There are numerous computer science programs that teach students the latest and widest-used programming languages for desktop, mobile and web applications. Unfortunately, these courses and certifications can cost students anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Realizing the high price tag for a formal education in programming, many talented developers and designers have published a wealth of free content to help ordinary users become full-fledged programmers at a fraction of the cost. Whether you’re looking to build a solid foundation in Ruby or venture into more advanced territory by specializing in Apple iOS-friendly Objective-C, you’ll find a wealth of free, reputable resources for learning programming on the web.
Codecademy is a free online resource for learning basic and advanced coding skills. The website encourages new programmers to start with its “Web Fundamentals” course, where users learn the basics of HTML and CSS by building real websites, social profiles and resumes.
Launched in April 2012, Coursera was founded by Stanford Universityprofessors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. Coursera has since grown to include 107 partner universities, which offer 540 free online courses across a wide range of subjects.
Online courses are self-paced and include video recordings by professors, homework assignments and interactive discussion boards where students can collaborate on group projects. In addition, most courses offer a certificate of completion.
As of January 2013, the American Council on Education has approved five of Coursera’s courses for college credit. A quick search on Coursera will yield programming-related courses such as:
- Computer Science 101 (Stanford University)
- Algorithms, Part II (Princeton University)
- Programming Languages (University of Washington)
- An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Rice University)
- Programming Handheld Systems with Android (University of Maryland)
Google’s Python Class
Available for free on the Google Developers website, Google’s Python Class is tailored toward web users who have limited knowledge of programming. You’ll get access to lecture recordings, written materials and interactive exercises designed to help you practice Python coding.
As a prerequisite, students must install Python on their computers before moving to the “Python Introduction” and “Python Strings” sections of the class. The coursework, which was created by Google engineer Nick Parlante, comprises an intensive 2-day class.
Coaches, teachers and other instructors are encouraged to use Khan Academy as a teaching aid to monitor and track students’ progress. In addition, Khan Academy offers dashboard features where teachers can view student data and determine problem areas that need attention in the classroom.
Instructors are also invited to leverage LearnStreet’s free interactive courses, code “garages” (e.g. games and algorithm tools) and practice exercises to help their students learn how to code effectively. Like Khan Academy, LearnStreet even provides a teacher dashboard that displays real-time analytics to monitor individual student progress.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a higher institution that ranks among the world’s most prestigious universities, also boasts one of the country’s best computer science programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Luckily for non-students, MIT OpenCourseWare posts nearly all of its course materials online for free. You can access over 2,100 videos, audio recordings, simulations, textbooks, exams and assignments on subjects including electrical engineering and computer science.
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