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A crash course in coding

The ability to program is a valuable skill to have these days as coding crops up in many careers. Not only is it useful in your hunt for a job, but it’s incredibly satisfying to create and run your own software and it makes you look a lot like Q from James Bond. Now who doesn’t want that? Learning how to code doesn’t have to be something you have to be taught at school or university to be good at, there are loads of apps and courses available to teach even complete beginners a variety of programming languages for various uses. I’ve tried and tested a few of the most popular options out there, and best of all, they’re all free!

Learning how to code doesn’t have to be something you have to be taught at school or university to be good at …

1. Codecademy

Image: Codecademy / Wikimedia Commons

Probably the most famous course in this article, Codecademy is a great resource for complete beginners. Users can choosewhich language they want to learn, with options including Python, Java, Ruby and HTML, and you can also tailor your learning to your desired outcome. Whether you want to learn how to make a website using HTML or create animations with jQuery, there are plenty of options to choose from, along with details on how long the course will take. The activities are short, interactive and are developed into longer exercises and tasks, giving you chance to get to grips with the basics whilst steadily increasing the difficulty!

2. SoloLearn

With SoloLearn, you can easily choose which language you wish to learn in a similar way to Codecademy. The courses vary in length and use quizzes to develop and test your understanding. SoloLearn bills itself as very social and interactive, as users can earn points as they progress and compete against other users. It’s very collaborative, as there is also a forum, ‘Code Playground’ where you can share code with other users and learn from each other, not just from the course. Since it’s available as an app as well, you can improve your coding on the go, with no time-limits or deadlines.

You can improve your coding on the go, with no time-limits or deadlines …

3. Encode

Encode is another app, only available on Android, and uses short interactive tutorials and challenges to teach you the basics. Feedback is provided after each lesson, giving you the chance to improve your knowledge, and only after the basics have been mastered does it introduce more advanced concepts. It’s like SoloLearn in the sense you can learn at your own pace, as well as learn offline when you’re on the go. A big advantage of Encode is that some of the activities are only a few minutes long, so you can still develop your skills even if you don’t have much time to spare!

4. Khan Academy

Despite having used Khan Academy to learn some maths concepts for my degree, I was unaware it also did coding tutorials. There are many different options, with clear descriptions of what language to learn for what result, be that simulations or website design. Along with the all the lessons, there is also an ‘Hour of Code’ section, which claims to be able to teach you the basics of creating a website or drawing with code in an hour! Looks like the perfect procrastination to me…



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