The Art of Programming From OpenLearning
The Art of Programming From OpenLearning
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 26 November 2012

The next free online presentation of Richard Buckland's UNSW Computing 1 - The Art of Programming starts December 3rd 2012.

This 12-week course is based on the introductory course for computer science at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Videos of the lectures as delivered live to students in 2008 have proved popular on You Tube where the set of 56 videos (42 hours in total) have been available for the past four years and have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people - Lecture 1 has attracted almost 200,000 views to date.

Now, however, the impetus to create online courses that has proved so popular in the last year means that the material has been re-packaged by start-up OpenLearning, an Australian company that provides a platform on which teachers can create courses and students can sign up to take them.




Richard Buckland, a senior lecturer at UNSW, is one of the co-founders of OpenLearning together with developer Theo Julienne and software engineer Adam Brimo and it launched in October 2012 with two courses, the first run of Computing 1 and a course on Services Marketing. Its third course, Observing and Analyzing Performance in Sport is also underway and it a First-Year College Spanish course is scheduled to start in January.




Taught by Richard Buckland, UNSW Computing 1 is a twelve-week course with a workload of four to five hours per week that explores the world of software engineering, computing and problem solving. It covers:

  • abstraction, estimation, programming, machine code, C, problem solving
  • top down design, arithmetic expressions, layout, style++
  • types, variables, memory other numeric types
  • while and for loops, stack frames, arrays...

Like the offerings from Udacity, Coursera and edX the OpenLearning format is based a mix of activities, as well as lecture videos there are "fun software puzzles and projects" and is a social experience in that students are expected to "be a part of the course by contributing to the lecture notes and helping other students."

There are no certificates for completion of  Computing 1, although there are badges that will be displayed on your OpenLearning profile and your progress is tracked "with a friendly progress bar that stays green as long as you're keeping up to date." There are also karma points for helpfulness to other students.




Is this enough to motivate around 50 hours of study?

It may be that the subject is so intrinsically interesting that students will stay the course simply for its own sake.  The course blurb claims:

Computing 1 will give you an understanding of what it's like to be a developer and enable you to appreciate the art of computing.


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