Apple iBook Author

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Apple’s plan to bring iPad textbooks to schools across America and around the world via iBooks 2 and iBooks Author is nothing short of a revolution. It could mean the end of giant, overused dog-eared volumes jammed into bulging backpacks balanced atop the over-burdened backs of America’s youth.

It might also mean I’ll never have to explain to my daughter again where the rest of chapter 16 went.

A couple of months ago, my 13-year-old junior high-school-attending daughter was diligently plowing through piles of homework. Part of it involved reading a chapter in her Social Studies text book and then answering questions on a worksheet about what she read.

However, when I looked over at my daughter, she had her head of curls in her hands. “What’s the matter?” I asked her.

“I can’t finish my homework,” she said without looking at me.

“Why not?”

“Here.” She shoved her textbook at me.

I stared at it uncomprehending.

“What’s wrong with it?” I couldn’t see a problem besides the usual scribbling left by the previous loaner.

“The…pages…are…missing,” she said slowly as if speaking to a particularly dense child. Sure enough, pages 241 to 248 of her textbook had been torn out—and not so neatly. My daughter was frustrated and stuck. I’m sure you have similar tales.

Thursday I started imagining how that could never happen with an iPad text book. Apple’s iBook Author-built textbooks are, obviously, 100% digital. Good luck ripping a page out of that.


Tired Old Textbooks


There is another obvious benefit. My daughter sometimes struggles with the coursework in textbooks. It can be flat and boring. And if she’s confused, reading and rereading the textbook is not going to help her. I do believe that more interactive features could change things. There are definitely times where her failure to grasp something is from pure lack of interest. So how can we make these things interesting? Interactivity is at least part of the answer.

Apple did three important things to ensure the viability of this iPad textbook launch program: It built an excellent, powerful, quite easy-to-use app (almost epublishing for dummies). Desktop Publishing is not a new art; some of the construction metaphors in this app go all the way back to QuarkXPress. Still, it’s smoothly executed. The ability to almost instantly preview on your iPad is a stroke of genius.


Textbooks: The Price Is Wrong


Textbooks are expensive. When I was in college, I spent hundreds of dollars each semester on my own textbooks. I’m sure they’re no less expensive now. Similar tomes for K-12 schools must be nearly as expensive — what other excuse could they have for holding onto them for five years or more? In fact, McGraw-Hill’s Algebra 1 (one of the books converted for iBooks 2 textbook program) costs almost $100.

So a price of $14.99 or less for an iPad text book certainly sounds like a good deal, though I do wonder if Apple will offer volume discounts through its Textbook store. It would make sense — that’s how schools will buy these books, in bulk access codes. If schools believe they can save millions each year on textbook costs, they may run, not walk over to Apple’s iBook 2 text book platform.

The third thing is partnerships. Apple managed to sign up McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: three publishing houses that apparently comprise 90% of the textbook publishing biz in the U.S. These are the guys with the keys to the kingdom. They already publish the board-of-education-certified tomes. Now they’re working with Apple to convert them to interactive iPad textbook form.

The obvious concern is whether or not the iPad versions are still certified. Even so, this is a huge hurdle already surmounted before Apple’s iBook Author and iBooks2 with Textbooks is even fully out of the gate.


Questions


There are questions — big ones — that Apple and its partners will have to answer before this idea really takes flight.

What if the whole classroom doesn’t have iPads? Can one classroom work with both original hardcover and iPad versions of the textbook? Getting schools to update to the iPad and e-textbooks is not like flipping a switch. The iPad version will be more easily distributed and updateable, but boards of education cannot allow their editions to be out of step, can they?

When I asked someone in the education space, she noted that schools that purchased textbooks last year are not going to switch any time soon. In fact they might not be ready to switch for years. They made their investment and have to, as a fiscally responsible board of ed, use them until the books run out of utility (or until enough pages are ripped out).

Then there is the cost of the iPad. $499 is a good entry-level price for a computer. Multiplied by 30, times the number of classrooms in an average school (say, 40 at the low end) — that’s a half-million dollars. For school districts, that’s a big chunk of money.

