I think you should take a class. You won’t get any credit for it. It will probably take a little bit of time. There are quizzes and assignments, but any grade is meaningless. It’s free!
The class is Computer Science 101. It’s offered by Stanford. They have been offering some free CS classes, a lot of my fellow Google interns signed up for some of them this summer.
CS 101 starts in February and I think you should take it. You means everyone, not just tech-y types. In fact, those are the only ones who shouldn’t take it because you already know way more than an introduction to Computer Science would teach you.
Here is the quick overview:
CS101 teaches the essential ideas of Computer Science for a zero-prior-experience audience. Computers can appear very complicated, but in reality, computers work within just a few, simple patterns. CS101 demystifies and brings those patterns to life, which is useful for anyone using computers today.
In CS101, students play and experiment with short bits of “computer code” to bring to life to the power and limitations of computers. Everything works within the browser, so there is no extra software to download or install. CS101 also provides a general background on computers today: what is a computer, what is hardware, what is software, what is the internet. No previous experience is required other than the ability to use a web browser.
It doesn’t sound advanced at all, they really stress that you don’t need to know anything. Any code you write is in the browser, the biggest headache in getting started it getting used to the program you use to write the code and figuring out all its quirks.
Here are my reasons I think you should take it:
Computers aren’t scary, coding isn’t scary. Ok, if you go far enough, it will get very scary. Coding, that’s on the surface and easy to understand the basics.
You might get some idea of what is possible in software. When people tell me what they wish some things on their computer should do every once in a while it’s a brilliant idea that I hadn’t though of. That’s rare. Usually it’s something impossible or possible but so complicated to be implemented or understood by all users that it would never be done.
You might follow some problem solving processes that are a little different than you are used to, maybe more structured thinking will help you outside of this class.
Reason you shouldn’t:
It’s all a lie. I’m not that smart. If you take this you will realize that. You’ll all being writing your own code for a variety of things and they will all be better than anything I’ve ever done.
Head over to the page for the class. I signed up and if I have time I’ll check some of it out. I hope some of you give it a shot and tell me what they think of it.
Once you master CS 101 there are a few others listed. Most seem to start around the same time, but I’m hoping they’ll just leave the material up so anyone can take these at any time at their own pace.