Programming for Everybody (Python)

This course aims to teach everyone to learn the basics of programming computers using Python. The course has no pre-requisites and avoids all but the simplest mathematics. Anyone with moderate computer experience should be able to master the materials in this course.

About The Course

This course is specifically designed to be a first programming course using the popular Python programming language.  The pace of the course is designed to lead to mastery of each of the topics in the class.  We will use simple data analysis as the programming exercises through the course.    Understanding how to process data is valuable for everyone regardless of your career.  This course might kindle an interest in more advanced programming courses or courses in web design and development or just provide skills when you are faced with a bunch of data that you need to analyze. You can do the programming assignments for the class using a web browser or using your personal computer.   All required software for the course is free. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is different about this class?
    This class is specifically designed for beginners.  The material moves slowly and carefully through the basic ideas and then builds to the point where you are writing programs to solve small but complete problems.   We never write a program that is more than 25 lines long.  We focus on understanding the concepts rather rushing toward some set of programming skills.   There are other classes that push you further and faster - our goal is to prepare so you can succeed in those courses.

  • What is the format of the class?
    An hour or less of video lectures per week and some combination of a quiz, programming assignment, and optional extra credit activity.

  • Do I need a textbook?
    The lectures and textbook are very supportive of each other.   Sometimes you will learn better from the lecture and other times the textbook will be your most valuable resource.  There is no cost for the textbook - you can download it for free and printed copies of the text are available at very low cost if you prefer a printed copy.

  • What about timing? Can I take this self-paced?
    Within any week of the course, you can look at the materials and take assessments whenever you have time available, regardless of your time zone. But we will move the course along and there will be due dates for each assessment to keep us all moving forward together. So you can't wait until the last week and do all the material in a day or two. We expect that you will be committed and work on the course each week as you would for any other college class.

  • What is the Twitter hash tag for the course?
    The hash tag for this course is #PR4E  - you can see what students are talking about for the class Search PR4E on Twitter.

  • Can we contact the professor?
    The professor will be nearby and monitoring the course. If problems come up, there may be a need for online office hours or even the just-in-time development of extra materials if a lot of students get stuck on a particular topic or idea. The discussion forum is an important part of the class and your fellow students will answer many questions. Teaching staff will monitor and interact in the forums as well. You can follow the instructor on Twitter @drchuck to get a sense of where he is during the course.

  • Can I get started early?
    You can get a copy of the book and start reading the book. All of the programming assignments for the course are taken from the exercises at the end of each chapter. Once the course starts you will have video lectures for each week but you can subscribe to podcasts of the lecture audio for the entire course and start to familiarize yourself with the material. The free Apple iBook for the course includes all of the lecture videos.

  • Can I reuse these course materials in my own teaching?
    You cannot re-use the materials provided on the Coursera web site, but we have provided free downloadable copies of all of the course materials, video, audio, PowerPoint files, and auto-grading software under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License at the Open Michigan web site and we encourage you to reuse, remix, and republish those materials. We are particularly interested in getting the materials translated into languages other than English.

  • Does the instructor really have a Coursera tattoo?
    Yes. If you take the class he will probably show it to you. He gave a TEDx talk about MOOCs and he showed his tattoo to the audience.

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

Recommended Background

There are no pre-requisites for this course.  We avoid any advanced mathematics. You can do the entire class using a web browser.  If you are going to do the programming exercises on your own computer (optional), you should know how to download and install software and be able to make folders and organize files on your computer.   We will have detailed instructional videos for both Windows and Macintosh computers for all software installation and file management tasks for those who want to do software development on their computers.  All required software for this class is free.