This section has resources for Vocational Learning – if you would like to jump to Self Learning Resources, click HERE or scroll down.
This section has resources for you to learn to code – with or without ANY prior experience.
It links to sites that run both paid and (mostly) free courses. We have included a lot of resources made by women, for women. If you would like to know about formal learning, please check those pages.
Which language should I learn first?
When faced with so many options we know beginners feel intimidated or confused about where to start. Think about what it is you want to do? Skillcrush for example offer courses by FIRST asking you if you want to be: a front end designer, or developer and so on.
Alternatively maybe you just want to tinker around with a new language. If you don’t have a particular role in mind, such as a web designer or games developer, we would advise you to take a little bit of time finding out what’s popular AND recommended as easy to learn without any experience before you choose!
Here are some popular languages:
|Specific Purpose: creating web functionality, fun & appearance|
|Websites / Apps, Front End Development & customer interactivity (including animation)|
|(front end) HTML|
|(front end) CSS|
|Multipurpose: both back and front end languages for specific purposes|
|Functional Web elements / apps from back end (inc. mobile apps) & Databases|
|(front/back) Python / Django|
|(back) Ruby / Rails|
|(back) PHP / SQL|
|Specific Purpose: making machines function for ‘serious stuff’ purposes!|
|Back End, Machine Learning for things like, data stats, AI, Robotics & Cyber Security|
|(back) C / C++|
|(front / back) Python|
As indicated in the table above there are different types of computer language : front end and back end. For example, programming languages are usually back end server side codes (behind the scenes). Scripting languages are usually front end client side codes (you can edit something with them in your browser). For a great list on popular languages you can visit this site: Top Ranking Languages 2018
Online Coding Resources
Now we are ready to look at some course providers. Please note not all are free, but we will try to focus mainly on free classes.
The Odin Project is a clear and open (free) curriculum for anyone who wants to start learning web development. It walks you through everything you need from the background and basics, right to becoming employable. A wonderful resource for all front end (HTML, CSS & JS) and covering Ruby and SQL at the back end.
Skillcrush offer different courses (blueprints) for different areas of interest. You can start with a free 10 day Bootcamp or dive into learning the coding you would need for various roles that might be your dream job. Even these start at absolute beginner. Prices for the full courses vary but you can find lots of Bootcamps online and they are a great way to keep focused and get a solid grounding.
Hour of Code by code.org is Free and admittedly for children – but you know that makes it great for beginners! As they say on the site, from 4 to 104, you can learn! When we want to learn something new (in tech or in life) we need to have it explained clearly to us – that’s why we see value in children’s sites too. The options may seem a bit overwhelming but don’t think about it too long – just pick something and dive in!
Codebar have a goal to enable underrepresented people to learn programming in a safe and collaborative environment and expand their career opportunities. They have a very clear tutorial list where you can easily see what languages are on offer and start where you feel comfortable. Once you open a tutorial, just take it in one line at a time.
Code First: Girls is a brilliant organisation who offers mixed free & paid courses across locations (QUB run one here) as well as online. They are not exclusive to females, offering a broad range of mixed gender support. You can access their learning support (which also lists pro’s & con’s of what’s out there) by following the Learn to Code and then Teach Myself links on their site.
Girl Develop It offer a lot of resources for free from their site. They are an American non-profit with chapters across the USA and we have to say their site makes it easy to feel at home instantly and find what you want. Following links to classes will open up slideshows so you will need to concentrate as there is no mentor with you, but the content I’ve seen is as great as they appear to be generally! Impressive.
CoderDojo Sushi Again we’ve taken this from the children’s resource page because it’s just excellent! When you visit, please don’t be overwhelmed – we know it’s a lot – it’s a truly massive collection of resources and they have their own style once clicked on too. Just get a cuppa, noodle about (noodle..ha!…ok sorry) and let it sink in. You will find both hardware and software resources here.
Code Club Projects yet again these are not just for kids! By following through modules which are incredibly easy, you will learn the basics of quite a few coding languages – and they have a great range. It’s a lot of fun. As an adult not in a physical class, you can easily access the PDF notes to help you if you get stuck – and with a community this big, you can also google your questions and get a ton of help.
Pyladies have resources for learning Python on their site that you can access from home. This is a great resource for Python from beginner on wards. Personally we think Python is a very cool and extremely useful language to learn – it’s certainly in our top five as it’s used almost anywhere – and having met the community locally, they are definitely a big part of what makes it fun. Women Who Code plan to hold intermediate classes in Python – so check in with them.
Coding for Refugee Women علم البرمجة للاجئات is a website created by Empowerhack London to introduce coding to our refugee community, offering resources in both English & Arabic. There are a few links to resources we don’t have, like Tech Mums UK – and it looks like content will grow – but it’s mainly here as a signpost if Arabic is your first language and you are new(ish) to Belfast. Welcome! !مرحبا!
Made With Code by Google is aimed at teen girls and young women. It’s hip, cool, edgy, and it has great ‘girl’ projects to learn from. Just don’t tell your daughter you’re using it! ha! It’s bright and cheerful and offers block based learning – so it’s VERY basic level – but it might just inspire you and lead onto something more serious by following the links. And, it’s free.
