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A review of a course by O'Reilly School of Technology, Python 1: Beginning Python

I have just completed the O’Reilly School of Technology Python 1 course, part of the Python Certificate qualification (consisting of four such courses). I thought it might be useful to write a little summary of what I thought of it.

Whilst I have had previous Python experience, much of this was self taught. I have had a small amount of formal programming and scripting teaching, using IDL and csh. I quickly realised that Python would be a good language to learn in my chosen specialist area and given that I was having to use it more and more at work, I felt a formal education was required to fill gaps in my very basic knowledge (rather than trying to work through a book).

Generally, I have found this course extremely beneficial. The guideline time for completion is 90 hours. As Python was not completely new to me, I completed it quicker than this. I imagine for someone completely new to programming, the 90 hours is a good guide. When you consider the price of the course, that is pretty good value.

Now that I’ve completed the course, I feel more confident with Python, I have learned some really valuable concepts and picked up some ‘good practise’. It is a good introduction and I think it would suit someone completely new to programming, who wants to learn from scratch.

Positives: - The course is well structured. It starts slowly, and gently introduces new concepts. It is broken down into manageable ‘lessons’ consisting of exercises, quizzes and assignments. These lessons are a good length meaning its easy to fit this course into a busy lifestyle. - A real person marks assignments, and very quickly too, generally within 2 working days. Feedback is detailed where it needs to be and quite often you are shown different ways in which you could have written the same assignment. If you don’t pass first time, you are given guidance on how to correct your work. - The web learning environment is simple and uncluttered.


  • Sometimes hard to read through the lessons on screen and there does not seem to be an easy way to download course material.

I have now signed up to the next Python course, which should keep me busy for the next 6 months.

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