If you’re looking to learn to code, there really is no easier way than through an online course. Following an online course can turn learning a complex skill like coding into a walk in the park. They achieve this by breaking down important knowledge into bite-sized lessons and goals. Online courses provide you with so much more flexibility than in-person learning, and as with any digital skill there really isn’t much need for a classroom. As a bonus, plenty of online coding courses are completely free!
Coding is an important skill, especially for those who are studying, or are going to study computer science. Even if you are not, you may be interested in how computers, and software work so are interested in learning how to code, maybe even to design your own.
No matter what your reason is, there are many ways to learn coding. There are lots of self-paced coding courses out there on the internet, so finding the most useful ones can be tough. In this article, we are going to explore the top online coding courses, so read on to find out more.
Disclaimer: Please note this list is not a definitive answer to the best online coding courses and reflects the personal opinion of the writers, so you should conduct your own research.
1. Harvard’s free CS50 course
You’ve likely already heard of Harvard, the university often considered the best in the world, but did you know that they actually offer one of their most popular courses for free? Anyone of any age around the world can access all the recorded lectures of Harvard’s CS50 course. It’s an introduction to Computer Science and it’s perfect for anyone who is new to the subject but wants to take their education in it seriously.
The entire course material is freely accessible through edX as part of the online, self-paced course called CS50x. Videos of the lectures given on campus are available here, along with challenging, automatically marked problem sets (the equivalent of homework) linked to each lecture in the course. A wealth of support materials are also provided, including an online IDE, coding examples, notes, and walkthroughs. The quality of everything is excellent. You can even choose to get a certificate at the end by paying a fee.
It’s not strictly just a coding course, as it also teaches the fundamentals of computer science principles, but I think that this is crucial for a broader understanding of the theory and processes related to the pure coding aspect. Whether you want to start making coding projects of your own or go on to study a more specific aspect of coding, Harvard’s CS50 provides a great well-rounded starting point.
Harvard also offers extra CS50 related courses that focus on more specific topic, such as Artificial Intelligence and game development, but it’s best to do these after having completed the main CS50 course.
To sign up and start CS50, click here.
2. Free CodeCamp
Free Code Camp is an interactive learning platform that is run by a non-profit organisation. It includes more than 6,000 lectures, and the site’s creators claim that more than 40,000 of its graduates are employed by big tech companies, such as Microsoft and Google.
It’s a great platform that’s suitable for beginners and those more experienced. Free Code Camp’s curriculum provides you with thousands of hours of programming practice to help you feel confident in your abilities.
As well as a website, they also have a YouTube channel that teaches more about Computer Science theory and Maths.
To start learning on freecodecamp.org, click here.
One of the most comprehensive sites. This is a lesser-known site, however, has one of the biggest availabilities of courses. It provides courses in front-end, back-end and server-side programming languages. It also has courses in web building on top of its normal coding courses.
Just some of the courses available are HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, Java, Python, C, C++, C# and around 70 more. Most of the courses are completely free, like the most popular option python. They also offer interactive learning with quizzes at the end of each topic, and code building exercises to increase understanding of the language.
The most useful feature of W3Schools is no doubt the References section. It has easy-to-use indexes of pretty much everything to do with web development, all neatly categorised. It’s great for those who just need a quick reminder of particular syntax whilst working on a project.
They do also offer paid courses in a lot of the most popular options, on top of the free ones. This user access to a lot more resources, and the developer certificate in the courses for passing. All of the paid and free courses are self-paced and go very in detail into many aspects of the language.
You can view what w3schools have to offer, by clicking on this link.
Codecademy also has a large online community. There is a forums section on its website to discuss coding-related topics and projects. If you want to collaborate with fellow learners, you can join a ‘Codecademy Chapter’ and attend a meeting, which are often based around a talk exploring an interesting topic or a virtual study session.
You can also search for different career paths, and see what will happen in that path, and what programming languages you will need to know. If that isn’t enough, you can also take a quick by Codecademy, by clicking on this link to find your best programming language, based on your skills and interests.
Courses are also quite slow paced, or if you want, you can increase this pace. There are also many blog posts about the use of each coding language, and an overview of the syllabus. There are free and paid options, for more learning tools, and on average each course takes around 4 months.
You can find the Codecademy catalogue, by clicking on this link.
5. Khan Academy
All of its courses are free and has partnered with NASA and MIT to provide these courses. Some of its courses can take a few weeks, or even a few days. It does lack a few programming languages though, like python, but there is still plenty of choice within its computer programming library, which you can find by clicking on this link.
This is definitely a great choice if you are choosing to learn programming at a young age, or if you want the super beginner-friendly learning.
6. MIT Open Courseware
MIT Open Courseware is a course ran by MIT. It is best for those who are interested in the logical part of programming. It offers the usual programming languages like Python, Java, C and C++, MATLAB, but also allows the learner to understand Computational and Algorithmic Thinking, learning about things like Abstraction.
The courses are aimed at people with a little bit more comfort and knowledge in the basics of coding, and has some introductory, or in detail coding courses available. Many courses last around 4 weeks, but you can learn at your own pace for others. All courses are free to learn with learning, and assessments. It is aimed at older years, around University times.
You can find out about MIT Open Courseware, by clicking on this link.
Treehouse’s main aim is to make learning enjoyable, and it achieves this through slightly gamifying its courses to improve motivation. On Treehouse’s well-structured platform: you watch the video lessons (which are updated frequently to reflect changes in the industry), put your new knowledge into practise with quizzes and challenges, and earn badges to show off your proficiency.
On this list, it also has one of the largest collections of educational resources. It not only provides a wide range of coding courses, but also “workspaces” where you can experiment with new projects and a video library of speeches from industry experts. It also provides an iPad app so you can continue your learning there as well.
Treehouse has a feature called ‘Tracks’, which are mini programs designed to teach you a specific set of skills. It enables you to follow an already mapped out learning path, making it easier to reach an impressive end-goal. There are suitable courses for all experience levels. For novices, a popular on is the ‘Beginning Python Track’. Coders with a bit more experience might be interested in the ‘Tracks’ aimed at app development, databases, or data analysis.
The only downside to using Treehouse is that you must pay a fee of £20 a month for access to its courses. There is however a 7-day free trial for you to try it out.
To start using Treehouse, click here.
8. The Odin Project
The Odin Project’s courses aim at getting the learner ready for employment, from the bare basics of programming. It is very beginner friendly, and you can view your curriculum of learning. They say it takes 1000 hours to reach the recommended amount of knowledge needed for your programming skills. It is best if you want to kickstart a career mainly in web development like HTML, or NodeJS from early on. It allows you to build a portfolio of courses you have learnt and ask from a community of coders.
After completing any course, you will be ready for the next step of a career in coding. It also encourages the use of GitHub to show off you portfolio to possible employers. The courses that are offered are all free and can be a great step in your career, especially with the active forums so you can get as much help as you want.
You can find The Odin Project, by clicking on this link.
Coursera has compiled courses ran by different companies, and universities. There courses are well known and carry weight to universities and employers. Their courses on coding are used on learning it, and also how to apply it in the real world. You can gain many different skills, like application building and problem solving. All of their courses are run by top universities and companies, like google, so are very valuable.
Coursera is definitely worth it as they give the user many different skills that are in high demand, like application programming and interface in python, or introduction to different coding languages. Coursera have many different pricing options, and some can seem very expensive, however give many qualifications. These qualifications can then be used later on, when finding a job. Similarly, to The Odin Project, it provides a good kickstart to your career, but goes further on, and gives you knowledge on how to apply it, in its thousands of courses.
You can view these, by clicking on this link.
Why should you learn to code?
There are many reasons why coding is a fantastic hobby and why you should start learning a coding language if you haven’t already.
Firstly, learning to code is a crucial component of getting a high paying job in the tech industry, as either a software engineer, web developer, database administrator, or another related job. The ability to code is a highly sort after skill in a wide range of companies. Software engineers can work on exciting and dynamic projects, sometimes helping solve real-word problems through the power of technology.
Knowing a coding language looks great on your CV and is valued in the workforce. It also allows you to get a better understanding of how the software, and computer you use work. Coding also builds up important skills, like problem solving, getting creative and critical thinking.
What are the applications of coding?
Coding can open many career paths. Some of the most famous are software developer, game developer, web developer, computer analyst and more. Coding can seem very rewarding to do and is definitely very interesting.
Many big companies and universities are looking for people with extensive knowledge of coding, as it is well sought after and in high demand. If you look all around you, a lot of things have been coded, like phones, computers and even your Wi-Fi router.
Even if you’re not looking to pursue a career related to coding, there are still plenty of reasons why you should learn to code. It greatly increases your ability to solve problems logically and helps develop your maths skills. Whilst you might not think so initially, coding can also be a highly inventive and artistic process, therefore allowing you to harness your creative side when making projects such as video games and fun websites.
Additionally, coding is an incredibly fun and engaging pastime. Creating your own projects fills you with a unique happiness that only comes from seeing the direct result of your hard work.
Coding teaches skills like resilience, persistence and problem solving that employers absolutely love. So even if you’re not aiming to get a job in technology, the things you learn through enjoying coding as a hobby will benefit you in any profession.