If money wasn’t an issue, would you be up for the challenge to learn something new? Now that we’re spending more time at home, it’s the perfect opportunity to upskill yourself through one of the many free online learning platforms available.
Online learning isn’t a new concept, but it has become the new normal. Social distancing means distance learning is more popular than ever. And it’s not just for school kids or students – more and more adult learners are signing up.
Whether it’s for creative inspiration, personal gain, or career growth, learning is an investment in yourself, and should be a lifelong endeavour.
But how does free online learning compare to paid-for education? Official online courses are typically developed by universities, professional institutions, and lecturers – the same as tertiary education. The difference is that some sites only award a certificate of participation, and you might have to pay a minimal amount for your final certificate to prove you’ve completed the course.
All you need to get started is a reliable internet connection and a computer – and the commitment and self-discipline to stay the course.
Here are five free online learning platforms to upskill yourself at home:
Coursera works with certain colleges, universities and professors to offer a mix of accredited and non-accredited courses in a wide range of subjects. You have access to hundreds of free courses taught by instructors from world-class universities and companies, with on-demand video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums. And you’ll receive a certificate once you’ve completed a course.
Udemy believes ‘the world’s best teachers aren’t always found in classrooms’. They have instructors from virtually every country teaching courses on almost any topic. The site has helped more than 12 million students from over 200 countries change their lives in meaningful ways. You can choose from thousands of free courses to further your education, enhance a job skill, learn a new hobby, or pursue a personal interest.
edX was founded by Harvard and MIT, and is backed by the world’s top universities and leading companies. This free online learning platform is both non-profit and open source, giving anyone access to education. Whether you’re into languages, computer science, engineering, psychology, or marketing, you’re guaranteed a quality learning experience when you enrol for a course.
This UK-based global distance learning institute offers home study courses with accredited qualifications. You can learn anything from fashion design to starting an online business, to human resources management and social media marketing. And best of all, you get a certificate at the end of your training, without paying anything
LinkedIn Learning is affiliated with LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network. The site offers courses to help you learn in-demand business, software, technology, and creative skills, with courses taught by industry experts. What makes this platform different is that you sign up for a one-month free trial, and thereafter you can choose to pay an affordable monthly subscription – giving you access to over 16 000 courses – or cancel for any reason.
Online education is not without its challenges. But if you want to learn at a pace that’s convenient for you, in a way that considers your family life and work obligations, there’s no better way than free online learning platforms to upskill yourself.
Should you be interested in a more formal, paid-for qualification and need financial assistance - see our guide on Using a Loan for Education.