Establishing a Habit of Learning

In 5 Steps

Establishing a Habit of Learning

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

to Empower Your Learners

5 Ideas for Supporting Employee Learning

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

6 Ways to Learn When Your Interests Are Always Changing

Although he is depicted as evil in most Greek myths and fables, he is much more than just a merciless god of the underworld. Here are 10 facts about Hades.
1. Hades isn’t actually evil
He is actually altruistic and passive, bringing balance to the human world. He’s only harsh when souls try to leave the underworld or people try to cheat death.
2. Hades was one of the first heroes of Greek myths
Hades, along with his brothers Zeus and Poseidon, led the rebellion against their titan father Kronos for power over the universe. Hades’ part included slipping by Kronos’s armies to destroy their weapons.

3. Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon took dominion over parts of the earth
Hades got unlucky.
4. The god of the underworld is also the god of wealth
Silver, gold, and other precious metals are under his domain. Besides the name Hades, he also goes by Pluto or Plouton, the giver of wealth.
5. He has his own set of enchanted tools and a chariot led by four black horses to announce his arrival
The tools include an ebony throne, a bird-decorated scepter, and a helmet that gives him the power of invisibility.

6. Hades has a three-headed dog as his pet
The three-headed dog is not unique to Harry Potter. Cerberus has a serpent’s tail, lion’s claws, and a mane of snakes.

7. In Ancient Greek, Hades means invisible
This refers to his helmet.
8. The word Hades also refers to the underworld in general
The Greeks believed that all souls, after death, went to the underworld.
9. Charon is Hades’ ferryman who brings souls from earth into the underworld
He takes a token from the dead and ferries them across the River Styx.

10. Hades cannot have children, but he is married to Persephone, the daughter of the goddess Demeter
He…may or may not have abducted Persephone and forced her to marry him. Their children, according to Orphic fables, were a result of Zeus, in the form of Hades, seducing Persephone.

Photo Credits: “Greek Trinity” by British Museum (photo by FinnBjo); sculpture in Copenhagen Port (photo by Hansjorn and Aviad Bublil [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; “Hades with Cerberus” by I, Grizzli [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; “Héraldique meuble Cerbère” by Tretinville [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, was born 271 years ago this month. Here are 10 ways he contributed to American life and politics.
1. Wrote The Declaration of Independence (1776)
Thomas Jefferson was appointed by Congress to a five-person committee in charge of writing The Declaration of Independence. The other four members were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Jefferson was responsible for writing the first draft—within 17 days, the draft document was written, reviewed and revised by the committee, and presented to Congress.

2. Wrote The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1777)
Jefferson considered The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom to be one of his greatest accomplishments. This document, which was introduced into the Virginia General Assembly in 1779, declared freedom of religion a “natural right” and became a model for the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
3. Advocated for free public education (1779)
Jefferson was an early advocate of having an informed populace. In 1779, he wrote A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, which outlined a plan for establishing Virginia public schools where “all the free children, male and female” were to be given three years of instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, and history. The bill was defeated in the state legislature, but it laid the groundwork for free public education.

4. Served as the first U.S. Secretary of State (1790–1793)
Jefferson served as the country’s first Secretary of State under President George Washington. In this office, he advocated for each state to pay its own portion of the Revolutionary War debt and supported France in its war with Britain, though he believed the United States should maintain neutrality in the conflict.
5. Made the Louisiana Purchase (1803)
In 1803 as President of the United States, Jefferson purchased more than 800,000 square miles of Louisiana Territory from France for about $15 million, effectively doubling the size of the United States.

6. Launched the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804)
Having just greatly increased the size of the United States, Jefferson wanted to explore both the new part of the country and the rest of the continent. He appointed as his personal secretary Meriwether Lewis, who then enlisted William Clark. They left on their journey in 1804 with the goals of learning more about the landscape and the Native American tribes, and of finding a water passage between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.
7. Participated in the founding of the Library of Congress (1815)
James H. Billington, the current Librarian of Congress, wrote: “If ever a library had a single founder, Thomas Jefferson is the founder of the Library of Congress.” In 1815, Jefferson sold his personal library, consisting of almost 6,700 volumes, to the federal government for just under $24,000. These books formed the core collection of the Library of Congress.