I have a theory, though. I think Apple will introduce a Classroom iPad for $199 before the year is out. Pure speculation? Absolutely. However, considering how serious Apple is about improving the state of education, this makes real sense. I imagine it will be a 1024×768, 9.7-inch screen (while the iPad 3 gets the Retina Display and maybe changes size or shape), with a plastic back and rugged shell that only the school can remove.

There will be a single, rear-facing camera, and the tablet will be locked down with access to the iBooks 2 app and pre-loaded textbooks. Safari will come pre-loaded, but it’ll run through Apple’s special proxy education server (yes, I’m making that up, too).There will be no App Store or iTunes account associated with it and schools will manage all of them centrally.

If Apple does this, you will truly see the dawn of a new age in education. I, for one, am ready for it.

What’s your take? Are you ready to attend your next board of education meeting and tell the administrators it’s time for a new kind of textbook? Let me know in the comments.

Statistics on Education Performance

Apple’s Phil Schiller showed statistics on how well U.S. children are performing compared to kids in other countries; they ranked 17th in reading, 31st in math and 23rd in science.

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Thursday’s Apple event presented a giant leap forward in the process of updating American education. As of today, elementary, high school and college students are all able to experience a new, dynamic digitization of textbooks and course materials through the iPad. Textbooks for iBooks marks a new wave of modernization in the educational system, and if it succeeds, a new learning style might be on the horizon.

Combined with iBooks Author for Mac and a revamped iTunes U interface, Apple has officially established itself as a conductor for the digital education experience. The WYSIWIG interface of the application means that even technologically green teachers will be able to develop customized coursework companions for their curricula. From soup to nuts, users are able to take part in developing educational tools for any level and also do it relatively cheaply. All of the apps iTunes debuted today are free from the iTunes or Mac App Store, and are available for immediate use.

The revamp of iTunes U also brings a new wave of promise to an old idea. Users can now participate in open courses from some of the country’s best universities, without ever having to leave their homes. Dynamic and interactive, iTunes U’s new facelift could possibly attract more universities to the platform and, in turn, produce more overall educational content through Apple’s mediums.

Take a closer look at the highlights from the event, including in-depth anaylsis from the Mashable team.

What are you most excited about as Apple begins its foray into education? Let us know in the comments.

1. iBooks 2

The iPad’s iBooks app is what the rest of the Apple for Education apps cleverly rest on. Available for free today in the iTunes store, iBooks 2 provides deeper functionality and a special section for Apple’s major announcement…

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It’s no secret that students around the world are carrying too-heavy backpacks full of large, thick textbooks and handouts for school. What if, though, they could carry just one, thin slab, chock full of interactive text books and worksheets? That could be the story Apple weaves today in its Education Announcement event in New York City. You’ll only know for certain, though, if you follow this live bog.

Apple’s not saying a word about what’s to come, but the Cupertino, CA-based tech company may have sprung a few leaks, anyway. According to reports from the New York Times and Apple Insider, the company will unveil a new interactive ebook toolkit that could make creating iPad-ready schoolbooks and handouts as easy as crafting a song in GarageBand. Apple’s aspirations should come as no surprise. Founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away last year at the age of 56, made clear in interviews with his biographer Walter Isaacson, that education was very important to him and Apple. He had even targeted textbooks as the next business he wanted to solve.

SEE ALSO: Textbook Makers: We’re Not Afraid of Apple’s Education Announcement

Jobs and his Apple counterparts have built a pretty good track record for solving various tech and market conundrums. With Jobs gone it seems only natural that current Apple CEO Tim Cook would want to carry on his legacy. Can Apple solve education? Is the iPad the ultimate device for free, uncertified textbooks? Is your child’s backpack about to get a whole lot lighter? We’ll answer these and other questions during today’s live blog. Make sure you stick around for the whole thing, because there are bound to be some surprises.

