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MIT OpenCourseWare publishes unique introductory Python programming independent study course

6.00SC Introduction to Computer Science and Programming provides a comprehensive introduction to the basics of programming.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, March 6, 2012 – Python programming has fast become the introductory programming language of choice, and now MIT OpenCourseWare has unveiled a new Python programming resource designed specifically for independent learners. Developed by Professor John Guttag, 6.00SC Introduction to Computer Science and Programming is a free and open course aimed at students with little or no prior programming experience. 6.00SC is the fifth of seven OCW Scholar courses planned for release by the end of February.

The traditional version of 6.00 on the OCW site, first published in 2007, quickly became the most visited course on the site, regularly receiving more than 100,000 visits each month. With the additional content and structure of the OCW Scholar format, Professor Guttag expects that 6.00SC will help hundreds of thousands more learn this very marketable skill. But the course doesn’t just teach a programming language—it teaches computational modes of thinking, allowing students to formulate problems that can be solved with computers and implemented in a variety of programming languages.

“The methods taught in this class provide a systematic approach to problem solving that can be applied to thousands of very real challenges,” said Professor Guttag. “By creating this independent learning resource, I hope to put these tools in the hands of people making a real difference in the world.” Prof. Guttag has long collaborated with both local hospitals and the Boston Celtics on real-world applications of the concepts he teaches.

OCW Scholar courses represent a new approach to OCW publication. MIT professors and students work closely with the OCW team to restructure the learning experience for independent learners, who typically have few additional resources available to them. The courses offer more materials than typical OCW courses and include new custom-created content. The OCW Scholar version of Introduction to Computer Science and Programming includes lecture videos, recitation videos and a series of problem sets involving the creation of word games.

The first five of a planned twenty OCW Scholar courses were launched by MIT OpenCourseWare in January 2011, and have collectively received more than 800,000 visits in less than a year. The initial OCW Scholar courses included Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Solid State Chemistry, Single Variable Calculus, and Multivariable Calculus.

Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Principles of Microeconomics and Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science were published earlier this year, and Introduction to Computer Science and Programming is the fifth of seven OCW Scholar courses that will be published in 2012. Other upcoming OCW Scholar courses include Principles of Microeconomics, Introduction to Psychology and Fundamentals of Biology. OCW Scholar courses are published on the OCW site with the support of the Stanton Foundation.

About MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare makes the materials used in the teaching of substantially all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate courses—more than 2,100 in all—available on the Web, free of charge, to any user in the world. OCW receives an average of 1.75 million web site visits per month from more than 215 countries and territories worldwide. To date, more than 100 million individuals have accessed OCW materials. MIT OpenCourseWare is supported by donations from site visitors, grants and corporate sponsorship.

About John Guttag

From January of 1999 through August of 2004, Professor Guttag served as Head of MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department. He served as Associate Department Head from Computer Science from 1993 to 1998. EECS, with approximately 1800 students and 125 faculty members, is the largest department at MIT. Professor Guttag currently co-heads the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s Networks and Mobile Systems Group. This group studies issues related to computer networks, applications of networked and mobile systems, and advanced software-based medical instrumentation and decision systems. Professor Guttag has also done research, published, and lectured in the areas of software engineering, mechanical theorem proving, hardware verification, compilation, and software radios. In addition to his academic activities, Professor Guttag has had long-term consulting relationships with a number of industrial research and advanced development organizations. He has also worked for many years as a consultant specializing in the analysis of information systems related business opportunities and risks. He currently serves on the technical advisory boards of Vanu, Inc., on the Board of Directors of Empirix, Inc., and on the Board of Trustees of the MGH Institute of Health Professions. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the ACM. Prof. Guttag earned an A.B. in English and an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Toronto.

About the Stanton Foundation

The Stanton Foundation was created by Frank Stanton, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest executives in the history of electronic communications. During his 25 years as president of CBS, he turned a lesser-known radio network into a broadcasting powerhouse. Stanton made many historic contributions to the industry and to the society it served. In 1960, he initiated the first televised presidential debates—the famous Nixon-Kennedy “Great Debates”—which required a special Act of Congress before they could proceed. He also spearheaded the creation of the first coast-to-coast broadcasting system, allowing CBS to become the first network to present a news event live across the continental United States, a speech by President Truman at the opening of the Japanese Peace Conference in San Francisco. Frank Stanton was the commencement speaker at MIT in 1961.


Stephen Carson
External Relations Director
MIT OpenCourseWare