Courses are way to go, or if you have no time for it, you can always teach yourself. Digital cameras are really good for that, and for the absolute beginner I would say a book is a must to get ahead a bit faster. I have no time these days to fish, so I spend much more time with camera, whenever I am out in the nature. I would really recommend a book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. It is a really good book for a beginner. It doesn't focus on any camera, but rather on some of the basic principles of photography whit, I find, very good example shoots. One thing I have found in that book different than in many others, is that every picture is followed with a standard info about settings used, and additional info about why those settings were chosen. I find later info really useful.
There are many other books as well, so just pick one, but get recommendation too, as there are a lot of books I do not find that useful. This will probably increase quality of your picture taking dramatically, as long as you work on it too.