Do you have a job that didn’t exist a decade ago? Now imagine what may happen in the near future considering all the technological advancements that happened in the past few years. To keep up with them, you need to constantly improve your skills and/or gain new ones. Thanks to digitalization, you can now visit numerous learning sites and take free online courses. In some cases, you even receive a certificate for free, but it’s more likely that you have to pay a certain amount to get an official document. (Some sites list only paid courses.)
Check out some of the best online course websites and look for relevant (beginner, intermediate or advanced) courses that will advance your career.
28 Websites to Find Free Online Courses
Courtesy of edX
A popular site listing courses in various fields is edX. It was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012 and continues to be governed by colleges and universities. It is one of the leading MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) providers offering its courses from prestigious institutions for free. You can find all kinds of courses related to computer science, languages, engineering, psychology, writing, electronics, biology, marketing, and many other topics. The aim is to make high-quality education accessible to everyone everywhere.
You can also acquire verified certificates for a fee that varies by course and can use them to apply for jobs. You can also enroll in various programs, such as MicroMasters Program, (graduate level), Online Master’s Degree, Global Freshman Academy or XSeries (series of courses with in-depth knowledge).
Courtesy of Coursera
Another online learning site that provides access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations, is Coursera. You can take courses in data science, business, computer science, information technology, personal development, languages, math, arts and humanities, social sciences, health, and so much more. All include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments and community discussion forums where you can connect with thousands of other learners and debate ideas, discuss course material, get help and hear about interesting projects you could join.
The majority of courses on Coursera are free, yet you can choose to pay to receive a shareable electronic Course Certificate. If you want to master a specific career skill, consider joining a Specialization, which is a series of paid courses lasting 4 to 6 months. You can also obtain a university-recognized degree that allows you to embark on a new career path. It takes circa 1-3 years to complete a degree and the diploma costs around $15,000-$25,000.
Courtesy of FutureLearn
FutureLearn shares a lot of similarities with Coursera. On the website, you can browse free online courses designed by universities and organizations all around the world. You can look for specific areas, such as creative arts and media, business and management, politics and society, nature and environment, healthcare and medicine, language, law, study skills, etc. Aside from courses, you can earn professional or academic accreditation and online degrees.
The length of the courses varies from two weeks to months. With the free plan, you’re granted access to the course for its duration plus 14 days; it doesn’t matter when you join it. If you want to go back to the course later on and want a printed or digital Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation, you can choose Upgrade. The Unlimited plan is for those who would like to keep the content of the courses they’ve earned a Certificate of Achievement on. (Find more information on the website.) You won’t get a scholarship from FutureLearn but they publish some sponsored courses with free upgrades.
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4. Open Culture
Courtesy of Open Culture
Despite the similarities with Coursera and FutureLearn, Open Culture is considered an aggregator. It links to 1,300 free online courses, 1,000+ Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and a huge number of eBooks, textbooks, movies and language lessons. You may call it a curated site. It displays many university courses by Yale, Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley that may offer certificates—once a fee is paid. You can broaden your knowledge about astronomy, biology, philosophy, economics, physics, computer science, art history and many more disciplines.
Courtesy of OpenLearn
OpenLearn is brought to you by The Open University. It’s a free learning platform where you can find courses in a number of areas: languages, nature and environment, science, math and technology, society, politics and law, etc. The course description tells you the level, the length and the rating of the course. Courses last five minutes to five hours or even more. You’ll be awarded a free Open University digital badge once you’ve completed the course and passed the assessments. You can download your badges and share it on LinkedIn and other platforms.
You may take a step further and enroll in a program offered by the Open University. Millions of UK-based and international students have chosen the university so far and studied digitally while paying for each module attended.
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6. Saylor Academy
Courtesy of Saylor Academy
A free online learning site that is slightly less known is Saylor Academy. The course catalog consists of courses in political science, communication, art history, learning skills, computer science, business administration, mathematics, biology among others.
