When I was a kid and wanted to learn something new, I’d head to the local library and locate the encyclopedias and books on the subject of interest. Remember having to learn the Dewey Decimal System for classifying books in the library? Painful. There was no internet and our learning experiences were limited to books at the library, through classes or the kid down the block.
Today, we live in an amazing time, where the worlds of learning and development are literally at our fingertips. We are experiencing what’s referred to as the open education movement, where all we need is internet access and a computer, tablet or mobile device. The opportunity to get smarter and rewire our brains is tremendous. Much of the content is absolutely free, but when not, the annual fees or class fees are a bargain given the payoff of learning. The courses vary in length depending on the focus and complexity of the topic.
Combing through the plethora of options is daunting and may feel overwhelming to you. I’ve collected the best sites that teach a diversified list of topics and am happy to share them with you.
This top-notch education website offers many ways to learn, with on-air broadcasts, classes, interviews, podcasts and articles.
Class categories: Photo & video, art & design, music & audio, craft & maker, and money & life.
Sample classes: Outdoor & landscape photography, film & video, logo design, guitar, mixing music, calligraphy, jewelry, cake decorating, finance and entrepreneurship.
Number of courses: 1,500 +
Cost: Classes start at $19 each; pay on a per class basis. Free live broadcast classes and articles are also offered.
Comments: High-quality instruction. Variety of formats keeps it interesting.
Offered by LinkedIn, Lynda offers video courses in business, technology and creative skills.
Class categories: Design, software development, web development, business and photography.
Sample classes: Painting, Photoshop, leadership, iMovie, programming, Word, Excel, photography, drawing and blogs.
Cost: Free trial for 30 days; annual fee beginning at $239.
Number of courses: 5,996
Comments: Business orientation courses. Typically high-quality instruction. LinkedIn is now owned by Microsoft.
For the creative types, Skillshare offers a fun learning community for creators, matching anyone who wants to teach with anyone who wants to learn.
Class categories: Design, business, technology, photography, film, writing, crafts and culinary.
Sample classes: Web design, knife cutting skills, portrait photography, video basics, creative writing, knitting and baking.
Number of courses: 16,000 +
Cost: Free trial for 30 days; annual fee beginning at $120. Some free classes, but not full access.
Comments: Interactive vibe, with class projects, comments and reviews. Reminds me of the Pinterest of training.
If you’re in for the long haul, Coursera works with universities and other organizations to offer courses, specializations and degrees, with courses lasting roughly four to ten weeks.
Class categories: Arts & humanities, business, computer science, data science, life sciences, math & logic, personal development, physical sciences & engineering, social sciences, and language learning.
Sample classes: Programming, machine learning, digital marketing, psychology, english and robotics.
Number of courses: 2,000 +
Cost: Prices vary by course; monthly subscription fee available for some specializations.
Comments: Founded by two Stanford University professors. Textbooks, videos, quizzes and projects. Students are able to self pace. Earn a certificate.
This educational website offers micro learning, with most lessons no longer than three minutes each.
Class categories: Technology, lifestyle, languages, travel, design, hobbies & crafts, personal development, sports, business, startups, cooking, higher education, K-12, music, health & beauty, art & photography, games and spirituality.
Sample classes: You name it, everything from origami to web development to gardening to making pumpkin pies.
Number of courses: 38,000 +
Cost: Most courses are free; some have a fee.
Comments: Excellent variety. Varying quality, given number of courses and instructors.
Duolingo is a specialty learning platform, offering a colorful, fun language-learning website and app for your phone or tablet.
Class categories: Languages.
Sample classes: Spanish, French, German, Turkish, Polish, Greek and Japanese.
Number of courses: 23 courses, with more in development.
Comments: Goal-based learning with creative graphics. Written lessons and dictation. Students earn points as they progress in learning a language.
Another specialty learning website, Codeacademy is an interactive platform that offers coding courses, with the goal of reinventing traditional learning. It’s main mission is to teach the world how to code.
Class categories: Programming languages, with additional related courses.
Sample classes: Python, Java, CSS, Ruby, SQL, HTML and SAS.
Number of courses: 12 different programming languages.
Cost: Free; pro option available that gives students access to additional features, including help from advisors.
Comments: Founded by two Columbia University students. Courses typically have projects, quizzes and a final project.
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