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OSSU: Path to a free, self-taught education in computer science (github.com/ossu)
322 points by axiomdata316 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 149 comments



A lot of comments are dismissing this because it doesn't provide a credential upon completion. But you don't get mad at a hammer for not putting staples in paper, nor get mad at a stapler for not putting nails in wood. This is a tool that gives empowers you to educate yourself, not a tool that gives you a credential.

As someone with a deep love of learning and knowledge, I am delighted that this exists.


A lot of comments are dismissing this because it doesn't provide a credential upon completion.

Obvious solution would be decoupling teaching and certification. Actually, having both performed by the same institutions seems like a conflict of interest.


Another solution would be to have apprenticeship as you had them in olden days: You can become an apprentice at one or preferably a few craftsmen (IT companies) for a given number of years. They'd teach you, pay you and in the end evaluate you. You can do that in parallel to following something like the given materials in OSSU.

Germany has apprenticeships as far as I am aware, I don't know enough about it though.

edit: Yes! Having certification and teaching done by one organisation _IS_ a huge conflict of interest. Splitting these up without changing the fundamentals (courses and exams/assignments) woudln't do much to fix this I think as you'd either have clumsy evaluations or organisations that just help each other out in order to gain from a slightly different system.


> Having certification and teaching done by one organisation _IS_ a huge conflict of interest

A college degree is more like a certificate of completion than a certification of skill or competentcy. It says that the holder passed the minimum requirements for the degree.

Post-degree certifications like CPA, medical boards, engineer, bar exam are already administered by independent organizations.

I can understand if most of the resentment about these degreeless learning paths comes from people with 6-figure student loans


This exists actually for software development. I went through the AWS Software Development Engineer Apprenticeship when I made a career change from Military & Government work into Software.

Similar programs exist at Google, Lyft, and a few other tech companies.

Apprenti, the non-profit that administers the AWS apprenticeship, is doing pretty great work getting people into tech form non-traditional roles.


The US still has appreticeships in skilled labor positions. Electrician and carpentry to nane a few.


> I don't know enough about it

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27662804


> Obvious solution

I don't see a problem here that needs fixing. It seems you are conflating certification with degree.

Competition from open learning paths should make paid degree programs adapt to be more competitive. Open, self paced learning isn't for everyone, but it's still awesome to see the open access to this knowledge with little to no economic barriers to entry.


I'm still kind of surprised that software engineers don't have the same certification process as structural engineers, civil engineers, etc. You have to work as a newbie for a couple years, then get a few professional engineers to vouch for you, then pass an exam, then you get your stamp.

Sure, you can get certified by Amazon or Google or Microsoft in their own proprietary tech stack, and you can get a degree from an accredited university, but there's no formal body of software engineers who've outlined a process by which you can earn your engineering stamp.


Education and certification are decoupled. The problem is employers insist on the certifications. So why bother educating yourself with the same material and not just getting the certification at the same time? It’s more profitable that way if your goal is to get a job.

If you want to just learn, there are no practical barriers for most people.


Formal education and certification are definitely not decoupled. You learn at the same university that gives you the degree.

While I agree with the above that having them under the same roof can cause a conflict of interest. But we also know for a fact that having them decoupled can cause serious problems as well. For one you end up with brain dumps that study for the cert and not for the subject matter. We see this for MCSE as much as the SAT.

While that can happen with a university as well, it doesn't always and is a useful measure of the institution's quality.


> You learn at the same university that gives you the degree.

In the United States, this certification happens at the institutional level. Universities are either accredited by either a regional body (good) or a national body (not so good). The accreditation process requires demonstrating that you have competent faculty, that these faculty have designed a reasonable curriculum from each of your degree programs, that the courses taught as part of that curriculum cover appropriate material, and that students are at least nominally assessed.

In addition to accreditation, there's also a reputation effect among employers. We know which of the universities in our region have strong CS programs, and which ones are not so strong. And there's a reason that employers prefer CS students from places like CMU/MIT/Stanford/Berkley/UIUC/etc. The names aren't just names -- those institutions have exceptional CS programs. I'm sure a student slips through the cracks here or there, but the median student from those institutions is almost certainly going to at least have a good background in CS.

> But we also know for a fact that having them decoupled can cause serious problems as well. For one you end up with brain dumps that study for the cert and not for the subject matter. We see this for MCSE as much as the SAT.