8. Founded the University of Virginia (1819)
Jefferson thought universities should educate leaders rather than just preachers and professors. He founded the University of Virginia as the United States’ first nonsectarian university as well as the first to use the elective course system.
9. Revolutionized gardening and advanced sustainable agriculture
Jefferson experimented with various gardening techniques and was a huge fan of eating his vegetables, which he grew at his home of Monticello. At that time, many people believed that certain vegetables, like tomatoes, were poisonous, but Jefferson loved them. He also pioneered many efforts in sustainable agriculture.

10. Popularized macaroni and cheese in the United States
In his early career, Jefferson traveled in Europe and became enamored with its cuisine, especially pasta. He served macaroni and cheese to guests at Monticello and even drew plans for a macaroni machine. He has been referred to as a “Founding Foodie” and “America’s First Foodie,” and there is even a mac ‘n’ cheese recipe in his own handwriting.

Photo Credits: “United States 1803-04” by Golbez [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; “Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Estate” by Christopher Hollis for Wdwic Pictures [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Louis Armstrong has undoubtedly left a strong and lasting impression on modern music. Often referred to as the “Father of Jazz,” he revolutionized the way people listen to and play music. With his unmistakable vocals and solo style, he recorded some of the most influential jazz albums ever, performed nightly with unparalleled charisma, and had a long and fruitful career domestically and overseas. Although his road to success was a rocky one, after his death in 1971 he is remembered for not only his contributions to jazz music, but to American culture as a whole. Here are ten facts about the man who shaped jazz music into what it is today.

1. A tough childhood prevented Armstrong from finishing school.

Louis Armstrong was born in raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, in an area called “The Battlefield.” His father left soon after his birth, leaving Louis’ mother to be his sole caretaker. As a result of financial hardship, his mother often left Louis in the care of her mother while she turned to prostitution. Because of his familial situation, Armstrong was forced to leave school during fifth grade to begin working. He soon formed a strong relationship with a Jewish family who employed him, encouraged him, and even fed him.

2. Louis was arrested at 11 years old.

In 1912, Armstrong took a New Year’s celebration to an unacceptable level when he fired his stepfather’s pistol into the air. He was immediately arrested and then sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys. It was there he developed a passion for playing the cornet. He was mentored by Professor Peter Davis, who recognized young Armstrong’s potential and taught him both music and strict discipline. Upon his release from the home, Armstrong continued developing his talent, eventually being mentored by Joe “King” Oliver, a leading cornet player in New Orleans.

3. He adopted his cousin’s child.

During his marriage to Daisy Parker, Armstrong adopted three-year-old Clarence, the child of Armstrong’s cousin, who had died in childbirth. Clarence had suffered a head injury at an early age that left him mentally disabled, and he was taken care of by Armstrong his entire life. Unfortunately, during this time Louis’ marriage to Daisy failed, and she passed away shortly after their divorce.

4. He moved to Chicago to join King Oliver’s band.

A few years later, Armstrong reconnected with Oliver when he was invited to join his band in Chicago. During this time he was married to pianist Lillian Hardin, who later told Armstrong she felt as though Oliver was holding him back. Soon thereafter he left Chicago for New York, where he joined Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra. Armstrong’s style was quickly adopted by Henderson and his arranger, transforming the group into what is now regarded as the first big jazz band. Despite this success, Armstrong felt his southern roots weren’t accepted in New York, so he returned to Chicago.

5. He recorded 60 of the most influential jazz records in history – all in the span of three years.

Between 1925 and 1928, Armstrong cut more than 60 records with his band the Hot Five. It was then that Armstrong single-handedly transformed jazz into a soloist’s art. Unprecedented and daring swing rhythms, extremely high-pitched notes, and scat-singing soon became the new norm for jazz music.