You can enroll in any of them for free and even earn a certificate you may share online (on your LinkedIn profile, for example). You won’t pay for the learning materials either. However, some fees may apply when obtaining your transcript from ACE CREDIT or when you start an exam with ProctorU.
7. Open Learning Initiative
Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University
If you wonder what things to learn online free of charge or at least at a low cost, you may pick some courses on the website called Open Learning Initiative delivered by Carnegie Mellon University. You may dive into topics concerning the arts, computer science, life sciences, design and technology and many more.
As an independent learner, no one will monitor your progress, so you must self-guide yourself. The platform doesn’t grant scores or credit for completion. If you happen to be a teacher of some kind, you may take advantage of the site and use the material during your classes.
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8. Khan Academy
Courtesy of Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that creates interactive software, exercises, videos and articles and makes it accessible to anyone anywhere in the world. What differentiates it from other online learning websites is the composition of its target audience. They think about the entire family—both adults and children.
You’ll access world-class education for free and explore subjects such as algebra, trigonometry, history, computer science, computer programming, grammar, storytelling, microeconomics, college admissions and so on. You won’t receive a certificate or diploma after course completion. Khan Academy is not an accredited school. However, teachers are more than welcome to use the available resources while teaching remotely or in classrooms.
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9. Harvard Extension
Courtesy of Harvard Extension
As its name suggests, it Harvard Extension features Harvard online courses. Over 1,000 courses (degree and certificate courses included) are listed in the course catalog but not all of them are offered on demand and/or online. Taking a course in biochemistry, archaeology, web programming, AI, computer science and many more might not cost a dime, but getting a certificate does. (Some courses are even priced around $2,000-$3,000.)
10. Open Yale Courses
Courtesy of Open Yale Courses
Yale University, another Ivy League school, has made past semester courses available online for free on the Open Yale Course website. The university grants access only to a small number of courses, and if you want to enroll in any of them for free, you should visit Coursera and look for them there. You may deepen your knowledge about chemistry, game theory, modern poetry, physics, psychology, etc. You can download the lectures in video or audio format and read the transcripts of them. You should consider finishing a course as a huge success but you won’t receive any course credit, degree or certificate.
11. UC Berkeley Extension
Courtesy of UC Berkeley Extension
Each course listed on the UC Berkeley Extension website is priced individually (ca. $2,000-$8,000). The price doesn’t include course materials or a one-time program registrations fee. If you can afford it, you can attend online courses (part-time or full-time) in accounting, finance, human resource management, data science, data analysis, and many more. You’ll learn from working professionals and be able to adjust your studies to your schedule. You need one or two years to finish a program. Once you’ve completed the coursework, you have to notify UC Berkeley Extension and request your Award of Completion.
Courtesy of Udemy
Another platform that can help you improve your skills is Udemy, listing more than 100,000 online courses. Beginner Udemy instructors may offer courses for free to attract students but one must usually pay to enter a course. Many of them are affordable (10.99€ per course) even for people with a tighter budget. You can download courses related to web and mobile development, business, IT and software, marketing, design, social media, photography, even music, painting, aromatherapy, acupressure, and so on.
Udemy screens its instructors and chooses the best instructors for you, the ones with the required expertise in their fields. There are specific standards set for the quality of the class material. In addition to this, all courses receive reviews from participants. This provides you with essential information about the course beforehand.
Would you like to share your knowledge with others? Join Udemy and start uploading courses and making good money. Whenever someone purchases your course, you earn money. No real-time lessons and adjustments in your schedule are required.
Courtesy of Fiverr
Did you get to know Fiverr as an online portal for freelancers to launch their career (and sell their services for five dollars) or grow their business? During the years, the site has been transformed into something much bigger. Today it offers you and others the opportunity to improve your digital skills with quality online courses published on Learn from Fiverr. You’ll find courses related to SEO, photoshop, storytelling, Adobe Illustrator, brand identity, blog concept strategy, Facebook ads targeting, just to name a few.
You can learn proven methods, processes and best practices that you can immediately apply to your work. The courses are led by handpicked industry experts and tailored for your needs. You always pay per course, no monthly fee has been introduced by Fiverr. While most of the courses cost around $30-$60, you may stumble upon some free courses. A badge will appear on your seller page once you complete watching all the course video and take the quizzes and the final exam.
