If you’ve been paying attention to social media or the news, you’ve likely heard about people slowly, but surely trying to do more than just lounge around at home during the era of COVID-19. I personally feel like I can only binge-watch so many shows before I feel like my brain is turning to mush, and because of this, I began pursuing more opportunities for self-improvement online including free online courses and reading/listening to free books/eBooks. Out of this undertaking, I realized that many other people may be thinking like me, but also may be wondering where to look and what tools or platforms to use. So, I thought I’d lay out some viable free options for you here.
Check out these free learning resources:
Coursera is a top tier online learning platform where myriad courses are offered for free and at cost. As online learning is becoming more prevalent, platforms like these are likely only going to continue to grow and be used by more and more people.
edX is founded by Harvard and MIT and was my first exposure to massive open online courses (MOOCs). This site offers various courses for free and at a cost to learners who are seeking self-improvement through online learning.
Canvas offers many free professional development opportunities for educators to improve their skills and better their ability to serve others. Upon reviewing this site further, I’ve decided that I’ll personally be looking into taking a course or two on this platform.
FutureLearn is another site that offers free and paid learning opportunities relative to various subjects from universities across the world.
Codeacademy delivers free learning opportunities for coding and brags that it has the best system out there to help with learning and developing coding skills. I’ll tell you I’ve tried my hand at coding and it can be challenging, but it is a great skill to develop and has various practical applications.
TED-Ed is TED’s education initiative which offers original animated content and a platform for educators everywhere to develop and share learning materials with the masses. I love the TED platform. Nearly every video I’ve seen I’ve found to be informative and often even inspirational.
Academic Earth offers a pool of free online college courses from many of the world’s top universities. The site allows you to search for courses by program, category, and subject.
Alison is quickly becoming one of the biggest platforms for free and paid online learning. Courses on nearly everything are seemingly available on this site with many courses offering users the option to pay for certification for their coursework.
Apple iTunes U offers access to free public courses through its app and provides educational materials relative to Apple products and programs as well.
Duolingo offers a tailored language learning experience that is available via a web browser or through an app. It uses gamification to encourage follow-through and participation in the program. I love Duolingo! I use this program daily for learning Spanish, but there are so many other languages there. I find it to be super engaging and effective. Give it a try!
Quizlet offers free and paid learning tools to help facilitate learning and memorization of various subjects across grade levels and difficulties. I’m a big fan of Quizlet’s free version of Quizlet Learn that allows you to study given materials in various ways. Also since it is such a huge platform, Quizlet already has tons of study sets that are posted up for anyone to use.
If you haven’t heard of Grammarly yet, I’m surprised. It is quickly becoming available nearly everywhere for your editing and grammar-based needs. As a user myself, I find it hugely helpful, especially for suggestions relative to word choice. It comes in both free and premium options. I use the free option, but for frequent writers, I’d bet the paid version is probably worth it. Grammarly also gives you feedback on what you’re writing sounds like (i.e., empathetic, neutral, etc.).
Schooltraq is intended to be a smart academic planner for students and although most online learning platforms have their own built-in systems for managing one’s schedule, Schooltraq allows you to keep track of coursework and due dates across colleges, online platforms, and other education mediums in one place for free.
GoConqr is striving to be a global learning platform for educators and learners to share and access ever-evolving quality content. It boasts a huge user base and aspirations to grow even bigger.
Evernote is probably one of the most well-known note-taking programs/apps out there. I use it and find it to be very helpful. Evernote is continually updated to ensure better interactivity and usability. Although they offer paid options, the free version of Evernote is excellent and will most likely meet most individuals’ note-taking needs.
Chegg Prep flashcards and other study materials will soon be replacing StudyBlue. This is another viable study tool. However, I prefer Quizlet as it offers more ways to study and has a comparatively bigger user base.
HippoCampus is powered by The NROC Project to offer a free, academic website that provides education on general subjects through various media.
Kahoot! allows you to develop and use other open-sourced trivia type games for learning various subjects and information. You can also look at reports to see how people are using and performing on your Kahoot! The learning games can be accessed via the Kahoot! app as well as via web browser. I’m a big fan of this free program and it is especially great for group learning environments.
Why do these resources matter? I think it is important to never stop learning, growing, and improving. In the field of speech-language pathology, it is a requirement to be continuously learning to ensure you provide evidence-based service and to remain knowledgeable relative to your scope of practice. But in my personal life, I still feel it’s very important to continue growing. I personally feel less fulfilled when I’m not accomplishing goals and learning new things, so I strive to do just that regularly. So if you have read this far, I encourage you to pick at least one of these recommended resources and give it a try. What do you have to lose?
Links & Resources:
Academic Earth: https://academicearth.org/
Apple iTunes U: https://itunesu.itunes.apple.com/coursemanager/
Chegg Prep: https://www.chegg.com/flashcards