5 online sites we love for learning programming

In First Code Academy, we believe that coding is a universal language that everyone should learn regardless of their age. One of the most common questions beginners ask is, where is a good place to start learning to code? In the blog post below, we handpicked five useful websites and tools to learn coding.

1. Codeacademy —Learn by doing

Endorsed by international leaders like Michael Bloomberg and over 1 million users in the “Code Year” back in 2012, Codecademy utilizes an interactive console, on which you input and execute codes on a browser, to introduce basic coding concepts like variables, loops and strings.The interactive feature of Codecademy makes it a popular learning-by-doing platform for beginners who are looking for some quick introductions to the world of computer programming.Light on theoriesHowever, given the lack of lectures in forms of videos or articles, some essential theories and principles will easily be omitted by learners.The pace of lessons, in our opinion, can be a bit too fast for beginners especially for young students. Users may have to repeat the lessons several times to remember the syntax.


2. Code.org — Video lectures and interactive console 

Similar to Codecademy, Code.org is also supported by big names like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Nonetheless, Code.org targets at younger users as young as five years old.
By combining video lectures and interactive consoles, Code.org gamifies the learning process by featuring famous characters from games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies in some of the tutorials. The recent open-source Code Studio is also a great add-on for teachers who would like to bring coding to class.Not for deep diveDespite its colourful and fun learning platform, Code.org provides the most foundational computer science knowledge. For more advanced learners who are already familiar with Scratch and AppInventor, Codecademy may be a better learning platform to dive deeper into coding.


3. Code School — Beyond beginners 

Targeted at intermediate-to-experienced beginners, Code School offers courses on five paths including JavaScript, Ruby, iOS development, HTML/CSS and Electives. Similar to Code.org, Code Schoolcombines videos and interactive console in its lessons. However, given a more mature target audience, Code School does a better job in making sure that skills learned online are transferrable in real life applications.Selection of courses are limited compared to other paid sitesUnlike Code.org and Codecademy, courses on Code School are not free. You have to pay $29 per month to have full access. What’s more, in terms of quantity, Code School offers less courses compared with sites like Treehouse and Lynda.com.Nonetheless, if you are an advanced learner looking for some quality online resources, Code School is a worthy investment in terms of time and money.


4. Treehouse — Wide and expanding selection

For readers aspiring to become full stack developers who master both front-end (e.g. webpage design) and back-end (e.g. the code that actually makes web application running) developments, Treehouse, home to over 100 course over 11 topics, is the platform for you.Following a project-based approach, Treehouse combines video lectures, interactive quizzes and code challenge (in form of a console) in each lesson. Apart from well-thought program structure, Treehouse also does an amazing job in supporting your learning with custom-built, and most importantly, active forum where you can get help from instructors.If you are working on your own projects, Treeviews, a feature for gold member, also allows you to submit your own project to the Treehouse team for feedbacks on areas like design, usability and coding.A close rivalry with Lynda.com for course diversityThe variety of coding courses Treehouse offers is less diversified compared with similar sites like Lynda.com. For starters who want to learn popular languages like Python, Lynda.com might be a better alternative.


5. Lynda.com — Most extensive collection of video lectures

Founded in 1995, Lynda.com remains the leading e-learning platform with over 1 million users. Whether you are a beginner or a hardcore programmer, you will always find something useful from Lynda.com’s 355 developer courses covering almost everything related to software and web development.Lacks interactive learning

In contrast to Codecademy and Treehouse, Lynda.com relies heavily on video lectures and exercise files as the main teaching tool. Instead of learning by doing, Lynda.com takes the traditional approach of lecturing followed by doing. In spite of the lack of interactivity and real-time feedback, Lynda.com is still highly recommended given the long history and reputation of Lynda.com as a trusted e-learning platform with users all over the world.

The five sites that we reviewed today all have their unique strengths and weaknesses, but they have one goal in common: to help you learn coding. Which sites did we miss, and what do you think of them? Would love to hear your comments in the form below!

Happy coding!

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