Over the years I have engaged in a variety of learning opportunities which have included attending evening classes at local schools and then as a mature student at university. However attending classes in person is not always convenient for those with family commitments. When we think about alternatives to face to face learning it is fair to say that many of us may think first of all about the Open University. Established in 1969 it has provided many with the opportunity to learn at a distance and now online. Other universities also offer distance learning opportunities, alongside the traditional face to face offerings. Many began as correspondence courses where students were not physically present and posted text books and workbooks to complete and return. In the main these tend to be considered as formal learning, leading to qualifications on successful completion of coursework or exams.
In recent years the development of affordable technology has given many access to online information and a thirst to learn in different ways. The use of social media has opened up opportunities for social learning, where individuals can interact and learn with and from others irrespective of location and time zones. This could be for formal credit or simply for pleasure.
Technology supports both synchronous and asynchronous learning, which opens up flexibility and choice of when to learn. Audio podcasts allow learners to listen to recordings wherever they choose to, and many do this as they commute to or from work. Webinar technologies have enabled group verbal conversations to take place online, along with chat functions where users can type short messages to each other. Videos can provide helpful ways to learn visually and at your own pace with the ability to rewind and replay. Indeed through YouTube videos I learned how to mend my washing machine! As a result, there are now a multitude of online learning opportunities available, many of which are free. Choose from informal or formal, short or extended courses, and learn with others or independently. Develop or learn new skills, take up a new hobby or engage in a full online course.
Below are a just a selection of some of the online courses now available.
Develop new skills and hobbies
Chesscademy – Learn how to play chess for free.
Craftsy – Includes baking, knitting, quilting and photography.
Drawspace – Learn the basics if drawing.
Pianu – An interactive way to learn piano online.
Yousician – Your personal guitar tutor for the digital age.
Learn a new language
Babbel – Discover a new language experience.
British Sign Language – Learn BSL at your own pace.
Busuu – The free language learning community.
Duolingo – Learn a language for free.
Lingvist – Learn a language in 200 hours.
Memrise – Use flashcards to learn vocabulary.
Plain English – An opportunity to learn in plain English for crystal clear communication.
Expand your knowledge
Guides.co – Search the largest collection of online guides.
Highbrow – Get bite-sized daily courses to your inbox.
lynda.com – Learn technology, creative and business skills.
Khan Academy – Access an extensive library of interactive content.
Learnist – Learn from expertly curated web, print and video content.
Squareknot – Browse step-by-step guides.
TED-Ed – Find carefully curated educational videos
United for Wildlife – Learn about the key issues in conservation.
Take an online course
Alison – A wide range of free courses.
edX - Take online courses from the world’s best universities.
Coursera - Take the world’s best courses, online, for free.
Curious – Grow your skills with online video lessons.
CreativeLive – Take free creative classes from the world’s top experts.
FutureLearn – Courses from universities and specialist organisations.
OpenLearn – Offers a wide range of free courses.
Skillshare – Online classes and projects that unlock your creativity.
Udemy – Learn real world skills online.
Learn how to code
BaseRails – Master Ruby on Rails and other web technologies.
Codecademy – Learn to code interactively, for free.
Code.org – Start learning today with easy tutorials.
CodeCombat – Learn computer science while playing a real game.
Code School – Learn to code by doing.
Dash – Learn to make awesome websites.
DataCamp – Learn R, Python and access data science courses.
DataMonkey – Develop your analytical skills in a simple, yet fun way.
DataQuest – Learn data science in your browser.
Free Code Camp – Learn to code and help nonprofits.
One Month – Learn to code and build web applications in one month.
Platzi – Live streaming classes on design, marketing and code.
Thinkful – Advance your career with a 1-on-1 personal mentor.
Treehouse – Learn HTML, CSS, iPhone apps and more.
Udacity – Master in demand skills and earn a Nanodegree recognised by industry leaders.
What would you add to this list?
All images used are from Pixabay and have a free to use CCO Creative Commons licence