The live blog begins right here at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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Mollie Vandor is a product manager at BetterWorks, and the former associate product manager at Cooking.com. Prior to that, she helped launch Ranker.com, where she served as the product manager, amongst many other roles. You can reach her @mollierosev, on her blog, or on her latest addiction – Words With Friends, where she plays under the username “Mollierosev.”

Search engine optimization isn’t exactly something you can major in — at least, not yet. In fact, many professional search engine optimizers are self-taught. They’ve supplemented backgrounds in marketing, computer science and the like with self-education via online courses, videos and blog posts.

Whether you’re looking to build your knowledge of the basics, master more intermediate material or get to the head of the advanced class, a wealth of online resources can help you graduate your SEO skills to the next level.


The Basics






Intermediate


  • Congratulations, you’ve passed freshman SEO. Now it’s time to take that knowledge to the next level by applying broad basics to specific situations. The SEO Theory blog has a whole section devoted to posts about intermediate SEO techniques like nofollow links, making the most of microsites and smartly using subdomains.
  • If you’re a small business owner, web design company GNC Web Creations offers a free SEO course run through Yahoo groups. It’s aimed at helping small business owners get their hands dirty with in-depth SEO techniques.
  • Visual learners should check out SEO firm Vertical Measures, which has a compendium of free webinars and videos covering topics like content optimization, keywords and sitemap. Similarly, SEOBook publishes a series of SEO videos covering content creation, keyword choice and more.
  • If you’re willing to spend some money, SEO expert Kalena Jordan runs a very well-reviewed series of classes online through Search Engine College. The curriculum includes courses on PPC Advertising, copywriting, usability and more. With fees ranging from $200 to $1500, there’s something for everyone.
  • For the price of a few fee-based SEO tutorials, you could also start attending SEO conferences, where you can engage in group learning and meet other search-minded scholars. Search Marketing Expo is definitely the most popular SEO conference in its class, with conferences happening all year long around the world, but there are also numerous other conferences covering SEO, including Web 2.0 Expo in October and PubCon in November.

Advanced Placement


  • Now it’s time to sink your teeth into some serious advanced placement SEO, specifically, by tackling really technical knowledge and encountering the breakneck pace at which the industry grows and changes. The best place to start your advanced placement training, believe it or not, is actually by turning off your computer and picking up a book. Try SEO Warrior or The Art Of SEO, both of which provide fantastic in-depth SEO techniques and analysis, perfect for SEO professionals, or anyone who wants to master professional-level skills.
  • Since SEO is an industry that changes faster than the Google trending topics list, the most important advanced skill to master is staying ahead of the curve. The best way to do that is to stay plugged in to the places where people share day-to-day insights on the industry. There are plenty of SEOs to follow on Twitter, as well as SEO blogs that publish in-depth articles and analysis on a regular basis.
  • Quora has a fantastic SEO community, as does Stack Exchange. Both sites are Q&A based, so you can find answers to commonly asked questions, or post SEO queries of your own.
  • WarriorForum and SEOMoz also have thriving communities of hardcore SEO geeks who share advanced search secrets every day. In particular, SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday series is a wonderful way to get a weekly dose of in-depth analysis on topics like link building on Twitter and Mobile SEO. They also offer an advanced training DVD series to really help you round out your skills.
  • There’s also no better place to go than the source. And, in SEO, the source is Matt Cutts, Google’s guru of search, who also happens to post a regular blog covering everything from sculpting pagerank to his latest vegan diet. While you’re bookmarking advanced placement blogs, be sure to also include the Google WebMaster Central Blog and YouTube channel.

Graduation


Ultimately, since SEO is such a rapidly changing field, you can never really be done educating yourself on the latest trends, topics and tactics. It’s truly a skill set that requires continuing (and continuous) education. But, with resources like these and a willingness to learn, you’ll be graduating summa cum SERP ranking in no time.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jeffrey

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This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Aaron Stibel serves as senior vice president of technology of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the leading provider of credit building and credibility solutions for businesses. He holds a BS in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.

