Strongly recommend Coursera

Today I’ve received an epilogue letter from Tim Roughgarden, a professor at Stanford, who has completed an Algorithm course on Coursera, which I strongly recommend that to you.

You may have already watched some open course videos online. You may have visited Sina Open Course or Netease Open Course, or you may have downloaded open course videos from YYEts. But trust me, Coursera is a better choice than just watching those videos. Attending a Coursera-class, you watch short videos which are well-filmed by professor, you complete homework and programming questions before deadline, you discuss with other students in course forum, and you take a final exam as we do in college.

Taking the Algorithm class for example. I registered the class on Jan 8th and the class kicked off on March 12th. As the class kicked off, Tim, the professor, uploaded the videos, prepared problem set and programming exercises for the first week, and emailed each student. I watched those videos and did those homework. The deadline of the homework was two weeks later. I could attempt several times before I got the final score, e.g. I attempted 2 times on problem set — week 3 and got 7.2 out of 8. As one week passed by, the process iterated. The class lasted five weeks, during which I warmed up Quick-Sort, Dijkstra Algorithm, and learned several useful and smart algorithms such as Strassen’s Algorithm and Karger’s Algorithm. On April 25th I took the final exam at home, which required a three-hour long period without interrupts. The total score of the course is 30(Problem Sets)+40(Programming exercises)+30(Final Exam).

So how about the difficulty of the course? I think the most significant problem for us Chinese students is listening. Tim speaks very fast. Good news is, Tim provides subtitles as well, in English. If you have no difficulty in displaying the videos online, you can load subtitles when watching videos. But you may be blocked from displaying videos directly( You know, we are in China), then you need to download both videos and subtitles to your local machine. You may ask whether the course itself is hard, the answer is no. Tim made it simple enough, so never mind if you have already forgotten whatever you have learned in computer science classroom, you will be warmed up quickly and enjoy it. My final score is 98.2, it’s easy for Chinese students to get high scores.

S0 what can you benefit from the course? For me, I’m warmed up, not only knowledge, but also my life as a college student. I clarified confusions of some particular algorithms before. And I managed to complete the class within deadlines, despite that I was busy with working, wedding…at the same time.

You may not interested in Algorithm, you may not interested in computer science at all. On Coursera there are classes in other fields, you can check them out there. As I know, Udacity provides such classes as well. There must be some classes fit you if you are desired to study something.

BTW, in Tim’s epilogue letter he mentions that he will re-run the class in a month or so. So if anyone interested, you can register on Coursera or directly visit the course page.

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