Learn to Code
FreeCodeCamp is a resourceful platform for students. With step-by-step lessons/challenges, it takes you through various coding modules and makes you qualified to get the following certifications:
Front End Development
Back End Development
Each certification is divided into various sections with specified hours of learning, and each section has several lessons or challenges that take up to 5 minutes each. So, challenge by challenge you can become a developer and build projects for non-profit organisations to practice your skills.
The challenges are very easy to follow. As far as my personal experience is concerned with the platform, I always imagined coding to be a very difficult task, but when I starting taking FreeCodeCamp’s basic level Front-end development challenges, it was easy-peasy. The programme is structured and spells out each detail, and is very intuitively designed to make learning effective.
Once you’ve learnt the concepts through the challenges, you get to practice coding by creating projects for Non-profit organisations. This not only helps you hone your skills, but also adds value your portfolio.
The platform estimates all the challenge/lessons to take 1200 hours for completion, after which you undertake 4 non-profit projects in total 800 hours, and then undergo 80 hours of preparation for interviews. The entire process is streamlined and can easily fit into your daily schedule. Also, it’s not as much as it sounds. Just to give you an idea, their estimated time for Front-end development section was 5 hours, and it took me only about 2 hours to complete it; and I am just an average learner. Rest assured, by the end of the course, you will be ready to get a coding job or to undertake a higher role at your organisation that requires you to be more technically skilled.
Students Practise Coding While Doing Non-Profit Projects
It’s a win-win. You learn to code online for free, and then contribute to make a project for a non-profit organisation, which is a valuable experience.
For your non-profit projects, you have to collaborate with one project partner, whom you can coordinate with in terms of time-zones and work. You can be matched with a partner of any age and gender, making you ready for the real world work scenarios. Both the developers or campers generally have the same level of experience, as it’s preferred that both the campers undertake the same amount of work.
You are introduced to your project at a meeting between a FreeCodeCamp representative, the two campers and a representative of the concerned non-profit, aka the stakeholder. At the meeting, the campers and the stakeholder discuss the requirements of the web app to be developed.
The campers then set priorities for tasks to be undertaken on a Trello board, and then estimate the time of completion for each task. As a camper, you can continuously communicate with the stakeholder to get their continuous feedback to complete the task satisfactorily.
While development of the required Web app, you and your project partner can collaborate using various tools like Gitter or emails for communication, Trello for managing the tasks to be done, and Team Viewer to collaborate. Both the partners should write a clear code and messages, so that both the team members are on the same page.
You can host the App you build on the stakeholder’s existing hosting platform (e.g., AWS), or else transfer them to a platform like Heroku. Once you have handed over a well-documented web app to the stakeholder, their maintenance contractor or super-admin can take it over.
At FreeCodeCamp, they take these non-profit projects vary seriously. Each camper has to take the night’s watch oath, i.e. sign a pledge, before they take on a project. If you start a project, you are expected to finish it; and walking away from a project means that you’ll be disqualified to get any future chance to do another such project. The mantra is to diligently work with your project partner, as per the requirement of the stakeholder, until your watch ends!
All said and done, the handwork you put in your learning and project-building pays off handsomely by the kind of jobs you’ll be eligible to land afterwards. The commitment to do a non-profit project is not an obligation in return of learning coding for free, but it is a gratifying experience, and it helps you put your learning to practice before you can go out in the world and try your hand at a paying job.
The FreeCodeCamp community is built on mutual respect and friendship, and they encourage and uphold positive collaboration among learners. It is an open source coding community that lets you explore and express yourself freely, and tries to give you as much possible control over your code as possible. They just expect the users to be responsible.
They oppose harassment, trolling and spamming, so that all the users can work in a conducive environment. In their Academic Honesty Policy, they encourage users to acknowledge others’ work. They expect you to not plagiarise, and they audit your code to confirm that. They encourage dignified learning and work ethics, and discourage copying code.
In the Forum section of the website you can post your queries or answer others’ questions related to projects or getting a developer job. You can even review others’ work or get your work reviewed by other Campers.
With all this knowledge and support, learners can launch their developer career or retrain to get back in the industry with upgraded skills.
It’s a Success Story
FreeCodeCamp has been widely commended. It has been featured in Wired, Business Insider, Inc., Lifehacker, Time, Quartz, USA Today, The New York Times and BBC.
The About us page of the website gives very promising statistics:
– 35,372,650 challenges completed
– Certificates earned: 5,870 for Front End, 782 for Data Visualisation and 510 doe Back End, and all three by 325 students
– 30 projects have been successfully donated for non-profits
– More than 6,000 campers have gotten their first developer jobs
– More than 8,000 experienced developers have gotten even better developer jobs
My personal take on the platform is that it’s made of everything a good teacher or teaching platform should be made of—knowledge and generosity. It is designed to be effective and is available for free to every learner who is willing to reach out and learn.
It’s heartening to see easy accessibility of such good learning resources. With the changing dynamics of education technology, many such platforms are coming up for professionals as well as school kids.
It’s better to start inculcating coding skills at elementary school level; and there are resources like ScratchJr and CodeMonkey for children that impart this valuable skill to younger school kids, so that they are ready for more complex coding languages later.
If you are willing to put in 1-2 hours a day to learn to code online, then FreeCodeCamp is your place to be. Do not hesitate and sign up with them, and experience their enriching lessons yourself.