Want to learn to code? Check out these 5 online coding courses for beginners

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My husband is a tech guy through and through — tinkering in code to build simple websites and apps just for fun. I’m not. I knew my way around MySpace HTML back in the day (enough to change my background at least) and could navigate WordPress for my college newspaper, but those skills are rusty now. 

For almost anyone working in our digital world, knowing how to code is a valuable skill. And though unemployment levels are high due to the coronavirus pandemic, tech giants like Amazon and Apple are still hiring. Picking up some coding skills through an online coding course could help you get a foot in the door, even if you never considered yourself a budding web developer.

Before you get started with a online coding class, it’s important to know which language you’ll want to learn — Python, Javascript, C# or one of hundreds of others — hinges on what sort of computer science or data science you want to do with it, like build a website, an app or a game. For example, if you’re interested in learning coding to working in a professional setting, you might want to find a coding program that teaches Python, Java or C#, which are all in demand by many companies. 

Read more: Want to become a successful YouTuber? Start here

We’ve pulled together five beginner online classes that explore the foundational programming concepts and computer programming fundamentals — online coding bootcamp, so to speak. Some touch on specific languages while others stay more general. But all of them are the best online coding courses to help you get your start learning a programming language. Welcome to coding school, my friends. And I’ll update this list periodically as new coding tutorials become available.

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Coding for Beginners course describes itself as a foundational level course for complete beginners that introduces students to common coding concepts like bugs, pseudo code and how code runs. The concepts can then be applied to whichever programming language you go on to learn. Over 30 lectures and coding lessons will help you build the skillset to build a simple app in both coding languages Scratch and Python, the final project of the course.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Udemy/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Digital agency founder Evan Kimbrell’s preprogramming course also starts with foundational concepts, like how the computer itself, the internet and operating systems fit into programming. This might sound too basic, but if you’re just starting on your learning journey, it’s helpful context.

Eventually, the lesson focus is on the core concepts of coding, different programming languages, front-end and back-end frameworks, application programming interfaces, content management systems and other more advanced concepts. 

What it costs: Udemy’s course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. The course is currently on sale for $13.

Skillshare/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Software engineer Cas Van Gool’s programming course focuses on the basics of programming found in any software language. The coding tutorials tackle topics like variables, strings, integers, if-statements, while-statements, for-statements and for each-statements. Van Gool provides step-by-step exercises and build projects with C#, from shopping lists to minigames. You’ll also need to download the free Visual Studio Code source code editor program from Microsoft for this course. 

This coding class would be useful if you’re interested in coding for games or getting started on a professional level.

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Coursera/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The Programming Foundations with Javascript, HTML and CSS course, offered through Duke University, explores skills like HTML, JavaScript, Java programming and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). You’ll learn how to write programs, solve complex problems, design algorithms, and test and debug your programs.

The programming foundations course is part of the five-course Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals Specialization. You can enroll in a single course to get started and earn a certificate, or audit the online coding class and review the materials for free. The Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals Specialization is considered a beginner specialization, and if you subscribe to one course, you’ll be included in the whole specialization. 

The course requires a laptop or desktop computer for Java programming and that you make a free account on CodePen.io. If you choose to continue with the other courses, you’ll need to install Bluej, free software for Java development. 

This course would be most useful if you’re interested in coding for websites. 

What it costs: In comparison with Skillshare or Udemy, Coursera operates more like a traditional online college course with enrollment windows. Sometimes the certificates you earn can apply as a credit at an institution, but it has to be stated. When you sign up for Coursera, you get a seven-day free trial and then it costs $49 a month. You can also choose to audit the online class for free, which lets you read and view the course content only. 

Udemy/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Again, what you ultimately want to do with your programming skills will determine what coding language you’ll want to learn. What I liked about the Coding for Beginners course on Udemy is that it touches on the basics of five different programming languages — Javascript, Python, Ruby, HTML and CSS. You’ll get to dabble in each language and build applications like calculators, digital clocks, music players and blog pages. This helps give you a taste of how each operates while also giving you some hands-on experience and projects. 

What it costs: Udemy’s course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. This course costs $14 during a special sale.

For more, check out five Masterclass classes to become a filmmaker and other online classes to help you learn to play guitar or learn to draw.



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