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She Does Digital: Free resources for learning to code

At a She Does Digital networking event earlier this week, on my table, we began to talk about learning to code and how many amazing resources are out there. We heard from Jo, an Android Developer who was able to attend courses through Sky — they run women-only Get into Tech courses, and from there turn it into her career.

Since everybody isn’t lucky enough to necessarily have this kind of resource located near them, we began to discuss how else you could learn, using resources online.

Where to begin

The first thing to try and work out is what “learning to code” means to you — do you want to learn HTML and CSS to make websites? Do you want to be able to make apps? Or do you want to learn a bit about everything?

For me, I am very interested in learning a bit about everything. I love understanding the theory behind “how” and “why” things work, so it sounded like a Computer Science approach might be best for me. Having stumbled onto FreeCodeCamp, I came across a series of posts written by P1xt — outlining different lists of totally free resources, to help you start your programming journey — with alternative paths depending on how much depth you wanted to go in to.

So let’s start sharing some resources!

P1xt Guides

P1xt/p1xt-guides

This is the aforementioned series of free guides, containing comprehensive lists of free resources, put together by P1xt — a programmer with many years experience who is using this as one of several ways she gives back to the community. Whether you want to focus on Computer Science and Software Engineering, Web Development, Android Development, Game Development, or you just want to learn enough to be able to get your first job, there’s a guide here for you — and she’s adding new content all the time.

To make it easier for me to follow, I’ve turned the Computer Science with Web Development course into a Trello board — feel free to grab a copy here!

A snapshot of my Trello board which covers the Computer Science & Web Development course

There’s so many free courses and books linked to here, that there’s enough to keep you going for months! However, some people like a different approach, so there’s some more resources listed below.

FreeCodeCamp

Learn to code with free online courses, programming projects, and interview preparation for developer jobs.

This is an amazing free site — it features tutorials and then gets you to work on projects to practise your knowledge. This is a course that doesn’t baby you — it makes you find out some things for yourself as something to help the learning process and then throws you in at the deep end building things.

If you want more hand-holding, this may not be the platform for you, but many people love this for the way it gets you to build up a portfolio of work that you can then use further down the line. The forum and chatrooms are a great resource too — and chances are you can find a local group on Facebook in a city near you.

edX.org

edX

This is another site with totally free resources — some of which get linked to as part of the P1xt guides mentioned above. There’s some fantastic courses on here covering areas of development and computer science and so much more!

I’m currently making my way through the Harvard Introduction to Computer Science course which is both fascinating and maddening at the same time!

Codecademy

Learn to code – for free | Codecademy

Codecademy is one of the best known sites for learning to code. While they’ve added a monthly paid tier to the site, there’s still a huge amount of free resources that you can work through. These are a great starter and refresher and also a great way to supplement any learning you might be doing elsewhere.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy

As well as computing courses, Khan Academy also offers a full curriculum of maths courses — which are very helpful to do alongside your coding work — making sure that by the time you get to algorithms and more complex problem-solving, that you’ve re-remembered all that stuff you probably studied at school and have long since forgotten (at least if you’re anything like me).

Other Resources

I wanted this to be a free list of resources, but it’s probably worth also mentioning some other helpful sites/books that can help you on your journey — although I want to stress that it’s possible to learn everything that you want to free. However I’m a sucker for a pretty book or a good offer, so I’ve succumbed to a few optional extras!

Start Learning at Treehouse for Free

Treehouse is a great resource for those who are more visual learners — they have a large library of videos that they use to teach different skills, backed up by quizzes and interactive challenges. There’s a 7 day free trial so you can discover whether it’s for you.

Udacity – Free Online Classes & Nanodegrees | Udacity

Udacity offer some free courses but are probably best known for their nanodegrees, many of which are done in partnership with companies like Google, Amazon and IBM.

Online Courses – Learn Anything, On Your Schedule | Udemy

Udemy is an extremely popular site for paid-for courses, in development and whole host of other areas such as personal development, marketing and music. They have frequent sales which can be a great way to pick up a course you’ve had your eye on, on the cheap.

Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set

Finally, these books by Jon Duckett are often linked to as a great resource for beginners. They’re very visual, with lots of diagrams, pictures and explanations which can be invaluable when you’re trying to get to grips with new concepts. There’s two books — HTML & CSS and JavaScript & jQuery. I splurged and bought both and they’ve proven very useful so far — although they don’t teach me anything I couldn’t have found out for free elsewhere. But they’re so pretty!

I hope you found this list useful! On behalf of She Does Digital, thank you for coming to our meet-up on Wednesday and we’d love to see you at our future events too.