Sunday, 27 January 2013
Python & applying knowledge gained in an MOOC
I recently saw this at a school biology lab here in Berlin. When I read the (very) old label and noticed that these were two pythons, I took my blackberry and snapped the photo above. There was a teacher next to me so, rather apologetically, I explained that I had recently finished a programming course and that the name of the language was Python! She smiled at me and probably thought I am nuts. Maybe. Maybe not.
But I actually wanted to write about something else today. There is a lot of hype about MOOC´s and all the stuff that can be learnt these days for free. But learning without applying your knowledge later is sort of useless. OK, you get a certificate (and apparently mine from +edX will be ready tomorrow!), but that is not the whole point of doing a course, is it? In contrast, most of what I read about Raspberry Pi´s are actual applications of what people are doing with it. You don´t buy a Pi just to tick a box of cool things to own, but because you have a project in your mind and you are itching to get started with it. It should be the same with programming.
I am happy to say that I have already applied some of what I learnt on 6.00x at work. I have developed a simple search tool which actually makes life in my department a bit easier. It allows to search a huge repository of documents from an old system in a way which was not possible before. It is not rocket science, and surely many a professional programmer would find ways to do this in quicker and more effective ways. But it works and it reduces search times from hours and hours to a few minutes. And I have the feeling this is just the start. I recently came across this book and, time permitting, I already have something else in my mind. Again, it is not about learning Python for the sake of learning. It is what we can now do. And I have a feeling it is a lot that we can do!
So how are you applying the knowledge gained from whatever latest MOOC you took?
PS: I know, Python did not get its name because of the animals...