We’ve all spent plenty of time on YouTube learning things. Sometimes actually learning things, while other times watching fail videos and telling ourselves we were there to learn something.
I know, the related videos are ridiculously addictive.
You can go to YouTube with the sole purpose of learning something new and click off four hours later after watching distractions the whole time. You might as well have been on Facebook.
Sometimes it’s good to get away from the entertainment-driven websites and navigate over to some websites that are meant solely for learning. And fortunately, there are lots of options there.
I spent a lot of time compiling these resources. There are literally hundreds of thousands of hours worth of material here. We only have so many hours in our lives and going through all of these courses may take all of them, so I feel like I’ve listed enough.
These are 40 different [mostly college-level] online learning environments…
- Academic Earth – The pioneers! Academic Earth actually built the first collection of free online college courses back in 2009. The courses have been thriving ever since.
- ALISON – Designed by experts, these courses cover all kinds of topics from math to business to architecture.
- BBC World Service Podcasts – Want to learn about random things? This podcast has you covered. Random, but really interesting things and exhaustive podcasts.
- Berkeley Classes – Lots of science-based courses, but that’s not all. They also cover all the other stuff you could ever want to know, like business, programming, and even health/medicine.
- Coursera – You can actually get certificates and degrees here, but they offer so many courses for free.
- edX – If you’re looking to upskill or prepare your kids for the business world, edX is your best friend.
- Harvard Extension – Heard of Harvard? Yeah, they offer free courses on almost everything they offer degrees in.
- ITunes U – One of my personal favorites. I went through an entire class on C.S. Lewis here and loved every minute of it.
- Khan Academy – One of the most popular online learning websites and for good reason. They popularized the entire idea of online courses and they have plenty of great free ones.
- Memrise – Want to learn a new language? You have so many resources to get started for free and Memrise is one of the best.
- MIT Open Courseware – You’ll find practically any course related to technology and science.
- Open Culture – Another one of the most popular, Open Culture offers thousands of free courses on anything you could think of.
- Open Education Database – Over 10,000 free online courses.
- Open Learning Initiative – Mostly science-related courses, but covering many other topics as well.
- Open Yale Courses – Like with Harvard, it’s popular for prestigious schools to offer free courses online. Yale is no different.
- OpenCourseWare – OpenCourseWare, now Open Education Consortium, is a non-profit that provides a bunch of courses.
- Stanford Online – From Harvard to Yale to Stanford. Quality courses from quality universities.
- University of London Podcasts – Podcasts are getting better and better. They’re no longer only dedicated to interesting interviews. This is a great example of transforming podcasts into full courses. It is a university after all.
- University of Oxford Podcasts – Again, entire podcasts that actually teach you something useful, from another school that’s kind of a big deal.
Professional Development and Skills
- 99U – A great place for creatives.
- Codecademy – You or your kids can learn computer programming languages for free.
- Ignite – If you’re looking for shorter courses, these are quick lessons on all kinds of topics (usually less than 5 minutes).
- LessonPaths – This is really just a blog, but the amount of research and data that goes into each article allows it to be on this list. It’s a great learning environment for your kids.
- Love Your Money – As much as I dislike the name, because we’ve talked about the dangers of loving money before, the lessons on personal finance topics here are gold. It’s an extension of the University of Tennessee and they’ll teach your kids all of the basics about money with engaging and free courses.
- TED Talks – Who hasn’t heard of TED Talks?
- TED-Ed – Similar to standard TED Talks, these are quick lessons on all kinds of topics (usually less than 10 minutes) meant more for general learning than the mind-blowing topics regular TED Talks deliver.
- Udacity – Another great resource to learn computer programming languages.
- Udemy – They have some free intro courses, but most of these are paid. However, many of the courses cost less than a meal.
- Wikiversity – Literally anything you could ever want to learn about.
Learning Games for Kids
- BizKids – I couldn’t leave off one of the best resources for online learning and games that teach kids about money.
- Code – A place for your kids to learn code, but they make it fun. It’s more like a game.
- Fun Brain – Courses mostly on math and reading, but other topics are covered, and all in the form of a game.
- National Geographic Kids – I think we all know the nature (pun intended) of what National Geographic teaches. Now they teach it in short courses.
- Whyville – This place is truly unique. It’s an online learning environment that makes everything fun.
Free Books and Literature
- Free Library – All kinds of free books. Most of these sites take all of the out-of-print books, including classics, and list them for free.
- Loyal Books – Free audiobooks and ebooks.
- Many Books – Over 50,000 free ebooks.
- Open Culture – We already talked about their free courses. Here are their free books.
- Open Library – More free books online. Their goal is to list every book… ever.
- Project Gutenburg – The pioneer of taking out-of-print books and making them live again.