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Another Player In the World of Free, Open Online CS Courseware

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the teachers-yes-but-fewer-dirty-looks dept.

Australia 64

dncsky1530 writes "UNSW professor Richard Buckland, lecturer of the famous Computing 1 course on YouTube, is now running a large scale open online Computer Science course for the world. UNSW Computing 1 — PuzzleQuest and the Art of Programming starts off with microprocessors and works it way through C with interactive activities while taking students on an adventure of hacking, cracking and problem solving. It's based around a three month long PuzzleQuest with grand and suspiciously unspecified prizes as well as fame and glory for the intrepid. The next class starts December 3rd 2012."

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64 comments

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42080697)

anybody?

Richard! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42080721)

My 1st-year comp lecturer on Slashdot! What a legend.

Re:Richard! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42080833)

Same!
This is the most entertaining lecturer I ever had in my 7 years of higher educating. He does not teach programming, but rather computer science, and how to be a better thinker.
He gave up an earlier life of making fortunes as an actuary to become a truly brilliant educator. His passions used to lie in teaching struggling students and the brightest (the run-of-the-mill are well-catered for by established systems), but I guess this is a new step in experimenting with scalability after his YouTube courses.
Good on ya, Bucko.

Re:Richard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42080993)

I had Richard as a lecturer for an advanced course in parallel programming at another institution whilst he was still doing his PhD.

Good to see that he's still going strong!

Re:Richard! (3)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42081339)

This is rather suspicious - four people post here, claiming to have taken the teacher's classes, in person. All four post anonymously. Hmmmmm. Food for thought . . . .

Re:Richard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081707)

Or, you know, his students are aware of his efforts and want to support him.

Richard Buckland is good (4, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#42081939)

Okay, I'm not Anonymous, and I haven't taken any Richard Buckland courses.

I have been involved with the MOOC movement since last year (Dr. Thrun's AI class), taken several online courses, and study human learning for my day job. I've evaluated and compared the teaching styles of MOOCs for my own purposes.

From what I've seen of his work online (YouTube videos), Richard Buckland is the best.

In my opinion his style of presentation maximizes the student interest. Regardless of the content, Richard Buckland will make learning enjoyable; he will cultivate the student's interest and perceived value.

Coursera [coursera.org] and edX [edx.org] believe in the "learning is hard" model - they present artificial barriers and difficulties so that only the most intelligent and dedicated student will complete the course. For an example, watch the first lecture or two of Daphne Koller's "Probabalistic Graphical Models" [coursera.org] online course.

Richard Buckland takes the view of "learning is fun", and does everything he can to motivate the students. He's been trying out different techniques over the years, keeping what works and dropping what doesn't. At this point in his career, he's got a pretty good handle on what encourages students to learn.

I predict that "The Art of Programming" will have the highest completion rate of all the online courses.

Of the course offerings and business models I've seen, this is likely to be the best one to date.

Re:Richard Buckland is good (1)

donscarletti (569232) | about a year ago | (#42082055)

His classes are notoriously hard still. He takes the view that if something is part of the subject, it can be in the exam, whether he has mentioned it or not. He also gives a lot of homework compared to other lecturers. He gets away with it because he's just such a damn good teacher that students mostly just accept it, and those who don't are silenced by his loud and opinionated fan club. Foreign students and the types of student that takes e-commerce tend to just skip his subjects, because they punish your grade point average to say the least.

Re:Richard Buckland is good (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year ago | (#42084481)

Meh, you're comparing apples with oranges. Different subjects have different inherent levels of difficulty^H^H^Hsubtlety, and the presented ideas have been around for different amounts of time, resulting in more available materials (books, lecture notes, papers - even full fledged courses) for some than others.

It only makes sense to compare two teachers who teach the exact same course. And that only works well for courses which are 101 type courses, because more advanced courses tend to be more specialized, and thus rarer with more prerequisites etc.

Concretely, you're comparing a first year introductory course on computing with a third year advanced statistics course. Your conclusions must be adjusted for this.

Re:Richard! (1)

donscarletti (569232) | about a year ago | (#42082025)

I'm not anonymous, I had him for Cryptography and Security in '05, best educator I have ever encountered. The atmosphere in his classes is like some evangelical revival, rows upon rows of screaming students wanting to not just learn but live what he's teaching. Would be damn scary if he got political.

