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Education

Top 20 Sites for Online Education and Learning

The world is constantly changing and growing, and so are all the wonderful things to learn in it. From changing perspectives on history and studies of people to the world of deep AI and computer science, there’s more to know than ever before.

When you’re out of school, however, it can be hard to find places to learn new things, create new skills, and expand your horizons. The Internet is helping to solve this by making courses and training easier to find than ever before. Online classes are the perfect way for most to continue their education and we’ve put together a list of sources to help you find the best fit for you.

Here are the best online learning sites, offering a mix of free and paid classes, courses, training, certificates, and much more.

1. Academic Earth

Academic Earth is a collection of free online college courses from some of the world’s leading universities and colleges. On its site you’ll be able to find specific courses in many subjects as well as search by university. It collects playlists and video groups to help you learn from many different services, too.

Academic Earth is a smart search tool and a good place to start your journey. It collects many free courses from around the world, so you may click on a lesson plan and be taken to another partner on our list, such as MIT OpenCourseWare.

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2. Alison Learning Paths

Alison offers free online courses created by experts in various fields. You’ll find a mix of educators and entrepreneurs creating this content. Some are sponsored by different companies to help with very specific projects such as applying for different types of certifications and exams. Classes fall under a few major categories such as marketing, health, humanities, science, and technology. Some of the more advanced classes do have a cost, but the service offers many free online learning paths designed to give you the groundwork to earning a diploma elsewhere.

3. Better Explained

For people who want to learn math and how it is applied in the real world, Better Explained offers interesting classes, articles, and lessons. Individual lessons are generally free and so are online course texts. You can purchase “complete” courses that come with PDF versions of textbooks, video lessons, more quizzes, and invitations to webinars when they occur.

Courses cover a wide range of study areas and complexities, plus some specific places where math rules guide computer programming and web development.

4. Bloc

Focused on web development, Bloc is a more intensive option for those who want to learn quickly. Instead of short courses or lectures, this highly structured program runs for 25 hours per week over several months. With tuition starting at $8,500, bloc.io doesn’t come cheap—but it does offer a great option for those who are ready to commit to a career change.

It presently offers learning focused specifically on building skills in two tracks: web design or web development.

5. Canvas Network

Canvas Network provides educators access to professional development courses and programs, and some of its courses are also open to the public. You can sign up with just an email and access a wide range of content and lessons. Its content is also available under an open license, so if you want to ultimately create your own content and lesson plans, you can utilize what Canvas makes available in some cases.

Canvas offers courses and tools in a variety of languages, making it open and more accessible than some other options in our list.

6. Codecademy

Previously backed by the White House, Codecademy is dedicated to teaching people how to code. The free service helped more than 45 million people in its first seven years and has stuck with its fast-paced teaching method designed to keep you moving and stay encouraged with supportive groups and a gamified points system. There are free courses as well as a paid Pro Membership that offers more direct guidance and support for creating a real-world portfolio that you can use to jumpstart a freelance career.

The school offers courses on a number of languages—including PHP, Python and Ruby—and students are often already building and deploying projects by the time they finish their course.

7. Coursera

Coursera is perhaps the biggest name in online courses and education. It has a global roster of universities and partners to offer more than 3,900 specialized courses. Much of the service is available for free, or you can use it to earn an online degree from an accredited university.

Software companies have also added many of their certification lessons and exams to Coursera, which can help you with things like database management and using enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. In 2020, it partnered with Disney and Pixar to celebrate the film Soul with a curated set of courses to learn creative arts and careers.

Between its free courses, paid degrees, and membership programs, Coursera likely offers the largest number of classes, courses, and accreditation support of any on our list.

8. Drawspace

For creatives, Drawspace offers full courses and individual lessons to help you master different drawing techniques. It provides a mix of content that is free or paid. You can learn the basics of drawing and painting all the way through advanced elements, drawing people, and even techniques such as creating art with tea bags or making your own colors.

If you want to become an artist, Drawspace includes some lessons on working as a visual artist, how to get past an artist’s block, and even how to teach art to others.

9. edX

edX is an online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT and it has taught more than 20 million people since its launch. It’s a global non-profit organization and features courses from teachers and universities all over the planet in topics such as computer science, languages, engineering, psychology, writing, electronics, biology, and marketing. Most courses are free, though you can also pay for a verification certificate that attests you’ve completed a course.

You can also use the platform to start researching degree programs.

10. Harvard Online Courses

If you’re interested in studying about business development or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Harvard University has made some of its courses and special projects available online. The Harvard Online Courses program gives you a mix of programs that are free or have a fee — ranging from $25 to a few thousand dollars. Topics vary from the latest in computing trends to learning how early explorers navigated using the stars or even real estate development for a post-COVID world.

