Harvard Intro to CS? Free? Sign Me Up!!

I did something rash today.

I signed up for a class through Harvard College and the school’s online presence at edX. That surprised me a little because I’m already in the middle of four college-level classes through Great Courses Plus. What was more surprising — astonishing, in fact, to those who’ve known me very long, is that the class I enrolled in is Harvard’s famous CS50 course, “Introduction to Computer Science”. The surprise? The course uses the C language, against which I have been an ardent battler and which I vowed more than once to go to my grave able to say I’d never learned it.

I even rented (whole other cool story) the recommended text for the class.

So why did I do this? Particularly after learning it was taught primarily in C and involved a series of non-trivial projects the instructor says should take 10-20 hours each to complete? Honestly, I did it because I’ve always felt my programming and scripting skills were never going to be better than good to above-average unless I had a deeper, more formal understanding of programming and algorithms. Yeah, I’m 71 and retired. Nope, I don’t plan on re-entering the job market and certainly not as a coder (clearly a young person’s game). But I figure I have a few good years left and I might as well learn as much as I can now that I have the leisure to do so and no deadlines to interfere.

Besides, the most popular class of any kind at Harvard? And free? (I don’t need the verified certificate, but if I did, it would only cost me $90.) Just couldn’t pass it up. I may find I hate it before I complete it. No harm, no foul. I may find I just don’t have the aptitude to learn C after experiencing far more verbose object-oriented languages like Smalltalk and LiveCode and decide not to “waste my time.”

But somehow the notion of wasting time while learning is a bit of an oxymoron.

Wish me success!

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