There is a little known university that is home to students from 170 countries. None of them pay any tuition fees.
To quote UoPeople President Shai Reshef,
The right to a quality education mustn’t be a matter of one’s geographical or financial situation; Access to education must be an equal and basic right for all, rather than a privilege for the few.
UoPeople is a fantastic example of what struggling students from earlier generations missed – options. Thanks to the Internet, the $107 Billion wealthy online education industry is providing us options aplenty. Not only to get a full-fledged education from MOOC platforms like MIT and Coursera, but even plug the gaps with little knowledge skills that can prove to be professional fuel.
I love searching for new learning websites that don’t appear with a bang. If you do too, then the list of 27 below should help spark your own self-education.
Learn the Process with Live Streaming
See how it’s done in real-time. Live streaming (or even when it’s recorded) helps observe every step in detail.
Live streamed classes on web and app development, interface design and server administration.
You can’t run away from practice when learning a new skill. Platzi streams classes and you can actively participate in what’s being taught. Courses cover business, marketing, design, and development. Platzi recommends you take the classes live, even though you can catch-up at your own pace if you miss them. Live classes come with benefits like real-time interaction with your teachers and note sharing with other students.
The catalog of courses is limited, but free while Platzi works on expanding it with a freemium model.
Watch illustrators, 3D modelers, and animators live at work…and learn.
Sywork is a free live video platform for illustrators. It’s being called the Twitch for creatives as artists broadcast their work to build their fan base. You get to learn by being a witness. To livestream your own project, you will need the open source OBS software. Subscribe to each artist’s own channel and stay updated on their new projects. A chatroom on the side is provided for chatting with other viewers. But be prepared – some of the creative magic will leave you in awe. And perhaps, hooked to your favorite artists.
Other Live Streaming Learning Platforms:
- LiveCoding – Learn from developers coding projects.
- Twitch for Creatives – The popular live streaming site has its own channel for artists.
- Creative Live – A good place to learn creative skills like Photoshop.
Learn Languages with Two Unique Websites
There is an ocean of language learning apps. But as MakeUseOf author Bryan Clark pointed out, a mix-and-match language strategy helps to cross the great linguistic divide. Here are two fresh sites you can add to your arsenal.
Read fascinating books in a new language.
Books in other languages can be easily downloaded from the web. Interlinear takes it a notch up by giving you bilingual books. The books are printable and electronically readable PDF and EPUB files. They include the original and an English translation below in a smaller font. The site rightly describes itself as the “subtitles of books”. The translations are by humans, so you can be sure that the essence of the text is retained. A little bit of trivia – the site is run by an international student team from Cambridge University.
Browse the catalog of PDF books. It is limited now, but here’s hoping that the collection continues to grow.
Let native speakers correct what you write.
An international community of language learners helps each other out by correcting mistakes in what you write. And you return the favor. The site is a free language-exchange social network. So, journal away in a new language while helping each other out with the mistakes. Lang-8 has a free part and also some premium features.
Other sites for learning a new language:
- My Happy Planet – Be pen pals with native speakers around the world.
- Open Culture – A comprehensive list of resources for learning 48 languages.
A Bit of Creativity with Design, Art, and Music
As children we were all fearless artists. As adults we can bring back that dormant skill with the many drawing sites available online.
Creative technology merges with art and design.
Kadenze is a fresh site bringing together educators, artists, and engineers from across the globe. The transmedia application of art and technology is the focus of the many courses offered on the site. On one hand, it can be the “Physics-Based Sound Synthesis for Games and Interactive Systems” from Stanford. On the other, it can be a course on entrepreneurship for musicians from the Frost School of Music.
Kadenze (derived from the musical “cadenza”) has a free layer and a premium membership subscription that offers official college credit on select courses. The premium membership unlocks other features, like peer-to peer collaboration and access to all courses in the catalog.
Learn to draw.
Drawing, or even doodling should be on top your learning bucket list. If it is, then a site like Drawspace should be in your bookmarks. Artists and educators use Drawspace to publish lessons, tutorials, and even eBooks. About 15% of the content on Drawspace.com is free and that’s enough to start with when you don’t want to pay anything upfront.
The Introduction to Drawing course is the basic course and as far as I could make out, most of the lessons are free.
A free online school of music.
Dave will be your guide as he takes you through 100 music lessons and interactive exercises. Lessons span from learning about music theory to advanced topics like ensembles. There is a lot of music history thrown in for good measure. The second best thing about the site? It is completely ad-free.
Other art and music sites:
- Ctrl+Paint – Teach yourself digital painting for free.
- ArtGraphica – A site which covers sketching, drawing, and painting.
- How To Play Piano — Andrew Furmanczyk’s free resource on learning music theory and the piano.
Learn How-To Make Stuff
DIY skills are in demand. You can sell your handmade crafts online and make money. You can also be an inspiring member of the maker movement at a time when arts and crafts are floundering in schools worldwide.
An online crafting community of 8 million members.
