I’ve been looking into online education lately, beyond my experiment with learning programming (which is still ongoing). These are some of the resources I’ve identified. They’re all free, although you don’t get college credit for the courses.
- Coursera — courses taught by instructors various top universities.
- Khan Academy — video courses on every topic under the sun, at many levels
- Udacity — courses involve problem-solving and add the option to take tests at testing centers.
There are long lists at these two articles. I don’t see a reason to reproduce them here.
After looking around at the Q&A forums at CodeAcademy and finding that most of the other beginners are as lost as I am, I’ve decided that maybe I’m stuck on the current lesson because the author just isn’t very good, rather than because I can’t understand the content. A friend has offered to write up a tutorial for me going over the same material, and I’ve requested a book from the library, too. Between those too, I should be able to get past this hump.
In the meantime, I’ve discovered that I can link to my profile there as a little brag, showing all the courses I’ve completed! It’s a small thing, but I like it.
I decided to splurge and give Lynda.com, which is NOT free, a try, as it was also recommended by Lifehacker. A monthly fee gives you unlimited access to all of their tutorials, and there are scads of them. They had all the subjects in which I am currently interested, and the fee is less than the price of one technical book.
Unfortunately, watching a video, even while following along with the exercise files, just isn’t as effective for me as doing exercises hands-on a la CodeAcademy. I have gotten a better introduction to the Fundamentals of Programming from Lynda.com, I think, but then I watched a video course dedicated solely to that topic. Of course, if you learn better from videos, you might find it the bees knees. I am liking the fact that I can watch the videos on my iPad, and apparently I could also access them from my phone if I wished to watch on a tiny screen.
I’ll keep using the site for the rest of the month, since I’ve paid for it, but I don’t think I’ll be renewing after the one month.
I got a response from CodeAcademy acknowledging that the problem I experienced was on their end. They gave me some code that would let me get past that lesson, but it contained a variable that wasn’t mentioned in the lesson. That’s frustrating, and I don’t know that they’ve fixed it for everyone else yet. At least the response was fairly fast and friendly, with an explanation that they’ve been doing a lot of edits on the site lately. And what can I say—these exercises are free.
I should mention that each lesson at CodeAcademy is written by a different person, so they can be a little uneven. The overall quality is quite good, though. Still, that leaves me wondering if my trouble with the OO issues has anything to do with the author of the exercises, or if I’m just getting in over my head now. Either way, I’m pressing on and intend to get through all of the lessons offered.
I’m still exploring CodeAcademy, which has proven to be a very interesting site.
So I decided to regroup and see what else they offer. I mentioned in the earlier post that I needed to update my HTML skills, so I moved on to that part of the site. I certainly learned to create web pages before CSS days, so I needed to learn a lot more about that, too, and I am. I’ve gotten through the HTML portion and the first CSS section, and I don’t see any of that as wasted time.
At this point I would happily recommend CodeAcademy to anyone who wants to learn the basics of creating a web site. I feel that I’m learning the basics of programming, but I’m not far enough along to opine about that bit yet. We’ll see whether or not that issue is resolved in a timely manner, first.
There are certainly other alternatives, but that’s what I’ve learned in the last 24 hours.
I’ve decided that I want to learn basic programming, and I’ve decided to document my journey here.
I was surprised by the admonishment NOT to use W3Schools in the LifeHacker article. In fact, there was a link to W3Fools, “an intervention.” I had planned to stop by there, so I’m glad to find that warning. It’s unfortunate to learn that such a big site isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, though.
Those will keep me busy today, and I’ll let you know how it goes using them in the next few days.
Now that Katie is in college, I plan to use this site to continue talking about home learning, but to change its focus to learning at any age. I’m open to posts from guest bloggers with something to say about homeschooling or lifelong learning, as well. If you’re interested, please contact me through the contact form linked at the side of the site.