Learn Python with Microsoft or the University of Michigan
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Monday, 14 October 2019

Python is on the rise, predicted soon to overtake Java as the most popular programming language on the Tiobe index. Should you catch up?

Yes you should. From general programming, to APIs and web backends to Data Science,  Python shows its strength and versatility.

Even Microsoft is looking beyond its .NET wunderkids and shows love with supporting Python deep within its popular IDE's of Visual Studio and VS Code and even in Windows 10. The love does not stop there though.It offers educational material in the shape of 44-part YouTube video based course aptly named "Python for Beginners".

While the course doesn't cover everything there is to know about Python, the instructors do cover the major concepts of data types, strings and numbers, error handling, conditional logic, loops, functions, modules and packages. Regarding tool and environment setup, they show how to configure Visual Studio, the use of Virtual Environments and .env for managing environmental keys. After the basics are complete, they go through common scenarios, such as calling APIs, handling JSON or using Decorators.

In the end the aim of the course is to firmly set the foundations so that you later can take things into your own hands and explore the world of Python by other means like books, manuals, documentation and of course other video tutorials and online courses.

This leads us nicely to the next subject of this news piece, the University of Michigan course  "Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)"  which is now on the  FutureLearn Platform.

 

Rather than being limited to video tutorials, this is a full blown course, complete with code, exercises and assignments. Although it has start and end dates you can join in at any point until it ends and have free access for 8 weeks, but with the caveat that you won't be able to catch up the discussions or ask any questions ahead of time. If you want access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn - and a Certificate of Achievement once you've earned it - you can upgrade for £52 (around $65). If you like the FutureLearn format then for £139 (around $175) you can purchase one-year's Unlimited access to all the courses on the platform.

Programming for Everybody is a 6 weeks long course and students are expected to spend 4 hours of studying per week. Again this is about learning to program by using Python and as such it covers fundamentals like:

  • Understanding a program
  • Using variables in programs
  • Conditional execution (if statements)
  • Repeated execution / looping (for statements)
  • Functions and code reuse

which of course the Microsoft videos also cover.

So which one do you go for? Although they both focus on the basics, the FutureLearn one is a true course that goes into more depth.

So I would recommend to start with the Microsoft tutorials, especially if you already know how to program, in order to gain a bird's eye view of the language and then delve deeper with  FutureLearn one in order to get a more complete and "official" view.

The first ever iteration of "Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)" start on 14th of October, so hurry up if are thinking  of enrolling!

More Information

Python for Beginners

Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)

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Last Updated ( Monday, 14 October 2019 )