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Learning to program: book, course, online, or app. Which is the best method?

A while ago, we introduced you to why it makes sense to learn programming. From exciting tasks to an excellent salary, we gave you many reasons why. However, if you decide to learn programming, you have to make many more decisions. In particular, it's important to choose an appropriate method. From books to courses and online offerings to apps, there are many options to choose from. In this article, we'll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Learning to program: in the beginning you have to make many decisions

You have decided to learn programming? Then you've already taken the first step towards benefiting from excellent career opportunities. However, you now have to make some important decisions. It is of great importance to choose a suitable programming language. Very popular are for example Python, Java, and JavaScript. But there are many other programming languages such as Swift, C, C++ or PHP. Each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses. We will discuss how to choose a suitable programming language for you in a separate article.

Another decision is how you want to learn programming. There are also many different options to choose from. If you are planning to work in the IT sector, you might consider studying computer science or training to become an IT specialist. This is certainly a very good option. However, this is connected with enormous effort and it is necessary that you dedicate several years of your life to this task. But there are also simpler possibilities. For example, CHIP magazine gives you some tips on how to get started. This article lists some alternatives like books and online courses. But there are more possibilities. To give you an even better overview, we want to present exactly which advantages books, courses, online courses, and apps offer.

The problem: you can't program without a computer.

Before we discussed the various ways you can learn to program. Now, let's look at a basic problem. When you write a computer program, you write the code in text form. To execute the code, however, you need special tools. These are not yet available for the tablet or the smartphone, but only for the computer. This leads to a considerable change of media for many methods and limits the possibilities significantly. This aspect is of great importance in order to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the individual alternatives.

Learn programming with a book

A book offers you a lot of content at a low price. Most books on programming languages cost around 10 Euros and have several hundred pages. Therefore, they can discuss the relevant topics in great detail. Another advantage is that you are completely independent of time and place. You can read the book on the way to work, during your lunch break, or at home after work.

However, the emphasis here is on theory. This leads to the fact that the content is not so well memorized. Many books also contain exercises. However, you have to sit down at the computer to work on them. This limits the flexibility of this method. Another problem is that books are often not up to date. In IT, new versions are coming out all the time. However, it can take several years before publishers release a new version that takes new information into account.

Take a course

Another option is to attend a face-to-face course. This also offers some advantages, especially if you find it difficult to work on the content independently this is a good option. Here you can ask the instructor questions and receive intensive support.

But there are also some disadvantages such as the high costs that are incurred for such courses. In addition, you are bound to fixed event times. For most participants there are also long commutes. This means that a considerable amount of your free time is lost, which you could spend on learning using other methods. In addition, the learning progress is usually quite slow. Many participants, therefore, feel underchallenged.

Learn programming online

We have already presented the advantages of learning programming online in an earlier article. For example, you benefit from a high degree of flexibility and you can determine your own learning speed. But there are different options, so it is necessary to differentiate a little more precisely.

Online courses

Online courses contain well-prepared content and are usually well structured. Since access is also possible via a tablet or smartphone, you can also learn on the go. In addition to the descriptions, videos are often available, which provide variety. To solve the tasks of these courses, however, you need a computer This, somewhat, limits the flexibility. In addition, most online courses are associated with high costs.

Learn programming by yourself

There are countless websites that deal with different programming languages. You can use this to learn programming this way by studying by yourself. This is completely free of charge. However, you must keep in mind that usually only individual aspects are treated. This makes it difficult for beginners. Complete courses that offer you a good start are hard to find this way, because their development is associated with an enormous effort, so they are not available free of charge. Therefore, this method is particularly difficult.

Online exercise pages

Another alternative is online tutorial sites, which follow a slightly different concept. Here, the tools you need to try out your programs are installed on the provider's server. This means that you can enter the code via a web interface and it will be executed directly. This is very convenient because it gives you more flexibility in choosing the devices you want to use. Such a web interface can also be used with a smartphone or tablet without any installation. This technology is still quite new and the first offers in this area are just emerging. These are usually subject to a fee, but you can sign up for inexpensive monthly subscriptions. Code Pirate, for example, is in the process of setting up such an offer.

Apps: the mobile alternative

Another simple alternative, which is best suited for beginners, is to learn programming with an app. Again, it is not possible to execute the code directly, as this would require a computer. However, such apps consist of many exercises where you have to, for example, insert different code blocks or complete a code example. The app then checks whether you have entered the correct solution. This is a great way to memorize the commands. In addition, good apps have extensive descriptive texts. These not only provide you with detailed knowledge of the corresponding programming language, but they also explain how to install the necessary tools on your computer, and how to execute the programs yourself. In this way, you benefit from excellent flexibility and a high degree of independence. If you have some time at home, you can also create your own programs. This combination is very efficient for teaching programming skills. In addition, many providers offer a significant amount of content for free.

Decide for yourself how you want to learn programming.

You have seen that there are many different ways to learn programming. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you value personal attention, then an on-site course, for example, is the best option for you. If high flexibility and low cost are more important to you, you can go for a book or an app. It is also possible to combine several alternatives. For example, it's very practical to learn the basics via an app and then create real programs via an online exercise site, while still benefiting from a high degree of flexibility.

Your Code Pirate Team

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Learn to program: book, course, online, or app. Which is the best method?

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