Updated Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist

I hold a special place in my heart for the How to Think Like a Computer Scientist tutorial. When my former teacher and then colleague Michel Paul told me about this great language Python I went home and checked out a few tutorials.

Jeff Elkner's How to Think... was not only the easiest introduction to the syntax of the language, I still use it as one of my references as well as for my students. The tutorial started out as a series of explanations and tutorials but recently has evolved into a much more interactive experience. For many students it is difficult to get software installed on their home computers and sadly it can be difficult for teachers to have it on their school network. Brad Miller has released an updated version of How to Think Like a Computer Scientist with interpreters built into the lesson so students can learn right from the browser.

The ability to program from within the browser is making a huge impact on one's ability to learn right away. Some great examples of this beyond How to Think... are: W3 School (HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc), SAGE (Math), and CodeAcademy (lots of great potential here).

You will need a Google account (free) and an up to date browser (Chrome, Firefox, IE). In addition to the interactivity, video tutorials and an administrative back end is being tested and will be opened up at the end of the semester for use with your students. Brad Miller, continues to refine this project and is committed to making it useful and open to as many as possible. New tutorials have been added to take you from Hello World to full blown Object Oriented Programming (trust me it's awesome).

I can personally testify to the quality of these lessons. If you are motivated you could go through these in a weekend or so and be off and running to the great possibilities in using programming with your students. As I have said before, it will provide opportunities for students to try ideas they never could have before. I think of all my students and I have been able to accomplish with Python and it all started with the How to Think Like a Computer Scientist tutorial. I can only imagine what could happen if every teacher who read this blog gave it a shot and passed it on to their students.

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