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Learn to Code with Codeacademy

Beginner Programming Courses Through Interactive Online Tutorials

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Learn to Code with Codeacademy
Photo © Codeacademy

Knowing how to code is becoming increasingly valuable in the technology-driven world we live in today, but not everyone has the time or money to invest in a sold computer science or programming education.

Most people who have no experience in programming tend to think that learning to code would be an intimidating task, requiring a high IQ and a good teacher. In reality, anyone can really do it, which is why two students from Columbia University founded Codeacademy – a free, interactive website for beginners who want to learn how to code at their own pace.

A Breakdown of What Codeacademy Offers

Codeacademy offers its users a set of tutorials in a variety of different programming languages that they can follow along with and actually plug in the code to get firsthand experience. It’s been designed for the complete beginner in mind who’ve never taken a computer class before.

Courses offered by Codeacademy are currently available for learning the basics of JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Python, Ruby and APIs. Every step of each course outlines instructions on the left side with an explanation, in plain simple English, of what you need to do. On the right, there’s a form you can use to type in the code that you’ve been asked to do from the instructions.

There’s a “Show hint” button at the bottom of each step if you get stuck, and a “Run” button for you to pull up the result of what you created with your code. If you made a mistake, you can hit the red “Reset” button to try again.

Every step progresses from simplest to more advanced in a sequential way that you can understand it, using skills learned from the previous step as you move on. Courses are divided into sections, and sections have a number of steps to be completed.

Codeacademy makes the whole process really fun by offering you points and badges to earn when you complete a section. It may also ask you to share your completed results with your friends on social media.

The Codeacademy Community and Resources

Although the site serves people who basically want a self-taught approach to learning code, we still can’t entirely replace knowledge and skills from real people with computers.

Codeacademy has a Q&A Forum for its users who need to ask questions when they get stuck on any part of the course that they can’t figure out. And if you’re already an experienced programmer willing to teach newbies, there’s a great new “Teach” section that gives the experienced an opportunity to build their own courses.

Memorizing everything right off the bat can be tough, so there’s a convenient glossary section that pertains to each programming language, which you can refer to if you need a friendly reminder about something you’re working on.

Finally, there’s the “Scracth Pad,” which is a template form similar to what you find in each lesson that you can use to just experiment writing code and apply what you’ve learned so far.

Codeacademy Full Review

I have to give Codeacademy almost five full stars because I’ve taken beginner courses in programming, but I could never grasp the concepts or lessons because it just didn’t work for me in a classroom environment. I learned so much more with Codeacademy, and I can’t believe I got to do it for free.

I actually tried out Codeacademy when it first launched, so it had much less of the features that it has today and only offered a course in JavaScript and HTML. Now, I see they’ve added a whole bunch of stuff that would really help make the learning experience as doable as possible for any newbie.

I found that each step in the course would build upon the concepts learned as you progressed, which I really liked, and the instructions were simple enough to follow. It’s really rewarding to press “Run” and see that you’ve correctly written your code. I remember doing it in class with the Command Prompt and never fully understood what I was doing.

Personally, I’d love to see a course in PHP available from Codeacademy. I know they’re adding new stuff all the time and have done a lot of growing up over the past couple years, so I’m pretty satisfied for now. I’m actually really excited to get started on some of the other sections where I left off.

If you have any interest in learning to code, Codeacademy is a great place to get started. I highly recommend it for absolutely everyone.

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