6. Armstrong didn’t switch to playing the trumpet until 1926.

During his time recording with the Hot Five and Hot Seven, Armstrong also played nightly with Erskine Tate’s orchestra at the Vendome Theater in Chicago. This was where he switched to playing the trumpet so the sound would fuse better with the other players.

7. He got into some trouble with the mob.

Armstrong  got tangled up with rival  mob bosses who controlled the night club scene in New York and Chicago. As a result, Louis avoided these areas during the early 30’s, hit the road, and ended up staying in California for a short time. Unaware of the continuing feud between bosses, Armstrong was threatened by gangsters when he returned to play in Chicago, ordering him to go to New York. Armstrong defied them, returned to the south, and shortly thereafter began touring Europe.

His manager, Johnny Collins, proceeded to leave Louis stranded in Europe in 1934 after a heated argument. Armstrong chose to stay for the better part of 1934 to rest his lip, which was sore from belting high notes for years. Within a few months of his return to America, Armstrong’s troubles disappeared with help of new manager Joe Glaser, who was close with Al Capone.

8. He was the first African American jazz musician to write an autobiography.

This accomplishment was one of Armstrong’s many firsts. He was also the first African American to get featured billing in a Hollywood film and the first African American entertainer to host a national radio show in 1937.

9. Armstrong performed all over the world in the ’50s and ’60s.

The age of swing began to wind down in America during the 1940s, but Armstrong’s popularity continued to skyrocket overseas. CBS legend Edward R. Murrow and a camera crew followed him on some of his worldly excursions and later used the footage to produce the documentary Satchmo the Great (1957).

10. He didn’t speak out publicly on Civil Rights until he saw the Little Rock Central High School integration crisis.

The whole situation infuriated Armstrong so much that he broke his silence on the issue of civil rights. He told a reporter that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had “no guts,” saying: “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell.” Armstrong’s words made headlines, and he was criticized by both black and white public figures. This moment is now revered as one of the most brave and definitive in Armstrong’s life.


Louis ArmstrongBiography.
Louis ArmstrongThe Famous People.
Louis Armstrong in the 30’sRiverwalk Jazz.

1. Muscles make up 40% of your total body weight.

In fact, muscles are the most dense thing in your body. Also, muscle weighs more than fat. Typically, when people start to work out, they lose weight at the beginning (losing fat), but then start to gain weight (muscle).
2. It takes half as long to gain muscle than it does to lose it.

For example, if it takes you a month to develop a muscle, it will take two months for that muscle to degenerate back to its original size/strength. However, that’s not motivation to sit on the couch all day! Your muscle learns quickly and it’s very easy to get in shape and build muscle, so there’s your encouragement to go take that afternoon run!
3. The smallest muscles are found in the middle ear.

The same is true with the smallest bones. These small muscles, including the tensor tympani and the Stapedius, may be small, but they are very important. They are what is responsible for connecting to the ear drum and holding your ear together.
4. To take one step, you use 200 muscles.

The average amount of steps a person takes each day is 10,000. That’s a lot of work for those 200 muscles.  So next time you’re off for a walk, remember the hard work that’s being put in. Looks like a nap isn’t sounding too ridiculous after all!
5. Muscles cannot push.

They can only pull. When something on your body is “pushing,” it’s actually because another muscle is pulling. For example, when your push something with your arms, it’s actually your muscles in the back of your arm pulling the elbow.
6. Humans are born with all the muscle fibers they will ever have.

Muscle fiber doesn’t just “grow” randomly throughout your body. That means that we have the same amount of muscle fibers as Arnold Schwarzenegger!  It is possible for it to get thicker, like Mr. Schwarzenegger, which is what happens when we work out. The work out will tear the muscle down and it will get thicker, causing muscles to get bigger and stronger.
7. Your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body.

