Learning how to code used to be boring. But not anymore CodeAcademy.org sort of broke the mold with their wildly popular 10-hour course for learning how to code in Javascript. Over 24 million people have taken this course!

Today, they offer courses on Python, CSS, and lots more.  Following their lead, more fun and educational programs have come online to help budding/aspiring developers to take the plunge.

All of the courses below are clever in motivating you through constant positive feedback. I think they’re fun. I wish I’d had them when I got started. Or maybe not, because there would be many more coders to compete with!

Here are the three best FREE self-guided programming courses available today. Enjoy!

1. Codecademy

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Of all the self-guided learning programming courses, Codecademy is the most popular – because it is so easy to use. Lessons are available for learning HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

The fundamental training model is do-and-see. In other words, make a change in your code on one side of the screen, and you will immediately see the results on the other. This is a really quick way to iterate and learn.

In this video, Zach Sims discusses how CodeAcademy approached the problem of getting people engaged in learning how to code – by delivering its course in tiny, simple and entertaining challenges that teach one thing well.

2. Khan Academy

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Khan is known for its excellent video tutorials, and they offer an extensive array of computer science and programming.  Recently, Khan branched into interactive self-guided training.

In Khan’s Academy programming courses, they focus more on learning general coding concepts by sending you through small Javascript modules.  Like CodeAcademy.org, the course uses two panes: one displays the results of your changes and the other educates you on the new technique.

Video summaries help cement the concepts after the exercise is done.  Not quite as good as CodeAcademy, but it works great – especially if you’re already using Khan for other courses.


3. Scratch 2.0

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If you find Khan Academy or CodeAcademy too challenging, then give Scratch 2.0 a try.  In Scratch, you learn the concepts of programming by assembling a series of visual logical blocks to do your bidding.

The blocks represent code, so you don’t actually learn how to write code but instead learn the fundamental ways of blocking code. This is as close to video gaming as you’ll get in a programming course. I really liked playing with it, and my nephew (who’s 13) thoroughly enjoyed it.


About John F.

I'm a career web developer/consultant by day and a tech blogger by night. I just moved to Colorado Springs, CO where I work for a high-tech government contractor.

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