10 Best Free Online Learning Sites for IT and Software Development
10 Best Free Online Learning Sites for IT and Software Development

Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in online education. For IT professionals looking to advance their careers or people who want to break into the IT field, there have never been so many options for free online education. There are numerous websites dedicated to online learning, plus coding boot camps, traditional four-year universities, and classes available through vendors.

In this post, we're featuring 10 places to find free online IT classes, and we've shown the type of course available through each site. Of course, not all the courses are of equal quality.

Study software development online

Software is all around us. Across the many devices that power our lives, the software is what makes them work. Whether it’s your smartphone, computer, appliances, or car, each of these relies on software development. That’s why data suggests that there were 18.9 million software developers in the world in 2019, and why this number is expected to reach 45 million by 2030.

Here, you’ll find an array of different courses, focusing on many different areas related to software development. Whether you’re a total newcomer to the industry or hoping to build on your existing skills, you can choose from a variety of learning opportunities.

Each of our courses is entirely online, giving you the opportunity to learn whenever and wherever you want. Whether it’s with our free online courses or our ExpertTrack learning subscriptions, you can start building your knowledge today.

What are the free online sites for IT and software development?

1. edX

Photo: blog.freec.asia
Photo: blog.freec.asia

edX provides free college-level online courses, jointly spearheaded by MIT and Harvard University. Not only are the courses available without charge, but the organization itself is also non-profit. So you can rest easy knowing that you won't be exploited by ulterior motives.

Courses on edX can be Weekly or Self-Paced. Subjects span the entire range of topics you might find at any accredited university, but there's a heavy skew towards Computer Science, Engineering, and Business & Management. They're also divided into Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced levels for your convenience.

edX also offers Certificate Programs, which are course curriculum that builds toward mastery in a specific area, like Front-End Web Development or Data Science.

To learn coding online for free, here are our top picks for the best free edX Programming courses:

For Beginners: CS50's Introduction to Computer Science (paid certification available)

For Intermediate: CS50's Web Programming with Python and JavaScript (paid certification available)

2. Code Academy

Photo: codecademy
Photo: codecademy

Code Academy offers tutorials on various programming languages. The website caters for tutorials for both beginners and intermediate developers. All the lessons are availed in a way that you can understand without struggling.

Code Academy covers the basics of programming and development such as syntax, functions, classes, loops and their applications, etc. It also allows you to edit and run their codes directly on its website. You don’t need to download a developing environment.

3. Alison

Photo: hsewatch
Photo: hsewatch

Alison.com offers a wide range of free IT courses in networking and security, hardware, software development, game development, software tools, IT management, mobile apps, software engineering, data science, databases, and core IT skills. You can choose from short certificate courses or opt for “diploma” courses, which are more comprehensive.

While courses are free to participate in, if you complete a certificate or diploma course, you’ll need to pay a fee to get a printed or digital certificate. You also can opt to pay for a premium account for around $9 per month, which will give you access to more features such as discounts on certificate fees, no advertisements, and access to resume-building features.

4. OEDb

Photo: trueactivist
Photo: trueactivist

The Open Education Database, or OEDb, aggregates free online classes available elsewhere on the web, making it easy to find courses in a variety of disciplines. Currently, it has more than 10,000 courses available -- all of them free. It also has a helpful advice section of the website that can help students make wise choices about online education.

Universities, colleges, and private organizations offer free online college courses to help students acquire new knowledge and skills. These courses cover a variety of traditional academic topics and other subjects that can lead to career advancement and personal enrichment. Courses occur online, allowing learners from all over the world to participate. At the end of a course, students may qualify for an official certificate. Some institutions charge a small certificate fee.

The level of IT courses available through OEDb varies from very introductory to extremely specialized. For example, it includes links to A Beginner's Guide to InDesign, which is available through iTunes, and a course in Advanced Analog Integrated Circuit Design from Seoul National University.

5. Coursera

Photo: cellphones
Photo: cellphones

Coursera is a leading online learning platform. Partnering with top universities and companies, it offers high-quality courses for in-demand skills – including programming.