Don’t get me wrong, your tongue isn’t going to be able to pull a car. But in proportion to size, the tongue is by far the most worked muscle we have. But no need to go lift those tongue weights, it develops through eating, talking, pretty much anything involving your mouth.
8. It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.

Being optimistic never hurt anyone! In fact, it’s easier to slap a smile on your face. Isn’t that reason enough to turn that frown upside down?
9. When you’re cold, your muscles contract involuntarily.

This is what happens when we get shivers. The muscle contractions send out energy that warm up your body.
10. The only muscle that never tires is our heart.
File:Wiki Heart Antomy Ties van Brussel.jpg

Just think about it, it never stops working. The average human heart beats from 60-100 times per minute. Through your sleep, through your workouts, through your showers, through everything. It’s a good thing your heart doesn’t tire, because we’d all get pretty sore pretty fast!


Mount Vesuvius is a volcano in southern Italy that sat dormant for centuries. That all changed on August 24, 79 AD, when a massive eruption destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, submerging them under layers of volcanic material and mud and killing thousands of people. Here are 10 facts about Mt. Vesuvius and the famous eruption.

1. Mt. Vesuvius is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes.

The only active volcano in mainland Europe, Mt. Vesuvius is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It is a complex stratovolcano, which is a highly scenic and highly deadly type of volcano. Stratovolcanos have gentle lower slopes, and then rise steeply toward the peak. Their eruptions are explosive and involve pyroclastic flows, which are fast-moving currents of fluidized rock and gases. Mt. Vesuvius is located on the western coast of Italy, making and cities and towns such as Naples highly vulnerable to destruction in an eruption.

2. Although the eruption caught people off guard, the signs had been coming for years.

The people in Pompeii and Herculaneum were taken by complete surprise when the volcano erupted. However, the signs were there in the form of a series of earthquakes. In 63 AD, a massive earthquake shook the region, and damage from the earthquake was still being repaired when Mt. Vesuvius erupted 16 years later.

3. The eruption was catastrophic, lasting more than 24 hours.

The eruption officially started on the morning of August 24, as molten rock and pumice began to be expelled from Mt. Vesuvius at a rate of 1.5 million tons per second. Copious amounts of rock and volcanic ash filled the atmosphere, turning day into night. It is estimated that about six inches of ash fell every hour. Around midnight the pyroclastic surges and flows started, and on the morning of the 25th, a toxic cloud of gas descended on Pompeii.

4. We know much of what happened from an eyewitness account.

There is a detailed account of the eruption thanks to Pliny the Younger, who was a Roman administrator and poet. He watched the eruption from afar and questioned survivors, and then wrote of the event in letters to his friend Tacitus. Pliny’s letters, which are the only eyewitness accounts of the eruption, were discovered in the 16th century.

5. Thousands of people were buried alive.

At that time, around 20,000 people — manufacturers, merchants, and farmers — lived in Pompeii, and another 5,000 lived in Herculaneum. The region was a popular summer tourist destination, and  there were some smaller towns and resort areas as well. Many of the people who did not flee when the eruption started were buried alive by ash and other molten material. It is estimated that about 16,000 people died in the eruption.

6. There was no attempt to rebuild the cities.

Normally after a natural disaster, cities are rebuilt, but not this time. Apparently the damage was so extensive and the effect of the tragedy so great that no attempts were made to reoccupy the area. Looters, however, did return to Pompeii, digging tunnels through the ash and debris and making away with many of the city’s riches.

7. Pompeii became frozen in time.

Historians believe that Pompeii was buried under 14 to 17 feet of ash and pumice. In 1748 when explorers examined the site, they found that the volcanic ash had acted as a preservative, and many of the buildings and even the skeletons and remnants of city life were still intact. This city frozen in time has provided historians with a glimpse into what life was like in ancient Rome, and more than 1,000 casts have been made of recovered bodies that were preserved in the ash. The city of Herculaneum was less fortunate — it was buried under more than 60 feet of mud and other volcanic material. 

