Harvard’s Free Computer Science Course Teaches You to Code in 12 Weeks

At the beginning of last year, we wrote about CS50, Harvard’s Introductory Computer Science course, taught by Professor David Malan. Today, we bring you the updated version of the class, filmed throughout the past semester at Harvard. Why revisit an updated version of the same class a year later? For one thing, the material has been updated. And, as you can tell by the rousing reception Malan receives from the audience at the start of the first lecture (above), Malan is kind of a big deal. From his opening boom of “This is CS50,” Malan immediately comes off as an unusually charismatic professor. He offers what might just be the most engaging online class you’ve ever seen.

So what does this charismatic computer scientist cover over three months? An impressively large amount of information about coding. Malan builds the course from the ground up, and begins by describing how transistors are employed to transmit information within computers. From then on, he outlines a vast amount of computer science in highly accessible language. This will almost undoubtedly be the clearest presentation of topics like “command-line arguments,” “cryptography,” and “dynamic memory allocation” that you’re likely to hear.

The class videos are available on iTunesU, YouTube, and in audio, 1080p HD video, and text transcript form on a crisp course website. The course may also be accessed through edX, Harvard and MIT’s MOOC platform, which allows users to receive a certificate upon completion. It’s easy to tell that Malan and his team have gone above and beyond the requirements of creating a helpful introduction to computer science. They deliver an astoundingly easy-to-grasp primer on a daunting topic.

For other CompSci classes taught by David Malan, check out our list of Free Computer Science courses, part of our larger list, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Ilia Blinderman is a Montreal-based culture and science writer. Follow him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writing at the Huffington Post.

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Comments (3)
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  • online training says:

    Online training is given by remote desktop sharing and classroom training is given face to face on the physical location. In online training trainer is located at one place and the trainee is located in other place, Where as in classroom training both the trainer and trainee is located in the same place.

  • Patrick McDonald says:

    Hope to learn

  • Scot says:

    January 18, 2017
    I am currently a college student who is
    laid up due to having had two major surgeries
    within an 8 day period. I plan to restart my
    studies in March but, I keep thinking to myself
    how am I going to pay off those student loans.
    I have heard of course work such as yours and
    until recently, cost was always a factor.
    Now that there are several free and at least one
    whose tuition is based on your first year of income,
    I am reconsidering giving this path a go.

    While I am not the most computer savvy soul
    on the planet, I am not half bad. My interest in
    taking this course work is multi-fold.

    To begin with, I do like computers and have
    felt that maybe I could be one of those souls
    who cold come up with an idea or two for an
    app that could help humanity.

    Secondly, a long time ago I was posed a question.
    The question was this:
    “If you could have a life where all your needs were
    taken care of and you did not have to worry about
    money or the like, what would you do with your time?”

    I feel that taking your course work and getting a
    job in said field of endeavor would be more than
    sufficient to cover my bills even at a part time level
    given what the average entry level job would pay.

    This in turn would not tax my soul too heavily
    and it would allow me to do the things I am driven
    to do which in a nutshell is to help humanity.

    I would like to ask you a few questions.

    1-I have heard this course work can be done
    in 3 months. Is that a realistic assessment?

    2-Given that I would be a complete newbie to coding,
    what would be the average time to complete
    the course for such a newb?
    (Although in my favor, I did do a fair job
    of teaching myself basic HTML.)

    3-On average, how many hours a week are needed
    to complete the course within the 3 month period?
    To be more precise, what would be considered the
    high end of hours dedicated to the studies per week.
    in order to finish the program within the suggested time frame?
    (I ask this question because if that number is 20 hours
    a week or less, I know I could handle that.)

    4-What types of support is provided for
    the student to help them succeed?

    5-Given my recent medical interventions, I am not really up for commuting. Can this be done completely on line?

    I think that is everything I can figure out at this time.
    Please let me know how we can make this work.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.


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