Free knowledge for the people: Learning programming

In order to implement the tweaks and changes I want in the website, I felt the need to refresh my existent yet limited knowledge of coding. Working in WordPress, my focus was on the following languages: HTML5, CSS, PHP, JavaScript and JQuery.
I’ve found two wonderful, free sources I would like to recommend: Codecademy and Bob Tabor on MSVA+Channel9.

Bob Tabor on MSVA + Channel9

I completed a beginner’s course: HTML5 & CSS3 Fundamentals. This is a great series of video tutorials offered by Microsoft Virtual Academy and Channel9.
The greatest asset of this course is its teacher – Bob Tabor – who manages to convey the information clearly and pleasantly. The course thoroughly explains the syntax and supplies files for download to practice your own code.


Visiting a Codecademy tutorial for the first time – I gasped. What an incredible surprise!
No, the lessons here are not presented in video form (would you believe there is something better than video tuts?). Codecademy has this awesome interface inside its lessons, where the window is divided to three:
1. Explanations and instructions,
2. A virtual chalkboard of sorts, where you mess with the code relevant to the lesson,
3. An output results frame where you can see the result of your scripts as you type them.
This indeed impressed me tremendously.

But wait! There’s more! Codecademy seems to have built a whole support system for you the user (for courses in several programming languages). It’s one level up from simple user-friendliness. Courses are divided into small chunks (which they call “bite-size”), there is constant feedback, friendly and surprisingly encouraging! You get positive feedback on each small accomplishment (I say ‘small’, but when you are laboring over getting it right – it can be a big deal), receive badges periodically as you advance, and the approach itself is so… well, loving.

The tutorials offer a lot of hands-on practice, familiarizing you with the code very well.
But of course nothing in life is perfect – some courses got stuck while loading, and the complete list of courses was a little hard to find (here it is).
Also, while being able to complete lessons – not all topics were thoroughly understood by me, and I had to look for further explanations elsewhere.

I think you can tell both of these sources had a lot of thought, planning and care invested in them, and a very considerate approach is taken in both cases.

One last remark: In order to make the most of it – don’t just sit back & watch – get your hands dirty!

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