Frankly, I think the decouple-and-test model is substantially worse than the accreditation model. Have you seen the contents of the Computer Science subject area GRE? It's from the 1980s. The AP CS exam and model curricula aren't that much better -- definitely not what I would expect out of a CS 1 student at any decent university. In fact, I can't think of a single formal exam in CS that's actually a decent signal of even basic CS knowledge, let alone engineering skill.


> In the United States, this certification happens at the institutional level. Universities are either accredited by either a regional body (good) or a national body (not so good). The accreditation process requires demonstrating that you have competent faculty, that these faculty have designed a reasonable curriculum from each of your degree programs, that the courses taught as part of that curriculum cover appropriate material, and that students are at least nominally assessed.

Yes, I'm aware of accreditation and the process. I've served on a department advisory board for about 5 years now and have seen the process via ABET first hand. I hate to disappoint you, but these accreditation agencies are box-checkers and they don't do too much other than publish some guidelines and look at course material. The university could lose the accreditation and teach the same stuff and nothing would really change for students - in a vacuum student outcomes would be exactly the same except that as you mention...

> there's also a reputation effect among employers.

This has not much to do with accreditation. CMU, MIT, Stanford, etc... could lose their accreditation and nothing would change for the university. Their reputation is far stronger than the governing body. The exceptional programs that are there exist without consideration to ABET. It's just not meaningful. If they said "we are no longer complying with ABET" (at least for engineering) it would discredit ABET and not the university. Not all universities transcend this, but I'd say most brand name ones do (Ohio State, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, etc.). I'd bet a survey of employers and students would show very little knowledge of the existence of many of these accreditation bodies. It's just a battle not worth fighting professors over, and the accreditation bodies don't look too hard because why kill the golden goose? Everybody just winks at each other. I guess think about accreditation bodies as insurance.

Anyway, that's just my take on these accreditation bodies. I'm sure some are better and some are worse.

But my main point was that education itself is decoupled from certification. The employers (as you mentioned) care about certification, but that is the degree from the prestigious university, not whether ABET says that the curriculum meets some standard. You can learn computer science or any other topic to a high degree of proficiency, but employers still care about the certification. So you might as well just get the certification if you care about education as a means to a job.


AFAIK ABET's process is different from regional accreditation, probably in part because ABET's historical roots were in Engineering where there is an explicit assumption of eventual external certification (the PE exam).

> The university could lose the accreditation and teach the same stuff and nothing would really change for students - in a vacuum student outcomes would be exactly the same except that as you mention...

This is definitely not true of regional accreditation -- a degree from an unaccredited institution isn't worth the paper it's printed on in many fields. Also, as you point out, it's a low bar. If a university is accredited it may or may not do a good job at education/assessment. But a university that loses regional accreditation is almost certainly doing a horrible job at both.

ABET is a bit different -- lots of quality programs aren't ABET accredited. But still, in traditional Engineering fields, losing ABET accreditation can also have a material effect on students' outcomes (can you even sit for the PE exam without an ABET accredited degree?)

> these accreditation agencies are box-checkers and they don't do too much other than publish some guidelines and look at course material.

Yes, there's no silver bullet and the map is never the territory. The only alternative I'm aware of is standardized exams, which, well, look at US K12 or the CS GRE.

>> there's also a reputation effect among employers.

> This has not much to do with accreditation.

Right, they are two separate things but both effect institutional behavior.

> But my main point was that education itself is decoupled from certification. The employers (as you mentioned) care about certification, but that is the degree from the prestigious university, not whether ABET says that the curriculum meets some standard. You can learn computer science or any other topic to a high degree of proficiency, but employers still care about the certification. So you might as well just get the certification if you care about education as a means to a job.

This we agree on.


Well, someone has to certify the university. They wouldn't stay certified long if they just gave diplomas to anything with a pulse.


As a Canadian, the most educated nation in the world, we do pretty much give diplomas to anything with a pulse. It doesn't affect school credibility, it merely pushes people to feel like they need even higher levels of formal education to compete.


I wonder if it's related to the immigration system: having a degree can score you enough points to be able to immigrate (no matter how employable or if the degree is real) [0].

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHTg5zzFEKE


> As a Canadian, the most educated nation in the world

> we do pretty much give diplomas to anything with a pulse

What's the metric for being the most educated nation? 'Cause ya know if it's "most diplomas per capita" or something and you freely give them out... we might want to rethink that lol.

Just something to think about I guess


> What's the metric for being the most educated nation?

The metric OECD uses.


What’s that metric?


Whatever they state the metric is, I imagine.


