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Learn Programming Online: 4 Free Online Programming Courses

Updated on February 16, 2016

4 Best Websites to Learn Programming Online for Free

Learning how to program online is one of the best ways to begin your hobby, or even your career, in software development. Unfortunately, many people still believe the notion that to be a computer programmer you need to have a formal computer science degree or similar qualification, but today this idea is more myth than reality.

In the past few years, there has been a vast increase in both the number and quality of free online programming courses offered by organizations that have a genuine interest in helping you become an expert coder. After all, the more programmers who know how to code properly, the better our collective experience of technology becomes.

Following is a list of 4 of the best – and completely free – ways to learn how to program online, whether you’re a complete beginner or you’d just like to add a new programming language to your resume.


Codecademy

Codecademy is at the top of this list because if it’s not the easiest, it’s definitely the most fun way to learn how to code. By making use of an interactive exercise format, Codecademy guides you through each step of the way and awards progress points when you successfully complete an exercise.

You can’t do much with the points, but it’s an excellent way to keep track of how you’re doing. And if you’re learning to code with your friends, it can be great fun to compare scores and compete with each other as you make your way through the lessons.

New lessons and languages are being added to the course list all the time, but as of this writing you can learn how to program in JavaScript, Python, HTML, CSS, and JQuery.


Mozilla's School of Webcraft

For those of you thinking of learning how to code by yourself, but would still like a social support group made up of real people, Mozilla’s School of Webcraft at Peer 2 Peer University is an excellent option.

Although its main focus is on programming for the web, there is a massive, vibrant community of learners and experienced mentors here to help you along if (or more likely, when) you get stuck on a challenging piece of code.

Mozilla also offers a separate online learning platform with its recently launched Thimble project, which is aimed at absolute beginner web programmers and has a host of small, fun coding projects for HTML and CSS.

There is a wide range of programming languages and frameworks to learn at the School of Webcraft, including Python, PHP, CSS, HTML, HTML5, JavaScript, and Django.


MIT OpenCourseWare

How would you like to study programming at the world’s top ranked university in the field of computer science? It’s not a trick question, this is actually possible! MIT’s OpenCourseWare website features a huge list of free, full-length video lectures recorded in classes taught by real MIT computer science professors.

While a couple of the lectures are a bit dated, there is a great deal of classes from 2008 and later, and it’s worth noting that the fundamentals of computer programming haven’t changed all that much in the last decade.

In addition to videos, MIT’s OpenCourseWare includes lecture notes and student assignments as well as examples from past projects. This is truly one of the best resources to learn programming online, provided you have the time to commit to the extremely thorough education offered at a real university.

The most popular course for beginner programmers is the Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, which includes absolutely everything you need to get started.


W3Schools

W3Schools is the de facto king of free online web development tutorials and nifty web programming resources. Here you’ll be able to read tutorials, follow examples, complete exercises, and take quizzes on every major programming language used on the web today.

W3Schools isn’t as interactive or engaging as, for example, Codecademy, but it makes up for this fact by the sheer comprehensiveness of the learning resources available. Everything you’ll find on the site is free, as the organization is funded through display advertising.

The tutorials available on W3Schools will teach you how to program in HTML, CSS, PHP, JQuery, JavaScript, and many more web programming languages and platforms.


And that concludes this list of the best free websites to help you learn programming online. Of course, there are many more great and free resources out there on the web in the form of blogs, forums and other dedicated websites, so you shouldn't restrict yourself to learning from any one resource.

Now that you know where to learn to code for free, you should put that money you just saved towards a solid software development suite in your chosen language and you'll be ready to rock.


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