8. The excavation of Pompeii influenced 18th-century neoclassicism.

In the 18th century, it became popular for western art, theater, and architecture to draw on Ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. Scholars believe that this movement, called neoclassicism, was heavily influenced by the excavation of Pompeii.

9. It had happened before.

Though the Romans didn’t know it at the time, Mt. Vesuvius had erupted catastrophically at least twice before. More recent excavations suggest that a huge eruption occurred around 1800 BC, decimating large settlements in the area.

10. It could happen again.

Mt. Vesuvius is still considered an active volcano. The most recent eruption occurred in 1944, and experts believe that a massive eruption could happen again soon, posing potential danger to the more than 2 million people who now live in the area.

Learn more: Top 10 volcanic eruptions


BBC. Pompeii: Portents of disaster
History. Pompeii
LiveScience. Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii: Facts and history
Wikipedia. Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD

Photo credits: Vesuvius from Plane by Pastorius [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; Vesuvius from Pompeii by Morn the Gorn [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; Pompeii Garden of the Fugitives by Lancevortex [CC-BY-SA-3.0]; Shabbytravel Pompeii Body by Shabbychef [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Brittni Walker of South Milwaukee is the March 2015 winner of the Pursue Your Passion Scholarship. We asked Brittni to share her thoughts on goals and expertise to get to know her better-

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have been given is to never lose sight of who you are. Your dreams, passions, and happiness are more important than the expectations others hold for you.

Tell us one goal you want to accomplish this year

In the next year, I want to boost my GPA and make it on the Dean’s List both semesters.

How will the scholarship help you achieve your goals?

The scholarship will decrease my financial stress and allow me to focus more on my studies. I want to be the best that I can be in order in make a difference in the scientific community.

What’s one thing you can teach others?


What would you love to become an expert in?


Congrats to Brittni for the scholarship win and good luck! Want some extra cash to help you with your learning goals? Apply for the Salesforce Build an App Scholarship here. 

Startup Stock Photos

Looking for a free online course? You are in luck! There are thousands of courses available online for free. These courses come in many different formats (MOOCs, self-paced, more formal, less formal, etc.) and are available from many different providers. Here are 42 places to find free courses online.


AcademicEarth is a collection of open online courses from 13 top universities including Harvard, Oxford, and Yale.


ALISON focuses on the job skills market, with more than 600 free, certified courses in a variety of fields, from business process management to carpentry studies.

Aquent Gymnasium

Aquent offers free courses to help working professionals upgrade their digital skills.

Canvas Network

Canvas Network offers MOOCs from a variety of institutions. Learn everything from world history to how to take great photos with your phone.


Blackboard’s CourseSites is also a MOOC provider.


One of the top MOOC providers, Coursera has hundreds of free courses available from many of the top colleges and universities around the world.


CreativeLive has both paid and free courses in areas including photo, video, art, and design.

Degreed’s Learning Pathways

Degreed has created a variety of curated learning pathways based on videos, articles, and other resources around the web. Start on one today to boost your knowledge and skills related to marketing, network security and design, and even creativity.


Another top MOOC provider, edX hosts courses from Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, and other top institutions.


Eliademy is a small, but growing, online course marketplace. Most of the courses are paid, but some are free.


FutureLearn is the U.K.’s top MOOC provider, with courses from the British Council, Queen’s University, the British Museum, and more.

Harvard Extension School

Harvard Extension School has joined the Open Learning Initiative by opening online noncredit courses to the public.

iTunes U

iTunes U is an iPhone and iPad app that gives learners access to courses from many institutions. It promotes itself as “the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content.”


iversity is a European MOOC platform offering courses in both English and German.


Janux is an online course platform from the University of Oklahoma. The courses are available to UO students for credit and to everyone else for free.


Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has made the materials from over 100 of its courses available online.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy now includes learning pathways in addition to its huge collection of video lectures.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft offers free training courses in cloud development, mobile development, visual studio, and much more.

MIT OpenCourseWare

This site hosts a large collection of course materials from MIT courses.

MongoDB University

MongoDB offers free training for its products.


