As many of you know, last year I took Harvard’s online CS50x class offered through the edX program. The course was both challenging and rewarding (and free!) and after several long nights and brain-wracking moments, I could say that I was proud of the hard work that culminated into my final project – a functional platform/shooter zombie survival game programmed using Python.
I loved the freedom and creativity that I could exercise through programming in the past. So it was a no brainer for me to build upon what I learned and take another computer science class in 2014.
So that’s what I did.
Introduction to Computer Science and Programming offered by MITx makes a clear distinction between “computer science” and “programming.” The course (which officially started February 19th, 2014) boasts that not only will students learn the algorithmic and syntactical side of writing programs, but they will also learn (and perhaps more importantly) the science behind computational thinking and breaking down problems in a systematic way.
Week 1 has been a quick but thorough introduction of some of the basic concepts and data types in Python (that are key in all programming languages) and it was a good way to get students to visualize inputs and outputs, and ultimately begin thinking like a programmer. I know it’s been helpful for me as a refresher from last year.
Note: 6.00x is actually a two part course series, with the second course (6.00.2x) entitled Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science and focusing more on using computational tools to decipher real life statistical models, data, and phenomena. Sounds interesting enough.
6.00.1x Course Load and Schedule
But back to the course at hand –
6.00.1x runs through an estimated 12 hours/week for 9 weeks but as is the case with many MOOCs, the syllabus and courseware can be fully audited at once, and you can freely progress at your own pace without deadlines. If you do decide to take the class on a schedule with bi-weekly assignments and due dates, you can now earn either a verified certificate or an honor code certificate. The main difference is the verified certificate has you identify yourself via photo (selfie!) at various points during the course to prove you’re the one doing the work. It’s not free like the other options, but it’s a more “official” certificate to include as part of a résumé or portfolio, if that’s your kind of thing.
As 6.00.1x is described, “they are challenging and rigorous courses in which the students spend a lot of time and effort learning to bend the computer to their will.” And that’s my sense of programming in a nutshell. If the idea of simply writing code wasn’t exciting enough, bending computers to my will is certainly a fancier way to think about it. I’ll be sure to provide post updates as I progress through the course.
Are you learning Python, taking MOOCs, or dabbling in computer science/programming courses? …Perhaps even the same one from MIT? Let me know in the comments below!