When I signed up for CS101: Building a Search Engine at www.Udacity.com, I had no idea what to expect. I’ll admit what I really wanted to sign up for was CS373:Programming a Robotic Car. After a careful examination of the requirements for CS373, I realized I’d always wanted to build a search engine.
Udacity is a free on-line university. It was founded……On second thought, I really don’t need to go into the details. There are a number of articles describing all the details far better than I can. Or better yet go to their website.
The course was seven weeks long and while we were gradually developing a search engine, the course was focused on programming basics using Python. I’ve been programming for years but Python was new to me. By the time the course ended, I was disappointed that it was over. Although I found myself spending over eight hours a week on lessons and homework, I noticed I was having more fun learning than gaming.
Homework, yes. It’s been several years since I left college and I had forgotten how difficult homework could be. I quickly learned to actually read the questions and if they say equal or greater than, they don’t mean greater. They do robotic grading, so no partial credit for almost getting the right answer. I’m not discussing my scores, only that I’m hoping I did well on the final exam.
Each weeks content consisted of 20 to 30 short video clips interspersed with questions and short programming exercises. Each week’s lecture ended with about eight homework questions. I was greatly impressed with the quality of the video clips, the lectures and the friendly instructive style of my instructor David Evans. They ended each weeks with an After Hours section where David and his assistant Peter Chapman answered questions that had been posted in the forum.
One of the things that I did not expect was how helpful all my classmates were. The forum was set up to discuss homework, concepts and techniques. There were a few times that I just could not grasp the concepts David was trying to teach me. Using the forums, I learned I was not alone in this and many of students went far out of their way to help us out. A big thanks to everyone that posted in the forums. Your help and insight was greatly appreciated.
I’ve now signed up CS253: Web Application Engineering and CS387: Applied Cryptography. I can’t wait for the new courses to start.
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