Interesting. Well I'll just assume it's based on number of degrees and that it's probably not an accurate assessment of how educated a country really is, since degree != education.


> Well I'll just assume it's based on number of degrees

Seems like a pretty fair assumption given that is the topic of discussion.

> since degree != education.

Quite true, but as everyone gains an education every minute of their lives, the most educated will be the oldest population. I'm not sure that's particularly useful information.


Could you elaborate on the differences here with formal education (which I imagine you mean through a university) and certification? Why would you go to the university and complete all of the course load but then not get the certification?


Coupled in the sense that it’s the university providing the certification as well. Contrast this with certain national school systems where local high schools provide instruction but your final exam papers are graded by a centralized national authority, which is what provides the certification. Alternatively, going to law school but getting certified by passing the bar, which isn’t under the direct control of your law school.


The problem is that the existing education+certification process is staggeringly inefficient and wasteful. The other problem is that employers insist on certifications from an educational institution.

The efficient answer is a certification that employers will accept, and various competing educational pathways. And if your educational pathway was reading Byte Magazines that you found in your uncle's attic, and you actually learned enough to pass the certification, well, that's probably not the most efficient educational path, but if it worked for you, congratulations. You're certified.


A lot of comments are dismissing this because it doesn't provide a credential upon completion.

That’s rich considering how quickly (and aggressively) software developers dismiss all other forms of credentials (licensing, certifications, advanced degrees), especially on HN.


HN isn't one person. There are a variety of people here with a variety of viewpoints. To expect consistency in what people say here is to expect disappointment, because you aren't going to get it.

There are a lot of software engineers who don't have any kind of certification, including a degree. Many of us at least know such people, even if we aren't that person ourselves. We're kind of skeptical of anything that says "that person isn't qualified to do this work".

Many other software engineers (I say "other", but it's not a completely disjoint set) see too many people show up at interviews (or even on the job) who can't program. Like, can't program at all. They'd like some way to weed them out.

And then some other people look at this program from a purely selfish point of view, and say "Learning some stuff might help my career, but I can do that without this program. But learning some stuff with a certification would help my career more..."


Well, I'm pretty sure the people dismissing this for lack of certification are the same people (like myself) who also dismiss the dismissal of all other forms of credentials (licensing, certification, advanced degrees).


Speaking of the subject, if someone DOES want a credential and already knows a lot of CS, are there good online courses that provide sped up process? I have been programming since 20 years ago, am a lead developer at a large company, but have no degree. Sadly some companies like Google do require it to even consider submissions, so I wonder if I should enroll an online course just for the paper.


Check out Western Governors University. It is an accredited online university formed back in the 90's and I believe is non profit as well so it isn't like the University of Phoenix or those other scam schools.

They have a competency based model where if you can demonstrate competency by passing the test and/or completing the project you can be done with the class, whether that takes you 3 days or 3 months.

You also play a flat rate for the semester and complete as many classes as you want at a time.

I did it I loved it, I'd been in the field and was able to breeze through some of my courses while the ones I wasn't familiar with helped me.

They also have a lot of classes that the test is an industry cert, so it's a cheap way to get some certs under your belt as well.


> You also play a flat rate for the semester and complete as many classes as you want at a time.

Oooh, I did not know that. So you could figure out what classes you want, study for them on your own, then pay for one semester and pass all the tests? If you've got the discipline to study with no feedback for a year or two, that could be a really inexpensive way to get a degree...


It is a really inexpensive way to get a good degree. The one caveat is that they already have determined the classes and the courses you just choose what order you go through them in. For example I am currently getting my masters, and someone has posted how they managed to knock out the entire degree (8 semesters) in 2 months. (The disclaimer was he had worked in the field for close to 10 years in various positions, so everything in the degree was second nature)

I got my degree in 18 months, plus one semester of a local college prior. But yes if you've got the discipline and motivation you can get your entire degree in 6 months for about 4 grand.

It really is the way of the future in my mind.


Some companies/teams will not recognize online courses, some will only consider from "good" universities, so worth checking before you enroll.

However in my experience such organizations are really a waste of time if they insist on a degree for people with a lot of experience, every internal promotion will have similar and sometimes unreachable barriers.


In France, there's a system called VAE (acquired experience validation) which is a mean to convert experience to a credential. It requires to prepare a complete file with an university. The VAE acknowledge an equivalence with an university degree


You're a lead developer at a large company, are there any universities near this large company with CS degrees?

People are going to consider "online course just for the paper" to be somewhat of a scam.

