Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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How to study coding
Whether you’re currently pursuing a degree in computer science, a veteran using the GI Bill to choose their next mission, an aspiring self-taught developer, or a coding boot camp student, mastering the craft of programming is a perpetual struggle. To assist in your learning – courtesy of the Coding Dojo instructors – here are seven tips on how to learn programming faster.
1. Learn by doing. Always play with the code while learning
With every new subject, the sooner you start playing with the code, the faster you will learn the given concepts. Even if you blaze through an entire chapter of reading and a topic like for loops seems straightforward – so a monkey could do it – you’ll still be scratching your head when tasked to implement the code for the first time. You’ll think, “wait, what was that one piece of syntax again?” As the saying goes, you need to “use it or lose it”, because despite the evolution of technology, this ole’ proverb holds true when learning to code.
Hint: Build a project as you go through the material. A personal project is often the best starting point.
2. Grasp the fundamentals for long-term benefits
As elementary as they may appear at first, programming fundamentals always need to come first: the better you understand them, the easier it is to learn more advanced concepts. From our experience at Coding Dojo, students who rush through the beginning of our courses – where we focus most on web development fundamentals – are often the first to get stuck as we transition into more advanced material, such as back-end programming. So before you ditch the first class of computer science 101, or skip chapter one of an online tutorial, keep in mind that you are overlooking the most important step in your learning.
Hint: Read this great article about the 5 Basic Concepts of Any Programming Language
3. Code by hand. It sharpens proficiency and you’ll need it to get a job
Computer monitors become thinner, hard drives lighter, and programming languages more powerful, but coding-by-hand still remains one of the most effective methods to learn how to program. Be it on a whiteboard or notebook, coding-by-hand requires further caution, precision, and intent behind every line of code. Because unlike on a computer, you can’t run hand-written code midway through the sheet to check if the work is correct. Although more time consuming, this restriction will mold you into a more fundamentally sound developer, both in the classroom and the job market. For college exams and technical interviews – a critical component of the job interview process – you will have to code-by-hand, because not only is this good for learning, but it’s universally known to be the ultimate test for a programmer’s proficiency. So start early and get used to this old-school practice.
4. Ask for help. You’ll need it
As awesome as it would be to become the next Steve Jobs on your own, the reality is that people learn faster with mentors and peer feedback. What may seem like an immovable bug or topic could be quickly alleviated by a fresh pair of eyes or a new interpretation of the subject. Whether it’s online or in-person, ignore the trolls and don’t be afraid to ask for help, because every programmer has been in your shoes before. Besides, most developers love to code, and if there’s one thing that passionate individuals enjoy, it’s to share their knowledge with others.
Word of Warning: At Coding Dojo we suggest using the 20 minute rule. Take at least 20 minutes to figure something out on your own before asking for help. There’s a good chance that the answer is already in front of you, and besides, struggling makes you a better programmer overall.
Hint: Stackoverlfow and learn programming are gold mines for online programming assistance.
5. Seek out more online resources. There’s a wealth of content
If a particular concept doesn’t make sense, be it on in a textbook, or during class lecture, maintain your confidence and look for alternate online resources to learn the same content. Everyone learns differently, and just because one source doesn’t make sense, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that you’re not clicking with the delivery of the material. The online resources to learn computer programming are endless, and there’s always tutorial, or blog explanation that will make the material-at-hand crystal clear.
Hint: Don’t underestimate the power of search.
6. Don’t just read the sample code. Tinker with it!
Reading sample code is not enough to understand how it works. To develop a true understanding, you need to actually run the code and tinker with it. With the additions of comments and instructions, sample code is packaged to be by the reader; but in reality, it’s pretty difficult to replicate from scratch. Reading is not the same as understanding, and actually trying to write the code yourself, or at least running it, will facilitate the learning process much more.
7. Take breaks when debugging
When debugging, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole for hours, and there’s no guarantee that you will fix the problem. To avoid this, it’s best to step away from the for a few hours, and return with a fresh perspective. Not only is this a guaranteed way to help solve the problem, but you’ll also save yourself hours of headache. So if help isn’t available – to touch on our previous tip about seeking advice – consider taking a break to clear your mind and return later. In the meantime, the bug won’t be going anywhere, and you’ll at least restore some needed sanity to improve productivity.
