Coding in a nutshellLearning how to code: 9 tools you can start using right away
Not knowing how to code may be the illiteracy of the future. Yet learning to program is so easy today. Here are nine tips on how to teach yourself the basics quickly and easily. Read More
These days, learning to code is not that hard anymore – at least not compared to ten years ago.
Back then, IT skills could only be learned at a university or using awkwardly written books, pretty cryptic websites or meagre Wikipedia pages. Today there are lots of ways even a complete beginner can start to understand coding or even learn to program.
No matter whether you have a lot or very little time on your hands, are young or old, want to gain professional skills or just become a hobby coder: Here are some useful tools and initiatives to get you started right away!
1) Online course for beginners
Portals like Codecademy (free) and Treehouse (free trial) offer online courses on web development.
Treehouse primarily uses videos and also covers an extensive range of topics from creating a website to developing an app. “I learnt more @treehouse in 1 day than I did in 2 semesters at university”, reported one very enthusiastic user.
Both portals test users’ knowledge through code challenges and playfully document progress.
2) Free Online University Courses
Sites like Coursera and edX broadcast university lectures online. They offer free access to multiple-week seminars at international universities on different IT topics like programming and computer science.
Interesting courses are, for example, „Think. Create. Code“, „Programming for Everybody (Python)“ or “Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming”. They are designed especifically for an online audience.
3) Online Learning Community
“Digital skills are job skills” is Skillcrush‘s slogan. The website describes itself as an interactive online learning community and teaches digital skills in daily one-hour online sessions. Right now users can sign up for courses as a web designer, web developer, WordPress developer or Ruby on Rails developer. And it offers contact to a lively online community of fellow students and instructors. The fee-based, three-month program was originally designed for women, though a lot of men have since discovered how fun it is to use.
4) Months of intensive, face-to-face training
For those who do not enjoy trying to improve their skills in the isolation of a home or office, there are “real” courses available where physical attendance is required, such as code boot camps including Dev Bootcamp (USA), App Academy (USA) and General Assembly (USA, AU, London, Hong Kong). Lately, some new boot camps have been founded in India, for example Codestra.
In around three months they teach participants the skills they need to start working as a (web) programmer. Job placement is included in the fee for many programs. Sometimes the costs can be paid out of graduate’s first year salary, and there are some part-time programs as well.
5) Rails Girls I: One-day programming workshops for women
Rails Girls is a global initiative that offers one-day web programming workshops for women worldwide using the open-source web framework Ruby on Rails.
The best part is that the website explains step by step how to organize and hold workshops. So with the support of a very helpful international online community, anyone can become a Rails Girls workshop organizer quite easily.
All workshop dates are announced on the website, of course – so check it out, there is sure to be one close to you!
6) Rails Girls II: Summer grants for female beginning programmers in open source
The “Rails Girls Summer of Code” grants, financed by donations, give women who have completed a Rails Girls workshop an opportunity to spend three months as part of a team of two developing an open-source project. Grant recipients document their progress in blogs and receive advice and assistance from coaches and mentors.
7) Practical tools for kids – and adults ;-)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed Scratch, a creative learning community in which children can create stories, games and animations online using simple drag and drop tools and share them with others.
App Inventor is similarly easy to use and teaches users how to create Android apps in just a few hours. This is not just fun for children and adolescents; it is also attractive to hobby programmers and entrepreneurs who want to develop an app quickly without having to learn a programming language. The project was originally developed by Google, but has since been taken over by MIT as well.
8.) Playful tutorials
Code.org is an online code studio by Hour of Code, which also offers playful tutorials for people of all ages. The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify code and shows that anybody can learn the basics.
9) Delving a little deeper
The Khan Academy’s online courses and Mozilla’s Webmaker project are perfect for young people interested in delving a little deeper into web development. The not-for-profit Kahn Academy Initiative offers free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere – and along with math and history, they also offer programming instruction.
Webmaker offers great tools for remixing and creating websites and mobile apps for users without previous coding knowledge. Webmaker allows them to remix copies of existing projects and thereby gain a basic understanding. This can in fact be a good starting point to dig deeper into web technologies.
Mozilla is also a non-profit organisation and all tools are accessible to anyone for free.
My personal tip:
This list is in no way complete: There is a whole host of other great tools and regional platforms out there. I hope I have given you a few ideas of where to start.
If you want to get started right away and learn to code, here are a few personal tips from me:
Try to come up with a small project you could actually complete – together with another beginner if possible. In agile software development, working with a partner is called pair coding. This is a common, and very motivating, way to work.
You don’t know anyone who is interested in such a project? There are online portals that can set you up with a partner, such as CoderMatch and Remote Pair Programmers Meetup. For a fee, sites like Airpair and Codementor will set you up with experienced programmers who offer tutoring in programming.
Many beginner programmers are thwarted by the cryptic error messages that can pop up at any time. It can be helpful to simply search for the error message using Google or special programming forums like Stack Overflow.
To meet up with experts and other people who share your interests, you can attend meetings of local user groups. The Meetup portal often lists meetings in your area.
Lots of luck! I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas.