Coding Skills Provide Broad Benefits in the Job Field: What are the Best Free/Paid Online Courses to Learn Coding?
Have you ever thought about coding? Why is coding an interesting skill to have and how to start learning it? Here are a few things that you need to know about coding skills before you start your coding journey, Enjoy!
Author: Achmed Shahram Edianto | Published date: 11 June 2020
What is coding? Are coding and programming the same thing?
Before we go further, let's start with a fundamental question. What is coding? Usually, when someone talks about coding, one thing that always pops up in our head is programming. For people who aren't familiar with these terms, it is normal if we think that coding and programming are "the same thing". But apparently, both have their own function and definition.
Codementor community, a website for coder community and for people who want to learn how to code, explain that Coding is “translation of natural language into machine commands through an intermediary coding language”, while programming is “the process of development of a fully functioning software solution”. Sounds complicated isn't it? Let me try to explain it in a simple way. Imagine yourself staying in a room, in the summertime with around 30° C temperature, you feel really hot and you have an air conditioner to make your room cool as you want, what will you do? It is simply to get the remote control, turn on the AC, and set the temperature into 18° C, done! Let's see it in the coding and programming point of view. In this situation, your problem is a hot temperature and you are trying to make it cooler by using AC. When you put the remote control, turn on the AC, and set the temperature into 18° C to make your room cooler, you actually become a programmer. The programming activity that you did is setting up your machine to be able to reduce the hot temperature, and maintain it in the cool temperature a whole time (as long as the machine is on). To be able to do that program, there are many steps that the machine needs to do before it's running the program and it can be seen as a coding activity. In short, coding is part when you make your remote control able to make a command (boundary/ parameter) to the AC to set the temperature into 18° C. Because without this command the AC will only turn on without any ability to set its temperature (can be cooler or even hotter).
Why does coding skill become very useful in the current and future job field ?
After trying to understand the fundamental differences between coding and programming, let’s continue with the question “Why does coding skill become very useful in the current and future job field ?”. In this era, the most important key for a business to be able to compete with others, or at least to survive among the competitors is having the ability to highly adept with radical transformation. Which one of its, includes the change of behaviour of the consumer/ client and the development of technology. One of the skills that a company needs to address this issue is looking for people who have programming or coding ability, and mastering this skill will make you a “stand out candidate” among other job seekers.
Which part of the coding ability makes it important for businesses?
Maybe you think that most of the business sectors that use the “tech” skills are the only sector that closely related to the “tech” itself, like the IT industry, E-commerce, etc. While in fact, many other sectors that we categorize as “non-tech” sectors are actually starting to use the advanced technological approach for their business to fulfill our demand. One of the major changes that we experience in recent years is how our society starts to digitize any kind of payment into cashless/ app-based/ online-based, which in this case reduces the utilization of bank offices/ ATM. This is an example of how technological transformation influences business strategy in the “non-tech” industry, in particular the financial service industry (e.g. Bank). Besides developing a program, the other fundamental use of “code” is for data analysis. In this case, learning how to use a “code” can be used as a tool to analyze the behavior change of the consumer/ society. To be able to understand the behavior changes of a consumer, we need an ability to analyze big historical/behavior data of a consumer and predict what they need in the future. Writing code in the programming language to apply either statistical, machine learning and deep learning approach are needed to process this kind of big data. Eventually, you will be able to see the consumer pattern, classification, and even create a prediction for their future needs and lead you to the best decision or the best product innovation for your company. Remember, these are just a few examples of how these skills are really important for any sector and show you how interesting the world of “coding”.
How to start learning how to code?
Now, you already know that coding skill is an important skill to be learned and one of the skills that is interesting to have for any job seekers or fresh graduates on this day. So how do we start learning this skill? Let me share with you my own experience of how I learned “how to code” with programming language by myself. Before I start my story, one of the key steps that we need to think about before we start to learn coding is what kind of career path that you want in your future. Maybe a basic question like, “Do I want to be a programmer or a data scientist for example?” or “Do I want to work for an IT company or any kind of work with a data analysis position?” because it will definitely affect your next step.
Okay, here is my story. I’m a Ph.D. student from environmental science major, working on social science research. I didn't have any clue about the programming language, but I love working on data analysis. Before getting in touch with a programming language I only use Microsoft Excel to do all my work, from data management to statistical analysis. Until I heard from my friend, with a huge amount of data (although not as much as big data in my case), programming language offers me a wide variety of analysis tools and less time consuming than excel. At that time, since my needs were more on statistical analysis, my friend suggested that I learn one of the powerful programming languages for a data scientist, “R programming language”. Again, it depends on what you need. As a data scientist, you can learn JAVA, HTML, C++, R, Phyton, SQL, MATLAB, or any other programming language that basically has similarities with their own advantages. So, my suggestion for your first step is to define your goal (especially your career goal/ target) and what kind of programming language is most suitable for your need. You can do simple research on the “search engine” to compare all kinds of programming languages that are available today or you can just simply ask your senpai that have experiences with a programming language. Pay attention, you don’t need to learn it all! Mastering 1 or 2 is enough!
