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5 Free and Low-Cost Websites That Will Teach You to Program

Programming is a useful skill that will enhance your resume, improve your logic and critical thinking skills, expose you to a world of digital creativity, and increase your employment value (or even give you the tools to run your own business). Thanks to a plethora of Internet resources, you don’t have to go into debt to learn to program. There are many resources on the web that will help you get started with programming, for free or at a very low cost, even if you are a complete beginner.


Codecademy provides beginner level interactive courses in programming languages such as Ruby, Python and JavaScript. Basic access to is free. Its interactive courses are designed to have you test out each new concept you learn immediately after being introduced to the material. Most courses provide a series of short introductions to a concept, examples of how the concept works and a prompt to complete a practice problem, similar to the provided examples. Each section of a course has a tutorial component and a practice project. The projects walk you through building a useful application using the concepts you just learned. For example, in Ruby you can build a pseudo-banking app that displays a user’s account balance and hides her PIN number.  


Free Code Camp claims that no one has ever finished their introductory programming course because everyone who committed to working through it eventually got a software engineering job before finishing. As its name implies, is free. It primarily focuses on HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, but also teaches learners about Github, Node.js, React.js, databases, and more. Free Code Camp is continuously being built by a large group of developers interested in giving back to new learners and help them become capable developers. Like Codecademy, it is primarily interactive, prompting learners to test out each new concept as it is learned. It also breaks its material into tutorials and practice projects, though the projects are more independent than they are in Codecademy and don’t walk learners through each step. A unique aspect of Free Code Camp is that if you progress far enough, you will have an opportunity to use your skills to help nonprofit organizations with software development projects.


Coursera is one of the largest directories of MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. These are usually university level courses that have been designed, structured and filmed for online learners, massively scaled so that thousands of people can take the course at once. Courses hosted at are held to a high standard of quality and are often created by some of the most prestigious universities in the world, such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT. Coursera tends to have many software development and computer science courses available in its course directory.  These courses are primarily organized around video lectures. Depending on the course, other materials may be available to learners, such as instructors’ notes, outlines and books. Most courses require students to complete quizzes and submit homework and projects. Course materials are often peer-reviewed. is free, though official course completion certifications are available for a fee.  


Team Treehouse is a learning platform featuring instructional videos that tend to balance a sense of playfulness and fun with high-quality educational materials. costs $25 for a basic monthly subscription. A subscription provides access to over 1000 instructional videos on topics such as programming, web design and business development. The videos are organized into courses, and related courses are grouped into tracks that learners can choose to follow and switch at any time. Courses are organized into short video presentations, followed by quizzes and interactive coding exercises. The lessons usually provide instructors’ notes, outlining their main concepts and key terms. Another benefit of Team Treehouse is its active learner forum, where users can ask and answer each others’ questions about the lessons and exercises.


Code School’s format is similar to that of Team Treehouse. It provides high-quality instructional videos interspersed with interactive coding exercises that learners can complete directly in their browser. A monthly subscription to costs $29 per month or $19 per month for an annual commitment. These subscriptions provide access to 62 course and 246 screencasts.  Code School’s learning paths teach skills such as Python, JavaScript, Ruby and iOS development.

All of these free and low-cost Internet resources are thoughtfully designed, engaging platforms that can help a beginner dive into the world of programming. It does not take a huge financial investment to develop the skill sets you need to build creative, profitable websites and applications.