The New York Times described it as a hybrid of YouTube and Etsy. The site is very much in the mold of video based tutorials on everything related to crafts – from knitting to woodworking. Craftsy isn’t free and that’s a good thing if you are looking for quality instructional videos. It’s also a bargain as courses cost anything between $20–$50.
Craftsy supports the DIY spirit with a community forum with 234,996 project ideas contributed by members. Also, keep your eyes open for subscription discounts offered by the site.
Learn robotics with Carnegie Mellon University and DARPA.
Some of the best MOOCs around the world offer free robotics courses. For instance, Stanford’s “Introduction to Robotics” is a free course you can take for the basics. MIT OpenCourseware has a similar undergraduate course. When companies are turning to robotics, there’s no better time than now to get an insight into the skills involved.
The Computer Science Student Network (CS2N) is a collaborative research project between Carnegie Mellon University and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It is designed to inspire students to pursue advanced Computer Science and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (CS-STEM) degrees.
The site is a free resource to learn how to virtually program a robot and create animated movements. For those who are virtuosos in DIY electronics, a robotics project could be the next challenge.
Other DIY Sites:
- Craftster – A community site for sharing your DIY crafts projects.
- Adafruit Learning System – An electronics hobbyist site with guides for makers of all ages.
Let’s Cover Science and Technology
Science and technology is defining our present. The concentrated focus on STEM learning is opening up new spaces for sharing knowledge.
Solve real-world problems for The U.S. Air Force with project based learning.
The collaborative learning platform is targeted at high-school teens who are interested in STEM subjects. Three real-world, unclassified projects have been opened up to students, teachers, and other innovators. They are paired up with the best brains from the United States Air Force. The platform is virtual, but the solutions that are being searched for are very real with far-reaching impact.
The three project categories are: search and rescue in collapsed structures, quadrotors using autonomous navigation and GPS satellite deployment in space.
So, if you are learning all about drones, use one of the open projects to test your innovative thinking skills. As the site says,
Innovation is not the product of routine word problems or the use of available technology to simplify a task. Innovation is the spark of imagination that comes from critically thinking about new applications for current technology and practices
Benefit from this collaborative learning space for science.
Nature is the most cited scientific journal in the world. Scitable is an online repository of knowledge on genetics and cell biology from the same publishing group. Scitable is free online resource offered by Nature Education. The digital library populated by scientist-authored articles and eBooks is the main draw. Build your profile and then connect with the learning community. You can start discussing through specific Topic Rooms and virtual study spaces called Groups.
Those interested in a scientific career can head to the Career Planning topic room and take advantage of the scientific guides, eBooks, and career planning advice.
Other Science and Technology sites:
- The National Science Digital Library – A comprehensive open educational resource for the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Wolfram Demonstrations Project – A collection of interactive illustrations that illustrate concepts in science, technology, mathematics, art, finance, and other fields.
Think Better and Bigger with These Courses
TED Talks is arguably the most well-known place for lectures given by the best brains around the world. But there are other knowledge sharing gems spread out online that are lesser known and equally thought-provoking.
Get access to the world’s greatest thinkers and leading scholars.
The Floating University is an initiative from The Big Think, a knowledge sharing network that hopes to take us from knowledge to wisdom. The FU is again a lecture series trying to spark inquiry based learning and a problem solving mindset. The inaugural course called Great Big Ideas is a series of 12 video lectures with excellent production values. It is a deeper look into twelve major areas of study and why they matter.
Each course will try to unravel the big innovative ideas in those fields and how they will change our lives. The fields covered include — Psychology, Economics, Biomedical Research, Linguistics, History, Political Philosophy, Globalization, Investing, and more.
The video lectures are freely viewable for self-guided learners and needs no sign-ups. You can also watch it on YouTube.
Listen to the world’s best thinkers and achievers.
Google Talks is a little known speaker series from the big company. Again, this is a compilation of lectures given by well-known authors, actors, inventors, artists, and thinkers at Google offices around the world. Speakers come from a diverse range of fields. From Salman Rushdie to Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. From Barack Obama to Conan O’Brien.
The dedicated YouTube channel is a compilation of more than 1000 of these videos. Watch them with the help of the curated playlists on YouTube.
Other sites for the big picture:
- Gapminder – Stay aware of global developments with the fantastic series of video lectures that use statistics.
- Reddit Lectures — A subreddit for video lectures on mathematics, physics, computer science, programming, engineering, biology, medicine, economics, politics, social science etc.
Which New Learning Sites Have You Discovered Lately?
Even these 27 websites are not enough to do all your favorite subjects justice. I skipped several popular areas of study like history, programming, data science, photography, and many more. The idea was to uncover educational websites that are slightly under the radar. If you already know about some of these websites, then it means your passion for learning is on the right track.
Thanks to the superhighways of knowledge around us, lifelong learning is a smoother sail. It is easier to get drowned now in the deluge of knowledge than ever before. So, let me ask you here:
What is the method you follow to teach yourself any new topic or skill? What are you learning right now? Which are your favorite online resources for that particular subject?