Learn for free! Often it is expensive to take a certification or program, whether it be university-based or private training. One of the great things about homeschooling was finding all of the amazing free and low-cost resources out there.
If you have a teen who can’t decide which direction to go in, taking a module or short course or two might help them decide one way or the other. Ebi-kun has always been interested in food but it was when he took the University of Canterbury course on Mental Health and Nutrition that he knew that nutrition was the direction he wanted to go in.
And, it’s not just for the kids! As a multi-passionate entrepreneur, I LOVE learning and always have a course or two on the go. Sometimes just for fun, sometimes for personal development and sometimes because I need to learn something new for work.
So whether you are thinking of changing direction with your career, feeling a bit brain-dead because you only have a babbling 2-year-old to converse with for most of the day or you just want to try something new, there is something for everyone below.
Almost all places allow you to learn for free, some have restrictions of some kind, I have outlined them in each section.
If you are looking for college credit, some of these sites offer that but do check whether it’s applicable to your college course.
Disclaimer: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a percentage of the sale if you choose to buy something.
Free + Optional Upgrade
A huge variety of courses from some of the world’s top universities, Oxford, Harvard, and MIT… as well as institutions such as The Smithsonian, Tokyo Tech and Google.
Most of the courses are free and offer an upgrade. If you want more personalized learning, grading and a completion certificate you can pay to upgrade. If you just want the knowledge in your head, choose the free option.
Over 2500 free courses are available covering subjects from Art and Humanities to math and Logic to Physical Science and Engineering. You can also sort the search to fit with the timeline that suits you and your level and language.
If you just want to read and view the course content it is free but to access all course materials, including graded assignments and certification, it is paid.
You can also take career development courses and earn a degree.
Khan Academy – not just maths for kids!
Sal Khan started Khan Academy in 2005 to help his cousins (and soon other people’s cousins) with their maths homework. As well as being a great forward thinker Sal holds three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard.
When we first started using Khan Academy it was just maths but they have gradually added more content and subjects to higher levels.
One thing I love about Khan Academy is the way that it is set up so that parents/teachers can see how their kids are doing and the way it is built, it forces you to do the foundation levels before you can skip ahead. One of the biggest reasons that people struggle with maths is because they have holes in their foundations.
Plus Sal’s vision has always been that everyone can learn for free.
Ebi-kun used Khan for his junior High years because he didn’t like the Japanese tutor in Study Sapuri (the curriculum he followed for homeschooling).
It is also available in 50+ languages
130+ courses covering a variety of subjects. Only the online courses are free and the more advanced courses you need to pay for. But it is a good way to test the waters before committing to an expensive degree.
Pay to upgrade to get the completion certification.
Udemy definitely leans towards the tech and business subjects but you can find other things on there too. There are free courses on there. To find them, search your topic of interest then scroll down to the options, there are language, level, price… Choose free and it will pop up with any that are free.
The free courses tend to be very basic and are created as a lead magnet so that you want to go on to buy the tutor’s paid courses. But this is not a bad thing, you can test it out to see if you like the tutor before opening your wallet!
Do know that Udemy runs sales all the time, I have yet to pay full price for a course there.
This is one of my favourite places for courses. Being a multi-passionate soul, I often get the sudden urge to learn how to do something and Skillshare often has a class or course on it.
Definitely leans towards the creative subjects and there are all kinds of skills to be learned from punch needle to VR 101, from product photography to brain hacking.
I use this a lot for brushing up on things like Illustrator skills, using Procreate and painting.
Skillshare is a subscription but you can get a month free if you use my link (click the button)
Similar to skillshare but based in Europe. When I first signed up not many of the courses were in English. But I believe they have updated this and also have several other languages available.
They don’t appear to have free courses, you can buy either a course, bundle or subscription. The subscription is a bit different to most in that it gets you a credit. Each credit can be used to buy a course. So if you are looking at a few courses it is probably the most economical way forward.
Both Ebi-kun and I enjoyed doing Adolfo Serra’s course on creativity.
A huge range of courses is available including Diploma and Certificate courses. When you sign up for a course you will be offered the chance to pay for the certificate at a discounted offer. The course I looked at was €16.50.
If you want to do the course for free, it has ads (obviously they need to make money too!) or you can upgrade and pay a monthly fee.
This might be useful if you have been out of the workplace for a while and need to brush up or if you are thinking of changing direction career-wise.
Open Learn (The Open University)
Back in the day, the Open University was the only way to get a degree without attending university in person. Isn’t it great that we have so many options for education these days?
They have over 1000 free courses to choose from and you get a free statement of participation on completion of the course plus a digital badge!
If you are ready to go all-in for a degree but need flexible studying the Open University is a great place to start looking.
The site is primarily in English but they do have Welsh as an option too.
If you want to up your skills to beef up your resume. Or you have been out of the workforce for a while and you are nervous that tech has moved on without you. Then this site has lots of great, easy, step-by-step courses to help you. Very much focused on work, core skills and basic tech.
There are more than 300 topics, including more than 6,000 lessons, more than 2,000 videos, and more than 50 interactives and games, completely learn for free.
If you sign up on the site you can keep track of what you have learned and where you are in a course.
Available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
If creative education is your jam, then Kadenze is where you want to look. programs and courses are run by educators, artists and engineers from leading universities around the world.
You can sign up for free to watch the courses but you are unable to submit assignments, and receive college credit. Or upgrade to the monthly subscription to get official college credit, be able to collaborate with peers, receive grades and feedback etc.
Over 1700 courses from top universities and specialist organizations. Law, business, creative arts, literature, IT, teaching… and more.
Learn for free with the basic plan. You can buy an upgrade at any point before, during or after the course – there’s no deadline. (some other places offer this but with a deadline). Upgrading means you get a certificate if you meet the requirements and have unlimited access to the course.
Alternatively, you can subscribe monthly and get access to all the courses.
They do have some premium courses which are only available as paid courses.
Ok, the official name is Google Workspace Learning Center, catchy! If you need to learn anything from Google then head over here. They have training on all their products and you can learn for free. Having a good handle on how to use the basic tools is essential these days.
LinkedIn Learning (Lynda)
As you would expect from LinkedIn, the courses are very much workplace-based. It has a huge database of courses, over 17,000 in fact!
The first month is free and it also gives you access to LinkedIn Premium. So if you are looking to use LinkedIn in a professional capacity, it is probably worth the investment.
More Useful Posts
If you are interested in education, either for yourself or for the kids, these posts might be helpful:
What is school in Japan like? Our schooling journey
N-school, a new type of school in Japan. Ebi-Kun’s hybrid, forward-thinking high school.
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I’m your friendly guide to a life of passion and productivity. I focus on supporting moms who want to turn their dreams into reality by building businesses that revolve around their families. I do this through the Wonder Mom Success Club.
I’m also the brains behind the 193 Little Adventures Club where we take your family on a virtual adventure to a new country every month. And a Montessori best-selling author.
I’m on a mission to inspire and help you, all while having a ton of fun along the way.