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16 Free Tools to Help You Learn to Code

While COD offers many online courses to help you learn to code (check out our online course catalog), sometimes you just want a little outside practice or the flexibility to tackle learning a difficult new skill on your own time. That’s where the plethora of free educational programming resources on the web can be incredibly useful.

Whether you’re looking for a full course or just some short tutorials, there are plenty of resources to choose from, available for nearly every programming language, level of ability, and type of media. Here are a few of the most tried and true coding resources out there to help you learn valuable skills like developing a website or an app or maintaining a database.

  1. MIT Open Courseware As one of the most elite schools for STEM fields, you know you’ll be learning from the best when you access course materials from MIT. The school’s open courseware collection contains numerous free course outlines and resources for computer science courses, including those on C++, Java, and Python.
  2. edX Through MOOC provider edX, you can take programming courses from Harvard, Berkley, and many other high profile schools. While there are numerous options for study, the site’s Introduction to Computer Science is one of its most popular options, giving students a great free introduction to C, PHP, JavaScript, SQL, CSS and HTML.
  3. Udacity Another major MOOC provider, Udacity offers free courses built by Google, Facebook, AT&T and other tech companies, as well as a variety of nanodegree programs you can pay to take. Topics range from the introductory to the advanced and can help you learn to program using a variety of different languages.
  4. Mozilla Developer Network This site is home to everything from instructional resources (including weekly live chats) to developer tools, making it a must-bookmark site for just about any point in your code learning journey.
  5. The Code Player Video walkthroughs on this site will teach you a variety of coding skills, from basic HTML wireframing to animating float labels in jQuery.
  6. Coursera With courses like Programming for Everybody and Excel to MySQL, you can find something that will fit just about any coding interest on this MOOC provider’s site. Even better, the courses come from big name schools like the University of Michigan, Duke, and Princeton.
  7. Codecademy Whether you want to learn HTML, Ruby, Java, jQuery or countless other programming languages, Codecademy can help you with structured course modules that can take as a little as a few hours to complete.
  8. Bento Bento helps you to create your own self-guided program to learn coding, based on your experience, needs, and learning style. Using Bento, you’ll be able to determine what free resources are best and what order you should tackle them in.
  9. Khan Academy Want to gamify your code learning experience? Try out Khan Academy’s courses in computer programming, including its collection of short, one hour sessions that will let you learn even if your time is limited.
  10. Code Avengers While not entirely free (you have to pay after the free trial is up), this site is a great place to learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, jQuery, and other types of code. It brags that in as little as 20 hours of class, you can learn to code a website or an app.
  11. Processing Coding isn’t just for those who want to work in computer science or web development. This software sketchbook is a great tool for those who want to learn how to code within the context of the visual arts, making it perfect for art and graphic design students looking to boost technical skills.
  12. W3Schools Looking to learn how to build webpages? You’ll find help here, with both structured tutorials and helpful references that can improve your HTML and CSS skills.
  13. GitHub When learning how to code, it can be difficult to figure out what you’re doing wrong or need to improve. That’s where GitHub can come in. It provides both new and experienced programmers with access to the world’s largest open source community, which can be a great place to not only share your work but get help with it as well.
  14. Free Code Camp Want to learn to code and get to help nonprofits? That’s what Free Code Camp is all about. You can learn HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Node.js, and more while helping to build projects for nonprofits around the world.
  15. Programmr Through Programmr, you can take a course or try your hand at winning a contest, completing a challenge, or taking on a bigger project. If you needed motivation to help you learn to code this might just be it—there are lots of cash prizes awarded for the best programs.
  16. Hackety Hack! Try out this site to learn the fundamentals of programming in Ruby. Using the Shoes toolkit, you’ll get a chance to learn how to build graphical interfaces while getting helpful support from the online community to ensure you’re on the right track.

While these free tools may not give you the credentials you need to get a job in development or programming (though some do offer fee-based programs that do), they will help you build the skills essential to striking out on your own or breezing through a course you can put towards a degree or certificate.

Have you tried any of these free tools? Let us know what you thought of your experience.