Yes, the course takes into consideration the recent changes made by Google. Mark did not want to mention these Google algorithm changes too much as these are always changing and if we mentioned Panda or Penguin then in a years time there would be something else. There are a number of different issues that these updates apply to. The main one being duplicate content but also the look and design of your site (e.g. not too many advertisements) which can make it look spammy.
Panda is all about making the search results better and more relevant providing people with the best content and sites when they search for a topic online. This will never change.