Monthly Archives: March 2016

What Digital Divide? Anyone Can Learn To Code For Free!


If I had a child in this day and age, I would probably make them learn software code like they learn reading and writing.  Let’s face it, most primary schools are not equipped to keep us up to date with modern technologies, and definitely not software code. The best jobs with or without a college education is in the Information Technology industry. Not all of us can be like Stephen Curry or Cam Newton, but we can learn to code. From the female perspective, not all women can be like Oprah Winfrey or Beyoncé, but they can learn to code.  In this day and age, let’s face it, geeks are sexy.  People tend to be a little more sexy when they have money in their pocket, and in the bank.

So who am I targeting in this post?  I’m targeting that young person looking for the great economic equalizer, or that adult looking for a career change that promotes a better lifestyle, or that driven person that needs to learn code to become the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk.  Coding is not just for geeks these days. It is a valuable skill set for just about anyone willing to learn it.  More and more marketing teams require it.


According to David Arnoux of Growth Tribe Academy, Growth Hacking is the most requested skill in marketing for new startups on AngelList. Right now there is 18,000 good growth hackers with a demand of 120,000.  According to data compiled by job search site, growth hackers have an average salary of $82,000. Mr. Arnoux says that salaries for a certified growth hacker have an average salary of $114,000.

To learn Growth Hacking, you may need to know basic programming skills.  But Growth Hacking is not the only tech job happening these days.  There are a myriad of tech jobs waiting to be filled with skilled workers from startups to Fortune 500 companies.  The only thing standing between you and them is a little bit of software code, creativity, and grit.  Grit in the sense that you must maintain a strong belief that you can learn anything.  The way I rationalize my grit for learning is that I imagine if one man can do it, then I can do it.  It may take me longer, but if I commit to repetition, nobody will outwork me. Always be the hardest worker in the room.

Top Ten Places to Learn Code for FREE! 

 khan academy

(1) Khan Academy – I fell in love with Khan Academy at a technology event in San Francisco in 2014. One of the guest speakers was Salman Khan. He created this non-profit venture by helping his young cousins with physics on YouTube. The story is inspiring and I recommend you listen to his Ted Talk concerning the program.  Not only can you use this platform to learn to code for free, you can have your kids learn complex math and science to prepare them for college. Adults who are too embarrassed to go back to school, can pick up where they left off, and start anew in the privacy of their own home. The platform is very powerful.

code academy

(2) Codeacademy – With over 25 million learners all over the world Codeacademy is by far the most famous platform to learn how to code for free.  It doesn’t matter if you are a teenager, or age 50 learning a new career, Codeacademy can make it happen.  It already has, and I highly suggest you look at the Codeacademy stories.  If you have an idea in your head, you may be able to bring it to life right here.  Learn how Tommy went from knowing nothing about code to building one of Time’s ’50 Best Websites’ after learning with Codeacademy.

code school

(3) Code School – At Code School, you learn by doing.  This platform is equipped with interactive programming courses and coding challenges.  Code School was recently purchased by online training company PluralSight last year.  PluralSight offers a variety of programming courses, complete with professional video.  Code School is a little more intense that Codeacademy, and offers you up to 10 free courses, then you can graduate to a subscription of $29/month.


(4) Udacity –  This platform did something special with the NanoDegree Program certification, which ties the course work to a specific job title.  For instance, if you want to become a iOS Developer, you could take the coursework specific to that job title and NanoDegree.  The most popular NanoDegree programs are Data Analyst, iOS Developer, Tech Entrepreneur, Machine Learning Engineer, Beginning Ruby, Android Developer, and Senior Web Developer.  According to PayScale, Ruby on Rails Developers average salary nationwide is $76, 736.


(5) Coursera – If you wanted actual programming courses from reputable colleges, this is the place. Coursera offers online courses that go well beyond just software programming.  For instance you can learn ‘Getting Started with Python’ from the University of Michigan, ‘Programming and the Web for Beginners’ from Duke University, and ‘Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems: Part 1 at University of Maryland at College Park. You are getting top notch education from college professors or industry professionals. One good thing I like about Coursera is their partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The joint partnership provides one free Coursera Course Certificate to every US Veteran to help improve employability skills in high-demand fields such as data science and entrepreneurship. Visit the Veteran Employment Center to learn how to redeem your free credential voucher.


(6) Dash by General Assembly – If you just want to learn how to build websites for free, this is the place to start. Dash teaches HTML, CSS, and Javascript through fun projects you can do in your browser.  With step-by-step guidance, you complete projects, and unlock new skills.  I will tell you the first time a built a website, I was taught a WordPress Theme online at YouTube, but it couldn’t help me with the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which would have made my web developments quicker and more customizable.


(7) Treehouse – If you have an idea in your head for a project, a purpose for developing code, this is the best place to start.  Treehouse is more project based vs. language based. So if you want to build a website or a software program, this platform may be more beneficial. Treehouse offers a Basic Plan for a 7 day trial, then bumps you up to $25/month. For that you get access to 1000+ videos, practice live code with their Practice Code Engine, and get help from the members-only forum.  For their Pro Plan, you get a 7 day trial that offers everything in the basic plan plus watching talks from industry leaders, enjoy bonus content, and download videos for offline learning for $49/month.

 code avengers

(8) Code Avengers –  Learn to  build websites, apps, and games in a fun and effective way. If you like computer games, they like to treat you to a game after each module.  Code Avengers is designed to help you develop a love of programming.  Right now you can only learn web development, but that is a great start.  There’s nothing to lose from trying their free introductory code course, but everything to gain.

 learn python the hard way

(9) Learn Python The Hard Way – The title is misleading because it is actually an easy course taught by Zed Shaw.  It is basically an HTML version of his book on the same subject.  The average salary for a Python Senior Software Engineer is $115, 911, according to PayScale.


(10) SQLZOO – Structured Query Language (SQL) can be very boring, but the pay is good.  It is simply a database where you store and retrieve data. Every company has a warehouse of products or services, so databases are a necessary evil.  Think of it as a utility service. The average salary for a senior software engineer according to Payscale is $101,413.

So what does it cost you to be competitive in the tech industry? NOTHING, but work.  If you don’t learn how to code, someone in Pakistan, India, or northern Europe will gladly take that tech job from you. We are in a global economy.  There is documented evidence of a vast shortage of software programmers in the US.  Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers wrote a report back in 2013 revealing the shortage of highly skilled STEM employees. Not much has changed since then, so there is a large opportunity for some dedicated individuals to take advantage of the situation.

One important thing to keep in mind, while there is a shortage of highly skilled coders, connectivity has changed, allowing foreigners to build software apps overseas and ship back to the USA. My previous companies software was built in Pakistan.  It is time to start thinking outside the bubble of the United States.  I laugh when politicians tell us that Latinos crossing the border to take our jobs is an issue.  It doesn’t matter if you are Black, White, Latino, Asian, Caucasian, or Native American, male or female, young or old: coding is the 21st century manufacturing job.  And the pay is good.  So in closing if you commit to the belief that you can learn anything, commit to mastering basic coding skills, then you can do anything imaginable.

Education is an equal opportunity.  So go get your code on.