So, You Want to Learn How to Code?
Teaching Yourself How to Code
Thankfully, the rollercoaster ride that was 2020 has finally come to an end. A new year brings new opportunities and with most of the world still in quarantine, lots of people have plenty of time on their hands to commit to their new year’s resolution and hone a new craft. With that in mind, we’ve collected and compiled a list of valuable resources for anyone who wishes to kick off the new year by teaching themselves coding. Everything listed below is free to access and can be worked on incrementally in your spare time. There’s everything from self-teaching resources to online classes for beginners, in-depth YouTube guides, coding blogs, and even free college courses.
General Free Coding Websites and Course Platforms
First established in 2011, Codecademy has garnered an outstanding and well-deserved reputation. Boasting over 45 million learners, Codecademy is where many successful software developers got their start. While offering a few higher level lessons, it is specifically targeted towards beginners and offers extensive courses for a dozen different languages. Pick your language, read a brief but comprehensive lesson prompt, type the code right in the browser, and get instant feedback on your work. There’s even a survey that will guide you in the right direction if you don’t know where to start. Everything is completely free, but there is a paid option that offers some extra goodies like certificates, real-world projects, and team support.
Udacity forgoes the more traditional lesson plans and focuses primarily on teaching specific packages of skills that are highly sought-after by companies in that field. Udacity calls these ‘nanodegrees’ and they currently offer 20 of them for programming and developing alone (not counting the tangentially related nanodegrees in fields such as AI, cloud computing, data science, and business). Udacity programs might not be as all-encompassing as other platforms mentioned on this list, but their approach of targeting desirable skill sets makes them ideal for beginner coders who are looking for a distinctive edge when advancing their careers.
YouTube Channels for Learning How to Code
ProgrammingKnowledge is a treasure trove of information for both beginners and advanced coders alike. The channel features well over 1,000 different tutorial videos sorted into playlists for their respective languages. They offer everything from complete lessons to brief refreshers in languages such as Python, Java, C, Bootstrap, Android Studio, SQL, and countless more. Most of their videos are in the 10-20 minute range, but for the more thorough explanations they can last as long as ten hours. ProgrammingKnowledge has well over 1.3 million subscribers with nearly 200 million cumulative views, and a quick search will turn up tons of positive reviews and discussion. It is worth noting, though, that some of their videos seem to have questionable audio quality.
Blogs for Learning How to Code
David Walsh Blog
The Crazy Programmer
Free University Courses and Resources
Coursera provides massive open online courses (MOOC), specializations, degrees, professional and mastertrack courses. They have partnered with over 225 leading universities and companies to provide free on-demand video lectures, college courses, and hands-on projects taught by real university professors. Their courses typically last four to twelve weeks with a couple hours of video lecture per week. The courses include quizzes, peer reviewed assignments, weekly exercises, and sometimes even a final project or exam. The lessons are all completely free, but if you want a certificate of completion (important for beefing up your resume) there is a fee in the range of $30-$100 depending on the course. A quick search for ‘coding’ on their catalogue turns up 363 related courses currently available. They even offer degrees from fully accredited universities at a fraction of what it would cost to attend in person.
MIT OpenCourseWare is an online course platform featuring a series of completely free college courses provided by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the time of writing, there are currently 11 different programming classes available for signup ranging from general introductions to language-specific courses, and even follow-up classes for those who would like to dig a bit deeper into the more advanced aspects of coding. The courses come in easy-to-digest video format and can be completed at your own pace. The teachers are either MIT staff or MIT-approved, so you know you’ll be learning from the best. The only (slight) downside to the MIT OCW platform is that they do not offer certificates or degrees of any kind, so don’t sign up for courses with the expectation of strengthening your resume or LinkedIn profile; the reward here is knowledge.
Created by a partnership between MIT and Harvard University, edX is another provider of free college-level online courses. Like other course platforms listed here, edX is 100% completely free of charge and the organization itself is a non-profit, so there is no pressure to sign up for any kind of premium track. Provided courses range from scheduled weekly classes to self-paced video lessons and span the range of topics you’d expect to see from a fully accredited university. Each course is divided up into either introductory, intermediate, or advanced levels so it’s easy to find a lesson that matches your skill. edX emphasizes learning for the sake of learning but if you must have a certificate proving mastery of the materials and completion of the course, it can be had for a nominal fee.
At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Jonathan Baker, with feedback from the Lithios team.