Re:Richard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42082897)

That sounds disgusting. I hate teachers who create that cultish atmosphere around them. Thanks for the warning.

Re:Richard! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42083145)

This is rather suspicious - four people post here, claiming to have taken the teacher's classes, in person. All four post anonymously. Hmmmmm. Food for thought . . . .

I see nothing suspicious here. Slashdot is a VERY popular Web site that happens to attract computer geeks, so no I don't find it "coincidental" that computer geeks from a particular school happened to have read the article.

Perhaps you are a victim of the Birthday Paradox, or perhaps you have not heard of the Six Degrees of Separation.

Either way, I fail to see how somebody claiming to be in a teacher's class is "suspicious".

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_Paradox [wikipedia.org]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees [wikipedia.org]

Re:Richard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42089815)

Another anonymous taught by Richard Buckland here.

UNSW is (or was) one of the strongest universities for computing in Australia. When I was at university, Richard taught the advanced version of the first computing course (i.e. everyone does it). This might explain it the posts. He also has a kind of cult following.

There is no denying Richard is a very good teacher. Personally, as an already motivated learner, I found the second course by Andrew Taylor more enjoyable, probably because it was way more geeky.

I have to say I didn't enjoy the written exam in Richard's course. As someone who refactors constantly, trying to write Haskell with pen on paper turned into real mess of scribbles.

Fee Open Online CounterStrike? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42080755)

Cool, count me in

Re:Fee Open Online CounterStrike? (1)

dncsky1530 (711564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42080809)

We're going to enable anyone to create public open courses - so a CounterStrike course might not be too far off!

Re:Fee Open Online CounterStrike? (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42080841)

Funny. We have all the technology (modified, GPL Quake engines that play HLBSP natively, anyone?) yet a FOSS implementation of the gameplay of the one of the most popular games ever.... doesn't exist.

Don't say "AssaultCube" or "Urban Terror". That ain't the same. Period.

Re:Fee Open Online CounterStrike? (1)

Larryish (1215510) | about a year ago | (#42081365)

Urban Terror is close, but the stupid orange and blue jumpsuits need to go.

Where's the camouflage?

Re:Fee Open Online CounterStrike? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#42082197)

Check out Xonotic ... Free and Open, CTF mode has the grappling hook, very fast game play... Heck, a few of the original Quake maps have been recreated.

Re:Fee Open Online CounterStrike? (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#42084067)

.....wrong answer. I assume you've never played Counter-Strike, and just tried to find some opportunity to plug an irrelevant game.

CounterStrike Curseware has been around for ages (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year ago | (#42081081)

But if it is free as in free beer I'm in

Re:CounterStrike Curseware has been around for age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081285)

curseware?

Re:CounterStrike Curseware has been around for age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42087443)

People do curse a lot when playing CS.

UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42080835)

Maybe the submitter should go ahead and spell that one out...

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42080999)

Maybe you should have googled it...

Re:UNSWhat? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#42081023)

Bzzztt acronyms should be defined on first use by any writer especially when they aren't common knowledge. I DID google it but would have posted the same if the AC hadn't beat me to it.

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081069)

Bzzztt not many outside the US would know what UCLA is, so it's not common knowledge, yet it always appears in Slashdot articles without being defined. There shouldn't be separate standards for US users and the rest of the world.

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081455)

That's because you are browsing slashdot.org, an American site. On slashdot.com.au, UCLA is expanded.

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42085765)

Yeah, keep repeating "Number One!!!!!", you fat cunt.

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081605)

Point taken, but bad example. UCLA is well known internationally, if for no other reason than being a major university in Los Angeles.

Re:UNSWhat? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#42082375)

"There shouldn't be separate standards for US users and the rest of the world."

Actually there should. Slashdot is a USian website and as such has a US context. Numbers should be formatted in the US way. Measurements should be given in units that make sense for the context in the US. Values should be given in US currency or the US currency equiv should be provided. And the term "common knowledge" should automatically be translated to "common knowledge in the US."

Re:UNSWhat? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#42087621)

No, Slashdot is a website. It has never been a US website, it is just a website that happens to be managed from the US. As far as I can see.

Re:UNSWhat? (1)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#42087873)

No, BBC is a website. It has never been a UK website, it is just a website that happens to be managed from the UK. As far as I can see.

There is a US focused branch of the Guardian or the BBC just as their is a UK focused branch of Ebay and youtube. But the main site for all of these is targeted at either the US or the UK.