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Courtesy of Lynda.com
Lynda.com was acquired by LinkedIn in 2015 and all the courses have been migrated to LinkedIn Learning. Over 15,000 expert-led courses in design, photography, marketing, business, web development and software development have been published and viewed by millions of people worldwide. You will earn a certificate whenever you complete a course.
Both the monthly and annual subscription offer a free trial. You may sign up for a month for $29.99, plus taxes and do as many courses as you can. After getting a taste of Lynda.com & LinkedIn Learning, you may switch to the annual subscription and pay $299.88. (With this plan, you would save up to 40%.) The other benefits of subscribing to LinkedIn Learning is the access to LinkedIn’s Premium Career features and data on things professionals in your field learn in their free time.
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15. Envato Tuts+
Courtesy of Envato Tuts+
Envato Tuts+ is on the mission to “help people learn and earn online.” This online learning site publishes video courses and written tutorials in the field of code, design and illustration, music, photography, game development, craft and more. Complete beginners and experienced learners will do a course at their own pace and in their chosen subjects.
You can access all the 28,790 tutorials and courses for free. If you want more, you can pay a monthly fee (from $16.50 per month) and gain access to Envato Tuts+ (1,280+ video courses, 240+ eBooks, no advertising on 28,790+) and Envato Elements (475,000+ photos, 40,000+ design ready assets, quality templates and themes).
Courtesy of Simplilearn
One of the world’s leading professional certification training providers in today’s digital economy is Simplilearn. This online learning site focuses on soft and hard skills that are in demand right now. You can access training in cybersecurity, cloud computing, project management, digital marketing, data science and many more.
More than 40 global training organizations have recognized Simplilearn as an official provider of certification training. LinkedIn has named it the 8th most influential education brand in the world. In other words, Simplilearn is a trustworthy platform that can accelerate your career. The platform’s learning approach combines online classes, instructor-led live virtual classrooms, project work, and 24/7 teaching assistance. They offer several training options you may choose from. You either take courses or step on the path toward a degree. A course may cost about 899€ and a master’s program 1999€. The cost varies by training option and learning path. (Several course materials have been made available on their YouTube channel for free.)
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If the start-up world fascinates you but you lack the skills to land a job, let Udacity give you some guidance. More than 100,000+ people have graduated from courses designed by industry experts. This learning site specializes in in-demand soft and hard skills (UX design, AI, product management, project management, digital marketing, cloud development, etc.) and you’ll learn by working on real-world projects and doing all types of hands-on exercises.
When you open the course page, you’ll see the estimated time, prerequisites, reviews, the benefits included. Udacity offers free online courses, but those do not grant you a certificate, only the paid ones as part of the Nanodegree program. If you sign up now (April 2020), you’ll get a free month and 15% off of the original price, so you’ll pay $255 per month.
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Courtesy of Skillshare
Among the Skillshare instructors, you’ll find prominent professionals representing various fields. So you can learn about animation, creative writing, film & video, fine art, graphic design, illustration, music, photography, UI/UX design, web development, business analytics, freelance & entrepreneurship, leadership & management and marketing from the best.
If you don’t have enough savings or can’t afford to subscribe to the Premium plan, look for free courses and create projects and discussions in them. We’ve stumbled upon free courses on how to open an Etsy shop, how to blog or vlog, how to build an engaged community on Instagram, or how to increase productivity using Evernote. If your preferred courses are paid, apply for a scholarship: students get 50% off a Premium Membership with a valid .edu address, and the Premium Scholarship is available for those in need. Premium Members access unlimited classes and other features.
Do you want to share your knowledge with students worldwide? Skillshare welcomes working professionals, experts, and subject matter enthusiasts to publish courses on the website for free. What would/could you teach?
