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Jonathan Bowman
Jonathan Bowman

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Free Python Courses Online

I think the Python ecosystem is a place where the self-taught programmer can thrive. I know I have certainly made use of the wealth of free books and free tutorials available online. I have also been impressed by the range of free video resources and Youtube channels.

There is another category of learning resource for Python with which I am not as familiar: online courses. In recent exploration, however, I am pleasantly overwhelmed by the quality and number of courses in which you can currently participate at no cost. These courses are usually set up like a university course, and are in fact sometimes offered by recognizable institutions of higher learning, companies, or organizations.

Here is a list of some courses I have encountered. These are available for free, while some also include the option of getting credit or a certificate for a cost.

David Beazley's Practical Python

Many have learned a lot of creative and solid Python practices from David Beazley's classic Python Cookbook. He has also made a free course that any learner or instructor can utilize. See the table of contents for an overview.

This is a foundational overview of Python tools and concepts, by a practitioner and teacher who has been long respected in the Python community.

University of Helsinki's Data Analysis with Python

Data Analysis with Python 2020 is a self-study course focused on using Python in data science. It engages the usage of popular libraries such as NumPy, Pandas, Matplotlib and SciPy. The material appears very practical, very Python focused, and very intense.

The accompanying resources are also available for free.

PCAP Programming Essentials in Python by Python Institute and Cisco Network Academy

The PCAP stands for Certified Associate in Python Programming certification, and is offered by the Python Institute. The Python Institute has a number of free courses that help train you for one of the (non-free) exams.

It appears that if you complete this course through the affiliated Cisco Network Academy, you may get an exam discount.

Python for Everybody Specialization by University of Michigan and Coursera

The Python for Everybody Specialization is a series of courses on Coursera, preparing the learner to analyze data with Python. Topics include:

  • Getting started with Python
  • Data structures
  • Accessing web data
  • Using databases
  • Visualizing data

Other courses on Coursera

In addition to the Python for Everybody track, there are a variety of free Python courses on Coursera. A few notables:

MIT's Intro to Computer Science and Programming in Python

This is an introductory course in computer science, using Python. Topics include algorithms, data structures, debugging, and Python fundamentals.

This course is also available on edX and appears to be one of the more popular ones there.

A variety of courses on edX

In addition to the already mentioned introductory course by MIT, there are a number of Python-related courses on edX. A few that stand out to me:

The United States' National Security Agency's disclosed Python Course

This one has an excellent origin story. In the U.S., under the Freedom of Information Act, any citizen can petition the federal government to release classified documents.

The NSA apparently has a Python course. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, you can use it as well. I could see instructors, especially, finding this resource valuable.

Datacamp's Intro to Python for Data Science

Datacamp's course provides a variety of media, including video and interactive coding, that is likely to engage anyone. The emphasis, of course, is on data science, and Python fundamentals. Most courses on Datacamp are not free, but you can usually at least sample them for free. This one appears to be entirely free at this point, and allows the learner to appreciate Datacamp's methods.

Udemy

Udemy is another online course site like Coursera and edX, but decidedly less academic. The courses there are practical, and often come at a modest cost (such as Angela Yu's Python bootcamp).

However, there are a number of free Python courses available on Udemy, such as Python for Beginners.

Other suggestions?

Are there other free Python courses you have encountered that you would like to recommend? Feel free to post in the comments.

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