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@isharacomix: My Dream: A MOOC that explores low-level hacking

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Barry Peddycord III
11 January 2013

@isharacomix: A low-level and historical MOOC

One of the most inspiring things I've seen in my life has been the Raspberry Pi. A low-cost, credit-card sized computer that can be used for anything from OS development to robotics. I got to go to a talk last night where a bunch of local hackers got together and showed us the cool things they've done with their Raspberry Pis. At a price of only $35, it would be awesome to see a MOOC that explores low-level computing.

Computers have become so powerful and abstract that many computer scientists can succeed in school without ever understanding what goes on under the hood. Special purpose computers have been replaced by general purpose and consumer hardware, and because there aren't really jobs for "6502 Assembly Programmers" anymore, you don't see students signing up for the classes in earnest.

The Change I would like to see?

I want to see a course that addresses these concepts - we introduce them just barely at State with our "Assembly and Software Tools" course, but I want students to explore old computing in more detail. Given the appeal of development on the web and cloud these days, lower level hackery isn't nearly as glamorous. Development on constrained devices made coders more like wizards, being able to squeeze out amazing things like games in less than 32KB of space. Not only is it interesting in its own right, it helps expose new programmers to the mindset of their predecessors.

What I'm going to do?

I've already made up my mind and decided that I want to make a MOOC on this topic. This is how I'm going to do my final project for several of the classes I'm taking this semester, developing resources and infrastructure to support this MOOC on my own, without the help of big powerhouses like Coursera. Even if it doesn't go worldwide, I just want to be able to expose it to my fellow students at State.

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Apostolos Koutropoulos
10:55pm 11 January 2013

Man... I haven't done assembly for more than 10 years :-)  Blast from the past!  I would love to see this MOOC happen!

Peter Cheer
10:24am 14 January 2013

It looks like I am involved with another group but one possible avenue that you might explore is elegance in coding... what is it, how do you recognise it and why it is so aesthetically satisfying? When you have huge amounts of memory, disk space and processor speed at your disposal students need to see the beauty as well as the efficency of well crafted elegant code.


Art Oglesby
5:57pm 14 January 2013 (Edited 8:27pm 14 January 2013)

I, too, wonder about what infrastructure could be used to run a MOOC?

Could it be supported on one's own server?

Another aspect is to support collaborative tools on one's own server (or from the cloud).

I am looking at Open Atrium based on Drupal.

Have you heard of gRSShopper?


David Jennings
11:34am 15 January 2013

I'm potentially interested. I should make clear that I have no knowledge of the low-level assembly language computing you refer to. But I'm interested in the low-cost hacker approach in general, and the Raspberry Pi in particular. If my own dream project doesn't happen, this is definitely one I'd be interested in following, and maybe contributing to, if I can.

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