Software and data make the world go round. Learn programming, to analyse and visualise open data, with this free online course.
This free course will teach you how to write your own computer programs, one line of code at a time. You'll learn how to access open data, clean it and analyse it and to produce visualisations. You will also learn how to write up and share your analyses, privately or publicly.
You will install free software (see Requirements below) to learn to code in Python, a widely used programming language across all disciplines, due to its support for scientific and engineering libraries and visualisation tools, and wide range of development tools.
You will write up analyses and do coding exercises using the popular Jupyter Notebooks platform, which allows you to see immediately the result of running your code and helps you identify - and fix - any errors more easily.
You will look at real data from the World Health Organisation, the World Bank and other organisations.
The course does not assume prior experience in programming or data analysis. Basic familiarity with a spreadsheet application will be an advantage.
The course does not require any knowledge of statistics, but you need to have basic numeracy skills, like writing arithmetic expressions, using percentages and understanding scientific notation. If you wish to brush up on your numeracy skills, we recommend the OpenLearn courses Basic Science: understanding numbers or Succeed with maths: part 1.
To study this course you will use specialist software. You can use the software online, via a free account on a website, or offline, by downloading and installing a free software package. The online solution requires a good internet connection and has some limitations.
The offline software has no limitations and is the recommended option. However, you will need access to a desktop or laptop computer on which you can install software. The software is free and there are versions available for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. You will need about 3 GB of free disk space to download and install the software, and to store datasets that will be provided in the course.
Whether you choose the online or offline software option, you will need to be proficient in basic computer tasks, like creating folders, downloading files and copying them to specific folders, etc. In terms of accessibility, you will be asked to use your web browser and to type code.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand basic programming and data analysis concepts
- recognise open data sources as a public resource
- use a programming environment to develop programs
- write simple programs to analyse large bodies of data and produce useful results.
The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course. We welcome your feedback and suggestions to improve the course.