Mastering the Basics: A Review of CS50T

3 min read • November 8, 2022

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CS50T or “CS50’s Understanding Technology” is Harvard’s introduction to technology. It focuses on fundamental computer science topics, available on edX for free!

This is CS50’s introduction to technology for students who don’t (yet) consider themselves computer persons. Designed for those who work with technology every day but don’t necessarily understand how it all works underneath the hood or how to solve problems when something goes wrong, this course fills in the gaps, empowering you to use and troubleshoot technology more effectively. Through lectures on hardware, the Internet, multimedia, security, programming, and web development, this course equips you for today’s technology and prepares you for tomorrow’s as well. edX (About This Course)

Why should you take this course?

It’s an excellent course to take before the most popular Harvard Computer Science course - CS50x. It explains the basic concepts you will need in CS50x, making learning much easier and faster. It’s short. It consists of 6 lectures (each one of them is around 1 hour) and assignments that are simple questions about the watched lecture. The instructor is David J. Malan - one of the best professors I have ever seen. He makes learning easy, interesting, and fun.

Lecture 1 - Hardware

First lecture, focuses on the computer’s hardware.

  • What is the binary system?
  • Why is it used?
  • How computers can do everything by just using two values (0 and 1)?
  • What are the computer components, and what is their purpose?

Lecture 2 - Internet

Have you ever asked yourself how it’s possible to send/receive a message from one country to another in seconds (or less)? This lecture explains:

  • How files travel from one computer to another.
  • What is an IP address, DNS, DHCP, ports, protocols, etc.

Lecture 3 - Multimedia

In this lecture, you will learn how computers handle multimedia (i.e., images, videos, music) using only a binary system. You will also learn about different file formats and file compression.

Lecture 4 - Security

My favorite lecture. It covers basic cryptography, encryption, cookies, VPNs, and more.

Lectures 5 and 6 - Web Development and Programming

These two lectures focus mainly on programming. Lecture 5 explains how websites work and how to build one yourself. And the last lecture focuses on problem-solving and introduces Scratch - a visual programming language that is a great beginner tool to get into programming without having to learn a lot of complex syntaxes.

Summary

CS50T is great and it’s worth your time if you are not confident with computers and don’t understand how they work. You can finish it in 2-3 weeks, and it should give you a solid foundation. The only downside of this course is that it’s a little bit old. The newest version is from 2017 (at the time of writing this post - 2022).

I’m glad I took it. It reassured me that I know all the basic concepts and I don’t have any gaps, before taking CS50x.


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