Makings of a Pythonista
It’s been a while since the last time I updated this blog, probably because I’ve been too busy learning and doing, with little or no time to write about it. It’s been fun. I signed up for a couple of online classes that are offered free of charge through two of the newest initiatives for higher education, namely Coursera and EdX. One of the two classes I’m taking is called An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python, and is offered by Rice University through Coursera; the other class is offered by MITx and is called Introduction to Computer Science and Programming.
The first class is a very fun introduction to Python through game programming. Each assignment is, in fact, a simplified version of some famous game, and we write all our code in an environment called CodeSkulptor, which was built by Scott Rixner, one of the instructors of the class. Creating interactive programs in Python is relatively easy, thanks to CodeSkulptor and the simplegui Python module, that provides the necessary methods to create our graphic user interface. All we really need to do is provide the logic for our game and then use the methods available in simplegui. Although simplegui will only work inside the CodeSkulptor environment, we can always achieve similar results using other available modules or packages, such as Tkinter and Pygame.
The second class also uses Python as the language of choice, although the main objective isn’t to learn Python but to teach you to think like a computer scientist and give you the tools to model and solve real world problems. Even though I had some experience with OOP, I signed up for this class because I thought it could be useful to me since my background is not in CS. I thought it could help me fill in the gaps on the fundamental knowledge I need. Far from being just a basic introduction for the newbie, though, this class is proving to be both challenging and interesting. I’m seven weeks into it already and still going strong, which makes me feel proud, to be honest.
I must say I’m liking this new model of education. The quality of the lessons is amazing, the format is convenient, and the variety of classes offered makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. As a matter of fact, I’m already signed up for a couple more classes that will begin next year in February.
If you haven’t yet, I recommend you find a class that interests you and give it a try. They are completely free, so you really have nothing to lose!