by Sarah K. White

8 free sites that teach you how to program

Jul 15, 2015
DevopsOpen SourceSoftware Development

Want to learn to code, but aren't interested in paying pricey fees? Here are eight great websites that will teach you how to program -- on your own time, from the comfort of your own home and for free. rn

If you’re interested in coding or want to make a career change, you don’t need to enroll in an expensive undergraduate or graduate program. You can learn for free, on your own time and from the comfort of your home.

It’s a great opportunity to get into a new line of work that has an increasing demand. To help get you started on your programming journey, we’ve compiled this list of websites where you can learn to code for free.

Code Academy

Developed in 2011, the main focus of Code Academy is to teach you how to code so that you can transform your career. It features a number of success stories from individuals who knew little to nothing about coding and went on to have fruitful careers as programmers. Code Academy covers a lot of ground, including how to make interactive websites. You can take courses in Rails, Angularjs, Rails Auth, The Command Line, HTML & CSS, JavaScript, iQuery, PHP, Python and Ruby. They are constantly adding new programs as well, so if nothing piques your interest now, you can always check back in a few months to see what they have added to their course load.

The courses on Code Academy are free and it has become a well-known and respected resource for anyone yearning to learn how to code. You can get started by creating a free account and browsing the tutorials, forums and sandboxes, where you can test out your code. On the flip side, if you are an expert in a particular language, you can actually publish your own course on the website for others to learn.

Kahn academy

Kahn Academy offers more than just programming – it’s tagline is, “you can learn anything.” In addition to math, science, history, art and economics, just to name a few, you can also learn computer programming. It’s taken seriously in the education world, with institutions such as NASA and MIT partnering to bring more courses to Khan Academy.

Once you select a course, it guides you through a series of exercises, videos, games and more to help you master the skills you need. The computer programing course includes drawing and animation, SQL, HTML/CSS, JavaScript and more. It’s a completely free service, with courses in about 40 different languages. The creators state that it will always remain free, ad-free, and not-for-profit.


TheCodePlayer might be better-suited for those who have at least a basic knowledge of coding, but it offers a unique option for learning HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. You can log on and see someone make a program from scratch, and watch as they work through the process themselves. It’s a different tactic compared to similar sites that offer more traditional courses with tutorials, exercises and videos.

Once you choose a walkthrough, you can toggle the settings to make it go faster, or slower depending on your needs. You can also pause the tutorials, as well as toggle between HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. Most of the tutorials are free, and if you sign up with your email, you can unlock more walkthroughs and tutorials on the site.

Code School Website

Code School wants you to “learn to code by doing,” which means you will be thrown into hands-on exercises. It’s great for anyone who learns best by doing — and making mistakes — rather than learning the content and then trying to apply it to real world situations. There are different “paths” you can choose which includes Ruby Path, JavaScript Path, HTML/CSS Path, iOS Path and Git Path. There is also an Electives Path, which focuses more on development strategies.

The courses are meant to be fun and are designed similar to a game with a storyline, to help keep you invested in the coursework. The introductory courses are typically free, but to go beyond the free courses, you will need to opt into a monthly subscription fee of $29, or a yearly fee of $290.

HTML5 Rocks

HTML5 Rocks is a project from Google, so if you want to learn HTML5 from the kings of technology, this might be the option for you. The new standard in Web development, HTML5, is a valuable language to add to your coding repertoire. Whether your focus is mobile, gaming or business, there is a course that will suit your needs on HTML5 Rocks.

You can search through tutorials, check out the latest additions and browse through a number of resources to help you get started. The resources section includes books, demos, tutorials, videos and more to enhance your learning experience. The site is free, which means no subscription fees or locked content, so you can get started immediately.


Programmr is another great resource if you learn best by doing. While beginners can head to Programmr to learn, experienced and seasoned programmers can check out Programmr to practice their skills and enter competitions. The site offers coding simulators, so you can write your code and test mobile, databases, Web and rich media apps right in your browser.

The courses on Programmr take you through it step-by-step with hands on coding practice, and the best part, it’s free. It’s a great option for those who have a basic knowledge of different programming languages, but want to hone their skills even further or pick up a new language. You can even get certified as a specialist in Java, C++, C#, Python and PHP through your progress in Programmr courses.

Code Avengers

If you want to build Web pages, apps or games, Code Avengers is a great resource to learn the skills you need. Designed for beginners, or those with some limited experience, each course takes only 12 hours to complete. As you learn, you can create apps, games and even websites, taking you beyond simply reading information, but using your new skills in practical applications.

The introduction courses are all free, but to go beyond the intro, you will have to pay a fee. Level 1 courses are $29, which is the next step from the introduction level, and Level 2 courses are $39, but “lifetime access” to all seven courses is a one-time fee of $146. You can give the free introduction a shot to see if you’re interested in learning that language, with no strings attached. Courses include JavaScript, HTML5 & CSS3, and Python 3.

MIT Open Courseware

Want an MIT education, without all the loans? You can get pretty close with MIT Open Courseware, a free educational service from the Cambridge, Mass-based university. The university recently decided to make its course materials available online so that anyone can take part in the classes, even if they can’t go to the university. There are materials from 2,260 courses and serves educators, students, and self-learners alike.

You can search courses by topic, and you’ll find programming languages under Computer Science sub-topic within the Engineering topic. Scroll through the undergraduate and graduate course offerings and you’ll find a courses on C++, Java, graphics, animation, computer science fundamentals and much more.

W3 Schools

W3 Schools is one of the most popular sites for Web developers, pulling in 40 million visits a month. They also offer a YouTube channel where you can view different videos on CSS; you can even ask questions in the comments, and chances are they will answer you. W3 Schools focuses on HTML/CSS, JavaScript, HTML Graphics, Server Side, Web Building and XML Tutorials. Everything you could want to know about coding a website is most likely on W3 Schools. It’s a great resource for newbies as well as veterans looking to brush up on their skills.

Within tutorials, you can also find code examples that you can manipulate and test in the browser to see if you have the right commands in place. The site is free and it’s easy to navigate to find the content you’re looking for. There is also a W3Schools Certification Program that lets you study in your own time and you can complete the program in a matter of a few weeks. Certificates include HTML, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, Bootstrap and XML. Each certificate will cost you $95.