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Courtesy of GreyCampus
Another great set of online courses comes from GreyCampus. They combine an engaging and fun way of learning with structured resources and active mentoring. Over 100 instructor-led training programs in project management, Six Sigma and IT service management are offered. They’ve collaborated with IBM to create comprehensive certification training programs in data science and artificial intelligence, with the ability to get hands-on experience through capstone projects and other elements in the diverse curriculum.
GreyCampus programs are accredited by many leading organizations. You pay for each course (ca. $400-$2,000). You won’t find free online courses but they offer some discounts now and then. The platform states that “46% of our learners receive funding from their employers” and it gives you some ideas about how to get funded if your employer doesn’t support you.
Courtesy of Codecademy
You can do all this for free by getting started with the basic plan that offers 180 hours of content but the mobile practice is limited and no peer support or step-by-step guidance is provided. If you sign up with Codecademy Pro, you’ll boost your learning progress by accessing member-only content, additional community support, and real-world projects. You’ll receive a free trial (7 days) and then pay $19.99
21. Coders Lab
Courtesy of Coders Lab
Coders Lab is the biggest Polish programming school. If you want to get a job in IT, taking a course with Coders Lab could increase your chances. In addition to acquiring new skills via online courses, you may study part-time or full-time. The courses are designed to teach programming to people with no technical skills so you don’t need any previous experience. Some courses are designed for people with an intermediate level of a subject, though.
You need to do some prework before your course and work on your own computer that meets the hardware requirements. During the courses, an experienced programmer observes your progress. Within a few weeks, you can improve a lot but you are expected to do extra work, not only the tasks given. Don’t be afraid, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to work on projects to sharpen your skills. As a participant, you can access the Career Lab program that helps you find employment. The prices for the courses vary and start from around $1,000. In only 7 weeks, you will be able to change your career path and get your dream IT job.
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Courtesy of Lingoda
If your personal development goals include a new language or perfecting one that you already know, you may subscribe to Lingoda. Currently, you can start a course in English, (Business English), French, Spanish or German. The platform screens all of its teachers and welcomes only native speakers with years of experience in teaching. You may join a class of 3-4 students or take private classes. You don’t have to worry about buying expensive books or textbooks because Lingoda provides its teachers with teaching material.
You can attend face-to-face classes in the morning, at night and on weekends. Lingoda follows the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (from A1 to C2) and grants you a certificate once you complete 90% of your online language courses in a module for a CEFR language. The certificate is acknowledged worldwide and can be used for official administrative procedures. It is no wonder why more than 30,000 thousand students have chosen Lingoda around the world to learn a language.
You have the chance to get familiar with Lingoda by selecting the Month-to-Month plan. With this plan, you can meet some Lingoda teachers and pay monthly; you can cancel your membership at any time. Group or private lessons start at 8€ per class. If you decide to continue with Lingoda, you can purchase the Language Marathon™ that includes a one-time payment for 3, 6 and 12 months and group or private classes from 6€ per class. You’re eligible for a free 7-day trial with both plans.
If you meet the requirements set by Lingoda, why not sign up to teach with the
platform. Take Spanish classes while helping eager students gradually expand their English vocabulary.
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Courtesy of Tandem
Millions of people learn a new language every year. Some of them can’t afford to go to fancy language schools or buy expensive textbooks to improve their skills. Many of them probably don’t want to sit and read about grammar rules all day long. If you’re like them, turn to Tandem, your personal language exchange meetup app.
It’s completely free to use the app and find a language partner. You just have to type in your target language and look for someone who wants to learn your language(s). Within a few minutes, you can find a native speaker who can help you improve your pronunciation and learn new words and phrases in your area of interest. Tandem can connect you with English tutors as well but you have to pay for that service. Based on your schedule, you can attend lessons of 20, 40 or 60 minutes. All of them are prepaid but the first 15 minutes are free.
What’s more, you can sign up and become a tutor yourself.
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Courtesy of engVid
Are you dreaming of pursuing a master’s degree abroad? If so, you probably need to take an internationally recognized exam (TOEFL, IELTS, CAE, etc.). Luckily for you, you can do some preparations on your own watching free videos by experienced native-speaker teachers shared on engVid.com.
