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Intelligent Break

Five free online courses on artificial intelligence for beginners during lockdown

Chandana Chandra Published 29.06.21, 01:54 AM


With successive lockdowns and the looming threat of a third wave of Covid-19, students have a lot of time on their hands. While most are fretting about their future, some are looking for good online resources to upskill themselves. Various online platforms have come forward to offer free courses to enthusiastic students.

Some useful courses for these students, especially those studying science and engineering, are those in the domain of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine intelligence. While the advanced courses come with a price tag, the top platforms have been offering the beginners’ courses for free.


To prepare this list we spoke to Pamir Roy, a third-year BTech student at North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology (Nerist) in Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh. Three years ago Pamir made headlines when he completed dozens of online courses. He was given a special award by the online platform National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) for completing 15 courses with them — most of which had to do with AI.

Pamir tells YOU, “If someone tries to follow my genre, which is AI, and data science, I would suggest computer vision, natural language processing, machine learning, deep learning and business analytics.”

After finishing a number of AI courses, Pamir has already got job offers from three top global IT companies, including Google.

Here are five free online courses on AI for beginners.

An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Platform: NPTEL

Taught by Professor Mausam of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, it discusses the philosophy of AI and how to model a new problem as an AI problem. It describes a variety of basic components of AI, such as search and logic, which can be used to model and solve a new problem. It also teaches many primary algorithms (a process or set of rules) to solve each formulation. The course prepares a student to take a variety of advanced courses in various subfields of AI.

AI For Everyone

Platform: Coursera

This teaches you the meaning of common AI terminology. You will learn what AI can and cannot do, how to spot opportunities to apply AI to problems in your organisation and what it feels

like to build machine learning and data science projects. This course is taught by Andrew Ng of Stanford University, US, who is the co-founder of Coursera as well as the artificial intelligence company DeepLearning.AI.

Intro to Artificial Intelligence: Learn the Fundamentals of AI

Platform: Udacity

This has to do with the basics of modern AI as well as some of its representative applications. The two instructors of this course are stalwarts in the field of AI — Peter Norvig, the former director of Google’s search quality, and Sebastian Thrun, a former professor of computer science at Stanford University, US, and co-founder of Udacity.

AI for Everyone: Master the Basics

Platform: Edx

This course from IBM deals with understanding the applications of AI, how they transform lives. The course explains terms such as machine learning, deep learning and neural networks. It also articulates advice from experts about learning and starting a career in AI and describes issues and ethical concerns surrounding AI. The course instructor is Rav Ahuja, AI and data science programme director at IBM.

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Python

Platform: Harvard University’s CS50’s

It explores the concepts and algorithms that form the foundation of modern AI, diving into ideas that give rise to technologies such as game-playing engines, handwriting recognition and machine translation. Through hands-on projects, students can gain exposure to the theory behind graph search algorithms, classification, optimisation, reinforcement learning and other topics in AI and machine learning as they incorporate them into their own Python programs. Instructor of the course is David J. Malan, professor of practice of computer science at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, US.

Although these courses help students learn the primers on AI, one needs a classroom instructor to have a solid base. Anudip, a non-profit company working in India and the US, has been training underprivileged students and helping them get jobs in global tech companies. Says Monisha Banerjee, CEO of Anudip, “Students from disadvantaged backgrounds need some instructor-led sessions.”

Anudip runs blended online courses — a mix of self-learning and instructor-led. Last year they transformed their brick-and-mortar classes to virtual ones. Says Banerjee, “We run specialised courses in partnership with a few employers such as iMerit that enable students to get a good understanding of the skills required in the job role that they are hired for.”

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