There are a few ubiquitous projects that most computer science students remember: Hello world, the Fibonacci recursion sequence and the reverse Polish notation calculator, for example.

No project is more annoying to me than the dreaded MS Access database project. In my day, the project came in the form of a CD catalog. Now it is more likely to be an MP3 catalog or sometimes a college course catalog. Whatever the form, this project is typically a disappointing response to the job interview question, “Do you have any database experience?”

Technology moves quickly. I tell new college graduates to enjoy that feeling of knowing a technology that eludes your supervisor — because it won’t last. When a new crew of graduates comes along in a couple of years, they’ll be showing off languages that make AJAX and Ruby seem like COBOL and Pascal.

Our dependency on databases and data warehousing has exploded, mainly because storage has become a relatively negligible line item on IT budgets. Instead, software is the storage, retrieval, transformation and visualization of data. C-Level executives who don’t know Java Beans from coffee beans are now talking OLAP Cubes.

So with databases being part of technology and high-value businesses, colleges must start including databases all over the curriculum.

Of the top five highest-rated computer science programs — Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Cornell — none include a database course as part of the 2011 undergraduate degree requirement. Worse, the top four schools only offer a single database course as an undergraduate engineering elective. Graduate-level programs offer few additional options.

It never fails to amaze me how little database experience college graduates have. Most have no SQL experience, and I haven’t interviewed a single candidate who can design an ERD, properly tune a query or write complex SQL. This lack of qualifications is a major hindrance in today’s data-dependent world. Yet it doesn’t need to be. A single mandatory class would suffice.

My wish list of database requirements for a college graduate would be selfishly long. At the very least, however, graduates should be experts at SQL and have exposure to PL/SQL or T-SQL. A SQL tuning class that covers indexing and proper design would be great as well. Students should know what an ERD is, and how to design data architectures as well as they tackle data structures. Ask a software engineer what he uses more: a Red-Black Tree or a Table (the answer is obvious).

It has been 40 years since SQL was invented. It’s time to add database courses to the mandatory curriculum. It’s time to banish the dreaded MS Access project. It’s time to add data to the core theory, applications, and systems concentrations.

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On Wednesday, The New York Times and public radio station WNYC launched SchoolBook, a website to provide news, data and discussion about New York City schools.

The site aims to increase communication and understanding among parents, teachers, administrators and students. As many school websites are rudimentary and infrequently updated, SchoolBook’s creators hope to fill a gaping hole. It creates a page for each of NYC’s 2,500 public, charter and private schools with student population information, community discussion threads and more.

“In conversations with parents, principals and teachers, we kept hearing how fragmented the conversation was,” said Tyson Evans, an assistant editor on The Times‘s interactive news desk who helped develop the project. “We’re hoping they’ll see this as kind of a place to explore.”

If it’s numbers SchoolBook users are looking to explore, they’ll have plenty to discover. The site’s extensive database is comprised of information from thousands of public records from numerous sources, including city and state departments and non-profit organizations, Evans said. Much of the information was already housed in internal search and reporting tools for Times journalists built by Robert Gebeloff, a computer assisted reporter who specializes in education.

The challenge for SchoolBook, like many numbers-driven reports, was how to present the information in a useful and easy-to-understand way. Evans said he and his team wanted the site to provide more overall context than a tool that produces charts and visualizations. They chose to standardize the data and group scores into three categories: performance, satisfaction and diversity.

SchoolBook’s developers created custom software for the site with Ruby on Rails and were ambitious about writing data validators and imports. This will help ease the process of updating the database when schools come out with new information.

Some may argue SchoolBook is ranking schools based on scores. Gebeloff wrote an extensive guide to the site’s methodology, in which he says, “What we have not done, quite purposely, is grade or rate schools.”

The numbers are only part of the story. It’s the site’s ambitions for building community around education as an entity that sets it apart. Users are asked to log in with Facebook, an experiment The Times wanted to try to out with a standalone site. “We’re curious about the next phase of web identity,” Evans said.

