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#FLcoding16: learn to code for data analysis week 1

flcoding1It’s the first week of the course ‘Learn to Code for Data Analysis‘ and I have just completed all required steps – so this short post is a quick reflection on my experience so far and it’s been a great week!

Once I got stuck in there were a couple of things that work extremely well for me: first, using the course instructions on the Futurelearn platform together with the Jupyter notebook and exercise data creates a clearly structured and engaging environment. I dipped into the comment sections for some exercises when I got stuck, but in general I found the first week’s exercises really interesting and helpful. I did end up getting things wrong and then learning from the errors that were generated, but it felt both challenging and achievable. Given that this is my first time with the software and the coding language, I think the course works extremely well. It provides a good balance between context and technical elements, both of which combined to draw me in even as a complete novice.

While I am interested in the data we were using in week 1 (mainly WHO data, similar to what I have come across during graduate study) what I found most rewarding was gaining a better understanding of the various approaches and how they can be applied to small and large sets of data. Again, the course structure demonstrates the thought process alongside the mechanical steps, which was very effective. My favourite interaction with the exercises was the little messages that appeared after completing one, referring you back to the course platform. It was a small thing, but it made a big difference to how easily I could navigate an alien environment.

I dipped into the course a couple of times during the week, first to have a look around and read some introduction material, then again to read some more and watch the first videos and then a third time to get stuck in with the actual exercises and quizzes. Sorting large tables by columns and calculating different averages was particularly satisfying… I installed the software etc the week before, so that things were ready when I got started. I liked the information and prompt provided to share the work from the course and I might do so in the following weeks, but this week I feel the whole process is still too new for me to want to share more than my thoughts.

So far, so good – a really engaging and rewarding first week with lots of practical knowledge gained. Looking forward to week 2!