Best online tutorials for learning code

Computer code and script have become the “lingua franca” of the digital era. All the mobile devices, applications, games, websites that we spend so much time engaging with in our digital lives – all of these technologies rely on code to make them run. Having skills and “fluency” in the new language of code is therefore a huge advantage in today’s digital economy. In other words, there are those who can code and those who cannot. Those who can code will continue to be in high demand and will get the best jobs and garner the biggest promotions. The demand for good programmers/coders will only increase as new emerging and disruptive technologies continue to unfold.

 

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When we speak of code, there are many “dialects” on the market today – Java, C++, Ruby on Rails, Perl, Python, PHP, HTML5, JavaScript . . . and the list goes on. Some languages are ideal for larger enterprise applications, like Java or C++, while others are great for information management, like Python. Still others are excellent server-side/scripting language for a wide range of versatile uses, such as PHP.

A number of new online teaching forums have sprung up in the past couple years with the mission of teaching code interactively. In the rest of this two part series we’ll take a closer look at the most popular sites where you can go to learn code for free or for a modest fee.

 

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Codecademy is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in six different programming languages like Python, PHP, jQuery, JavaScript, and Ruby, as well as markup languages including HTML and CSS. The site is easy to navigate. Just click on the language you want to learn and you’re brought to an interactive window where you enter the practice code for each lesson. To the left of each window are step by step instructions to guide you through each lesson. If you get stuck on a particular issue, just click the “Get a hint” tab and a popup offers some help to move you along.

Codeacademy is immensely popular; as of January 2014 the site has had over 24 million users who completed over 100 million exercises.

 

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Udacity

Another option for learning code is through any one of a number of MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Course platforms, which have sprung up in the last few years. Udacity is one of the earliest and best known examples of this new educational disruptive space. One of Udacity’s signature courses is Intro to Computer Science, which since its inception in 2012 has introduced over 400,000 students worldwide to Python. The course links theory with practice by having students build an actual search engine using Python; the course was recently revised to also include the addition of a social network component. In addition to Python, Udacity offers a number of computer science and programming related classes.

While Udacity started with free courses, it has shifted to charging a modest fee for a verified certification process on all of its courses. The courses range in price from $150-200 per month depending on level of difficulty. While the courseware can still be viewed for free, there are advantages to the paid course option. Among other things, paid courses offer project planning advice as well as a personal coach to help provide guidance through the course. Having a Udacity Certificate is a great way to showcase new skills on your CV and in LinkedIn.

 

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Hour of Code

Last December, in honor of Computer Science Education Week, the organization Code.org put out a video, that went viral, showing the influence code made in the lives of famous technologists such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and more. Around the same time, Code.org also successfully launched Hour of Code, which encourages teachers to spend an hour teaching their students how to code. The site offers tutorials that lets young students write their first program in an Angry Birds-like environment, using visual programming techniques. And for middle school age students and up, the site also hosts an “Introduction to JavaScript” tutorial, in addition to other app-development resources for students of all ages.

So we’ve started looking at a few of the most popular places for learning code. Please join us back here tomorrow as we continue the discussion.

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