Understanding Information Theory Online course | Alison

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Understanding Information Theory - Revised

Learn about the evolution of language and information, with this free online information theory course.

Core IT Skills
Free Course
This free online course in information theory will teach you about where our ideas about information come from, and guide you through forms of information from cave art right up to the present day. You will also learn how the quantity of information being generated and circulated every day has been increasing exponentially with the advent of electrical and digital communication systems. Improve your information literacy with this free course.
  • Duration

    1.5-3 Hours
  • Certification

  • Mobile Friendly

  • Publisher

    Khan Academy
  • Accreditation






View course modules


Language allows you to break down a thought or a mental object into a series of conceptual chunks. This series of conceptual chunks can be externalized by a series of signals or symbols. This course begins by discussing the origins of written language and the alphabet. You will study pictograms and learn their importance in the evolution of writing. The course will also cover ideograms and the hieroglyphic writing system which was used in ancient Egypt.

Next, you will study the Phoenician writing system which was based on the principle of one sign representing one consonant, and was the source of the Greek and Roman alphabets. The course will then discuss Morse code, which uses dots and dashes to transmit information over long distances. You will also study symbol rate and channel capacity, the Voltaic pile, and the Markov chains. Finally, you will learn how information is measured.

By the end of this course, you will have a much better understanding of information theory, the history of written language, the evolution of electrical communication systems, and recent radical changes to the transmission of information. This is fascinating knowledge, and also crucial information for understanding the modern systems of communication that we so easily take for granted. So, check out the course today, and learn something really interesting in just a few short hours.

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Learning Outcomes

Having completed this course the learner will be able to:

  • Describe the origins of written language and the alphabet.
  • Describe how to Morse code works. Describe symbol rate and channel capacity.
  • Describe Markov chains. Describe how information is measured.


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