It will be interesting to see how this affects conversation, especially as education can be a sensitive topic. With the controversy about how students and teachers should interact on Facebook, the single sign-in method will likely see challenges and complaints.

Participants can contribute on individual school pages in three ways: ask a question, post content (photos, student newspaper articles, etc.) or suggest an idea. This could be particularly useful for parents considering a new school for their student. If the school has an active community page where the user feels comfortable contributing, it may shed light on whether it’s a good fit.

The Times and WNYC worked with a handful of schools when brainstorming for the site. Evans expects those communities will lead the charge on SchoolBook and it will grow from there.

“We have ideas for how conversations will work but we’ll ultimately be learning from how the community uses it,” Evans said. “The more activity we can see at individual schools, the more we’ll be convinced it was the right project.”

Times and WNYC education reporters will be regularly updating the site with original articles, discussion threads and aggregated news posts from local sources GothamSchools and Inside Schools. Mary Ann Giordano, the site’s editor, will manage content from contributing writers, which may include teacher diaries, Evans said. The news and community aspects of the site were built on WordPress.

Overall, SchoolBook is leading the way in building community around the topic of education. Though projects like The Opportunity Gap from ProPublica and The Washington Post‘s D.C. Schools Scorecard were pioneers in data collection and presentation, they do little to bring readers together to share content and engage in debate. As Evans said, the purpose SchoolBook provides is up to its users — but it’s the site’s empowerment of its community members that will give people a reason to visit.

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Mollie Vandor is the Associate Product Manager at Cooking.com. Prior to that, she helped launch Ranker.com, where she served as the Product Manager, amongst many other roles. You can reach her @mollierosev, on her blog, or on her latest addiction – Words With Friends, where she plays under the username “Mollierosev.”

While summer vacation winds to a close and students prepare to go back to school, the days of brand new backpacks and crisp notebooks are long gone for many adults. Although classrooms, teachers and tuition might be off the table, it doesn’t mean education needs to be.

In fact, the Internet itself provides a wealth of educational opportunities. Furthermore, long summer days and relatively relaxed offices might provide the perfect setting for web education. Just think, while other people are rounding out their summer tans, you could be ringing in autumn with a whole new skill set — in this case, web design expertise. Tans fade. Beefier resumes keep shining.

Here’s a look at some of the best web resources for web design education.


101


Design 101 is all about the basics: master the lingo, learn the software and familiarize yourself with the driving principles that govern good design. To that end, your first stop should be a survey course of sorts. Try the Psdtuts+ self-study curriculum, where you can soak up the basics of shape, spacing, rhythm, typography, color, texture and more. To reinforce those basic skills, check out the Albany Library Design Tutorial, a sort of interactive “design for dummies.” While the tutorial is a bit old school, technologically speaking, design-wise, it effectively covers the basics.

You may also want to learn a little bit about the grid system while you’re at it. The system is exactly what it sounds like: a grid or set of guides on which the elements of a web page are built. Working with the grid can help in mastering the art of clean, cohesive web design. And speaking of cohesiveness, you may also want to review Web Pages That Suck for examples of how not to utilize your newly minted design skills.

Once you’ve tackled design theory, get practical with Adobe Design Center. It has all the tools you need to turn that theory into design reality. If you’re more of a visual learner, investigate this collection of helpful YouTube Photoshop tutorials.


Upper Division


You’ve mastered the basics, which means you’re ready for some fresh challenges and inspiration. For example, participate in The Daily Design Challenge by pledging to take on one design-related task per day for a full year. Whether you design a new font, doodle a small graphic or create a new logo for a beloved brand, set aside a few minutes every day to keep your skills sharp and your creative juices flowing.

If you’re really looking for a challenge, Layer Tennis is the web’s most creative competition. Sponsored by Adobe Creative Suite, Layer Tennis pits two competitors against each other in a weekly match-up. Every fifteen minutes, participants swap a single design file “back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work.” A writer provides play-by-play commentary while an active community of design aficionados looks on, providing a great forum to witness inspirational creative design in action.

