Friday, December 26, 2014


Hi there! My name's John Q. and I'm on a journey to learn more about web development.

I decided upon this course in the beginning of September, 2014 and began by going through Zed Shaw's excellent Learn Python the Hard Way and bountiful bundles of tracks before being clued in to MOOCs-- namely those on and

For anyone unfamiliar with MOOCs, the acronym stands for Massive Online Open Courseware. Top universities around the world put many of their courses online for free, with lecture videos, quizzes, tests, online graders (that check code, in my case; not sure how it'd work for a history course), message boards for interacting with your fellow online students, etc. The (free!) courses that I took even had TAs!

The schools that have set up MOOCs to this point have largely been elite (MIT, Harvard, Stanford) so I figure that they're doing this because they see it as an important direction into which education will be expanding in the future. They want to be at the forefront of this movement, so they need data, and thus they need students to generate that data.

Which means that you can take (among many other options) MIT computer science classes for free, and even learn about the big data concepts that are surely being used to analyse the data that you're helping to generate.

Naturally, I'm taking advantage of that.

It's online work, granted, but it's plenty challenging and so long as you take it for what it is (a way to gain knowledge, not a path to a degree), I see it as a very valuable resource.

To this point I've completed certificates for MITx's 6.00.1x Intro to Computer Science using Python6.00.2x Intro to Computational Thinking and Data Science, and a Stanford mini-course in SQL. I'm going to start Stanford's Algorithms: Design and Analysis, part 1 and Princeton's Algorithms, Part 1 this January, although I'll probably wind up choosing one over the other. Any advice is appreciated! Princeton's sounds more beginner-friendly I suppose, but I have no experience with Java programming yet (I've focused on Python and Ruby). I also like the sound of Stanford's course in that it apparently goes into more conceptual learning involving mathematical proofs-- I did a math major as an undergraduate.

Anyway, beyond the MOOC work, I've been active in learning, writing code for and contributing solutions to Erik Trautman's The Odin Project, a free online Ruby-on-Rails bootcamp style curriculum. Erik also runs the Viking Code School, which I'm very happy to plug to the two of you who may be reading this.

About me personally: I'm American but live in Chiba, Japan and speak Japanese. I'll be coming back to the US in April of 2015. Wish me luck! I hope that I can be of use to anyone on a similar journey now or in the future.

Check out my github page and my Twitter page should the mood strike you.

Thanks for stopping by!

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