So, just for the paper, no.


Exactly. I think if you're the sort of person who can self teach yourself an entire CS degree in your spare time, that's going to look very good on your CV, accreditation or not.

The issue would be getting past the automated CV checkers or recruiters that will throw out any applicants that don't have a certain grade


Nobody looks at grades unless you are a fresh graduate with nothing else to populate on a resume.


With less than 5 years of experience it's definitely a factor. If your straight Cs and B- and only have 3 years in some junior role, you're really not prio 1 interview material.


Then all my interviews (and coworkers) imply a radically different experience. Education is just one or optional lines on a resume that nobody looks at. You don't need a CS degree (or any degree at all) to be a developer.


I think it depends on your speciality . If you're something like a web dev where there's probably 100 other people applying for the same job, then it makes it easier for other CVs to be considered over yours.

Something more specialist, they might give more time to consider your application


I think the reason fo this emphasis is that there are already plenty of resources for self-learning CS. Indeed a lot of the mainstream universities make their course materials available. The bit that is not typically available is the credential, so if we truly want to disrupt the edcuation model then that's the bit that needs to be solved.


This type of logic would say there no point in having more than a few CS programs worldwide because it already exists.

Credentials historically are built in the brand of the institution, a clock which is starting to tick.

Would you care for the credential of an institution if it goes out of business in the next 3-5 years?


> This type of logic would say there no point in having more than a few CS programs worldwide because it already exists.

Well... yes. If they were all open programs then that may well be true. Of course there's value in diversity. But it does seem like a massive waste of resources that we have students paying thousands for tuition they could get much cheaper if it was shared around more widely.

> Would you care for the credential of an institution if it goes out of business in the next 3-5 years?

That depends entirely on whether my credential was still accepted beyond that point. But in any case, I don't see why a new credentialing organisation should last any less long than an older one.


yes, but please consider that pursuing such disruption and getting a self-taught education might be orthogonal problems. event though there are many resources, I appreciate the effort put into curating a selection of those.


Self directed learning is an invaluable skill for anyone, credential or not.


While that's true, most of the valuable employees have 1 top skill: communication. That's neither trained nor witnessed by having gone through 2 years of I-did-this-alone-at-home.


Learning how to learn is more of a master skill, under which learning tech or communication falls.

Communication is critical but can lead to non-tech people talking about tech, too. Need both.

Theres nothing about self-directed learning that says one couldn’t do it on the job, or doing other things. Work integrated learning one example.

Conversely, suffering group work in post secondary doesn’t always guarantee excellent communication skills. It’s another way (for the few) to learn to work with people who might not be able to work with each other. There is lots of self directed learning needed in post secondary too, only they call it learning how to think.

This program in question appears to be part time.. which leaves time to not be alone at home and instead be scrolling the world through a little window.


Does the 4 year education in college improve that skill better?

Most likely, the self-taught person is also doing some other job, etc as well. So, he is managing a tougher-than-normal schedule, and communication/planning comes into play for sure.


Not sure about the loner generally having an edge over college here. I had to communicate, collaborate and team work plenty back in the college days.



As someone who teaches Human-Computer Interaction in a CS program, I find it odd that there are no HCI topics on that list. Especially, when they say it's a "complete education in computer science". Perhaps it's a matter of tradition etc., but some basic knowledge about HCI might be useful ;)

I'm not surprised, but still, Bush, Licklider, Engelbart, Weiser, Kay, Victor etc. are all about HCI...


This is minimum curriculum that you need to have knowledge of. It is not full replica of undergrad course. Also CS not IT.

I am not sure learning HCI helps with computer science itself most of which is really applied math.


HCI remains one of my favourite CS topics.

Understanding the user beyond tactics of engagement and viral loops is a valuable skill.

With the sharding of software developers into frontend and backend developers, perhaps the HCI through the software layers is falling thru the cracks.


Past related threads:

OSSU: A path to a free self-taught education in computer science - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21062799 - Sept 2019 (172 comments)

Path to a free self-taught education in Computer Science - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16035839 - Dec 2017 (66 comments)


Do you actually get a degree at the end? Or is it a lot of work that you put in which will be ignored by recruiters that "just get too many applications" and filter by college education?


Is a CS degree important nowadays? I do have one, but literally no one mentioned or asked about my education during an interview, ever.


