The Best Free Resources for Learning Web Programming

By Bridgette Austin

4 min read

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.

Codecademy students can also advance their coding skills with free online courses in JavaScript, PHP, Python and Ruby. There are even “Labs” to help students practice coding without downloading a code editor or an IDE(integrated development environment) software application. As you complete lessons, you can earn badges and points to show off your skills and progress as a beginning developer.


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:

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.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy touts its website as a “free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” The organization is a non-profit that offers an array of online learning materials and courses for free to students of all ages. Computer science students can take advantage of Khan Academy programs, which are written primarily in JavaScript.

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.


LearnStreet is a free teaching platform that offers free courses and coding projects on JavaScript, Ruby and Python. The website, which provides over 60-plus hours of content, doesn’t require previous coding knowledge or downloadable software to use.

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.

MIT OpenCourseWare

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.

Stack Overflow

If you’re looking for an interactive discussion board with the best answers to your programming questions, then Stack Overflow is a go-to resource. Stack Overflow allows online users to post programming questions on everything from developing Android games to adding JavaScript support to an existing application. The website is totally free and does not require registration.

W3 Schools

For a more comprehensive resource that features instruction on a broad range of top programming languages, W3 Schools ranks as one of the most extensive programming information sites. You’ll find tutorials and references on a variety of web development topics, including CSSHTMLXHTML, JavaScript and SQL. The website also provides “web building” demos and thousands of code examples that guide students on creating applications, websites and databases.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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