Teach Yourself Coding: 6 Places to Learn Programming on Your Own

Updated: Nov 11, 2020 / Article by: Timothy Shim

There are tons of places online where you can easily teach yourself to code. It’s not just simple HTML even, but the options range far and wide. So the question isn’t really where, but why you should learn to program. 

Ignoring all other answers for now, I’m going to go with one of the cliche answers ever – it can be lots of fun. We’ll talk about the ins and outs of the matter later, but first I want to share with you a few places where you can pick up programming skills by yourself.

Best Places to Learn Coding on Your Own

1. Code Academy

Code Academy
Code Academy

This e-Learning platform is run by a company called Ryzac, Inc. It’s been around for almost a decade now, which means experienced operators and well-established syllabi. Signing up and learning on Code Academy is actually free.

You can simply use your email address or even Google account to get started. Free accounts get more access than you might think. You get to pick from 14 of the most popular coding languages and scripts around including HTML, Java, PHP, and more.

Once you’ve chosen a course, you’ll be guided through it by a combination of content, quizzes, practical assignments, and demos. The best part is that all of this is built into their online platform, you won’t have to install anything.

They make their money through a Pro plan option which opens up even more content, offers certification, custom learning plans, and more.

Price: Free

2. BitDegree

BitDegree
BitDegree

Signing up with BitDegree is free as well. This site prices its courses individually, but often runs promotions for free courses. One thing to note is that BitDegree isn’t all about coding, but it has courses on many interesting fields.

From business courses to hardcore data science or even personal development, there’s lots to choose from. But programming is why we’re looking at this and they offer a massive number of programming-related courses.

They don’t only separate these out by programming language, but have purpose-built courses as well, such as how to make video games, learning database interaction, and more. The choices are very abundant.

Perhaps the best part of BitDegree is their extensive use of gamification to keep things interesting. As you can see from the screencap above, learning can be fun.

Price: Varies

3. Udemy

Udemy
Udemy

Udemy is another e-Learning platform that isn’t strictly for programming. Still, those who want to code will find it has a massive amount of resources in this area. Doing a quick search for programming courses turned up over 11,000 courses.

The thing about Udemy though is that the content here is user-generated. This means the choice of courses you end up making can vary greatly in quality. They also don’t offer anything else such as certifications and such.

Courses are also more traditional and take the form of videos. This makes them relatively easy to consume but also limited in interactiveness. There are a large number of free courses and overall, it has bits of something for everyone.

Udemy isn’t for everyone and their saving grace lies mostly in the huge database of content available. The problem is that since it’s also a channel for individuals to earn money, the motivation behind the creation of those resources may affect its effectiveness.

Price: Varies

4. FreeCodeCamp

FreeCodeCamp
FreeCodeCamp

FreeCodeCamp is, for lack of a better word, really campy. It was designed to pass on a very old-school coding environment and does this admirably so. At the same time, the user experience on the platform is simply superb.

It offers a mix of over 6,000 tutorials and courses, most of which are well guided and interactive in nature. The design is actually strikingly similar to that of Code Academy, albeit with that more archaic template.

Courses here are organized from top-down views to pass on the right skill sets to achieve certain objectives – not just coding itself. This includes areas like responsive web design, data visualization, or information security.

As an old (really old) school programmer once upon a time, the feeling of nostalgia passed on by FreeCodeCamp was refreshing. All it lacks is that glaring bright green font and black background to make it complete. But that may be too much of a shock for the modern programmer-asprant.

Price: Free

5. MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT OpenCourseWare

For those who prefer to learn coding with a bit more of a semblance to formality, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MIT OpenCourseWare is the perfect choice. Although there are a large number of courses here, MIT does happen to be famed – you get it – for technology.

The free platform allows you to access a comprehensive library of materials that their own students use. It is very much structured as any formal higher institute of learning is, so it may feel a little drier compared to the other sources on this list so far.

Still, the materials available are very impressive and range from video lectures to notes and assignments. If you’re unsure, just read the course descriptions – it’ll even let you know what level of learning the courses are designed for.

For those who hated school and graduated vowing never to return, avoid this site like the plague. It really brings back memories of university days, which can be a nightmare for some (like me). No more 48-hours programming stretches for this guy!

Price: Free

6. Scratch

Scratch
Scratch

Despite the interactivity, ease of use, gamification, and more, we haven’t really covered anything for the younger ones. That’s where Scratch comes in. It’s an interactive, gamified platform to teach only one language – Scratch – to children, especially those aged 8 to 16.

Designed and operated by MIT, this nifty tool is absolutely free and opens a channel for kids to learn programming logic along with their parents. For the younger kids, they have an alternative as well, ScratchJr.

Although this isn’t really a tool to teach coding, it forms an important foundation for children as they prepare for the future. Essential skills such as reasoning, creativity, and collaboration can all be honed by using Scratch. And it’s fun. 

For those interested, I’ve discussed Scratch extensively and you can learn more in that article. Parents, use it to spend more time with your kids and have fun with them at the same time. Especially if you’re hoping they’ll grow up to be a rocket scientist or something.

Price: Free


Why Learn Coding?

Now that we’ve gone through some of the best places to learn, what’s left over is to answer the million dollar question – why learn to code? I can probably give you a million and one reasons but at the end of the day, you’re likely here because you’re interested.

Technology today has become so much an integral part of society that literally everyone and their dog (or cat) is somehow affected or influenced. However, there’s a big part of coding that not many people realise – especially those who think of coding as merely endless lines of gibberish.

Coding is only a small fraction of an entirety. We code because we can to achieve something – to offer something of use to society. Because of that, it is impossible to code well without understanding and learning other associated skills.

For example; logical thinking, reasoning, best practices – these are all part of the coder’s life and when put into play, easily influence our daily lives as well. Because of this, coding itself can be useful as a foundation for many things.

How Difficult is Learning to Code by Yourself?

The truth is, learning to code is easy for some while harder for others. There are also factors such as the language chosen and familiarity with other IT concepts like operating systems and the like.

Nobody simply wakes up one day and just decides that they want to learn to code. There will always be some impetus behind the choice – an urge to upskill, the thirst for knowledge, or the aim to achieve an objective.

All of these can factor in as part of the answer to how easy or difficult it is to code. At the end of the day, much depends on the reason you have behind wanting to learn to code, and your determination to meet your goals.

This list clearly shows that there are avenues of learning easily accessible, comprehensive, and even free. As a hint though;

Some easier coding languages and scripts to learn include: HTML/CSS/JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Java, PHP.

Final Thoughts

Despite it being the background for almost everything tech, programming isn’t for everyone. Learning to code on your own is even less so, but the opportunities are there more than ever. For those who have limited skills or simply need a change, this is an interesting field though.

There are many jobs and companies that won’t demand you produce a degree in computer science, so it’s a way to move up if that’s what you seek. In fact, some of the sites on this list are backed by big tech names including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.

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About Timothy Shim

Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.