1. They didn't ask in the interview because you are not going to say something surprising about your degree. They already know you have it and have made their inferences from it. There is no need for further discussions

2. The problem isn't the interview, people can show their knowledge in an interview. Problem is getting the interview.


I think it's less about the actual interview and more about the initial opportunity. Some recruiters definitely still filter on degree. And similarly, some companies have special pipelines for big schools they like.

Once you're in the interview, it's more about real experience and knowledge. I think nobody cares whether you got your experience from school or from somewhere else.


In the (UK) developer job ads there is usually something along the lines of "a degree in computer science or relevant experience". Based on my experience I am guessing that this only matters for the purposes of getting through the recruiter / HR gatekeeper filter - once your actual tech chops are being considered no one cares, in fact not having a CS degree may well be to your advantage (CS does not teach you how to become a good software engineer, nor does it teach you the soft skills).

That said, without the CS education (formal or otherwise) some fields of work will be inaccessible but I think these are in the minority.


Interviewing people without formal education to SWe/MLe roles has always been a disaster for me.


No one asked you because you already have a degree in CS. But for a non CS graduate things are different I guess


I didn’t go to college, and I don’t include an education section on my resume. In 23 years in the industry, I’ve never been asked.


Well you are an inspiration for others. Can you share some useful knowledge so others can benefit from your experiences?


I can summarize my path. Ages 12-20, wrote code every day. Took a QA job at a small software company. Moved to development team. Spent 6 years there. Used that experience to get into Microsoft. 5 years there. At that point, there were almost no companies that wouldn’t interview me, and it was just on me to do well in the interviews. I have practiced white boarding all through my career.

So the idea is to get your foot in whatever door you can at that time, and climb when you can.


Thanks for your input. Highly appreciate


With 23 years in industry, you were joining back when CS degrees were less common.

This is like the "boomer handshake" meme. Nowadays you need a degree.


I used to work with a guy who dropped out of a gamedev course at a second-tier university. Graduate SWE at a respectable/selective company and all.

Admittedly, this was at a company with about 500 employees and 1 part-time HR person (who quit 6 months later and wasn't replaced).


I started in the industry 7 years ago without a degree and am doing well.


do you think it's possible to work at companies like amazon and google without a degree at all?


Sure, Amazon has jobs in it's warehouses :p


Yes, I know a number of people who have


I do


I didn't go to college, have no "Education" section on my resume. Senior-level SDE, 8 years of experience.

I've been asked about my education in initial recruiter screens maybe 10% of the time, and its come up later down the line in interviews maybe 20% of the time. I've never had it clearly and obviously preclude me from moving forward (as in obviously dropped from consideration after that conversation).

I've found most people who ask to be curious, but keen to move on and talk about my experience. It might be different at the entry level.


I have been asked for a copy of my transcripts before - but only as part of a background check.


If you already have a degree but it's not CS (perhaps it's mathematics or electrical engineering), then these courses are perfect. I credit a lot of my programming skills to Stanford's courses even though that is not where my degrees are from.


Was disappointed to see that an open source education project requires one to accept the terms of service of a proprietary, centralized, and privacy adverse service like Discord to be able to communicate with others.

This makes it hard to recommend to others.

I don't understand this trend.


> I don't understand this trend

Network effect. I don't like it neither. Many open source projects adopt Discord now, making it harder to be part of their community if you want to avoid non-free software / closed networks. (What next? Open source projects hosted on a non-free social network? /s)

From the outside, this is an impressive phenomenon, where in a very short time you notice everybody suddenly going to Discord and you don't understand what's happening / what's the deal.

But since nobody cares, it's not a problem.


In what way is Discord particularly privacy averse?


There's a feature that they scan your messages for abusive content, so it's surely not encrypted as they can read every private message


"Do the advertise encryption?"

Do they need to? The point wasn't "they falsely advertise encryption" The point was "they do not respect privacy"

Their advertising is irrelevant.


No, that was not, in fact, the question I asked. I asked whether they were "particularly privacy averse." And, to me, it seems like they are not any more privacy averse than any other messaging service, given that they don't claim to offer any more privacy than any other service.

In fact, the only real difference I see between Discord and an IRC server is that Discord forces you to create an account and associates your messages with it. But, so does Github, and nobody complains about needing a Github account to contribute to FOSS projects.


"it seems like they are not any more privacy averse than any other messaging service, given that they don't claim to offer any more privacy than any other service." Pro tip, using sweeping words like "any" will almost always make you wrong.

Nearly every popular messaging service these days offers end-to-end encryption. I have no idea what you're talking about when you say they "are not any more privacy averse than any other messaging service"

When you're worse off, privacy-wise than a Facebook owned messenger, you're not doing too hot.

I found a good write up of popular and e2e messengers for you to check out. https://getstream.io/blog/most-secure-messaging-apps/


I'm not claiming Discord is the most privacy-focused messenger out there by any means. That's what you seem to be arguing. I'm arguing that they have no particular aversion to user privacy (i.e. they are not particularly "privacy averse"). Literally nothing you've said constitutes a counterargument against that.

Again, if you want to revise your claim to say that they're not particularly privacy-focused, then, sure, I agree with that. But, to argue that they're privacy averse (meaning they hate user privacy and don't want anybody to have it), I don't see it, and it's not been proven here.

Pro tip: try arguing the point you're actually trying to make.


Scanning user content for hate speech demonstrates feature that could not be performed with e2e.

So one of their advertised selling points is privacy violating. Also they don't have privacy features that many of their competitors do.

Those two data points seem to show privacy aversion to me.


> nobody complains about needing a Github account to contribute to FOSS projects.

Of course people do, that's why there are other platforms and self-hosted solutions. Github is antithetical to the idea of free open source, especially now that it's been "acquired" by Microsoft.


"and nobody complains about needing a Github account to contribute to FOSS projects." Did you really just say that on hacker news? I literally read somebody complaining about that THIS MORNING.


Oh, really? And I suppose it over privacy concerns? Context, please.


I'll leave the googling to you my friend.


Do they advertise encryption?


Nand2Tetris and Roughgarden, looks like an excellent syllabus tbh.

Unfortunately it's pretty worthless without a paper degree. It's cool that Finland is now having open online registration for Finnish citizens to do online courses like https://fullstackopen.com/en/

It's a shame something like that doesn't exist in every country.


In Finland you can usually complete first year of the bachelors studies without enrolling to the university. Some of the courses, like first programming courses in CS, are free. Others cost a small fee, around 75€ per course. If you decide to enroll in the uni later, those will be acknowledged as well. They also have Digital Education For All program that has all of the first year studies for free.

I personally did complete about six months worth of studies while still in the secondary education.


Yeah, it seems so awesome. And using the Personnummer / BankID to allow all the registration online, etc.

Lightyears ahead of the rest of Europe.


For a lot of positions, this is worth more than a paper degree. If I came across a candidate who did all of this, has a profile filled with visible projects, and was able to finish all of this course work self directed then they are going to be worlds better than most CS graduates.


How does OSSU compare to https://teachyourselfcs.com/ ? I just started the latter.


I've tried both (but have not completed them): In contrast to OSSU, TYSCS focuses purely on the fundamentals.


This is a nice way to learn CS in your own time. Sure there's no piece of paper at the end but it should help improve your skills & remove any sort of impostor syndrome junior self-taught devs might have.

Some of these comments remind me of an argument in "The Case Against Education" by Bryan Caplan that degrees are more about signalling than anything else nowadays.

If you have two candidates applying for a job. One audited MIT classes for four years completing all problem sets but not receiving any credits. The other cheated and dragged their way to a low-GPA degree but has the qualification. Who would be more likely to get a job offer?


If you have the opportunity to go to university, my personally small and insignificant advice - do it. If you're already established in the industry but haven't studied these things - do it.


> If you have the opportunity to go to university, my personally small and insignificant advice - do it.

I’ve attempted to look into it a few times, but it seems pretty clear they don’t want me. From the prohibitive costs, to the riding, bureaucratic admission where my high school disciplinary record is more important than my resume and where I’m a “dependent” despite what my tax returns have said for the last several years, it’s clear that universities are mostly interested in gullible HS seniors who’s parents can co-sign for insane loans. In the US at least.


Perhaps go to a state school or school with easier admissions. If you're really diligent then you can graduate at top of your class and make a good impression on your professors who are well connected in the industry. You would very likely have great prospects taking this route.


can we make something similar for medical studies. I know it is a walled garden at the moment.


OSSU does a great job. I recently started building a CS curriculum with a focus on giving students a single interactive place to get all the material. You can check it out here if interested: https://GitHub.com/Qvault/curriculum


I'm curios if OSSU's self-taught is more self-taught than typical CS course from other Coursera partner universities. I took several courses there (mainly from Duke) and I would not call it self-taught because instructor's role in the process was quite gross.


Why can't this exist for traditional engineering? Chemical, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, etc.