Conclusion: Keep Calm and Keep On Coding
Despite these 7 tips, the most important ingredient to learn programming faster is to remain confident. To do so, you should expect to fail repeatedly and be patient with your progress; because becoming an expert at anything requires hard work and time. And if a single doubt ever clouds your mind, remember that every programmer this path before – none of them more destined to become a developer than you. Whichever path you are currently on, be it college or coding boot camp, the only barrier to success is your work ethic and confidence to persevere.
Feel like being a developer is something you need to do and wondering “Are coding bootcamps worth it?” Look no further than Coding Dojo. We are the only bootcamp to train you in the 3 stacks used by the world’s best companies in 14 weeks. Just Apply Now (it only takes 2 minutes) — an Admissions Counselor will follow-up to see if Coding Dojo is right for you.
how to learn programming for beginners free
By taking advantage of these resources as you learn to code for free, you can discover what you like and don’t like before investing money into a certain coding language or set of courses. Once you’ve gone through enough free coding lessons to find that direction, you’ll be able to channel your passion to continue learning how to code online most efficiently.
However, there are so many free coding resources and classes and books to choose from. How do you know which are the best places to learn coding online?
Well, I did some research to save you the time! Here are 101 of the best websites to learn how to code for free–from simple programming tutorials to full online coding courses. To make things easier, I broke these learn-to-code resources down based on topic. Use the table of contents below to jump around.
Disclosure: I’m a proud affiliate for some of the resources mentioned in this article. If you buy a product through my links on this page, I may get a small commission for referring you. Thanks!Don’t miss this list of 101 places where you can learn to code…for free.
Please note: all information, topics taught, etc., have been taken at time of updating (March 2021) and are definitely subject to change. Thanks!
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General Free Coding Websites & Course Platforms
Codecademy is one of the most popular free coding websites for beginners. On their platform, you can learn how to program among other technical skills. Its reputation as one of the best free coding websites is well-deserved. Codecademy revolves around interactive learning; that is, you read a little, type your code right into the browser, and see results immediately.
This free online coding school, created by Quincy Larson, teaches coding first through an established curriculum (approx. 800 hours total), then by giving you hands-on experience working on projects for nonprofits. It’s perfect for learners who want to learn how to code online by getting practical, hands-on experience that will do some good and look impressive on a resume.
Coursera is one of the best places to learn to code for free, with its professional and versatile course options. The site is a large online course library where classes are taught by real university professors. All courses are free of charge, but you have the option to pay for a “Coursera Verified Certificate” (prices range between $30-$100) to prove course completion. Sometimes paying for a certificate also grants access to content not available in the free versions. Coursera also offers “Specializations,” which are collections of courses on a specific topic, typically with a capstone project at the end.
EdX is an open-source higher education program governed by MIT and Harvard, making it another high-caliber resource where you can learn to code for free online. The site offers over 600 great courses under the “computer science” category, teaching various coding languages. Because it features courses from world-class universities, it’s easily one of the best websites to learn coding for free.
Codewars offers a fun and unique way to learn coding. With a martial-arts theme, the program is based on challenges called “kata.” Complete the coding lessons for beginners to earn honor and progress to higher ranks. This is a fun way to learn programming online if you’re motivated by a little gamification! After all, learning code for beginners is easier when you enjoy it.
6. Code Conquest
Code Conquest is a free online guide to coding for beginners. The coding website is perfect for those who haven’t got a clue where to start. Learn how to learn to code, watch free tutorials, download cheat sheets, test your knowledge with quizzes, and more.
7. GA Dash
This is General Assembly’s free online learning platform. It’s entirely project-based–you build a “project” with each walkthrough–making it ideal for those who like to get hands-on while learning to code online.
They are one of the very few free learn-to-code resources that have a course on how to build a Tumblr theme from scratch. Read my review of it here.
8. Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers tons of subjects (as their front page says, “You can learn anything”), including many on computer programming. A few free coding classes are offered for younger kids, too–so the whole family can learn to code for free!
Coding resources they offer: JS, HTML/CSS, SQL, much more
9. MIT OpenCourseware
Competition to get into MIT may be stiff, but accessing their course material online has no tuition or minimum SAT score. They maintain an online library of every subject they teach, with no account required for access; just browse for a course and start reviewing the material. Yep…you can learn programming for free at MIT. What a world.
Courses offered: Many. Check out their website to see all the programming ones offered.
10. The Odin Project
Modern-day warriors can set sail for learning to code with the Odin Project. It’s made by the creators of Thinkful—a premier online coding bootcamp—and the Odin Project is their free, open-source version. While you learn to code for free with their programming tutorials, you can check in for support from other students using the online chat group!