Marginal Revolution University is a free online learning platform for economics topics.


NovoED is a social online learning platform from Stanford. Most of the courses focus on business skills and are available free.


Open2Study is an Australian course provider with accredited as well as free open courses.

Open Culture

Open Culture has a large collection of cultural and educational media, including books, audio books, ebooks, language lessons, MOOCs, and other free online courses.

Open Education Consortium

The Open Education Consortium houses one of the largest collections of free online courses from around the world.

Open Education Database

The Open Education Database is an aggregator where you can search more than 10,000 free online courses.

Open Education Europa

Open Education Europa aggregates both free and paid courses from providers in Europe.


openHPI offers tech courses from the Hasso Plattner Institute, most of which are available in English.


The Open University offers extracts from several of its courses for free.


OpenLearning is a platform that allows teachers to create and deliver courses, ranging from business and economics to lifestyle topics. Most of the courses are currently free.

Open Learning Initiative

The Open Learning Initiative from Carnegie Mellon University “offers online courses to anyone who wants to learn or teach.” There are currently 21 free courses available for learners, mostly in STEM and languages.

Open Yale

Yale has put many of its course materials online in a self-paced, free format.


The goal of P2PU is to create networked learning communities on the web. Anyone can teach and take courses, which are divided into separate “schools,” including social innovation, math, and webcraft.


Qualt is a mobile-first, mobile-only MOOC provider offering job skills courses from leadership to project management.

Saylor Academy

Saylor Academy offers a range of free courses and learning pathways, some of which can be translated into college credit at partner universities.

Stanford Online

Stanford Online lists all of the open courses, including MOOCs and self-paced courses, offered by the university.

Tufts OpenCourseWare

This site publishes Tufts course materials for anyone to use.


Although Udacity’s full course experience is paid, most of the course materials are still available for free.


Udemy is a huge online course marketplace. Many of the courses are paid, but there are still a good number available at no cost.

University of Notre Dame OpenCourseWare

Notre Dame has made many of its course materials open and available.

Utah State OpenCourseWare

Utah State has also put its course materials online.


Wikiversity is a large collection of open educational resource, including courses, which are divided into different “Schools.”

Please help us improve this list! Tell us in the comments about your favorite places to find free online courses.

Schanell Hylton of Tallahassee, Florida was the March 2015 winner of our Salesforce Build an App Scholarship. We asked Schanell a few questions to see what her goals are and get her advice for others-

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice that I have ever received is to “always work smarter not harder”. For me, this slogan encompasses three key elements:
1.PRIORITIZE. It is important to complete the most important tasks that need to be handled first. I usually make a list of all the things that need to be done so I can identify what is significant. Once I have completed two or three tasks that are the most crucial for the day, I feel more successful and productive. Then, I can either move on to other things I would like to do or save them until tomorrow.
2.ORGANIZE. Being organized and having the ability to instantly locate vital things can save anyone time and money.
3.TIME MANAGEMENT. Almost everyone has the impulse to procrastinate but it is better for me to get an early start on tasks or assignments. It is essential to designate the appropriate amount of time to each task and not take shortcuts.

Tell us one goal you want to accomplish this year

The most significant goal I would like to accomplish in the next year is graduating with my Masters in Public Administration from the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. Also, incorporated in that goal is another goal of mine. I not only want to graduate but to do so with a 3.9 GPA.

How will the scholarship help you achieve your goals?

This scholarship will help me to achieve my goals by providing me the gift of furthering my education. The money will be put towards paying for more classes, books and other materials necessary for me to succeed.

What’s one thing you can teach others?

Importance of Work Ethic

What would you love to become an expert in?

Public Administration


Congrats to Schanell on winning the scholarship. Chances are you could use some extra money to learn too! You can apply for the Salesforce Build an App Scholarship here. 

Web development is one of the hottest fields right now. U.S. News and World Report ranks it #3 in Best Technology Jobs and #9 in Best Jobs overall, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 20% employment growth for Web developers through 2022. Web dev jobs are also highly lucrative and often carry some amazing perks (free housecleaning, anyone?).