You use "a website" like a website is some magical international animal that is above nations. This isn't the truth. A website hosted and run from Sweden is a swedish website, etc. One has no right to complain about a swedish slant being found there, about swedish metrics being used, currency, etc. One who is swedish has every right to expect to find all of the above on said site.

Re:UNSWhat? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#42092353)

The BBC detects your country and customises itself to it. Certain sections let you choose which national/international view you want. But even then, it's very name has the word "British" in it. Where does Slashdot define it's nationality or target market? Has Slashdot ever analysed the demographics of its readers properly?

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42082429)

Bzzztt not many outside the US would know what UCLA is, so it's not common knowledge, yet it always appears in Slashdot articles without being defined. There shouldn't be separate standards for US users and the rest of the world.

Un Clear Los Anglos.

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081589)

Bzzztt acronyms should be defined on first use by any writer especially when they aren't common knowledge. I DID google it but would have posted the same if the AC hadn't beat me to it.

What's an AC?

Re: UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42092983)

What does AC stand for?

Re:UNSWhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081593)

University of Not Safe for Work.

Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42080943)

If you ever wanted to know what a halfassed CS lecture in bogan english sounds like then this guy is gold!

Don't believe me check out how long he talks about dracula and the kardashians in a lecture thats supposed to be about something simple like hash-tables.

Lecture 23: Hash Tables - Richard Buckland UNSW Computing2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aErYv5HyX8Y [youtube.com]

Sorry to say but the MIT and CMU online courses are still the best in this area...

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42080957)

And here is another example:

21:Everything u need 2 know about pointers -Richard Buckland time: 29min 46sec

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rxvv9krECNw#t=1786s [youtube.com]

If a supposedly "seasoned" lecturer finds it difficult to articulate themselves on subject matter, to the point that their body gives into to involuntary convulsions, then perhaps it is best that the lecturer find another vocation.

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42082819)

I don't know either of you nor have I seen the lectures, but I think you could have phrased your criticisms a little bit more politely. Also, although these lectures may not be perfect, they are contributing to human education and knowledge, and for that they should be praised. Further, despite my criticisms of you, I still found both of your comments helpful, so thank you for that.

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | about a year ago | (#42081049)

I haven't watched the lecture yet but if you think pointers and hash tables aren't worthy of 30 minutes each then I doubt you fully understand hash tables and pointers.

Understanding how these and other key memory mechanisms work is the secret to fast and efficient code. Your compiler simply won't fix this for you.

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42081369)

I had a biology teacher who often got lost, talking about stuff that had nothing to do with biology. The thing is, whatever he was flapping his gums about was INTERESTING. No person in the class was ever bored.

Funny thing about all that is, we all hung on his every word. He might waste ten of the forty minutes in class on nonsense, but he had our attention for the other 30 minutes as well. The motorheads and jocks passed the course, with little problem. There aren't a lot of teachers who can make a claim like that.

The funny looking guy from New South Wales seems to understand that.

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081399)

I had a physics teacher who did that in high school. When I got to college the TA hand out an exam the first day of class to see how much we remembered. Guess who got top score? *This Guy* So apparently that teaching style works for me too.

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081911)

Guess who got top score? *This Guy*

Wait, I'm confused. Do you have two thumbs or not?

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (4, Interesting)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#42081925)

My dad was a Chemistry teacher who was often accused of wasting time with silly stories. What he was actually doing was putting into practice the theories of David Ausubel, who proposed something called an "advance organiser" -- the teacher evokes a known and familiar concept analogous to the new concept to be taught, thus priming the brain to understand it implicitly in terms of the analogue and to approach tasks using the same strategies as it would employ on the analogue.

It's not the simple idea of amusing with stories as an adjunct to teaching, it's an integral part of teaching. If this guy does that, cool.

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#42085831)

the teacher evokes a known and familiar concept analogous to the new concept to be taught, thus priming the brain to understand it implicitly in terms of the analogue and to approach tasks using the same strategies as it would employ on the analogue.

Nope. You lost me there.

Any chance of explaining it with cars?

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#42087457)

I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a joke or not...! Anyway, the important thing is to pick your analogy to match the subject matter, which seems to escape many teachers, who try to chose their analogy based on "student interest". My dad taught the wave equation using tins of baked beans on a conveyor belt. I've seen other teachers use the analogy of watching fenceposts or telegraph poles flashing past from a moving car.

