Did you know that you can learn how to code, speak Spanish, or get better at statistics without paying a cent?
One of the biggest benefits of the Internet is the huge amount of information we all have available at our fingertips. You can use this information to learn more and get a better chance at getting one of the best jobs.
Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless. Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. Before you dive in, you should know that there are even easier ways of making money online if you know where to look.
To start your search, we’ve compiled 10 free online programs to help you learn how to make money.
The 10 best sites for free online education
LinkedIn Learning is a boon for job seekers and working professionals alike with over 16,000+ online courses, taught by experts in the field. The first month of this paid subscription service is free and presents a great learning opportunity.
Courses are delivered by high-quality video and range in expertise from beginner to advanced. As you complete courses relevant to your field, you can add these to your LinkedIn resume and demonstrate to prospective employers that you are proactive about learning.
Signing up for LinkedIn Learning also makes it easy for you to work toward shifting to a new career with their structured Learning Paths.
Coursera.org is one of the leading providers of MOOCs – massive open online courses. It is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world to bring a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.
Some Coursera courses provide certificates of completion to recognize that you passed the class. If you enjoy learning in a structured classroom-style environment and want to do this at home, Coursera is a great place to start.
Another great option for free online education is edX. It offers full online courses with teachers, discussion boards, quizzes, and so on, but it tends to focus on (and excel at) courses in math, the sciences and engineering. Bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone.
Partnering with many post-secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects. The lectures are short and share a handful of information at a time, but build on each other as you progress.
Udemy is an online institution that offers courses taught by leading experts. Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons. Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.
A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app. The tool offers online courses with full lectures, the ability to take notes on those lectures and assignments to continue learning outside of the lecture environment. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.
MIT OpenCourseWare is a treasure trove of course material from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; it provides lectures, lecture notes, homework assignments, sample tests and many other materials from the actual courses at MIT. MIT OpenCourseWare stands out from the pack if you’re looking to learn more about science, computer and engineering topics, as MIT is among the top universities for those subjects.
Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.
Stanford Online is a great site for world-class courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.
Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.
If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories.
This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.
Bonus: 8 sites offering free online courses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
If you're looking to keep busy while you're social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, here are a number of bonus sites offering free online learning experiences right now.
- Check out the free collection of ten-minute or less educational videos at TED-Ed.
- Take free online courses at EdX
- Explore resources from top universities on Alison
- Get started with some coursework on Academic Earth
- Discover free online courses at Class Central
- Learn to cook with Milk Street Cooking School's online lessons
- Take cooking lessons with a top Italian chef
- Learn about wine with Lyon Wine Tastings
- Visit a museum for free with Google Arts & Culture
FAQs about online education
How effective is online learning?
A study by the National Research University Higher School of Economics found that online learning can be just as effective as traditional learning in the classroom. Student participants were separated into groups that studied the same materials in different ways, emphasizing in-person instruction versus online classes.
Overall, the average level of knowledge gained from each group was the same, though the average grade for assessments was higher for online students. This type of study demonstrates how effective online learning can be, especially when considering the lower cost of online classes compared to traditional classes.
What are the pros and cons of online learning?
The pros of online learning can include:
- Flexibility: Online courses can be done from just about any location and typically at your own pace.
- Affordability: Cut out a lot of the costs of attending a college or university, such as room and board wherever the school is located, and you can end up with a less expensive load of classes. Online classes from traditional schools may cost the same as the in-person equivalents, though.
- Individualized: You learn how you want to learn with online classes instead of being grouped along with everyone else. Because all the information is readily available to you online, you can adjust how you want to study and learn each day.
The cons of online learning can include:
- Social interaction: This isn’t a con for every student, but you’ll have a lot less social interaction with your instructors and other students in most online classes.
- Distractions: Learning from home or elsewhere can be distracting. You may need more self-discipline to stay focused on studying and completing assignments when you aren’t attending in-person classes.
- Availability: Online classes aren’t available for every subject, which is unfortunate if there’s a specific class you need or want to take.
Do employers like online degrees?
Whether an employer likes online degrees compared to traditional degrees depends on the employer. Getting an online education is a lot more common these days and can be convenient for students who don’t have other options due to either time or money constraints. Plus, there’s really nothing that makes an online degree from a reputable institution any less credible than a traditional college degree.
In addition, a wide variety of employment opportunities don’t necessarily demand a degree. You may be able to complete online training that fits the requirements for certain jobs. You may be able to qualify for designer, developer, or programmer jobs if you have the experience and certifications required. For example, finishing a coding boot camp could get you in the door for an entry-level programming position with the skills you acquired.
What does a virtual classroom look like?
Every virtual classroom will look a little different depending on what platform you’re using. However, you can typically expect there to be a login screen to get into the classroom, a discussion space where instructors and students can interact, and a virtual whiteboard where the instructor can post slides, videos, and other teaching materials. Some virtual classrooms will have live video meetings and others will not.
Virtual classroom platforms will typically have different sections for teachers and students. Teachers will have areas where they can upload all the materials they need and students will have areas where they can access their assignments and other resources. The exchange of assignments may sometimes be done privately just between the teacher and each individual student. Other times students may post to a group area so they can all learn from each other.