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Teach Yourself to Code for Free

In case you haven’t checked our careers page lately, we’re doing a lot of hiring. One thing has become increasingly apparent throughout this process – the world (and specifically Madison, WI) needs more coders! Now, we’ve already shared our thoughts on how to apply for game engineering jobs, but maybe you’re totally new to coding and you’re just getting started. In the interests of helping you out (and perhaps improving the longview of our regional talent pipeline), we’ve assembled a list below of free or mostly free resources that teach the fine art of programming.


I put this one first on the list just so I could make a joke about starting from Scratch. I’m not proud of myself, but it’s what I’ve done. But Scratch actually is a great place to start. Specifically oriented towards young learners, Scratch allows users to create not just games, but also interactive stories and animations, so there’s an inroad for you even if your youngsters are more interested in Mickey than they are in Mario. We actually used Scratch for a classroom activity this year, and it was a hit – it’s definitely worth a try!

Code Academy

This one is my personal favorite – with a clean interface, robust content, and a breadth of languages to choose from, Code Academy is a top-tier resource for teaching yourself to code. Their modules are structured as HTML & CSS, Python, JavaScript, Java, SQL, Bash/Shell, and Ruby. More recently, they’ve also added different tracks for applications of code, i.e., Web Development, Partnerships, Programming, Design, and Data Science. Code Academy definitely has paid options within their system, and is more profit-oriented these days than in years past, but there’s still a wealth of knowledge available at the free level. The paid options offer intensive courses and hands-on training with experts, so if you want to accelerate your learning, the premium offerings might be worth a look.


Gamefroot is a simple platform that is fully oriented towards making games, and so in some regards this tool is a better teacher of game design thinking and concepts than it is for actual programming. Nevertheless, the ease of use and accessibility of Gamefroot should not be overlooked. Similar to Scratch, Gamefroot offers the ability to share your project in their online community and explore the projects that others have shared, so there’s a built in ecosystem where you can get inspired and see how other creators solve various game design problems.


This is another highly polished resource for learning to code, with curriculum that’s structured in part by certification, and in part by theme. The certifications offered include Front End Development, Data Visualization, and Back End Development, all of which are nicely applicable to the types of coding professions that are currently in very high demand. Additionally, freeCodeCamp offers a selection of targeted Video Challenges, a repository of Open Source tools to which people can contribute, and advice on how to prepare for a coding interview.


edX is for much more than coding. As a MOOC, edX has a structure that is more akin to a traditional catalog of college courses, covering everything from Architecture to Literature, and yes, Computer Science. Within the Computer Science subject area, you’ll find courses like “Finding your Cybersecurity Career Path” and “Introduction to Java Programming: Writing Good Code,” the contents of which are free. The courses also offer the ability to get a paid certification on your mastery of the course materials, so you can bolster your resume as well for a fairly modest cost.

With these resources in hand, you’ve got a strong starter pack for learning to code, but this list is by no means comprehensive. What’s your favorite free coding education resource? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter!


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