Where to learn how to code?
The next step is finding a good platform for your self-learning process. In my experience of learning how to code, I found so many online platforms that can offer you an online course about coding or programming language, either free or paid service. Based on my research on the most suitable platform that I should use, I found that some websites have articles about several recommended online course platforms that offer you a good learning and practice package about coding. Some of it is free and some are paid courses, but there is also an online platform that provides both free and paid courses. Then, I made a list of top 5 online course platforms for learning how to do programming or coding that was shown on several websites and listed them based on the number of users (users in general, not specifically on coding course). Here are the lists of top 5 recommended platform that you can consider:
(More than 70 million users)
Founded in 2006 by Salman Khan, MIT Harvard Business School graduate, Khan Academy is a nonprofit online platform with the mission to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. It provides practical exercises, training videos and a customized learning dashboard that enables students to study within and outside the classroom at their own pace. The subjects we deal with are: mathematics, physics , engineering, literature, art history , economics, and more.
(More than 65 million users)
MIT OpenCourseWare is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to publish all of the educational materials from its undergraduate- and graduate-level courses online, freely and openly available to anyone, anywhere. That can make you feel like you are learning on the famous campus of MIT.
(More than 60 million users)
Stanford Computer Science Professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller established Coursera online platform in 2012. It offers a lot of topics such as computing , data science, artificial learning, mathematics, industry, information technology , digital marketing, education , psychology, biolithics, social sciences and others, in collaboration with several universities and organizations. It has free and paid courses that you can choose based on your needs.
(More than 50 million users)
Online student and professional learning platform. As of Jan 2020, Udemy has 57 000 teaching courses in over 65 languages with students and teachers from more than 190 countries. Offering a wide range of courses from IT, finance, business, photography, and even music, in free and paid services.
(More than 45 million users)
That’s all the top 5 online platforms that you can consider as your option to learn coding. Beside this, you can try to visit other recommended online platforms that also worth to try, such as:
edX was founded by Massachusetts Technology Institute and Harvard University in 2012. More than 140 colleges, non-profit organisations and companies provide or intend to deliver edX courses.
Online course that was constructed with leaders in the industry. Offering courses in programming, data science, artificial intelligence, digital marketing, and more.
Online education company designed to teach people how to code web pages, apps and games.
Online technology school that provides beginners specialized courses in web design, web development, mobile development and game development, taught by an experienced team of professors.
Free Code Camp
Interactive web learning platform, a forum for the online community, chat rooms, online publications and local organizations that aim to make web development learning accessible to everyone.
Real Voice of Using the Online Courses
From my experience, I think the differences between paid and free services in each online platform are actually not that much. In edX for example, there are really good courses in collaboration with top universities (professors from Harvard, MIT, etc) and top companies (Microsoft, IBM, etc) that you can access freely and only need a payment if you need a verified certificate! So if you need to sharpen your skill without concern about the certificate, you can have it for free! While in Udemy, most of the free courses lack training and exercise packages. You need extra effort to train your coding skills outside the course. But if you join the paid course, you’ll be able to try a bunch of global real problems with a real data sample!
Also, the big differences between edX and Udemy are on time flexibility. edX has a concept of “limited access on the class”, which means you can start to access the course on the specific date and it will close on the specific date as well. It encourages you to have a target every week, or a target of hours per day. In Udemy, one of the great advantages that you can get is once you “join” the course (free or paid), you can have it in your “library” for your entire life! Time-wise, Udemy is more flexible, but it can also make your learning process slower. Be sure that although you have access to a flexible course, you still have your own timeline/target to finish your course.
Along with all those important things to know about coding, there are also some basic skills that you need to have if you want to be a good coder. Many articles have mentioned that at least you should have basic analytical skills, logical thinking, and mathematical knowledge. In my opinion, one thing that you need to have to be an expert on coding is the skill to “sit for a long time”. Yes, I’m not kidding. Learning, practicing, and even writing the code itself is really time-consuming. It needs patience, consistency, and attention to detail that makes you need more time to just sit and see your monitors, your line of codes, for hours. If you are looking for more tips on Student life in Japan, you can check other articles on JPort. Click here for more articles about life in Japan!
So let’s start your journey and happy coding!
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