Courseware for beginning programmers

Ordering information is at the botton of the page

Features of the 50 steps online courseware:

  • Learn step-by-step by following along
  • Learning by doing, not by memorizing
  • The courseware is accessed completely online for up to six months
  • Accompanying videos help you learn what to do.
  • Six months access to browser-based learning software — no need to install anything!
  • 2000 randomized problems for you to draw from for practice.

About the author

Steven C. Shaffer is Associate Teaching Professor at Penn State University Park, where he has taught computer science and software engineering since 1999. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Dr. Shaffer spent 20 years in industry as a software and quality assurance engineer. He achieved the designations of Certified Systems Specialist in 1989 and Certified Software Quality Engineer in 1995.

About the courseware

This courseware is written for beginners! Some reviewers of my book entitled A Gentle Introduction to Computer Programming Fundamentals found fault with that book because it was for beginners. If you are not a beginning programmer, you will likely not like this course because it is not for you.

This courseware also gets right to the point when discussing new concepts. Many programming books are, in my opinion, too explanation-heavy. Just like when you learn a foreign language, the best way to learn to program is to dive right in. So, the courseware is designed to get you programming right away with step-by-step examples.

Video tutorials, including solutions to the problems, and free use of learning software are available for 6 months. These items are specifically designed to work with this courseware material and to help you learn the material as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Programming is fast becoming a basic literacy. Software is pervasive in society and therefore it is needed in virtually every occupation. But for some people, programming feels very unnatural; that’s where this book comes in! This courseware is written in a step-by-step, tutorial style that makes programming available to pretty much anyone who cares to take the time to learn. It’s the result of my years of experience and research into teaching introductory programming.

You can start using this courseware right away, without buying anything else and without having to install anything on your computer! Within a few days, you will understand the basics of how computer programs work. The “50 steps” method used here gives you a step-by-step incremental approach that makes the journey much easier.

Included with the courseware is access to video instructions and special (browser-based) learning software for 6 months. Instructions for how to access this will be sent to your upon registering.

I’ve used Python in this courseware because (1) the syntax of the language is considered easier to learn than languages such as C++ or Java, and (2) Python is becoming very popular, even for “non computer science” folks.  Note that I really like languages like C, C++, Java and PHP, and write in these languages myself quite often; however, for a basic introduction to programming, Python is the way to go! This book uses Python 3 syntax, as that is the latest version.

With that being said, this is not courseware for experienced programmers. The focus is on introductory concepts using Python as the target language. If you are an experienced programmer, you will find this courseware tedious.

For those of you who are novices at programming, this is the courseware for you! When you’re finished with this courseware, the world of programming will be opened up for you; from here, you can go in any direction you wish. Enjoy!


  • You understand that this courseware is NOT open source and should not be redistributed anywhere for any reason.
  • You may use the courseware freely for your own purposes for six months from the time of purchase.
  • Return requests must be made within 5 days of receiving access to the site.
  • Be sure to use a valid email address when purchasing the courseware; this is where the link to the software will be sent.
  • If you wish to register your courseware under a different name and/or email address than is used to purchase it, email as soon as you process your payment. Be sure to list the name and email address that was used to purchase the courseware so we can reconcile the accounts.
  • Please allow up to 5 days for processing.

Order here!

$79.95 for six months of access!

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