Aside from the fact you generally need licenses to practice these professions, an additional challenge is you need lab equipment that may be expensive, regulated, or dangerous to acquire, to actually practice doing anything. I can't see any practical way to self-practice civil engineering in particular. Nobody is going to let you build a test bridge. Universities provide lab facilities for you to do this kind of thing.

CS is the outlier because the only lab equipment you need is a used laptop or a Raspberry Pi and Internet access.

Granted, computational engineering where you can just simulate the lab has come a long way, but even there, you generally need a lot of compute power if you don't want your simulation of a bridge to take 3 months to run.


It kind of does, but what would be the purpose?

In many countries you can’t work as a traditional engineer without the license. To get the license you need to complete the degree, and then do the apprenticeship and exams.

Yes, some exceptions exist, but those are the minority, and they still require formal schooling. For example, [0] outlines requirements for a bridging pilot program in BC, Canada. To be eligible you are required to have a diploma of technology as the minimum level of education. That’s 2 years of study in BC. You’ll still need to learn the remaining 2 years of the engineering curriculum on your own and you’ll need to demonstrate equivalent mastery.

MIT OCW has a lot of material available for the traditional engineering curricula with guides [1].

The licensing body in your region may publish curricula that include example textbooks to acquire the material from. See [2], for example.

However, there are some limitations to what you can learn without having access to the labs. You can learn the mechanics, physics, programming, math calculation as an individual, but that’s not the only thing being taught.

With maker spaces it might be possible to learn some of the manufacturing process courses on your own.

Much of traditional engineering involves looking up details in the specifications and standards documents and “connecting the plumbing” so to speak. There are engineers who are “catalogue engineers” and others who are “spreadsheet engineers”. There is very little “rolling your own” like in software.

But again, why? If it’s for personal education, then the material is out there as I hope I’ve been able to show. But if it’s for professional practice, then going through a formal program of some kind is probably required.

[0] https://www.egbc.ca/Registration/Individual-Registrants/How-...

[1] https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mit-curriculum-guide/

[2] https://www.egbc.ca/Registration/Individual-Registrants/How-...


Materials


I love this. I used back in 2015 and did many courses but didn't finish.


Hopefully they make a Matrix space soon so people can talk safely and make a community.


Would be great to add pure Physics and Mathematics syllabi.


Autodidacts ASSEMBLE!


All this is needed for becoming a better what?


Answered further down, but this take seems very pessimistic. So what if this doesn't result in a computer science degree? It absolutely will result in a deeper understanding of the theory of computer science, its practical uses in software development, and a hardware level understanding of how computation works in practice.

That's nothing to sneer at.


But you can't use this knowledge to build something significant that community calls you a computer scientist.


Why does that matter? Think of this from the perspective of a bootcamp grad working in tech, for example. That person might want to complement their practical skills with theoretical knowledge and deeper understanding. That understanding can help them hone their skills and develop professionally as an engineer.

There are lots of people for whom this content is very valuable. Many of those people don't necessarily care about being able to use the title "computer scientist" is totally irrelevant. I have a degree in computer science but I don't call myself a computer scientist.

I don't see the reason to disparage the content because it doesn't come with the title. Maybe I'm missing something you can share?


What is in CS that makes it a field that can be self taught? Can you become a self taught physicist? I think you can't. Then what is the difference between studies in CS and physics?


What makes it a field that can't be self-taught? What defines the same for any field?

To take the best reading I can of what your point is: you're saying a pupil will not self-study this course and go into CS academia. I agree with you there.

To me, that seems a poor reason to criticize this course, the content, or people who want to pursue it. There are many reasons to learn undergraduate CS material besides pursuing academia (again, self as an easy example: CS -> SWE). I don't feel there was anything in my degree which could not have been self-studied with enough tenacity.

If it's about joining academia, I get your point. Otherwise, really unsure why you're fixated on the title. Anyone can absolutely self study physics the same as computer science, and use that knowledge to advance their understanding in other fields, or hobbies, or just pursue knowledge for the satisfaction. Those all seem worthwhile to me :)


I think you need to google; "self taught scientists", unfortunately, in my limited perspective, somehow credibility become equalized with degree (e.i. title and money) and not the actual knowledge/skills in many fields, in today's world it is socially unacceptable not to have degree, the value of actual skills/knowledge is not as important as to have PhD title, I really hope it will change in future.


I don't think anything would stop someone from publishing a great paper in physics or computer science on their own in 2021.

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi's book The Formula is kind of about this. While nothing would stop an individual from publishing such a paper, outside a major company or university setting an individual wouldn't have the network to notice the paper basically.


