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

Codecademy

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.

Khan Academy

Launched in 2008, Khan Academy is another long-standing and reputable learning platform. They offer a free educational video series for a variety of coding languages including JavaScript, SQL, HTML, CSS, and more. There are also practice exercises and supplemental education materials to help you further grasp the video lessons. There’s even an ‘Hour of Code’ where absolute beginners can do one-hour workshops where they learn how to draw with code, create webpages with HTML and CSS, or make databases and manipulate data.

Udacity

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

LearnCode.academy

LearnCode.academy is an educational YouTube channel which focuses on introductory lessons for a variety of coding languages. With roughly 720,000 subscribers, 45 million cumulative views, and videos dating back nearly a decade, LearnCode.academy’s video series have stood the test of time. There are a total of 162 videos separated into individual playlists, so it’s easy to find comprehensive and instructional lessons for a number of different coding languages. So far their web development tutorials encompass HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Sublime Text, CSS layouts, React.js, Node.js, Angular.js, Docker, Responsive Design, and more.

Derek Banas

Derek Banas is truly a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to programming. Boasting well over a million subscribers and 105 million cumulative views, Derek Banas has created professional-level video tutorials on virtually every popular coding language. With his average videos falling in the 15-30 minute range, Derek goes just in depth enough to explain everything without leaving the viewer feeling overwhelmed. His video playlists cover everything from Ruby to CoffeeScript, HTML, Ajax, Python, JavaScript, and tons more.

ProgrammingKnowledge

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

This eponymous blog is headed up by David Walsh, a core developer on the MooTools JavaScript framework who held the title of Mozilla’s Senior Software Engineer for 8 years. With a career spanning over 15 years coding for some of the biggest names in the industry, David Walsh’s blog is a great resource for tips, tricks, tutorials, and general advice for a variety of front-end technologies. He has a clear love for open-source software and even has his own personal GitHub with nearly 130 repositories for JavaScript, Python, Perl, CSS, and more.

The Crazy Programmer

The Crazy Programmer blog began in 2012 as a way to help students who are learning or thinking about learning programming. It is targeted specifically at helping beginners pick up the basics. The blog is neatly organized into sections for each coding language, with subsections for pre-written programs, massive tutorials, and even relevant job interview questions used by software companies when meeting with prospective employees. The tutorials are split into countless specific lessons, each with its own dedicated page featuring both text and detailed diagrams for visual reference. Currently, there are sections for C, C++, Java, .Net, Python, PHP, SQL, JavaScript, Android, and Batch Files. The Crazy Programmer has been featured extensively in ‘Top Programming Blogs’ lists on websites such as Huffington Post, Simple Programmer, Feedspot, and more.

SitePoint

SitePoint’s blog is a great resource for programmers of all levels. They have a large number of contributors who turn out tutorials and content regularly, ranging from HTML to JavaScript, CSS, PHP, Android, iOS, and more. There is a good mix of simple guides for beginners and more advanced tutorials for seasoned programmers. It’s easy to navigate and there are filters to sort by language. There is also a paid premium option that includes access to a library of over 600 in-depth books on frameworks, languages, tools, and projects as well as step-by-step video courses and tech talks.

Free University Courses and Resources

Coursera

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

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.

edX

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.

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At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Jonathan Baker, with feedback from the Lithios team.

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