Corrie Ann Gray
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Top 5 Online Resources to Learn for Free (or Low Cost)

I don’t know about you, but as a Renaissance Soul (RS) I love learning new things. In fact, it is my top strength according to the Gallup Strengths Finder Test. I would venture to guess that if you are an RS, the learner strength is in your top ten too.

If I could afford to be a permanent student in a University environment, I would do it in a heartbeat. I love the textbooks, the energy on the campus, the libraries, and the camaraderie of other people who love to learn. My ultimate dream job is to be a University Professor. I see myself applying to another Masters or Ph.D. program in the near future, but in the meantime, I always look for inexpensive and effective ways to learn new things that pique my interest.

Today I am sharing a few online platforms where you can learn to your heart’s content for either free or at a minimal cost compared to traditional brick and mortar school. You might be surprised what you find in this treasure trove of resources. Let me know in the comments what you plan on checking out for your next learning adventure.

edX

Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded edX in 2012. It boasts over 1,900 courses in popular subjects like computer science, business management, biology & life sciences, and humanities, just to name a few.

  • Available 24/7, anyone with Internet access can use the platform.
  • There is no application necessary.
  • Many of the courses are free to take with some offering a “verified certificate” of completion for a small fee (those I found were around $50). 
  • There are also courses that provide college-level learning for a modest price, like this How to Write a Novel course for $295.
  • Universities from around the world have joined and offer a variety of learning opportunities. 
  • Also, there are courses and certifications from organizations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and the Smithsonian. 

Coursera

This online learning platform was started in 2012 by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. Their Mission: “We envision a world where anyone, anywhere can transform their life by accessing the world’s best learning experience.”  I like that!

  • Their website states there are more than 2,000 courses, 180+ specializations, and six universities offering degree programs.
  • Courses range in price from $29-$99 each. In some cases, you may take a course without certification for free. In other instances, if you pay, you can earn an official certification in that particular academic area. Most stand-alone courses are four to six weeks.
  • Specializations range in price from $49-$79 a month. These opportunities take longer than a single course, at about four to six months. Two examples of specializations are Creative Writing and Entrepreneurship.
  • University degrees range in price from $15-$25,000. They can take one to three years to complete and are entirely online. Just like a traditional on-campus degree program, there are admission requirements, so plan ahead.

Udemy

This platform has been gaining traction over the past year or so. There are over 65,000 courses taught by expert instructors. Because anyone can be an instructor, it is essential to do your due diligence in finding a class that is relevant and of top caliber. My advice, pay attention to the ratings from previous students.

  • There are free and paid courses. Even the paid ones are ridiculously inexpensive. Right now they are having an $11.99 St. Patrick’s Day Sale for many of their most popular courses, like this one: Develop Blockbuster Story Ideas That Sell (Writing Mastery)
  • Learn everything from art to WordPress and everything in between. I have taken many classes on this platform, including certifications.
  • If you have an expertise you would like to share with others, and get paid to do so, Udemy invites you to become an instructor.

Udacity

This online education platform focuses on technology (computer science) for the most part – skills needed to find a technical job or increase your skillset in a current position. 

  • From what I can tell there are no free courses; however, the fees for what they call “Nanodegrees” (their version of course certification) are significantly less than going through a traditional degree program.
  • Classes are organized into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
  • You can learn web development, robotics, data analysis, programming, Google Adwords, virtual reality, design, and marketing, to name a few.
  • You can also sign up for the free “Job Program” to share your resume with the Udacity team and potential employers. According to their website, companies like Google, Intuit, AT&T, and Adobe hire graduates from the Udacity courseware.

YouTube Education

Did you know there was an “Education” channel on YouTube? I certainly didn’t until recently. You can learn just about everything from watching a YouTube video.

  • Organizations such as NASA, TED, and the BBC have created an education presence on this media platform. 
  • You will find a variety of standalone courses from across YouTube presenters like this one from Gresham College (in the UK), called Education, Research and Government in the Ancient Greek World. That one is definitely getting saved to watch later.

I hope this compendium of learning resources will get you started (or keep you going) on your journey for more education, more insight, and more exciting things to know.

Did you know all of these resources are available? And this is only the tip of the iceberg. In the comments let me know what you think and if you have another resource to add to the list.

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About the Author Corrie Ann

Corrie Ann Gray is a writer, philosopher, coach, wellness advocate and cookie creator. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer and is the founder and director of the Clean Body Project, where she inspires individuals to live a holistically purpose-filled life.

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