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2 October 2012

6.002X version 2, and MITx: 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming

6.002x Revisited (Briefly)

My review of MIT's 6.002X electronics course seems to have been well received, and the lectures are is now part-way through their second run-through. I was disappointed to see that not much has changed. The videos are still of generally poor quality and slightly confused.

There is one change of note though. You may remember that one of my criticisms was in the area of answer entry. You often had to type in a horrible sequence of variables on a single line, which may or may not have resembled your answer. Getting a red cross meant you had to try again, not knowing whether your answer was wrong, or just your data entry. I suggested that the LaTeX formatting engine used in the questions could be used, to display your answer in a clearer format. I am pleased to say they have done exactly that!

Answers are now converted on-the-fly to a much clearer mathematical expression on the screen. Excellent stuff, and a big green tick for that!

MITx: 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming

It is now a couple of decades since I formally studied Computer Science, so I thought I would stick my head around the metaphorical lecture room door and see what has changed. To be fair, 6.00x has only been running a day, but there are some points worthy of comment. The 6.002x people should sit up and take note.

Firstly, technical quality. Rather than use a disembodied voice, we get to see the lecturer close-up on screen, with a microphone close by. On some of the videos I saw, the audio bit-rate was highly variable; some were 192kbit/s quality, others were closer to 32kbit/s. For the most part though, he is clearly audible and his presentation has been tailored to a single viewer rather than a full lecture theatre.

Secondly, the diagrams and so on have been prepared beforehand and are of a very good standard. Unlike the scruffy hand-drawn notes in 6.002x. Using these pre-drawn diagrams probably saves 10-15% of lecture time alone, and smooths the lecture's flow in general.

One particularly nice touch is the mention of Alan Turing's name. A man who is increasingly seen as the father of computer science, and whose name has been comparatively unknown for too long.

So far so good, I think I will stick with this one and get to grips with Python.I doubt it will take over from C in my toolkit any time soon, but it is certainly gaining in popularity.

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