The best part is that you don’t need a degree to become a Web developer. Part of the reason so many coding boot camps have emerged recently is that traditional institutions are not preparing students fast enough to meet employers’ demand for talent. In fact, you don’t need to go to school at all to become a Web developer—you can learn all of the required skills, get plenty of practice, and even create a portfolio of your work using free or low-cost resources available online.

Interested? I thought so!

So, without further ado, here is your ultimate guide to tools and resources you can use as your own DIY Web development curriculum. Part 1 of this article focuses on basic tools and Part 2 on more advanced ones.

Part 1

Command Line Tools

To become an effective developer, you need to be comfortable using the command line. If you are accustomed to using a mouse to navigate your operating system, then you are familiar with the Graphical User Interface, or GUI. The command line is a text-based interface, and you can achieve all the same functionality of the GUI by typing text commands at the command line. You can access the command line through a terminal (Linux/Mac) or Cygwin (Windows).

These tools and tutorials will help you learn the ins and outs of the command line:

Development Environment

The next step is to set up your development environment. Your development environment includes all the software gadgets you need to work efficiently. The most important software you will choose is the right text editor. You cannot write code using Word or OpenOffice because they save too much extraneous data along with your text. The best text editors include functionality specifically for developing software, and they are often referred to as Integrated Development Environments (IDE).

Sublime Text is a powerful text editor with a rich library of plugins and extensions. It is easily customizable, and free on a trial basis (do consider purchasing to support development of this awesome software). For a great tutorial on how to use Sublime Text, check out

Eclipse is the IDE of choice for developing Java and Android applications. Like Sublime Text, Eclipse has a vast library of extensions and plugins, but the learning curve is a little steeper so it can be a bit daunting if you are just beginning.

TextMate is very similar to Sublime Text, but it is available only for Mac and has a heftier price tag. It is a robust, reliable platform that is first choice for a lot of professional developers.

Emacs and Vim may be the dinosaurs of the list, but they stand the test of time for a reason. It would improve your coding street cred immensely to pick up skills on either of these editors, but again, the learning curves are a little steep.


Before you can build large web applications, you have to learn the basics of static web pages (walk before you can run).

Treehouse is an awesome platform for the beginning coder. The Treehouse team has broken down Web technologies into manageable and testable pieces, and packaged them into fun tutorials. For all the technologies on this list, Treehouse is a one-stop shop and well worth the money.

Learn HTML (hypertext markup language) and CSS (cascading style sheets) the old-school way with w3schools. W3 is the web consortium that sets the standards for both HTML and CSS, so they are the final word on the most up-to-date technologies.

These tools and technologies will give you the basic skills to build static Web pages. Part 2 gets interactive.

Part 2

In this section, we explore resources for building more advanced Web pages and applications. So if you dream of building the next Twitter, here is what you need to know.

JavaScript and jQuery

No webpage these days is complete without using JavaScript or jQuery. These languages impact everything you see in the browser, including auto-fill forms, toggle buttons, image galleries, and more. If you visit the Google homepage and look at the page source, you will find there is very little HTML but quite a bit of JavaScript.

Codecademy is a fantastic FREE resource for learning Web technologies. There are HTML and CSS courses to go along with JavaScript, JQuery, Ruby, and more.

Once again, w3schools and Treehouse provide fantastic resources for learning JavaScript step-by-step.

Ruby on Rails

Now that you are comfortable on the command line, and have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you are ready to take the next step toward building interactive Web applications. Many popular websites, like Twitter, are written using a technology called Ruby on Rails. Rails is a framework for connecting Web pages to a database where information about users, courses, grades, or anything else can be stored and retrieved. The foundation language for Rails is Ruby—an elegant, easy-to-learn programming language.

This awesome tutorial takes only 15 minutes and will introduce you to the power of Ruby from the comfort of your browser. Great for beginners.

