In this age of the web it’s never been easier to be in a constant state of learning. There are lots of online courses you can take in a vast variety of fields. Some come with a qualification, some don’t, but there’s bound to be a course out there that suits your needs.
If courses aren’t your thing, there are still lots of ways you learn new stuff without going through traditional types of study. We love free ways to learn something new!
Where to find free online courses
The Open University has offered fantastic and flexible courses for decades. On their OpenLearn online hub you can find over 800 free-of-charge courses.
The courses on offer range from higher education introductory programmes and basic English and mathematics, to skills for succeeding in the workplace and improving your online skills.
For years, Reed has been one of the UK’s most popular recruitment websites (I found my very first part-time job after finishing my GCSEs through Reed…now, that takes me back!)
They’ve now teamed up with Futurelearn to bring you a range of inspiring courses.
- Mindfulness for wellbeing and peak performance
- Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the web
- Introduction to cyber security
- How to write that CV online
Alison also have a thriving online community where you can read blogposts and testimonials from other learners.
Courses available on Alison include:
- Digital Photography
- Introduction to journalism
- Introduction to time management
- How to grow organic food sustainably
Even if you’re a complete novice you can get to grips with coding through Codeacademy. What’s more, it’s absolutely free of charge.
Google Digital Garage
If you’re thinking of starting up a new business one day, or to earn a second income, you may want to think about how to use the web to your advantage. Who better than Google to teach you all the digital marketing skills you need to get you started?
Google Digital Garage has an easy to use online tool that asks you what aspects of digital marketing you want to learn about. It takes a minute to complete, and when you’re done you’ll have a video lesson plan to work from that’s tailored to your interests. You can also attend live seminars for free in your area.
How to pick the right course for you
There are so many subjects to study that you can feel a bit spoiled for choice! Before you sign up for any courses, it’s worth having a good think about:
What new skill do you want to learn?
This list doesn’t just have to be limited to courses that give you a qualification at the end. Life skills are also highly valuable, so list down anything in your daily life – such as cooking, cleaning, writing emails or basic maths skills – that you feel you could brush up on. Write down anything related to those hobbies you’ve always wanted to pursue, too.
If you’re struggling for ideas, think about a job that you’d really like to have. Then, go and look up that job on one of the many recruitment sites online – does it list any particular qualifications or skills you would need? Add them to your list. You never know what’s out there to study for free!
Why do you want to learn it?
In an ideal world, we’d soak up all worldly knowledge and become all-powerful geniuses. Real life – for most of us – isn’t like that, so it’s important to know why you want to learn something and how it’s likely to benefit your life.
Go back to your big list of things you’d like to learn. Have a think about how each skill would benefit you.
For example, say you want to improve your cooking skills and also get a maths qualification. Depending on what’s more important to you (being able to cook decent meals versus having a maths qualification) one skill will be a higher priority to learn than the other.
As tempting as it is to sign up for EVERYTHING (and I say this as a person who’s guilty of this), don’t. If you overload yourself when learning new skills as you’ll probably get mental burn-out!
How much time can you dedicate to learning a new skill?
- Can you set aside an hour every evening?
- Can you get up early and study while everyone else is asleep?
- Do you have Saturdays or Sundays free?
- Does your employer have an assisted study scheme you could sign up for?
Make sure that when planning time for study you still account for things such as family, socialising, exercising and unwinding. For most of us, study needs to fit around everything else, not the other way around.
Other ways you can learn new skills
You don’t have to enrol on a course to learn worthwhile new skills. Why not check out YouTube for thousands of useful video tutorials, free seminars and expert Q and As? Here are some great channels to get you started:
On Hilah cooking you can learn the absolute kitchen basics, from making an omelette to flourless chocolate cake for your friends on a gluten-free diet.
In this age of cheap clothes (that fall apart all too soon) there’s never been a better time to get savvy with the sewing machine. Made to Sew can teach you how to darn, cross-stitch, make curtains and lots more!
The hugely popular Howcast channel has thousands of videos on all kinds of topics, from self defense and playing guitar to learning Greek and preparing for the arrival of a baby.
I hope this article’s proven that there’s really no limit to the amount of cool and useful stuff you can learn for free. Go forth, Class of MoneyAware, and be educated!
Have you taken a great course that didn’t cost you a bean? Did you learn a fantastic new skill for free? Let us know all about it in the comments.