Django Girls originated from two ladies in Poland and are now an international Python based movement who offer tutorial resources you can follow from home. Our local DG in Belfast are BRILLIANT offering free beginner classes through the year – move quick though; places fill fast! You can find them via the Community Groups page. Their mentors are super friendly…and the cupcakes..yes, they have cup cakes..YUM!
Rails Girls is a support community for the Ruby language. They offer guides on Ruby and well as this popular library: Ruby on Rails (don’t sweat it, Ruby is the language, the libraries of lots of codes just help make it simpler once you know the coding language itself). We really like this site because it offers super fast, pretty and easy introduction tutorials for Ruby on the site – which is just how Ruby rolls, yo!
Women Who Code Resources are HUGE. They are free, laid out in ability level, topic and format (helpful if maybe you have time for a quick video but not a whole session). Many lead on to other resources, so we could have just posted this link and left it at that! Also, you will find some inspirational links ‘about’ tech and coding to encourage and motivate you, as well as technical coding resources. Enjoy!
Future Learn offers both free and paid online courses in..just about everything. They are a great resource for all levels of experience, from beginner to degree. You will need to filter what you want to learn and sign up to access the classes – they are really great and you also can chat online to your classmates and tutors throughout the courses. It is a resource once discovered you will go back to again and again.
Code School by Pluralsight is again borrowed from the children’s page because it runs on the high standards you would expect for Pluralsight teaching. Most courses are not free so you need to make an investment in yourself here. Covering the same general areas as most including HTML, CSS, Ruby & SQL, Git Elixir – everything you need.
Udemy offer some great courses and their Hot Sales mean these are actually affordable. We’ve added them here for their Zero to Hero Web Design course, which includes HTML, JS (Node) and CSS for £9.99. Just make sure you commit because it’s very easy to become lazy on courses that you don’t have to physically attend – keep at it!
Help I’m stuck & other learning gems!
CSS Tricks is one of our favourite go to places when we’re having trouble with a bit of CSS. It’s just a fantastic site that is the equivalent of having someone on speed dial for when you need them! It’s also really good for keeping you up to date on new CSS developments and makes tinkering easy by showing CSS, HTML, JS in it’s walk throughs.
Sitepoint mainly offer courses on web based learning but their resources are great – if mostly paid for. The prices are incredibly low for the quality they offer we have to say and they have great deals (at the time of making this you can get everything – which is massive – for $15). They do also offer free guides and this is particularly useful, again, for when you get stuck or aren’t familiar about something.
The World Wide Web Consortium is the protector of all things web. It maintains the standards we use and connects the makers, contributors and developers on this global purpose. It’s here because it also offers some good tutorials again for free particularly on HTML and CSS (which we use to create websites).
Stack Overflow is a forum for all coding, tech and design – you ask questions and the community responds. For a lot of people coding is self taught so we really need to have places like this where people of all levels can ask and learn from each other. It’s a brilliant resource and extremely helpful – there are a few … armchair warrior coders, so ignore that and find your answers!
Smashing Magazine is an online magazine and community for everything to do with Web Development. They have a ton of tutorials for front end development, design and business, keeping you up to date on trends as well as providing access to deals, freebies and stock assets. They draw on a wealth of contacts and experts to deliver their quality service and provide us with excellent support.
Zend Developer Zone: PHP 101 (part 1): Down the Rabbit Hole is the first of a series of tutorials to teach PHP. PHP can seem dry/dull until you stumble on tutorial sites like this. While not the ‘coolest’ language (or website), PHP is still widely massively used.. Great place to get you started & a great Zone to know about beyond that.
Mozilla Developers Network (MDN) host a complete guide to learning about development. The layout is formal but the explanation, although quite like a book, is very clear and it’s a resource we have gone to many times to help us understand something more easily – while correctly adhering the standards we have in place.
BASH Academy offer a complete guide to this Shell, server side language based on C – which is a pretty ambitious claim! Shell languages work beneath our pretty computer screens with their icons or gamification approach. They form the basics of many newer high level languages so we owe them some understanding and respect. BASH seems to some to be the coolest of them all. Salute!
Non formal coding for adults:
Many of the organisations you can find on Community page hold hackathons, beginner sessions and applied practical demo meetups covering a wide range of tech, coding and design areas. We would strongly encourage you to check them out and get in touch! Right now Women Who Code Belfast are running short Go courses, Women’s Techspace hold open learning & hack events, Django Girls teach Python, Secure Broadcast are running a Learn To: IoS course with Charged, Code Co-Op have monthly challenges – So we really mean it when we say reach out to the groups!
It goes without saying that you can also attend courses through our formal institutes, regional colleges and universities – while you will nearly always have to pay for courses they offer, they are quality courses and have a wealth of resources and support to assist you in developing your enjoyment, as well as your career.
It is very easy for us to start online courses with good intentions but not follow up. So we would really urge you to get out there and become involved in the Belfast community, or if learning from home, consider signing up a Bootcamp to give yourself more motivation to follow through.
For those of you who are self confessed ‘technophobes’, our local councils also run workshops across NI to help you get started as free events – so you can check their websites for details on those.
Coding takes patience, perseverance and a bit of commitment – but it is fantastically rewarding to complete something and see it working. So don’t give up! You can do the thing!