Blog post:

9 online resources for learning Python & Django

We know that a lot of you are hungry for knowledge and eager to start coding. The problem is that it’s such a big topic, that it’s not clear where to start! It turns out that a lot of people have started to recognize this need, and have done something about it. Below you’ll find some wonderful resources to help you dig deep into the world of computer programming. Oh, and by the way, they’re all FREE, so forks up and dig in!


Learn Python the Hard Way

Now that this title grabbed your attention, check this out. Zed Shaw wrote this fantastic exercise book to teach Python to absolute beginners. If you are new to programming and people have told you that you should start with Python, this is for you. This book has had tremendous success because its bite-sized exercises make it possible for you to learn the fundamentals and feel accomplished at the same time. The book is free and is intended to go with a video series ($30) that guides you through the whole thing. You don’t need to pay for the video, although we recommend the support and think it is well worth its value.


Coursera’s Learn to program: The fundamentals

Here’s a friendly course taught by a couple of awesome professors from the University of Toronto. They aim to teach the world how a computer actually works. “A computer program is a set of instructions for a computer to follow, just as a recipe is a set of instructions for a chef.” Everyone can understand that! They promise that the student doesn’t need to know a lick of programming to take the course, and that all the resources required to complete it are freely available and included as part of the package. The coolest thing you’ll learn from this class is the ability to develop a word search game, and the knowledge to create interactive text-based programs!

Coursera – An introduction to Interactive Programming in Python

Check out this other gem by Coursera, this time brought to you by Rice University. The main focus of this class is to learn how to build interactive games, such as Pong, Blackjack and Asteroids. The course is built on an 8-week structure, tackling fun programming activities that get more challenging as you go along. All of the coding is done on a web-based programming environment, so you don’t need to worry about buying a thing! If you love playing games and have always been curious about how they are built, this course is for you. Create the game the word’s been waiting for, just give props to these guys once you become a billionaire.


Codeacademy’s Introduction to Python

Wanna move it along? Codeacademy to the rescue. The great thing about this course is that it’s cut up into well-labeled sections, so you can skip around to the parts you are actually interested in learning. It’s also very hands-on, structured in a way that lets you try out the code right after reading how it works. This course doesn’t offer as much guidance as an absolute beginner might need, but if you thrive on figuring things out with minimal help, this could work well for you.


Udacity’s CS101

Recognize this dude? That’s Google co-founder SERGEY BRIN, and he’s endorsing this course…so what else can I say? Actually, I can say that this class is run by two amazing professors that really have your best interest at heart. Udacity does a fantastic job by creating a holistic approach to learning the art of coding. Along with the videos, you’ll find a discussion board where you can post your questions and connect with the community that is going through this experience with you. By the end of this course, you’ll learn how to create a search engine that puts Google to shame. Not quite :), but it’s a start! We highly recommend this course.


Udacity’s CS253 – Web Development

Here we have another incredible course by Udacity. This time, taught by Reddit co-founder, Steve Huffman.  Steve is a really friendly guy, and a great teacher. He breaks things down with a sunny disposition and from the perspective of someone who is new to this crazy world. The goal of this class is to build a blog, and by doing that, understanding how a dynamic web app is created. To do this, you’ll use Google App Engine, which makes what would otherwise be a tedious process, a push-button solution. The course starts simple, but sometimes jumps around, so we recommend that you take Udacity’s CS101 before tackling this one. With those two, you should be set for a while!


The Mechanical MOOC – A Gentle Introduction to Python

A gentle introduction. That sounds nice. This class is like a doctor holding a needle full of Python saying “shh shh..don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.” The unique thing about this class, is that the material actually comes from other classes. They take the best bits of multiple resources and combine them into a step-by-step guide to mastering the language. Another peculiarity of this course is that it’s email based, reminiscent of those old-school distance course work people used to receive in the mail. Because this class exposes you to multiple professors and schools of thought, you’ll quickly learn who the major players are, and will be able to branch off into a strategy that works for you.


EDX – Introduction to Computer Science and Programming

Can’t go wrong here. Not when three MIT professors get together to drop some knowledge on the world…for free. One of the nice things about this class is that they provide a full transcript of everything that is taught, making it painless to jump to the exact topic you’re interested in, or search for a particular phrase the professor said that didn’t stick the first time around. Video lessons. You gotta love ’em. Didn’t get it the first time? Rewind. then rewind, then rewind again. I wish my grad school professors came with a remote control! Take the clicker and give this course a shot.


Getting started with Django(.com)

“Wait a minute…I thought these were Python resources… what the hell is Django?” Well, Django is recognized as the most popular web framework for Python. A web framework’s purpose is for doing dynamic website development. This is not a course you want to take as an absolute beginner, but as soon as you feel comfortable with Python, jump on board. Django is praised in the programming community, and tons of employers are looking for Django rockstars. Instagram was made with Django… sooooo….yeah. Kind of a hot topic right now :).

We hope that by providing you with some excellent options you find one that is perfect for you. Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about these online courses. Good luck and see you on the other side!

Ivan Sifrim & the Appsembler team


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