Next, use that creative inspiration to fuel some serious studying. MIT offers free online coursework in comparative media, in which you learn about the design principles of different mediums. Similarly, iTunes offers podcast lectures about aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Vimeo’s Smarthistory videos discuss everything from Representations of David and the Florentine Renaissance to Duchamp and the Ready-Made, because there’s nothing like a little art history to help you create design history of your own.


Ongoing Education


Once you’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of the basics, a background of art history and a fresh set of advanced skills, ongoing education can provide you with the tools necessary to showcase your talent, not to mention the additional innovation to advance your craft.

According to Smashing Magazine, “The résumé is the first portfolio piece that potential employers see, and if they’re not impressed, chances are they won’t look at the rest of your portfolio.” Smashing offers a great tutorial to ensure that your résumé showcases your design skills. While you’re at it, make sure your portfolio illustrates the best of your aesthetic abilities.

Nothing inspires your future work quite like taking in current innovative design. To that end, check out the creative collection at Designspiration. Tumblr is also a great resource for finding fantastic designers, and Quora’s active community of graphic designers engages in dynamic conversation about the industry. Finally, Twitter has a plethora of design people worth following.


Whether you’re looking to get a grip on design basics, or you want to sharpen your advanced skills, web resources can help you construct the perfect creative (and flexible) curriculum. And with the right smartphone or tablet, you can even study while soaking up the last of the summer sun. Now that’s what we’d call an advanced placement course!

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Paula Hunter is the executive director of the Outercurve Foundation. With over two decades of open source experience, she has served in leadership roles at organizations such as Open Source Development Labs and United Linux. Follow her on Twitter @huntermkt.

Free and open source software (FOSS) is at the root of the most innovative products, technologies and services of our time. The Social Network may have taken some Hollywood liberties, but there’s still a big story to tell about today’s colleges as the hotbeds of innovation, much of it driven by FOSS.

Today’s top entrepreneurs are using FOSS as the building blocks for innovation. Instead of writing an entire solution from scratch, developers can assemble large parts of their solutions from liberally licensed FOSS projects, and focus their creative energies.

FOSS also serves as a training ground for new developers. Good developers have always known that the way to improve is by reading well-written programs. Good FOSS projects in dynamic communities provide a wealth of examples for students to read, understand, and work on.

Free and open source software isn’t just a good way to program — it’s giving students a leg up in their education and job prospects. Here’s how.


Skills


Working within a FOSS project community brings new benefits. First, there’s the real-world experience of participating in a distributed team. More and more of the world’s software projects are developed in highly connected developer communities around the globe, regardless of whether they are public and liberally licensed or closed and proprietary. The communications and social skills learned from an experience like this will be essential.

Development skills will also be honed. This is achieved through constructive feedback and the experience of working within a mature, well-run FOSS project team. This experience provides version control, configuration management tools, regular automated builds, and testing and packaging issues. These are essential professional software development skills that are seldom well-taught in formal school settings.


Experience and Networking


Job and career success often come through one’s professional connections. The broader network inherent in larger FOSS projects can yield big opportunities.

Companies want to know what job candidates can do. Participation in FOSS projects can generate a very public portfolio of practical work. This beats a resume any day. It also makes it easier to show your previous work to a potential employer. If you’ve coded for other companies, the work may be locked behind proprietary protections. But FOSS projects are free and easy for anyone to view.

For college student Eric Schultz, FOSS was a way of adding experience to his resume. Even though he said he didn’t know how to program complex projects, working with a team has helped him pick up skills and add samples to his portfolio. “It’s also a really great networking opportunity,” Schultz said. “I think that it’s helpful because you meet people who already are in bigger businesses — people who are at the top of their field — and all of a sudden, you’re on their radar. So purely from a networking standpoint, it’s really helpful.”

A number of universities are discovering the benefits students are gleaning from FOSS work. Rensselaer and Oregon State University have open source centers of expertise for students. UC Berkeley teaches a web-based course.

