Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lean HTML, CSS, Javascript and more online for free!

As regular visitors to my blog will realise, I often post code snippets and examples for blog and web based projects that I have knocked together and would like to share. Many visitors comment on how useful they find them in their own projects.

But also I get quite a few queries from visitors who are perhaps new to HTML, CSS and JS, who can copy and paste code just fine, but lack the depth of skills needed when it comes to correctly integrating it into their own sites, or extending the functionality to suit their own needs.  I do my best to help out, but at the end of the day, there is no substitute for a basic understanding of web development.

Traditionally you learned to code for the web one of three ways:

  • from a book, 
  • you did a course at school or college,
  • you just looked at the source code for other peoples sites and tried to figure out how stuff worked.

All of these approaches have their own merits, and Im going to say that you should probably do all three anyway. But, for a while now there has been an alternative. I refer of course to MOOCs -(Massive Open Online Courses)  which as regular readers will realise is also something I'm quite passionate about and frequently contribute to or help develop.

There are literally hundreds now out there on web design using HTML5 CSS3 JS, and many go on to cover more complex topics such as JSON, AJAX, jQuery and frameworks like AngularJS etc. Most are well written and provide current and useful learning systems. But many have a downside, you have to pay. Some offer the learning materials free,  but often expect quite large sums to gain certification, or proof of completion of each module. And worse - few of those qualifications really carry much weight with potential employers. Now that's fine if you are just using them to gain skills for your own purposes and enjoyment, but after all that hard work it would be nice to have something tangible to show for your efforts.

Thankfully there is a free* alternative. (I say free with an asterisk because although you can complete all aspects of the courses and projects entirely free - and that includes the proof of competency -  those who can afford to are encouraged to make a donation - and you really should if you find it useful.)

I refer of course to

In my opinion this is probably the most comprehensive learning system out there for those wanting to gain web skills. Although it may not have the most flashy interface, the simple browser based lessons and coding interface literally take you from zero knowledge through to some advanced level concepts at whatever pace suits your available time and desire to learn. There are literally thousands of hours of learning available.  If I was starting out learning web development, or needed a refresher or skills update (More advanced learners can drop in at any point in the curriculum), this is the on-line learning tool I would choose.You can signup using google or other social media credentials, or via email and a password. This takes just seconds to complete and you are ready to go - starting quite literally at "Hello World!" level. From what I have seen of the curriculum, the steps and order of the learning concepts are pretty much spot on and very similar in fact to the learning model I used when teaching the basics of Web development to a wide range of learners.

As an aside, even if your main interest is not web development - this is still a great introduction to coding concepts and general markup systems which you WILL use at some level in pretty much any coding platform. A good many pundits are predicting that javascript will be one of the most saught after coding skills of the next decade

Back to the system itself, as commented everything is in-browser so the course is completely cross platform. As long as you have a web connection you are good to go. There are various options for customising the interface, control of public and private profile options - including the ability to link your progress and earned qualifications to various social media accounts. Also provided is an integrated forums system where users can interact and discuss their progress and learning - though unlike some MOOCs where a degree of participation in group discussion is mandatory, this is optional.

As commented, this might not be the glitzy course out there, but I rate it as probably one of the best. Why not sign up today and give it a go? 

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