Coding, technology and more
Whether you’re drawn to learn a new technology by personal interest or by a change in career, the unprecedented availability of free and low-cost training and education leaves us little excuse for not advancing ourselves.
In this second look at <link to Part 1> education apps</link>, we’ll tighten our focus onto online education in digital and computer technology, particularly coding and related areas.
Most people tend to use the words “coding” and “programming” interchangeably, unaware of the subtle (and arguable) connotations. For our purpose, “coding” will do. But that’s just word choice, not career advice. To be a successful, well-rounded technologist in today’s predator-rich ecosystems, learning goes well beyond coding. Here are a few, oft-cited learning channels, among the very best.
Among the pioneers of MOOCs, Coursera distinguished itself by its close collaboration with traditional universities in developing curricula and offering university-recognized degrees. As of 2017, Coursera offers masters-degree programs affiliated with such universities as the University of Illinois and HEC Paris. It is among the most highly regarded for its courses in machine learning and data science. Online degrees will likely run you from $15,000 to $25,000. Courses run four to 10 weeks. They include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. On-demand courses may be self-paced. “Specializations” are certificate programs consisting of series of courses and hands-on projects for mastering specific career skills. Courses are priced from about $29 to $99.
Self-paced MOOCs developed by Harvard, MIT, Columbia, UC Berkeley and other top institutions are the stock in trade for the nonprofit open-source edX. Users can advance their skills and knowledge in computer science (including programming and advanced classes in in artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, cloud computing, and cybersecurity), data science, engineering, business management, marketing, finance, math, design, and much more — even ethics, law, and medicine! Programs and degrees include the graduate-level Micromasters Program, a Professional Certificate program, an online master’s degree, the Global Freshman Academy from Arizona State University and edX, and the advanced XSeries certificate programs. Verified certificates for free courses may incur a small cost. Available in Android and iOS.
Dedicated to providing free education to the world, the not-for-profit Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard, all without advertising or subscriptions. Some lessons are interactive to a degree. So for example, in the HTML Basics lesson, once you’re shown how html tags function, you can then type into the screen yourself to experiment with the coding and immediately see how they alter the page. Pretty cool. Subject areas include math (from kindergarten and up), science and engineering, computing, arts & humanities, economics & finance, test prep, college & careers. According to Digital Trends, perhaps the only downside “is that courses are user-created, so they might not adhere to the same level of quality as other apps.” The Academy relies on donor model for support, so ample (and optional) opportunity exists to donate to the cause. Available for Android and iOS.
Lynda.com from LinkedIn
With hundreds of courses in software development, design, web development, business and photography, and taught in five languages, Lynda is among the most established online-learning platforms, offering thousands of courses in software development, design, web development, business (including marketing) and photography. The company was founded in 1995 and acquired by LinkedIn in 2015. Its coding courses were among PC Magazine’s editor’s choices. In addition to individual course offerings, Lynda offers group memberships for government, higher education through its lyndaEnterprise, lyndaPro, lyndaCampus, lyndaLibrary and lyndaKiosk products. For people interested in pursuing specific careers, such as digital marketer, web developer or IT security specialist, “Learning Paths” are prescribed curricula, each one involving a graduated series of courses consisting of video tutorials, practice sessions, and certification tests. A monthly subscription is $29.99; annual subscriptions save 17 percent. A one-month trial is free.
SoloLearn offers 12 courses in all current coding platforms as well as in the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and SQL, and each is completely free and self-paced. Approximately include hands-on exercises and interactive quizzes. The Code Playground gives users live coding panels for practicing your scripts and seeing them realized in real time. A discussion forum puts you in touch with other users to ask and answer questions.
Committed to “the democratization of technical education” and broad accessibility, Treehouse offers self-paced technology courses designed to make users job ready within months at low cost. All content is accessible from the Treehouse library and organized into courses by topic and tailored learning tracks. Students can confer with other students through the Treehouse Community forum. The company offers simple, two-tier pricing, Basic and Pro, as well as
special organization rates for companies, nonprofits, schools, and businesses interested in expanding their team’s skill sets. Employing a gamification approach, Treehouse courses consist of videos, staged projects, and interactive quizzes and code challenges. Students rack up points by completing courses, Tracks, and by engaging in the Community. Subscriptions are $25 per month.
Udacity is a front runner in online tech education offering free and paid courses ranging from beginner to advanced. Its Nanodegree Program, also among the most highly regarded for learning machine learning and data science, comprises robust, rigorous curricula in a wide range of tech fields including artificial intelligence, data science, autonomous systems, digital marketing, VR, Android, iOS, and much more — programs developed with tech firms like Google, Amazon, AT&T, Cloudera and Facebook. Courses, consisting of video lectures, integrated quizzes and homework, may run from a couple of months in duration to a year, assuming 10 hours of study per week. They include virtual office hours with experts-in-residence. Tuitions typically run between $600 and $1200 per term and may be paid monthly. In 2016, founder Sebastian Thrun (former Stanford professor and Google X founder) promised at 100 percent tuition refund for students who did not find job within six months of graduation.
Unlike academic MOOC programs driven by traditional collegiate coursework, Udemy uses content from online content creators to sell for profit. No Udemy courses are currently credentialed for college credit although some courses generate credit toward technical certification. Udemy offers free courses and paid, some starting as low as $11, in a wide array of fields, including programming (“Development”), marketing, office productivity, IT & software, personal development, language, business, and more. The company also provide corporate workplace training.
Other notable coding apps
Don’t stop learning
Advancing in any tech ecosystem demands that you work at the top of your game. Every competitor will be working at the top of theirs. That’s certainly true of us at tekMountain. Don’t put off your future.