In both cases, the familiar physical example lets the student understand why frequency and wavelength are in inverse proportion to one another (wavelength goes up, frequency goes down and vice versa), which overcomes the natural assumption of "if one's big the other must be big".

Re:Crikey Cheryl thats a Crock! (3, Insightful)

g4b (956118) | about a year ago | (#42082129)

really liked it actually, thank you for flaming a good episode.

hash tables are pretty important, and he almost covered everything quite entertainingly. He definitely makes his students listen, very good teacher.

I agree, MIT and CMU do brilliant stuff too, but I am not sure, if watching the best will help you understand them, especially after reading your comment

Highly recommended courses (2)

mnooning (759721) | about a year ago | (#42081073)

I would highly recommend R. Buckland videos for learning. I monitored his UNSW sponsored Semester 1 Computer science course "1917", from 2008. He has a Semester 2 course on youtube as well. There may be others, The first semester course has 50-some videos, each roughly an hour long. He explains even difficult things very clearly.

A first?? (2)

Pyrotech7 (1825500) | about a year ago | (#42081267)

TFA mentions this is a first MOOC online course for Australia. I find that hard to believe, does anyone know of others?

foundation of computer graphics @edx by berkeleyX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42081887)

there is a course at edx https://www.edx.org/courses/BerkeleyX/CS184.1x/2012_Fall/info.

I tried to learn some fundamentals of graphics by subscribing.

I must admit that I am disappointed with everything about the course is presented.

I would love if graphics savvy computer geeks on slashdot take a look at some lectures and would give
opinion on the quality of pedagogy

Re:foundation of computer graphics @edx by berkele (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42082561)

I signed up for that course and was also disappointed. I did the first homework and definitely understood everything for the second (1980's game programming stuff) homework assignment but just couldn't be bothered to put in that much time to recreate built in functions of grade 11 math problems... It felt like make-work type programming and I hate that sort of stuff in a course (there is always some, but when my time is precious and there are a dozen other courses I also want, it's hard to stay with it for just the sake of it).

I will continue to watch the videos since they are more than likely going to provide some information that is new, or neat, that will make it worth that effort :)

Life and Computer Science (2)

Dermah (1277738) | about a year ago | (#42081907)

I have taken (face to face) all three of Richard Buckland's base computer science courses and he has had a profound effect on my life. His lectures were deeply moving and manage to examine not only the essence of computer science, but also the joy of problem solving and beauty in life. He is the reason I decided to persue computer science and I cannot heap enough praise on him.

To the author of the summary: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42082213)

Slashdot stories should have someone go through and check to see if there are any terms or acronyms that are not commonly known to geeks and geek-like persons who might read Slashdot. Call me ignorant, but WTF is UNSW? Is that the University of North South West? University of New Saint Westminster? University of Never Sing Worried? Uncle Ned Stopped Working? Use No Shredded Wires? Usually, Nora Stands Wide? US Navy Ships Wiggle? Unitarians Nary Sell Whiskey? Ultraviolet's Nice, Stop Whining? Under No Sircumstances Whimper? (Okay, that one was a stretch.)

Consider that not everyone just happens to know what a UNSW is.

Re:To the author of the summary: (1)

David at Eeyore (20627) | about a year ago | (#42086297)

you're a bit late to the the party! AS has already been explained, UNSW is University of New South Wales (one of the older universities in Australia). Maybe Slashdot editors should insist the ALL acronyms, esp. the US ones, be explained at least once per article.

Re:To the author of the summary: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42097169)

Call me ignorant, but WTF is UNSW?

Call me ignorant, but what the fuck is WTF?

At last, an Aussie Uni comes to the party... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42086539)

We couldn't find Lecture 27 (of currently available ones on YouTube).
Anybody at UNSW CSE or elsewhere got an updated link to it? TIA.

I just signed up (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | about a year ago | (#42089647)

I just finished the free Introduction to Networking offered by Stanford (which I also found out about via Slashdot)

Now I have signed up for this course. I think I fit a fairly typical hobbyist demographic - some very simple playing with BASIC, some Arduino hacking, but minimal formal programming experience.

It's a shame this course doesn't offer a certificate of accomplishment like the Stanford one does. We'vw all dealt with the HR dept that thinks certificates are more important than experience :-(

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