Employers aren’t ignorant of the relationship between students, FOSS projects and employment opportunities. Several years ago, Google set up the “Summer of Code” program, wherein FOSS project leaders propose summer work, and students bid for the positions, with Google paying $5,000 to each accepted student. Google continues to invest heavily in the program.


University students who actively participate in FOSS projects and communities can create their own job opportunities, whether it’s a summer internship, full time employment, or lining up a job for graduation next year. Companies hungry for new talent have much to gain by engaging with students that have participated in these endeavors.


Interested in more Dev & Design resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

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Learning to code is something every tech-minded person should try at least once — and the wealth of online courses, many of which are free or surprisingly inexpensive, make learning about programming easier than ever.

If you’re thinking of picking up C++, Ruby on Rails, Python or Java, these online options might be a good way to test the waters of programming before you fully invest your time and money in formal training or certifications. And if you’re a veteran programmer in need of resources for learning new languages, these sites might help you a bit, too.

One disadvantage of learning to code through an online platform is the lack of face-to-face interactions with an instructor. But don’t let that intimidate you — Google, Stack Overflow, and other online forums (even Twitter) are great ways to get help when your code won’t compile, you don’t understand a concept or you just get frustrated.

In the comments, let us know if you’ve found other great resources for learning about programming — or other sites for support and Q&A for newer developers.

UC Berkeley Webcast/Courses

The University of California at Berkeley has an extensive catalog of webcasts, including events and courses. The coursework is entirely free to access, and it includes video and audio webcasts of computer sciences classes from the current semester all the way back to 2003.

Mozilla’s School of Webcraft

Mozilla’s 100% free developer training site is all about teaching noobs and jedis alike how to code. If you want to get started coding with something like HTML or if you’re an experienced dev who wants to dive into Python, the School of Webcraft is something worth checking out. Several courses generally run simultaneously, and new classes are being drafted all the time.

Google Code University

From Google Code, we have the Code University, a free and fascinating resource. And of course, it has its own forums for learners to ask questions and get help. True beginners can also start out with the introductions and tutorials, which are designed with newer devs in mind.

MIT’s OpenCourseWare

If you’ve dreamed of studying computer science at one of the U.S.’s leading tech institutions, here’s your chance. MIT’s free and accessible courses are great for ambitious would-be coders. Check out the full list of courses for computer science, which include introductions to Java, Python, C++ and more.


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HOW TO: Get Devs to Use Your Company’s API
Should Your Company Offer an API?
10 Tools for Getting Web Design Feedback

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Mozilla is getting ready for the January semester of School of Webcraft, a 100% free developer training resource run in partnership with Peer 2 Peer University.

Last semester, the School of Webcraft offered 15 classes; now, Mozilla is trying to get around 30 classes going for the January semester.

Classes will be between six and 10 weeks long; they’ll revolve around topics relevant to web designers and developers, including HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Previous classes have also included non-developer topics such as organic SEO. Requisite skill levels will run the gamut from novice to expert. The volunteer-run courses will begin on January 26, and proposals for new course ideas are still being accepted.

Students learn through a combination of free and open learning materials, online study groups and hands-on assignments that test their hacking skills.

If you’re a leader in the developer community, you can also step up and lead a course yourself. If you want to organize a class, you’ll get support from P2PU and Mozilla in the form of course design, materials, learning facilitation and other resources.

Registration opens on January 8; until then, you can sign up for the School of Webcraft e-mail list.

Mozilla believes that developer training is “both at the high school and university level… out of date, lousy and losing students.” Another problem is that younger learners simply don’t have access to good web dev learning resources. And certification training is expensive and often out of step with current practices.

By creating a completely free, open training ground for developers and would-be developers of all stripes, Mozilla hopes to remedy some of the problems surrounding technology education.

We fully support this mission; anything that will allow more people to become better informed about and more proficient in web development and related technologies is a win in our book.

Of course, we’d love to see more than just front-end and markup languages explored; but for that to happen, some knowledgeable devs are going to have to volunteer to teach their peers the basics (or not-so-basics) of other programming languages.

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