Seems you’re somebody who thrives on ongoing learning and capacity building, and you’re always on the lookout for new information. Or maybe you’re someone who thinks they’d benefit from a greater grasp of things, or maybe you’re just getting into the back-to-school attitude. Perhaps you’re actually considering a career move.
Here’s a comprehensive list of websites where you can learn for free, with some options for certification if that’s what you’re after. And remember, unlike what we’re told, you don’t have to accomplish anything productive with your spare time – these free courses are only here to give you a boost.
Founded in 2012 by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera works not only with the top universities in the world — Stanford, Duke, Penn, University of Michigan, Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins — but also tech companies like Google and IBM to offer courses in computer science, data science, language, business and other areas.
Coursera Plus is the platform’s paid annual subscription, which lets you access the majority of the courses and get those sweet certificates. It’s about $399 per year. That being said, most courses are available for free without the accreditation but with all the delicious knowledge.
If you’re looking to upskill with some of the preferred talents many employers are looking for in this digital age, General Assembly is a strong place to learn them. Started in 2011 as a humble co-working space, GA is now a global learning business attempting to close the “global skills gap.” GA runs a whole bunch of online courses in coding, design, data, marketing, business, and career development, so it’s all useful stuff in terms of stacking your CV, although notably, GA isn’t accredited by the US Department of Education.
If you’re looking to learn a thing or two from cultural heavyweights like the British Film Institute, step this way. Privately owned by UK public research body The Open University and job-seeking giants The Seek Group, FutureLearn has teamed up with top UK educational and cultural institutions for some niche courses that you can sink your teeth into.
There are short courses and online degrees, depending on what you’re after, and you can access course content for free for 14-day periods, pay for an upgrade for a certificate, or an unlimited membership (meaning you can get certificates and take as much time as you like to finish the courses), which is $250 for a year. But if you want to just spend two weeks playing student on one course, it’s free online learning!
Everyone knows edX, the big name on virtual campus. If you’re looking for seriously legit online courses from the top universities in the world, this is your answer. Founded by MIT and Harvard but no longer run by them as a nonprofit after the site was bought by 2U, edX is an educational platform aiming to allow people to learn online without geographical restraints.
If you have the coin, there’s a whole host of different types of courses on the site, and while yes, you could pay up and do a MicroMasters program (upwards of $1,200), MicroBachelors program ($166 per credit) or verified certificate (varies), you can also just study for fun for free (2U says it’s going to keep things both free and paid for now). You can still access plenty of the courses for free if you’re just doing this for the good of your own brain. For instance, there’s a hardcore Star Trek course on there to presumably help you live long and prosper…
5. Khan Academy
Founded by Salman Khan, Khan Academy is one of Silicon Valley’s big education success stories. The online learning platform has attracted Big Tech backers including former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, former Google CEO and chairman/Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, venture capitalists Ann and John Doerr, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Among their best free classes are some gems, whether you’re catching up on classes you napped through or weren’t offered in high school.