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Keep on MOOCing?

I’ve enjoyed the Coursera Python MOOC so far, though I didn’t end up with a local—or even a distance—cohort of people taking it with me. Things have been kind of hectic, both at work and with outside projects and medical stuff, and I ended up doing the homework on Saturday, last week. (Homework is due on Saturday evenings.) I mean, I implemented Pong in three hours or so, and I feel good about that. But last-minute is not how I like to roll.

Now we’re fast approaching another Saturday, and I haven’t watched the week’s lectures (again) or thought about the project (again). I forgot to do my peer assessments and lost 1/5 of the points I’d earned on Pong, last week, which is a bummer. Bigger bummer: I have actual work-work that needs to be done, this weekend. (I’m rolling out a new service, internally, and I’m also on a time-consuming committee. I should have asked for more time for the current committee task, but I didn’t—I was too proud to take the opportunity to do it, when I had the chance. So I might be whining, here, but the fault’s really all mine.) Right now, my batteries are low. I haven’t taken enough time off, lately—a post about working from home and its inherent dangers might be in order—and I need some non-brain time. I’m just done.

I’ll see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow, but my current plan is to give this week a pass. I’ll watch the lectures when I can.

My writing is normally neater, but my thumb's out of commission.
My writing is normally neater, but my thumb’s out of commission.

More broadly, though, we seem to be moving more and more into math [that I already know but don’t need to use on a daily basis] and the course’s proprietary GUI module. There’s some interesting logic to writing Memory (this week’s project) and more in Blackjack (next week’s), and skimming ahead it looks like if I watch the week 5 & 6 lectures I’ll get to see loops (finally!), object oriented programming, and maybe some more information on dealing with lists. But I’m wondering if maybe I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns, with this class. I knew, when I signed up for a class with “Interactive Game” in the title, that it wouldn’t be precisely the kind of programming I want to do (namely, file input/output, string manipulation, interacting with databases, making webpages). But I was still surprised by how little of last week’s lecture—and project—had anything to do with programming or Python, and how much had to do with math.

I love math, but seriously. I have other things to do.

So I’m wavering. On one hand, I have it in me to finish the course—assuming everyone counts it as “finished” if you skip week 5—and prove (mostly to myself) that I can finish a MOOC. If I finish, I’ll have a pretty sweet, albeit totally non-portable, implementation of Asteroids to my name. And, I mean, although it’s yet another thing on my to-do list, it’s also kind of fun. They hand-hold you through the projects enough to make them totally doable in a few hours’ time. Three more weeks (maybe four), and I’ll have a certificate of completion (probably)! On the other hand, I’m beginning to feel like I’d just rather go through the Boston Python Workshop curriculum, make sure I understand all of that, and start working on my fun Twitter project. (Btw, I have a fun Twitter project in mind. :)) Skipping the rest of the MOOC gets me to most of my goals faster, probably. Except the “finish a MOOC” goal.

So … I dunno. This wouldn’t be a question, if others were relying on me to finish, obviously, but it’s really just about what I want to do, now. I haven’t done any of it on work time, so I don’t need to get the certificate to include in my faculty file. I don’t owe anyone anything, with this, yet I still feel guilty about considering quitting. Hmm.

Either way, I’m not quitting Python. I really like the language. I like writing small Python programs and want to make space for that in my life—and maybe my work, one day. So no worries on that front. :)

Published inclassesfailsprogrammingtechnology


  1. So now I’m curious — that’s the kind of programming you don’t want to do — what’s the kind you DO? ;)

    Also I totally look forward to your seeekrit Twitter project, and I wrote a Twitterbot in Python once so here you go if this is useful:

  2. Coral

    I don’t do much, honestly (and none in Python). Mostly hacking already-written PHP. And still not much of that. My “development time” is 90% HTML/CSS.

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