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2012: The year that coding became de rigueur

Joab Jackson | Dec. 26, 2012
Does true literacy now include the ability to write software programs, just as it does the ability to read, write and do sums?

As the year progressed however, more options became available for those wishing to learn how to code. The Khan Academy, a popular resource for mathematics and science education and interactive video tutorials, also launched a curriculum for learning basic programming and Web illustration.

The year 2012 could also remembered for the rise of the MOOCs. Universities and colleges have offered distance education online classes for well over a decade, but the new generation of MOOCs offer classes for little cost, on flexible schedules, and that require no prerequisites. Unlike services such as Khan's and Codecademy, MOOC classes are fully-fledged college classes; many of them are actual classes that universities repurposed for the Web. They are perfect for the hard-driving autodidact who may have quickly worked through all that Khan Academy offers.

And computer science curricula play a central part in many MOOCs. Coursera, which has attracted over 2 million users, offers a range of advanced computer science in areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics. Udacity offers many computer and networking classes, including those on advanced topics such as software debugging and testing, HTML5 Web design, and parallel programming. And edX draws from classes taught at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fields as diverse as quantum computation and SaaS (software-as-a-service).

"As we learned from Wikipedia, demand for knowledge is so enormous that good, free online materials can attract extraordinary numbers of people from all over the world," observed technology writer Clay Shirky, in a blog post.


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