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Then and now: Think Python and learning computer programming free

IT History: Looking Back at the Evolution of the Internet

During the early 1990s, there was a spurt of private educational houses in cities in India providing computer training. Computer use was increasing and its future (IT History) rightly looked promising. Access to the computer was mainly limited to offices. Trainees used to pay a premium for learning something which they learn by themselves in home/school these days.

NIIT in 1990 created the ‘Computer Drome’ to provide “unlimited” computer time to students.

When it comes to computer programming, object-oriented programming with C++ was the place to start with. With limited study materials in hand and the high cost of books, learning software programming was a privilege. Some of the training institutions were excellent, but time allocated could be as low as five hours a week in a batch of around 20 candidates. Within nine months, you were expected to use the mouse for the first time to write customized C++ software codes. Add to it the fact that computer was not available in most homes. Candidates used to feel lucky if they could use the computer in so-called drome (another word for a pool of computers assembled for candidates so that they could practice).

Things have changed for the better. Today, one can learn the basics of computer programming without spending a single penny following free online courses like by Alison, books like Think Python. Python is programming language developed to make learners understand basics of computer programming without getting overwhelmed on syntax. After learning, one can take certification exams (such as VSkills in India which are priced reasonable) in order to add credibility to the CV. From one angle, learning is also liberated from brands aggressive in making bucks by investing single-handedly in marketing.

Many young aspirants, however, are still caught in trap with likes of promises of 100% job assistance while pursuing a degree/diploma in IT. Until and unless one is looking for a government service where academic degree is a must (which too changing in case of a new trend of contractual jobs under which hiring performance-based and HR given flexibility), why not consider learning mediums like HackerRank which is a skills-based tech hiring platform that helps companies evaluate technical skills, better. They claim they are driving a new paradigm shift by eliminating resumes and creating opportunities for hundreds of thousands of programmers worldwide.

An interesting model of free online learning is CS50x Introduction to Computer Science by HarvardX (dare to say rigorous) which one can pursue totally free and if so desired get a verified certificate after paying a fee.

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