Interested in coding? Here are 5 free courses to learn how to code
The value of applicant’s being able to code is a subject increasingly talked about not just in the world of tech but progressively more in everyday settings too. Some experts are now saying in the future that coding will be nearly as important a life skill as basic literacy (https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/coding-life-skill).
So where does that leave us today?
As part of the Government’s National Careers Service’s skill toolkit (https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/find-a-course/the-skills-toolkit) there are now a range of freely available online coding courses which, some of which even come with certification upon completion.
If you’re interested in learning more about coding but sceptical about the value of e-learning, consider the fact that a recent study found that employees who bolstered their CV through online learning boosted their earnings on average by a whopping £3640 (https://demos.co.uk/press-release/new-study-reveals-online-learning-boosts-average-uk-annual-pay-by-3640/).
But which course is right for you? Well, it depends on the level of understanding you want to acquire about coding, what languages you want to use and how much time and effort you are willing to put in:
1. I just want to know the very basics — Computer Programming for Everyone — 4 hours
If you are completely in the dark as to what coding is and would simply like to get a better understanding of its applications and potential uses, then the ‘Computer Programming for Everyone’ course developed by the University of Leeds’s Institute of Coding is probably the best place to start. (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/computer-programming-for-everyone?utm_source=nationalcareers.service.gov.uk&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=skillstoolkit )
The course, which can be completed in two sessions, is designed to give everyone a robust, but rudimentary understanding of coding and its applications. While you won’t finish this course and be building your own programmes, you may find it useful for example if your role requires you to liaise with developers or other IT professionals.
2. I’m interested in coding’s applications in data analysis — Learn to code for data analysis — 24 hours
Coding is one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal when it comes to data analysis. Well written code can be tailored to access, clean and analyse data as well as to generate visualisations. The Open University (https://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/learn-code-data-analysis/content-section-overview-0?active-tab=description-tab) offers a free course in learning code for data analysis. The whole course can be completed in 24 hours, while the OU has laid out an 8-week schedule in which to complete the course, you can choose to do it at your own pace. As you would expect with the Open University, this course comes with plenty of additional materials which can be downloaded to a range of devices including Kindle. On the course, you’ll be taught how to write your own programmes in Python and use them to interpret genuine data from the World Health Organisation.
On completion, you will be awarded an Open University digital badge as well as an OpenLearn Statement of Participation. Whether you’re a marketeer or a researcher, if your job requires you to analyse data such as market research, and you currently don’t know how to code, then you are missing out.
3. I want to learn how to code my own website — Learn to Code for the Web — 4 hours
From Squarespace to Wix there are a huge range of platforms that promise users the ability to build their very own website without needing to know how to code. While these services are great for making basic websites from a template, if you want your website to be truly unique or for it to have some specific functions, then you may need to know how to code. Most of these platforms have features that allow you to integrate your own code for this very reason (https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/205815928-Adding-custom-code-to-your-site).
4. I want a general knowledge of coding — Become a Software Developer — 40 hours
When it comes to coding, do you want to be a jack of all trades but master of none? Microsoft has teamed up with LinkedIn to offer a 40-hour course, that could be for you. (https://www.linkedin.com/learning/paths/become-a-software-developer) This varied course allows users to explore all of the different popular coding languages and their applications at their own pace. With content provided by a wide array of experts, this course is perfect for anyone who wants to understand the basics of coding for the web, software development and databases all in one. As you would expect from LinkedIn the course is also rich in information on how you could develop your own career in coding.
5. I want a thorough understanding of software coding — Programming Essentials in C & Programming Essentials in C++ — 140 hours
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t do things by halves and you can commit 140 hours to learn how to code for software development, then these two courses offered by IT giant Cisco could be right for you. Start with C (https://www.netacad.com/portal/web/self-enroll/c/course-1078868?utm_source=teachingdigital.org&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=PEinC) commonly regarded as the ‘best first language to learn’ in regards to code, which has been used for more than 40 years. Then progress onto the C++ course (https://www.netacad.com/portal/web/self-enroll/c/course-1078871?utm_source=teachingdigital.org&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=PEinCpp), which will teach you about using the language particularly suited to developing programmes with graphical libraries such as video games. These courses are instructor-led and on completion give students discount vouchers which they can use to attain industry-recognised certifications.
As our lives become ever more entwined with technology, coding is becoming one of the most in-demand life skills employers like to see. No matter what your job or interests, it is likely you could benefit in some way from learning some form of coding, but it’s important to learn a coding language that suits the way you use technology.