Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

Lately, there has been a huge cultural push towards everyone learning how to code. While this may not be a completely realistic expectation, knowing how to code is still a valuable skill and will no doubt become even more important in the future.

Learning to code on your own, if your school doesn’t offer programming classes or if they do not fit into your schedule, can be confusing but thankfully there are now many online resources that can make it much easier.  Here are some of the many free sites that are out there to help you get started in learning to code.

1. Code Academy is one of the easiest free sites to use (all you need to do is sign up for an account to get started) and one of the most interesting. As you type the code, a side screen updates in real time to show you what the code you are writing is actually doing, making the transition from idea to actual code a little more transparent. There are many languages available to learn, from HTML and JavaScript to more powerful languages like Python and Ruby. There are even specific guides if you want to learn how to make a website or use APIs to make your own app. This site would be best for someone just starting out trying to learn to code on their own.

2. Coursera hosts Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from a variety of educational institutions around the world. Topics for these courses vary greatly and there is an entire section dedicated to 74 different computer programming courses. Two of the most popular courses are “Programming for Everybody (Python)” via the University of Michigan and “Beginning Game Programming with C#” via the University of Colorado System. The curriculum of these courses is a bit more structured and I would suggest basic proficiency in a language before committing even to a free course offered here.

3. Khan Academy offers several courses in computer programming. Many people are already familiar with the set-up of Khan Academy video tutorials and they have become one of the leading online education resources. The courses not only focus on specific languages (mainly JavaScript and HTML/CSS) but also specific applications of these languages such as drawing, games and visualizations, and making webpages. You don’t need to set up an account to watch the videos but you will need one if you want to post a question in the area provided under each video. One of the most interesting things about Khan

Academy is the ability to look through the comments on a particular to see what other users have previously asked and get your questions answered. In addition to watching video tutorials, there are also “coding talk-throughs” that show you the code on one side of the screen and the result on the other side. Challenges are also featured within each course to help give hands on experience with the language that you are learning. Both beginner and advanced courses are offered through Khan Academy so this would be a great resource for all levels, especially if you have a specific project or goal in mind when you begin

4. Udemy offers a variety of courses on many different topics, including computer programming. It’s free to sign up for a course but many courses cost money to take. However, there are several free courses such as “Java- The Beginner’s Series.” Courses are taught by other users and can vary in content and quality. Each topic covered in a course is tied to a video tutorial posted by the user. Of all the free online learning sites in this article, Udemy is the most limited but still worth checking out, especially for beginners.

5. is the “world’s largest web developer site” and provides step-by-step tutorials for a variety of different programming languages.  Each section dedicated to a particular language begins with an introduction section followed by a how to get started section which can be very helpful to extreme beginners. Of all the online resources here, this one is the least interactive given that you are mainly reading tutorials that include images. However there are also opportunities to “try it yourself” scattered within the different lessons so that you can also have hands on experience and at the end of each section there is also the opportunity to “test yourself” on what you just learned. Overall, this site would be good for those starting out and since all the topics are arranged in the side bar. Intermediate coders seeking clarification on specific topics can also easily use this site to learn more.

Bonus: Games! Play some games (such as Code Combat or Coding Game) to have fun and learn to code at the same time!

These are just a few of the many resources available online when it comes to teaching yourself to code so figure out what language you want to learn and a site that fits with your ability and schedule and get to work! Happy coding!


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