Having finished all 7 units of Udacity, I found myself in a contemplative and rather grateful mood. I feel like I’ve learned a lot over these weeks – and I say that although my expectations at the beginning of the course have not really been met. What this Udacity course made me realize is that my initial expectations were a bit too naïve. I expected to learn how to generate original code for original programs, and Udacity – as my first foray into coding – gave me a big slap on the back of the head and assured me that it is not so easy. But what I did learn was how to interpret, understand and change Python code to fit my needs, and I am very happy with that outcome. In a sense, my experience learning Python has afforded me with a more nuanced understanding of the process of learning how to code.
In terms of the actual content of the CS101 course on Udacity, I think it represented an effective and fun pedagogy. The format of the course, as serialized but brief YouTube explanatory clips interspersed with quizzes, worked very well for me and I appreciated the multimodality of this structure. There was also immense satisfaction in seeing the green check mark next to each topic, which actually encouraged you to move along quite efficiently. Following Dave’s writing on the whiteboard was, for me, the ideal way to learn and I am not sure I would have benefitted as much from a more traditional and impersonal (apersonal?) written coursebook like Cynthia’s Hard Way. As for the curricular structure of the course, the unit break-down made a lot of sense, and I liked that we were working towards an ultimate goal: building a search engine and constantly improving it. I would have appreciated more quizzes that extrapolated the new concepts to other types of problems or situations (not just to the few example they used throughout) because I think this would have given me even more confidence, but I thought the quizzes they had were helpful and had just the right level of difficulty.
All in all, I am proud to have gained this familiarity with Python and I feel very appreciative of the work and dedication that Dave &Co have put into this seemingly utopian project. In fact, I feel so appreciative that I had to write to Dave on Twitter and let him know that I thank him and that I will miss his humor.