The Internet is a double-edged sword – it can be used to procrastinate the day away, or it can be used to learn something new everyday. Here at MakeUseOf, we’re particularly focused on the latter. There are a lot of ways you can use the Internet to learn something new everyday in a matter of minutes.
We’ve put together a list of six ways you can learn something new on the Internet on a daily basis – some of it will take no more than 10 minutes, while others are in-depth and will require at least an hour’s worth of dedication from you. No matter what you choose, you’ll walk away far more enriched than when you started.
In addition to the sites listed below, TED is of course an additional resource which, it goes without saying, is a great way to learn something new. You can find quick and interesting videos that are no longer than 5 minutes. Aside from TED, however, there are many more resources worth considering. In no particular order they are:
If you’d rather listen than read, podcasts are the best way to go. iTunes has a great variety of educational podcasts where you can learn everything from a new language to self-defense, from photography to finance. We would also recommend searching the podcasts for topics that interest you because not all of them might be classified under ‘Education’. A lot of fascinating and impressive content can be found on iTunes U, with completely free podcasts courtesy of Stanford, Yale, Harvard and much much more.
Because a lot of these podcasts are already readily available on iTunes, you don’t have to wait in order to get to the next lesson, but it’s definitely a good idea to pace yourself and let all the new information sink in, one day at a time. Best of all, the podcasts are free, and if you have an iPhone, iPod or iPad, you can take them with you on the go.
For a less traditional approach to your learning process, Reddit can actually provide a unique and fun way to learn new things online. We’ve already pointed out 5 subreddits you should follow to learn cool stuff. The kind of information you’re going to find on these pages isn’t anywhere near the kind of information you’ll learn from a Harvard podcast. But it’s still fascinating, entertaining, and thought-provoking. And just because it’s Reddit doesn’t mean you won’t find interesting, serious and often-times controversial topics to learn about.
Any list about Internet learning would not be complete without the online encyclopedia - Wikipedia. Crammed with a wealth of information accessible on your computer or that you can save for offline viewing, Wikipedia is a great source of information. Wikipedia alone can keep you busy for months on end, learning something new, to the point that MakeUseOf’s Dave Parrack came up with a list of 7 ways to learn something new everyday with Wikipedia.
If out of the ordinary knowledge is what you’re after – HowStuffWorks is the place to go. The site adresses topics you might never have thought of in the first place, like 10 cover ups that made things worse or the 10 worst things to donate after a disaster. HowStuffWorks is divided into a variety of categories including adventure, money, science, culture, and more.
A special mention goes to ZidBits for answering even more questions we never would have thought of asking. We just wish the site was updated more often. (There is still a significant backlog to go through though.)
Prefer to get your hands dirty? Instructables takes a hands-on approach and teaches you how to do all sorts of handy things. Recipes, crafts, jewelry, handy work, gardening, lifehacks and more are available on the website. What we love about Instructables is that there’s a little something in there for everyone – complicated tech hacks and outdoor fun and everything in between. And if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration (and motivation) check out the Instructables contest page. Enter the Chinese food contest to win a Kindle or the Fix It contest to win a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.
A site that deserves a special mention here if you’re particularly interested in complex tech hacks is Hack A Day, but the site is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Khan Academy is right up there with Wikipedia as one of the most amazing treasure troves of information you can find online. In their own words, Khan Academy has a library of over 4,100 videos ”on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice.” Best of all – you can subscribe to specific courses or topics and have the content sent to your email in easy-to-digest sections. Khan Academy is the ultimate resource in free learning, and you can engage with other Khan Academy users in the comments section.
A special mention here goes to Coursera and its almost 400 courses from the likes of Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Brown University and more.
What sites would you add to this list to learn something new everyday? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credit: Horia Varlan