Most courses are self-paced and include both lectures from Harvard professors and additional study materials. Every piece of audio or video content comes with a transcript to provide greater accessibility. While Harvard has put thousands of courses online over the years, it offers only a few hundred at any given time. This means most courses have registration deadlines.

11. General Assembly

Focusing on education in design, business, and technology, General Assembly has campuses in more than 30 cities around the world plus a comprehensive online education experience. It offers a mix of full-time and part-time classes online plus workshops, free training, and coding events.

Traditionally, many of its offerings are in-person or are a mix of online and in-person options. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it added livestream and online options for every event it runs. Many moved online-only, and the company says it expects to expand online classes going forward because of the response to its digital tools.

General Assembly livestreams popular lectures and provides real-time interaction with the lecturer and other students. Costs vary if your choices are one-off lectures or multi-part workshops.

12. GFC Global

The GCFLearnFree.org program is an educational tool from the Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) Global initiative. It has been offering classes for nearly 20 years and is primarily focused on essential business skills to help people find work. You’ll also discover life skills around finances, freelance work, Internet and computer skills, and creative hobbies.

If you want to learn a core work computer program—getting as specific as learning the differences between Office 2019, 2016, and 2013—this is likely the strongest resource on our list. The service currently offers more than 2,000 lessons on 200 topics, all for free.

13. Hack Design

Hack Design is a design course program designed to help you create a career in design and then continue to grow. Its main offering is a weekly design lesson delivered via email. Most content is free, and they do provide a curated list of fundamental courses in its Lessons 101 offering.

One thing to note is that Hack Designs does not always follow a traditional course. Because its teachers often come from design firms, some lessons are put in the form of blog posts and other materials hosted on the websites of those firms. That said, you’ll get access to talented thought leaders and new experiences, such as games to help you test your kerning ability.

14. HTML Dog

If you want to learn HTML, a great place to start is HTML Dog. The site offers free tutorials, techniques, and examples of web content in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML Dog is focused on helping you get a website up and running, so much of the content is step-by-step guides and references to perform a specific task.

This option is a great free way to polish your skills or get help with a specific issue you’re experiencing on a website. However, it doesn’t dive deep into theory or feature long explanations of computer science in general.

15. Instructables

Learning is fun when it’s hands-on is the approach that Instructables takes. This website is designed specifically to showcase projects where people build physical items, including food. You’ll learn fundamental engineering and even advanced electronics. From turning old linens into ropes and old coins into rings all the way to creating drones or coding a 3D game, there’s plenty to discover. Projects are mostly submitted by users and hobbyists, so available topics often lean toward pop culture, such as creating props and costumes for characters of popular video games.

16. iTunes U

If you have Apple products or an account, the company’s iTunes U is a collection of courses and lectures from leading universities. Part of its iTunes software, you can access courses by topic or university. In many cases, you’ll be able to get audio and video of lectures, have access to some books and materials, and even download quizzes with answer keys.

Some schools now use iTunes U as part of their online classes, allowing people to ask questions and teachers to respond, plus submit work and receive grades.

17.iversity

Hailed as the “Coursera of Europe,” Berlin-based iversity has partnered with European and international universities to offer academic courses for free. The company has recently added certificates and verification of course completion for most of its classes, allowing students to verify course participation and learnings with an official document. Costs vary and there are a few free options as well.

Businesses can now partner with iversity to train their workforce or you can take classes specific to a type of work, organization, or software. If Du sprichst Deutsch or Tu parles Français, this service could be a great help.

18. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit online platform providing a completely free library of educational “micro-lectures.” Focusing on more traditional academic subjects, Khan Academy provides a mix of video and text-based materials in math, science, economics, humanities, and a bit of computer programming. Since Khan Academy is free for anyone to use, it’s a great way to get a taste for a subject before moving onto a more advanced course elsewhere.

The organization has expanded its online services for school-age students significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and learners of all ages can benefit from the growth in content, lesson plans, and more.

19. Lifehack

Lifehack is a learning tool focused on making the most of your life by “hacking” it to achieve more or accomplish things easier. It offers free assessments, books, and classes plus a podcast video series. Courses revolve around a specific philosophy that the company created to promote a specific type of lifestyle. You can start with free options on things such as how to stop procrastinating and how to be more motivated in your daily life.

Of the items on our list, this resource is focused more on how you live and learn instead of learning a specific subject, skill, or trade.

20. LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)

In 2020, veteran online educator, Lynda.com became LinkedIn Learning. With subscriptions starting at $19.99 per month, LinkedIn Learning offers an extensive video skills and tutorial library. Your subscription also includes LinkedIn’s Premium Career features so it can be useful for growing your career.

The service is largely focused on technology skills like programming in multiple languages. You’ll need a LinkedIn account, and the company says that it will both provide courses and make recommendations based on your current job, skills, and what professionals like you are learning.

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