Whether you are a complete beginner or want to brush up on existing skills, there are plenty of free online resources to teach yourself coding (or “computer programming”).
These online resources won’t suit everybody, but they can be a good way of getting a taste of what’s involved. Here are just 10 of the great sites out there – we have roughly ranked them in order of difficulty starting with the ones for absolute beginners.
Not sure which computer language to learn? Lifehacker’s short “Teach yourself how to code” guide is a quick overview of what’s involved, from desktop scripting to web development and mobile apps.
W3C is the web’s leading organisation for standards and technical specifications. “Getting started with HTML” by its staff member Dave Raggett is a basic, step-by-step beginner’s guide to HTML – the basic building blocks for creating web pages. It leads to a slightly more advanced guide.
3. Code Academy
Code Academy’s “Code Year” is a longer series of introductory lessons in how to program, starting with the basics and building up your skills step-by-step in a practical context. The course is free, but you will need to register if you want to record and save your progress from lesson to lesson.
4. Girl Develop IT
5. The Khan Academy
This award-winning website has more than 3,000 free video tutorials, from astronomy to statistics. Salman Khan started the site with some YouTube maths tutorials for his young cousin. When it became a full-time venture it attracted backing from Irish entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den panellist Sean O’Sullivan. Check out the videos about computer programming.
7. Google Code University
8. University initiatives
Here are two of the growing number of real, bricks-and-mortar universities offering free courses online, where no registration is required. While you won’t get a formal qualification, they have the quality we’ve come to expect from leading colleges.
The Open University’s OpenLearn initiative has computer programming courses for intermediate and advanced users. Each one takes from five to 40 hours to complete.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology also has free online courses that are open to anyone around the world through its OpenCourseWare programme. Its “Introduction to Computer Science and Programming” course is for students with little or no programming experience. You get to write small programs to accomplish useful goals using the Python programming language.
If you need textbooks, a good place to start is Wikibooks. This open-content textbook collection has dozens of free books on computer programming and computer science. No registration is required.
10. eBooks about programming
For more advanced subjects, here’s a round-up of more than 50 free eBooks on advanced programming.