Intro to Interactive Programming in Python on Coursera

For some time now I’ve been intrigued with Coursera. The idea of being able to take real courses, for free, online, just seemed amazing. My friend, Rachel, has been a big proponent of it, and had time and time again pestered me to give it a try. For whatever reason, I hadn’t until recently.

A few weeks ago I started a Coursera course through Rice University called An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python. As the title implies, it’s a beginner course dealing with Python (a programming language). While I’ve programmed some in the past, it’s all been pretty basic and mostly self-taught. I took a couple of classes in Visual Basic and C++ back in high school, but that was over a decade ago. Lately my coding hasn’t gone much beyond HTML and jQuery. The Python class sounded like fun, especially when reading that the final project is an Asteroids clone.

I’m now wrapping up week three of the class and I’ve already learned a lot. It turns out Python has a lot in common with other languages I’ve worked in (C++, Java, C#), but also has different features (like the lack of semi-colons after every line, thank you!). To make the class really accessible and easy to complete, the professors even created an in-the-browser environment to write and run your code, called CodeSkupltor.

Every project in this class takes the skills you learn about each week, and applies them to mini-games. The first few projects have included a rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock game (based on the Big Bang Theory reference), a guess the number game and a stopwatch that tests your reflexes. All of these can be run from a modern browser, so click the links and give them a try. Just his the “Run” button in the upper left.

It seems like we are learning great amounts from week to week and I can’t wait to see what’s next. This has been a great experience with Coursera so far, so I’m already looking at what to take next. Have you tried Coursera? What did you take?

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