Harvard, MIT, and other Ivy League universities were initially quite hesitant to offer courses online since it was mostly associated with shady, low-quality universities and colleges. Well, it’s very understandable because the majority of the courses offered online are often not up to the expected standards and are just a repetition of what’s available on platforms such as YouTube. A sad state of things, however, its courses such as Harvard's CS50 that are restoring the faith in online education. Online education is here to stay and it’s best that we embraced the idea. The internet, in general, has revolutionized the education sector across the globe.
Online education has grown tremendously over the years. Tutors are available to help you solve problems such as math, social studies, how to write a thesis statement, how to learn to programme, and so on. However, it’s pertinent that one exercises caution in identifying which courses to take and on which platforms. Some platforms are misleading and are a total waste of your time. It’s precisely for this reason that I have decided to share my experience with Harvard's CS50. A lot of people are desperate to find the real thing, I know I was! Here’s why this course renewed my hope for online education.
About The Course
CS50 an introduction to computer science course is no ordinary course. From that first lecture to the moment you finally conclude it, it will be nothing but fun, exciting and thought provocative. It’s a 13-week program (though subject to change) available online on edX. Topics covered by the syllabus include:
Professor David Malan
It’s practically impossible to talk about Harvard’s CS50 without mentioning David Malan, Gordon McKay Professor. The two are almost synonymous with each other. On campus, he has an almost celebrity status thanks to his lecturing techniques. Anyone including me who has had an opportunity to sit through his lectures can attest to his excellent mode of delivering content, and of course, it’s worth mentioning his TAs. It’s their combined efforts that brought the course to get recognition and receive good reviews on edX, CourseTalk, and Class Central.
To give an idea of the impact that he’s had on the course, have a look at the course’s enrollment history:
Alumni of the course himself, Malan started teaching the class in the fall of 2007. Then, the enrollment numbers were below the hundred mark. When they launched CS50x, the online version for the course in 2012, enrollment was at 150,349 registered students, while on campus was at 706 students.
The numbers have since remained high compared to other courses on campus,
As of fall 2016, data from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office revealed that 702 students had enrolled for the course.
He can be transcribed as a perfectionist, and I must highlight the fact that I left the class feeling empowered thanks to his lectures. You leave the course very capable of putting what you learned into practice.
Unlike other online courses where lecturers get teaching material from YouTube and other online Platforms without giving any finer details, this course has gone the extra mile and given you a chance to learn online as you would in a lecture hall. Taking the course offers the following:
Two lectures per week
9 (in some cases 10) problem sets (10 to 20 hours each)
A final project
Shorts(5–15-minute videos): of TAs explaining lecture concepts with additional examples
Walkthroughs(1–3-minute videos): David Malan guides you over the lecture’s sample code at a rather slow pace
Section(5–30-minute videos): Harvard teaching fellow explains lecture concepts in depth
All these are available on edX and for free unless you want a certificate which you can get for $90. Other than the lectures, each week offers a series of the videos identified above.
You can access some educational services such as blogs on education, resume and essay writing services, on platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, and edX among others. Harvard University is one of the top-notch universities globally, and as expected, they have not disappointed either with the Harvard CS50x.
The Harvard Crimson described the course as “a cultural touchstone, a lifestyle, a spectacle,” It’s not just them with praise, “It changed my life” this is according to Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO and alumni of Harvard herself though she had majored in a different course.
Personally, the course gave me a thorough understanding of programming but at the same time taught me how to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently.