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Review of Online Programming Courses

Updated on June 13, 2011


Languages come and go, software development methodologies mutate and ebb almost before they are established, but many of the techniques of learning to program predate widespread access to computers.

Today, many organizations claim to be able to teach you programming over the internet, some for a price, others for free. Some of these paid programs claim to be equivalent-- or even better than a diploma from a community college. In this article I will investigate these claims, and attempt to give to an objective viewpoint on what you may expect to learn, and how the average employer will value these kind of courses on a resume.

Alternatives / Supplements

But first I want to show you the alternatives to online programming courses (or more traditional schooling). The chief alternative is to teach yourself. This can be done either by studying code, or with the assistance of the many fine books available.

To the right I have selected a number of books that will help you.

If you can make your way through the volumes of The Art of Computer Programming you will have better education than 99% of University Computer Science graduates. This book is mentally challenging and advanced, but self contained. Technically, no knowledge is required before diving right in. However, given the intellectual difficulty of this book, you may wish work your way through the simpler books I have suggested first. By gaining the more 'practical' programming skill from these books, you may be better equipped to approach The Art of Computer Programming, or you may realize it is beyond you.

You may think that you cannot get a job by working your way through a set of books. This is false.

"If you think you're a really good programmer . . . read (Knuth's) Art of Computer Programming . . . You should definitely send me a résumé if you can read the whole thing."

--Bill Gates

Free Online Programming Courses

Free online programming courses should only be considered as an additional resource for self-teaching. You will find that these programs are invariably missing key pieces. Using these online programming 'courses' / resources as a supplement to textbook based learning is a great alternative to paid online programming courses. When you are stuck in a difficult section of The Art of Computer Programming, for example, you can look up free video tutorials and other resources on the topic, to aid your learning.

OpenCourseWare initiatives are particularly useful for obtaining university level material for free.

Paid Online Programming Courses

Paid online programming courses are a great way to add some structure to your learning. Contrary to a traditional programming or computer science course, however, you will find that employers may ignore, or even look unfavorably upon this kind of education on a resume unless it bares the name of an accredited university. Completing certifications is a great, relatively inexpensive way of obtaining some solid credentials to prove you have the skills you claim.

The real question when evaluating paid online programming courses is to compare the value added over free resources by the paid program compared with the cost of the program.

The best quality programs are those associated with an accredited university or college. Additionally, there are some well known, more specialized programs offered by some better known institutions (you will recognize the names of these organizations).

My advice, in the end, is to attempt to learn yourself with books, then to turn to free online programming courses and materials when you need them, and finally apply for one of the paid online programming courses that fits you, if you feel it appropriate.


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    • mandymoreno81 profile image

      mandymoreno81 6 years ago

      For programming, I see it adapting to online courses very well given that professors can share screens and can assist you in debugging code.

    • profile image

      SsvRrwQ 6 years ago

      cmellon, it depends on the program, but usually there are limited working hours. There are lots of free 24 hour discussion and chat rooms, though.

    • cmellon86 profile image

      cmellon86 6 years ago

      If I need help on an assignment, is there 24/7 assistance available?

    • danyadd profile image

      danyadd 6 years ago from U.S.

      free training would be good. however i personally opted to get my associates degree in online graphic design bc i have intended use of it for employement. its an online devision of a legit school, and i got goveremnt grants to help cover it.i think it is however correct that people need to watch out for scammers. everything has a scam version these days.

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 6 years ago

      it looks good and I would add that W3 has free training.

    • profile image

      SsvRrwQ 6 years ago

      @munirahmadmughal Thank you for your insightful comment.

    • munirahmadmughal profile image

      munirahmadmughal 6 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan.

      "Review of Online Programming Courses".

      The best and well balanced hub on the subject, leaving nothing in obscurity. The huber seems to be of high calibre in the field of Computer learning and also the education difficulties.

      This hub gives the food for thought that the world of god is not empty from persons who explain the things plainly and justly and reasonably and in their speech there is logic and truth.

      Computer is the latest information technology which has become the need of the time and a person who learns this science, of course within his capacity, is not a loser. Earlier the calligraphy and then the typerwriter had been wearing the crown but now it is the era of Computer.

      Learning or teaching a word a a day will bring much light on all sides. Hence keeping hope of God's Mercy one should continue improving his lot of the useful knowledge. The useful knowledge is that whereby one earns ones livelihood honestly,lawfully, without causing injury or harm to others, and in that pursuit behaves in a dignified human being. The people around observe the behaviour and later when he joins the profession or starts his own business the customers are attracted giving rise to the work and gradually all deprivations are removed. Behind it is awareness and hardwork and trust in the Mercy of the Creator and firm resolution that service of humanity is the real goal.

      May God Almighty bless all every where.