Learn Ruby using the Buddhist practice of meditation on the path to enlightenment. Not only is it a great way to learn Ruby, but you also get a look at Test Driven Development early in your programming education. Getting the Koans set up on your computer is not particularly straightforward, but there is an awesome online version.

Rubymonk follows the same philosophy as the Ruby Koans, and it will bring your understanding of Ruby to the next level. Whereas the Koans introduce you to the basic features of the Ruby language, Rubymonk will challenge you to think like a Rubyist.

Rails Tutorial assumes you have knowledge of Ruby and will walk you through the development of a Twitter-like application. It introduces the concepts of Model-View-Controller applications and Test Driven Development. You will also use your HTML and CSS chops to make and deploy a beautiful, fully functional Rails application.

Rails for Zombies is a fun and popular way to learn Ruby on Rails, and it is free for a limited time, sponsored by technology company New Relic.

This course, offered by the University of California at Berkeley, is a thorough introduction to building Software as a Service, including Ruby on Rails, Test Driven Development, accessing APIs, and more, but it assumes some prior programming knowledge. I recommend taking one of the other background courses to learn Ruby before attempting it.

Version Control

No developer’s skill set is complete without version control, which allows you to take snapshots of the current state of your files so you can track important changes. It also gives you access to file restore points so that if something goes disastrously wrong, you can always roll it back to your last stable snapshot. Many tools are available, but the most popular is Git, written by the same person who started the open source Linux movement.

Github is a popular place to store your projects. Public repositories make your code available for viewing, but you can pay a monthly subscription to keep them private. Many open source projects are stored on Github, and being familiar with this tool is essential to becoming a professional developer. 

General Programming Skills

Programmers interact with their keyboards more than any other peripheral on their computer. Having a wicked typing speed and knowing all the keyboard shortcuts will make your fingers fly over the keyboard. Every time you remove your hands from the home keys you lose speed and efficiency.

So there you have it, your ultimate DIY guide to becoming a Web developer. Who knows? The next multimillion dollar startup Google buys may be yours.

Want more? Check out 39 Places to Learn to Code Online

Deloitte University Press recently published an article titled “Reimagining higher education” which focuses on the shift towards lifelong learning and highlights Degreed’s unique capability to help shape the future of higher education.

In part it reads:

“Another firm, Degreed, assigns scores to the full range of educational opportunities available, from MOOCs and immersives to college degrees and corporate training.36 Degreed scores and validates both traditional and alternative education options to provide a credit score-like assessment of everything a student’s ever learned. This score, in turn, allows employers to make quick apples-to-apples comparisons of educational achievement across different domains.

“To lower the transaction costs associated with hiring, employers can turn to services provided by organizations that measure the full range of academic, professional, and lifelong learning options available to students from both accredited and non-accredited sources, to allow for apples-to-apples assessments of candidates’ educational track records. Tools such as Mozilla’s Open Badges platform and Degreed’s credit score system can help employers gain a more holistic understanding of a prospective employee’s educational background, which may include everything from a traditional degree to MOOCs.

“While the average student pursuing alternative education paths today has already obtained a four-year degree, it is likely that alternatives will become a first stop for many students seeking career options in a shorter timeframe and with less of a financial commitment. As low- or no-cost educational alternatives become a viable option for just-in-time learning, employers will have greater access to a growing talent pool that possesses the skills they seek.”

Deloitte also discussed the shift of enterprise learning to focus on continual learning:

“The shift to lifelong learning in turn will prompt employers to rethink their training and professional development strategies, in order to allow their employees to upgrade their knowledge and skills continuously. Currently, fewer than 45 percent of businesses have a written plan for learning.80 As such, businesses across a range of industries are looking to MOOCs and other experiential education providers to fill this role.”

Degreed has made this type of continual learning possible for enterprises. Degreed helps enterprises leverage the free and low-cost learning resources from around the web to give their employees on-demand access to the best learning materials in any subject.

To read the full article, click here.

To learn more about Degreed go to

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