To save time, filter the videos by level, topics and/or teachers. The classes (1,545 video lessons) focus on English grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, particular exams and many more. By signing up or just visiting the site regularly, you’ll join millions of ESL students worldwide who want to better their language skills. Some classes are specifically designed for French and Spanish speakers and cover common mistakes they make and the challenges they face when learning English.
Courtesy of Duolingo
If you only have time while on the go but want to learn a language, download Duolingo for free. You can easily pick up the basics of English, German, French and many other languages by completing sentences. Learning a language requires lots of repetitions, and you’ll repeat many of the sentences. This playful and colorful app gives you a good start on your path toward fluency in another language.
Courtesy of Memrise
Memrise won the Google Play Award for Best App in 2017. Its name is quite telling, we’d say. Besides the most common languages, you can start taking lessons in Danish, Swedish, Slovenian, Russian, Mongolian, Icelandic, etc. You can open the website on a desktop computer or download the app for free and memorize phrases on the go. Memrise courses include thousands of video clips of native speakers speaking in their native languages. So, you’ll become familiar with local dialects you otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to.
Courtesy of Allrecipes
If you love to learn to cook but don’t know where to start, we recommend you visiting Allrecipes. You can personalize your page and build your own list of recipes. Written texts are accompanied by photos or videos. With this platform, you become a foodie within no time. Even if no degree or certificate is granted, you may get rewards as a home chef with Meal Sharing, Mamaz Social Food, EatWith or BonAppetour.
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Courtesy of TED-Ed
How many hours of TED or TEDx videos have you watched in your life? Probably quite a lot. If you like the format, you’ll love TED-Ed, which is TED’s youth and education initiative. The lessons cover topics such as schizophrenia, germs, the meaning of life, architectural secrets, chess and anything imaginable. You don’t need to sign up just enjoy the ten-minute lessons accompanied by videos and/or animations. Of course, you can create an account if you want to. No degree or certificate earned but you may apply for this online learning site to become a creator yourself.
Use your skills to find freelance job!
The possibilities are as many as the online sites and apps to join or download. Once you feel ready to kick-start your career, look for job opportunities on Upwork, Verblio, Fiverr, Scripted, Freelancer.com, PeoplePerHour, Toptal, Hubstaff Talent, Thumbtack, Coach.me, and many other platforms listed on Appjobs.
💻How to be successful at taking online courses?
If you usually lack the motivation to do things alone at home, you will probably face more challenges. However, this doesn’t mean you will not succeed. Of course, you will. A to-do list, a schedule or a study plan will make your life way easier and help you achieve your goals faster. Can’t sit still for a long time? Good time management could boost your productivity: alternate between tasks, have more breaks, experiment with the Pomodoro Technique. If you take several courses simultaneously, switch from one to the other: for example from Harvard online courses to Duolingo. Whatever you learn, try to eliminate distractions and limit social media. The best way to do this is to not sign in at all. That being said, aim at creating a system/strategy that works for you.
What skills are most in demand in 2020?
When it comes to soft skills, companies seek talents with a skill set that includes creativity, collaboration, persuasion, emotional intelligence, culture awareness, critical thinking, innovation, verbal and non-verbal communication, and storytelling. When working in teams, interpersonal communication skills are must-have. What things to learn online to gain valuable hard skills? UX design, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), video production, marketing, sales, and cloud computing could end up on your list.
🧵What skills can I learn at home?
Nearly anything but it depends a lot on your budget. Surfing the Internet, you’ll find a large number of learning sites offering paid and free online courses with certificates. Even with a small budget, you could learn a new language or improve your communication, photography, SEO, marketing, writing and editing skills. If you like to dabble in crafts, learn how to knit, sew, paint, draw, etc. If you grew up with technology but never had the chance to code, why not try it now? If you haven’t heard it yet, the teenage creator behind the popular website nCoV2019.live, which is tracking the coronavirus outbreak, learned how to code online for free. With some time (and money) spent, you acquire skills in the comfort of your own home.