Lack of specialist equipment required. You can absolutely become a self-taught physicist, although IMO physics much more difficult than CS.


This comes back to your (or my) definition of science. To me it's just about furthering knowledge through provable explanations.

Is it more efficient if you collaborate with other people with the same goal (e.g. Academia)? Yes.

Is it a necessity to conduct science? Absolutely not; how do you think it was done in the past? Almost all of the early scientists were self-taught individuals.


> Then what is the difference between studies in CS and physics?

The former needs paper and pencil. The latter requires expensive equipment to prove your theories. At best you can learn theoretical physics by yourself and formulate some hypotheses. Proving them might often be a completely different matter.


I think self-teaching is much more about the student than the subject. As for CS (but really, programming) the investment for equipment and learning materials is comparatively next to nothing.


Don't get it (was it a joke?) Answering your question: To become a better computer scientist.


You can't call yourself a computer scientist by doing self taught education. That's the biggest problem with it


You can't say you have a degree in computer science, but you can certainly learn and practice the theory and concepts just as well as anyone else. And to that end: I see lots of good material!


at the end of all this self-thought modern approach to education i see only one thing - alienation.


Alienation from? The academic community? I question whether those are the folks this content targets.


alienation from any community. from peers, from elders, from others that are passionate about sharing knowledge via human-to-human transmission. and no - automated learning is not a computer-mediated transmission in the very sense that reading 12 books by 12 authors does not mean you had 12 teachers.


Yes alienation from the academic community


Who cares? The academic community is often alienating everybody who is not in academia, degree or not. And where it isn't, it doesn't care if you have a degree or not.


The hard truth is that there isn't much "science" in most computer "science" jobs. The world needs brick layers too. Nothing wrong with that as such, but confusing computer scientists with programming workers is one of the root causes for the software mess these days.


self-educated know-it-alls are much more responsible for the appalling level of alienation of people in IT in general. since so many people are self-taught they are eventually not learned into exchanging knowledge with other humans.


I have multiple degrees in history yet I’m completely detached from the academic community because I don’t do research and don’t publish anything. So if I follow your logic it means I (and many thousands like me) have no degree at all?


that does not seem to be the primary intention of the creators.

Even if it is a side-effect, who cares?


Exactly.


Most people that do computer science degrees don't call themselves computer scientists afterward. In fact, the only people I've ever known that call themselves that title are those in academia.


very much true.

better computer scientist needs interaction with other people, needs to learn to respect their views or at least understand them, evaluate. perhaps needs to meet other scientists. to exchange ideas and approaches. this is what schools and academia is for.

this whole self-taught thing is a time-bomb. we already have too many self-taught engineers, architects and what-nots who can only work with themselves, listen to themselves, and agree to their own designs. not okay.

being good at anything more often than not means also being good in working with people.

even though you can also call yourself better piper or better kiter, doesn't mean you actually are better at anything just like this.


This is a red herring. This is for improving your technical competency, not for improving your social skills. It doesn't mean social skills are unimportant, it just means that this doesn't focus on that part of the equation. Do you have any issues with the technical material they suggest you focus on?


automated tools are top for improving certain tech skills. like Duolingo is good for as a language starter. But only talking with other people will really teach you the language - people teach each other even if they don't have the intent to do it. Same with technology.

Social skills are very important, cannot be more important in these times. 15+ years in academia, not as researcher, but as teacher, showed one thing - the best learners are those who are best at listening, at interacting with others, not the top-bookshelf-worms. Usually not the top kids, but most usually become top contributors to teams and companies at later point.

Surely now and then an Einstein is born, but we also know of people who were very active in their social interaction without all the academia fuss about it. and academia is one place to find people to interact with. and academia is not only Oxford and MIT where entry level is very hard, nearly impossible.

So all of this is not about academia, rather about being human with humans.


some interesting sweeping generalisations there...


Is it a protected title where you live?


Why not?


Because you don't stand on the shoulders of giants?


What's that supposed to mean? Learning from the giants only counts if it happened while "supervised" by some random lecturer?


Why not?!


I personally find the algebra and infinitesimal calculus quite useful for general problem solving skills. Sure it doesn’t provide you with concrete skills in the latest JS framework but it does help in terms of ability to reason about abstract problems and generalisations. Each to their own but I find it quite useful (I used to be a dev but now work in strategy consulting and here I cherish my math skills every day).


Balancing binary tree.


You couldn't say computer scientist




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