Learning Freak

Programming Learning Journey

Programming for Everybody: Python

/ Category: Software Development

After the Django Girls workshop, I looked for other opportunities to learn Python. Coursera was free of charge back then, so I took some of their online courses. One of the them was "Programming for Everybody (Python)," offered by the University of Michigan. It took me around 2 hours a week for 11 weeks to complete it. I considered it time well spent for someone who had just started her adventure with programming and wanted to build a solid foundation. But I have mix feelings now after discovering that Coursera requires payment for that course. If you are thinking about enrolling for it, you may like reading my review.

Structure

Each week there was a 30-minute video with dr. Chuck (Professor Charles Severance) explaining the material, a test, an autograded task (both rather straightforward after watching the video, usually took me between 5 to 20 minutes) and, as a bonus, an interview with IT personas, e.g. Guido van Rossum, Douglas Crockford or John Resig.

What I have learned

The course covered the basics. Starting from how to install Python, through basic information about variables, conditions, functions, loops and iterations, data structures, file input/output to lists, dictionaries and tuples. Every week corresponded to a chapter in a book entitled “Python for Informatics” written by Professor Severance. Chapters 1-10 were covered.

On the positive side

As the title promised, dr. Chuck put great effort into making Python understandable for all learners. There were many examples and exercises that were easy to follow and explained in a detailed way. And the book “Python for Informatics” offers even more. Tasks I was asked to do were fairly simple, but great to strengthen newly learned knowledge.
Definitely the persona of dr. Chuck was a great leverage. Sitting at his desk and sipping (probably) coffee, he taught programming in a very casual way e.g. writing colourful comments all over the screen, joking or presenting the online graduation ceremony. During the course, he was also available for face-to-face office hours in a few cities all over the world. If you are lucky, next time he may come near your place.

Is it worth taking?

Don't get me wrong. The course is really good and I feel lucky I could attend it. But due to changes at the Coursera platform, I have mix feelings about recommending it. The course has been divided into two shorter courses: a 6-week "Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)" and a 5-week "Python Data Structures." Together they cost 158 USD (79 USD each). If money is not a problem for you, make yourself ready for the next 11 weeks. You won't regret it. But do not despair if you can't afford it. Looking back, I don't think I would pay that much for a basic course. It's solid, interactive and fun, but not competitive enough. There are other online courses, many of them for free, that will help you understand the basics.

If you'd like to learn more about this course, visit Coursera website.

Leave a comment if you'd like to share your thoughts on this course.

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