take them. This review is on the orientation course, DAT101x Data Science Orientation.

For context, I took the course around late September 2016, and got my certificate early October.


Module 1:The Data Science Curriculum

This was one of the modules I felt the course could do without, or at least shorten. Most of the content is already covered off by the Microsoft site for the program anyway.

On that note, the site could use some design improvements. I have to search around before finding what I need. There are also too many pictures that they distract from the content. Maybe a top-level menu would help?

If the site was good, they shouldn’t need videos to explain it. The videos are broken up into small manageable chunks but I played them all at 2x speed anyway.

Module 2: Data Science Fundamentals

This module, hands-down, was my favorite of the whole course.

I thought that the structure was effective:

Explain Concept 1 via an example, then demo in Excel.

Explain Concept 2 via an example, then demo in Excel.

Do the same for Concept 3, 4, ... etc.

A lab section would have been great, but admittedly overkill for this module.

Module 3: Statistics Overview

This one was good, not great.

Its been a long time since I dealt with statistics concepts so I appreciated the refresher. I also liked the lemonade-selling example as it really brought the concepts home.

Delivery was a bit dry though. This should have been integrated with the lab section.

A minor nitpick: I sincerely admire the female lecturer’s passion for statistics. However as a lecturer, her speaking could use some improvement. There were a lot of awkward breaks, and the flow of her thoughts were sometimes disorganized. I dabble in public speaking so I tend to notice these things, but it shouldn’t bother most people.

Lab: Exploring Data with Excel

This section is a MUST as it simulates what a typical course will be like. I had already started on the Excel course before the orientation, and I made mistakes on my first quiz because I didn’t know how the submission and check buttons worked. If I had gone through the orientation first, this shouldn’t have happened. But I don’t like reading manuals so this is a classic mistake for me 🙂

Overall, I think this is a great orientation course. Some background in statistics and Excel pivots would be useful but not required.

If you’re just auditing the course I’d recommend it. If you’re paying for the $25 verified certificate though*, it’s not a good value for the money.

*Unfortunately a requirement to qualify for the Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science.


Image: Solar system and comets in relation to other solar systems, about 1780. Ref F2776.

4 thoughts on “Microsoft DAT101x Data Science Orientation Review”

  1. Danna, here is the interactive book “How to think like a computer scientist” for learning Python.

    Prior to using this learning program, I have never studied Python, but am finding it very intuitive. I hope it helps!

    By the way, I am just starting the Microsoft Dat101x program and find your blog VERY inspiring! I hope you continue to post as I feel more courage to complete this certificate after learning about your experiences.


    1. Thank you very much Brad! Bookmarking your python guide for reference. If I get stuck I’m calling dibs on asking you for help!

      I’m so happy to hear you find the blog inspiring. This just encourages me to write more 🙂


  2. Hi Danna. I just wanted to ask what your strategy was in regards to learning the content. Do you have fun on excel and practise what you learnt or just leave it for the next day ? I just learn the content and then move one. I know I should practise but I don’t know where to find it ! Lastly , I’m having some difficulty understanding linear regression and t-tests . How should I approach to learning it, what did you do ?


    1. Hi. I’m the kind that learns better hands on, so if I don’t have a practical use for it yet (like the linear regression and t-tests), then I don’t practice it yet. I just keep it in mind so that when I do find a use for it, I’ll know it’s there.

      If I can think of how to apply it though, such as the Excel course, then I use it immediately. I took a long time with the Power Pivot modules because I’d pause midway to try it out on the sheets I’m using for work. Even now I’m having to look up other tutorials online because the course didn’t go as in-depth as I’d like!

      There are some initiatives at work where I foresee some of the concepts being utilized, so I volunteered to help out with those. I’m pretty transparent with people about my interests, so when they hear about anything “data-driven” they give me a nudge 🙂


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