Update Sept. 1, 2015: Check out our new article: 3 Awesome (New) Ways to Learn How to Code.
These days it seems like people fall into one of three categories: people who know how to code, people who want to learn how to code and people who are losing opportunities because they either can’t code or don’t understand how code works. Luckily, it’s easier than ever for a person willing to invest a few hours here and there to get proficient. Whether you are looking for a new career direction, want to polish up some rusty skills or simply want to pick up a new hobby, the resources below will get you heading in the right direction–for free. Update: we just published some resources to help you learn Swift, Apple’s new programming language!
TIP: We publish useful new tech lists every weekday. See them all!
- What Is Code? 15 Facts For Beginners
- The 10 best ways to teach kids how to code
- 100 terrific tools for coders and developers
Before I get to the free ways to learn coding and computer science, I want to mention Lynda.com. There’s a small monthly cost, but it’s WELL worth it. I’ve used Lynda to learn so many things over the years and I’ve become very loyal to the brand. It’s become my go-to resource when I need to learn something new—plain and simple. I love the video plus work files approach which let you go hands on and pause as needed. Yes, there are free ways to learn coding, but this is one instance when I would highly recommend shelling out a few dollars for a top-notch learning experience. Luckily, you CAN get 10 days of free unlimited access to lynda.com to try it out!
Udacity, led by two professors (one from Stanford and another from the University of Virginia),will teach you how to code in just 7 weeks. By the end of the course you’ll actually be able to build your very own search engine like Google or Yahoo. Python is the programming language used in Udacity’s courses. If you’re interested, sign up quick–courses are not offered in an on-demand format. Instead, classes are offered in a more traditional format, meaning there is a class scheduled every few months.
Mozilla’s School of Webcraft (P2PU)
MIT Computer Science Video Lectures
MIT is among a handful of schools (including Stanford) who are posting introductory computer science lectures online for free. The first video in the series introduces learners to data types, operators and variables and has been viewed over 800,000 times at the time of writing. This particular course is taught by professors Eric Grimson and John Guttag.
Khan Academy, the fabulously popular learning resource that has attracted praise from big names like Bill Gates, allows people to “learn almost anything for free”. The site makes an appearance on this list for a good reason: it has a robust section on computer science. Python is Khan Academy’s language of choice and you’ll learn about functions, loops and strings among other algorithms.
Google Code University
Google Code University offers a wide variety of written courses from programming languages (including Python, C++, Java and AJAX) to Android Development. There’s no registration required and professors can even submit courses to gain a larger audience. The site lacks the panache displayed by Treehouse and Codecademy listed above, but for people who prefer written content over videos and interactive lessons, Google Code University is definitely worth a look.
Bonus: Code School
Just for good measure, I’m including a premium offering by the name of Code School. While it’s not free, it’s worth a mention in this post because it seems to be a very solid and polished product. Code School’s approach is “learning by doing through interactive video and coding in the browser”. For a very reasonable individual monthly membership fee of $25, learners gain access to all of Code School’s content. Businesses can even enroll entire teams–and they have. Some businesses that have used Code School include AT&T, IBM and NASA to name a few.
Bonus 2: Udemy
Udemy has over 4 million students, 20,000 courses and 10,000 instructors! From the complete beginners guide to C# to the ultimate Python programming tutorial to how to make $2,500 a month with game apps and no coding, there’s plenty for programmers to be to learn. There are over 50 free programming courses on Udemy with many others coming in at under $100. Courses range from beginner to intermediate to advanced.