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New Course of the Week – Intro to Computer Science

There are plenty of programming and computer science courses on the web, of both free and paid variety. So it’s important to know that you have a lot of choice if you are just starting out learning about how to program a computer.

This is an area that Udacity seems to have an advantage over on Coursera, although I’ve had a couple of really nice computer programming courses on Coursera. But still, Udacity has inline code checking whereas Coursera relies more on peer review. Both have their merits. It’s important to remember that when Udacity first came on the scene they had a science-heavy focus which included computer programming classes very early on.  So they’ve been doing this a while.

So I don’t mind recommending that you try their Intro to Computer Programming course. From the site:

At the end of this course, you will have learned key concepts in computer science and enough programming to be able to write Python programs to solve problems on your own. This course will prepare you to move on to intermediate-level computing courses.

The course seems to involve learning Python programming to build your own web crawler and search engine. Imagine building your own search engine! That would be quite an accomplishment.

If this sounds right for you, why don’t you give it a try? Udacity courses have both a free version and a paid version, so don’t be discouraged by the pricing on the screen and go for the free version if that suits you better.


I also don’t understand why there is a “waiting list” in front of the paid version. Since the paid version includes one-on-one instruction or tutoring, perhaps they are overloaded with students and don’t have enough instructors.

If you take this class, please post your thoughts below to let me know how you thought it was.


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  1. Just a comment to say: Coursera uses peer assessment just in a few of their courses, and I found several programming courses with very good autograders, for example “Learn to Program: The Fundamentals” (Python 3), or the more advanced “Programming Languages” or “Algorithms, Part I” (and part II).
    Personally I prefer Coursera style, where you watch the videos and then you do a programming assignment for the week, instead of Udacity when every two minutes you have to stop the flow of videos to code, but I guess it’s personal (and also the biggest difference between the two, more than the grading sistem).

    • I haven’t experienced the auto-graders on Coursera, so thanks for pointing that out. I’ll have to look for them. The “Startup Engineering” course had a form of autograder, in that you had to submit a URL to a working website, and I suppose it went to the URL and searched for certain things (text fields, labels, etc). And the “Computational Investing” course had programming that output numerical results, and the numerical results needed to be submitted. There are definitely a few different ways they do this. Thanks for commenting!

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