The subject library is vast, starting from computer science, web development, data analytics to machine learning.

Many of the classes are free, but you will have to pay around $39 or more to get a certificate and complete specific tasks. The paid courses, on the other hand, usually come with a 7-day free trial.

When signing up, Coursera will have you insert some personal information so that they can tailor the course recommendations to your taste.

The learning process generally uses a mix of video content, reading materials, exercises, quizzes, and participant forums. Students can also set a weekly learning goal to stay motivated.

If you want to learn how to code a website, check out this Introduction to Web Development course from UC Davis. It will explain the basics of how websites work and how to use HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

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6. Udemy

Photo: linkedin
Photo: linkedin

Udemy is an online education marketplace where anyone can create (and even sell) their own courses for others to consume. This is quite the double-edged sword: it allows skilled folks to share their knowledge without an education degree, but you may have to wade through a lot of crap to find it.

The programming courses on Udemy span all kinds of topics. You'll find everything from Python-based data crunching to the basics of ethical hacking, from Java fundamentals to master-level web development. You'll also find a lot of courses related to game development.

Never pay full price for a Udemy course! The Udemy marketplace frequently holds massive sales, slashing prices anywhere from 50 to 90 percent off. While you wait, here are some of the best free Udemy coding classes to get started:

For Beginners: Programming 101

For Intermediate: Intermediate Level C++

7. Microsoft Learn

Photo: build5nines
Photo: build5nines

Microsoft offers several learning paths and certifications that cover various Microsoft products and services. Learning paths contain several modules that are relevant to the course topic and certifications are more focused, with one or two exams required to earn the certification.

Self-paced courses and exams are free through Microsoft, but if you want to take an instructor-led course you can do so through Microsoft Certified Trainers.

However, it’s not guaranteed that the certified trainers will offer courses for free, so that is something to consider if you want entirely free courses.

8. MIT OpenCourseWare

Photo: al-fanarmedia
Photo: al-fanarmedia

In addition to participating with other online education sites, many universities have sections of their own websites dedicated to free online classes. MIT has been a leader in the OpenCourseWare (OCW) movement and has an extensive catalog of free IT classes available. It includes materials for more than 2,260 classes, and the site has been visited by more than 175 million people.

One popular IT class from this site is the Introduction to Computer Science and Programming. Designed for beginners with little or no programming experience, it teaches the basics of writing short programs in Python.

9. Khan Academy

Photo: hola.edu
Photo: hola.edu

Another non-profit company, Khan Academy, offers excellent beginner-friendly resources to learn to code for free.

The topics are mainly basic computer programming principles, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, and SQL. While the collection isn’t as vast as in other platforms, it is sufficient for novice web developers.

Other than that, Khan Academy also has a short and interactive program called Hour of Code. There, students can practice coding for animation, building websites, or managing data.

The primary teaching media consists of videos, flashcards, and practices using a code editor. When the instructor has finished explaining, the participant can practice their newfound knowledge by completing the challenges in the section.

10. The Odin Project

Photo: theodinproject
Photo: theodinproject

The Odin Project is another free, comprehensive, programming-focused platform. It teaches HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Ruby on Rails. Because it's free, it's a great way to see if you want to pursue a career in the industry without having to pay for an expensive Bootcamp. Even if you don't want to create an account, you can use the resources for free.

The Odin Project was created to provide a complete path for students to become employed as web developers while working with other students along the way.

Students start with the course Introduction to Web Development, before moving on to Web Development 101 and more in-depth modules including HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby, Rails, Git, databases and more. The tutorials are completely flexible, allowing students to work through each lesson or jump to different lessons/projects.

The Odin Project is open source and is best for beginners, or those who have tried other resources without success, who want to work as a web developer, do freelancing work, build a startup, or learn to build a website.

How Long Do Online Courses in Software Development Take?

The free online development courses on our list vary in length and may take just a few hours or several months. While software development is a slow and steady path overall, you can master individual skills in a relatively short time and build upon them as you progress.

There is probably no point that your education in this field will be completed, and you will be constantly learning new technologies throughout your career.

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