So you want to learn to code? Congratulations! If you’ve started researching, you have probably noticed all the work that just goes into deciding which learning tools to use - even before you touch a line of code! With online and offline options, paid and free, deciding what is best for you can take some time and energy. At Lighthouse Labs, it’s our opinion that everyone has their own learning style, and education isn’t one size fits all.
Many learning institutions and educational channels offer offline and online activities, including Lighthouse Labs. Last year we launched our free Learn to Code Resource that includes multiple tutorials to get you started on the path to coding. Our goal is to help coders of all levels find exactly what they need, in whatever format makes the most sense.
In 2017 we also published a comprehensive guide on How to Learn to Code to help future coders discover resources and options that might work best. Now that you have some options on where to learn to code, you have to decide how. Below we’ve included some insights into the pros and cons of online vs. in-person coding education.
Learn at your own pace
Have a crazy, demanding schedule? Need flexibility in your learning journey? Online learning allows you, in most cases, to fit education around other commitments in your life. Online learning is especially useful for parents or caretakers who need to balance caring with coding. Having the ability to unplug when you need can be essential, something online education will serve up best.
Why stop learning just because you leave the house? The emergence of learn to code apps has made it even more convenient to continue your hobby! Mimo, for example, provides a platform with small challenges to be completed directly on your smartphone. These apps are great for building a basic understanding of programming fundamentals in a low-pressure environment. While they often do not progress beyond hobbyist level, it’s a great option for getting started.
Saving money? Not in a spot where you can invest in professional development yet? The beauty of online learning is that it’s often no or low cost. Accessing free learning resources is a great way to get a step ahead without breaking the bank. It’s also a wonderful option for those saving for bootcamp who want to set themselves up for success!
There’s nothing that compares to working through a coding problem with a mentor and discussing things in-person. With a mentor you have someone to verbalize your challenges and help you mull over the problem and provide clarity. A mentor can also provide you with a wealth of knowledge and understanding and answer questions you didn’t even know you had! In a field that is ever changing like software development, having access to a professional who works in the trenches can provide incredible value and help you gain insight into what the current and future work landscape might look like. You’ll read it in every major professional development blog: mentorship is key!
Not everyone can hold themselves accountable to learning every day - and that’s okay! While some folks work best on their own, others need an environment with like-minded learners to keep them on task. By surrounding yourself with other people and a good learning space, you have the ability to tap into the community when you need it most. Motivation is one thing, but setting yourself up for success is another!
Gain additional professional skills
Whether you want to be a professional developer or combine coding with your current role, learning in-person gets you where you need to be quicker and without deviation. Having experienced instructors at your fingertips is an opportunity to access the knowledge you need, when you need it. Dedicating regular time to coding with trained developers will take you beyond hobbyist and onto to road to a professional at a faster speed.